Film: Yes, you could check out the foreign movies at the 2010 Palm Beach International Film Festival, which continues through Monday, but it seems unlikely that it has an entry as enjoyable as Mid-August Lunch, opening Friday at several area theaters. This puckish Italian comedy stars writer-director Gianni Di Gregorio as a middle-aged guy stuck looking after his 93-year-old mother who soon finds himself waiting on her hard-to-please friends. He cooks for them, and this is one of those movies that has a love affair with food. In fact, it won the Golden Snail Award at the Academy of Food and Film in Bologna, a great eating town.
Theater: In 1994, Edward Albee won his third Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his challenging, non-naturalistic, semi-autobiographical Three Tall Women, a look at an elderly matriarch and her estranged gay son, as they confront one another after years apart. In the second act, the three female characters become three parts of the dying mother, at various times in her life, leading up to her death. Palm Beach Dramaworks, which has had some of its biggest successes with Albee’s plays, proves again it does not shrink from a challenge. Resident director J. Barry Lewis stages the work, with a cast that includes Beth Dixon, Angie Radosh and Geneva Rae. Opens today and continues through June 13. Call (561) 514-4042 for details. –– H. Erstein
Music: Michael O’Connor restarted the Palm Beach Atlantic University Early Music Ensemble shortly after he took a job as a musicology professor at the Christian school three years ago. Since then, the group has presented vocal and instrumental music for Christmas and spring, and taken part in presenting two early oratorios by Giacomo Carissimi back in November at St. Paul’s in Delray Beach. Tonight, the group presents a mostly instrumental, mostly English Renaissance concert featuring the work of Florida International University lutenist David Dolata.
Dolata will play pieces from the Sampson Lute Book, accompany two singers in songs by John Dowland (including Flow My Tears), and join O’Connor for three lute duets, one of which will be an arrangement of Greensleeves. Recordist Claudia Gantivar will perform a trio sonata by Corelli, and the ensemble’s eight-member vocal contingent will sing songs by Byrd (Be Unto Me) and Josquin (Mille regretz). The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. today in the Warren Library on the PBAU campus, and admission is free. Call 803-2970 for more information.
This Sunday, the Palm Beach Opera’s 41st annual Vocal Competition presents its Grand Finals Concert at the Kravis Center, in which 12 young singers in two divisions will compete for prizes totaling $78,000. The seven advanced division finalists were chosen Thursday, and include Irene Roberts, a mezzo in the Young Artist program who was recently seen on the mainstage as Mercédès in Bizet’s Carmen.
Veteran Metropolitan Opera staff conductor J. David Jackson leads the opera company’s orchestra for the concert, and will also conduct two popular opera overtures while the three judges debate – Weber’s Oberon and Rossini’s William Tell. The audience will get to text its choices for favorites, American Idol-style, as well (last year, the audience agreed with the judges). It’s a fun event, and a good way to hear rising stars: If you’ve been attending some of these contests in the past, you’d have heard singers such as Vivica Genaux, Eric Owens and Kate Aldrich, all of whom now have flourishing careers.
The Grand Finals concert begins at 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets start at $20. Call 833-7888 or visit www.pbopera.org.
Speaking of opera, and of Carmen, the Florida Grand Opera opens its fourth and final production of the season Saturday night with Bizet’s opera in a modernist version by the Franco-Canadian team of Renaud Doucet and André Barbe. They have reimagined the durable 1875 opera to focus on its Spanish setting, to the point of bringing in 15 flamenco dancers as well as authentic torero costumes from Seville.
Tenor Adam Diegel is Don Jose, and Willie Anthony Waters, a longtime conductor for Florida Grand, leads from the pit. Another point of interest for the production is the role of Micaëla, which will be sung by Elaine Alvarez, a native of Kendall who’s making her debut with her hometown company and has had a strong career here and overseas, most memorably in a dramatic fill-in in Chicago for Angela Gheorghiu as Mimì in La Bohème.
The opera can be seen for a couple weeks at the Ziff Ballet Opera House at the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami (easily accessible from the interstate) and then moves May 13 and 15 to the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale for two performances. For tickets, call 800-741-1010 or visit www.fgo.org.
Finally, there is Counterpoint, a new choral ensemble based in Jupiter that makes its area debut Saturday and Sunday at the two Palm Beach State College campuses. It’s led by George Sullivan, an IT project director for the college who also is the former director of music at First United Methodist of Jupiter-Tequesta and the Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches.
The 30-member chorus will sing a wide variety of music “from the Middle Ages to the ‘90s,” as the group’s publicity notes. The Saturday and Sunday night programs include John Farmer’s madrigal Fair Phyllis and the Libera me movement from Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem, Gershwin’s Summertime and tunes by Elton John, Billy Joel, Paul Simon and John Lennon. Madison Marie McIntosh, a 16-year-old soprano, will sing Mein Herr Marquis (Adele’s Laughing Song) from Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus. Pianist Marklin Green will accompany the all-volunteer chorus.
Counterpoint debuts at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Duncan Theatre on the campus of Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, and then performs the same program at 7 p.m. Sunday at the college’s Eissey Campus Theatre in Palm Beach Gardens. Tickets are $15. Call 247-1012 (Duncan) or 207-5900 (Eissey).