Hansel and Gretel
Always a bedtime favorite: the one about the witch who traps a couple of children by enticing them with sweets, then enslaves one while fattening up the other in preparation of devouring him. Thanks, Mom! Lights out! This new production delivers the late-19th-century opera by Engelbert Humperdinck (composer, not crooner), which combines folk motifs with orchestral sweetness from a period of German song that aspired to evoke the power of the natural world (hello, Mahler) with the great swells and swirls of the soul. Hansel and Gretel generally has been regarded as a masterpiece since its inception—and a reminder that taking candy from strangers has a long and decidedly mixed history.
11/1–9 • mnopera.org
There are a couple of literary depictions that have stuck with me for decades. One is Raymond Chandler’s description of a man’s thumbnail “as square as an ice cube and yellow as a mustard plaster.” Another is from the opening passage of William Gibson’s epochal 1984 Neuromancer, comparing the sky to “the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” In addition to being a remarkable prose stylist and the inventor of the term cyberspace, Gibson has produced a strong and varied body of work that has evolved past his sci-fi roots into the paranoid techno realm of post-9/11 America (perhaps indicating that our world has become science fiction around us). He’ll appear at the Galleria Barnes & Noble to support his latest, The Peripheral, about a Marine veteran suffering neural damage from machine implants who gets involved in a video game turned deadly.
11/5 • barnesandnoble.com
A fine piece of visual art is like a window into a place you never knew existed but which, once you visit, waits for you with equal parts familiarity and rediscovery—reflecting back at you the associations and unspoken thoughts that it provokes as the years pass and you become a different version of yourself. Walking through the open studios at Northrup King during Art Attack, autumn’s sister to the warm-weather free-for-all of Art-A-Whirl, is my favorite kind of stroll: through the universes crafted by some 200-plus artists working in every visual medium, seeing things that can’t be unseen, discovering what turns me on enough to bring it home. You can indeed overspend on art, but it’s not the kind of indulgence you regret in the long run.
11/7–9 • northrupkingbuilding.com
photo courtesy of form + content gallery
Mrs. Darwin’s Garden
It’s been a little more than a century and a half since Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species broadened the scope of thinking for our own primate subgroup. While its publication was part of a long life of fanatical work, Darwin was also half of a decades-long love story with his wife (and cousin) Emma Wedgwood. Artist Vesna Kittelson takes inspiration from this relationship to create an imaginary garden for Emma, with invented specimens in bright, simple colors like a natural-history display book for an alternate universe. It’s work with affection for its subject and undertones of concern for the changes wrought to the world by our particular species since that epochal tome first saw publication.
11/13–12/20 • formandcontent.org
photo courtesy of the artist
Dawn of Midi, Nils Frahm
The line from the first Walkman (remember the ’80s, if you must) to the iPod Nano has seen music’s portability permanently change the way we relate to it. (When’s the last time you sat down and listened to an entire CD?) This is a good thing—bringing music to the places we exercise, think, and wander broadens the way we listen. And so the trio Dawn of Midi’s sound (hypnotic, undulating, minimalist) and keyboardist Nils Frahm’s solo explorations (improvised, percussive, adventurous) similarly live as soundtracks to unexpected avenues of thought and feeling. This Liquid Music concert at the Amsterdam Bar and Hall will be a highlight for those seeking surprises with moments of strange beauty and glacial expanses of sound as geometry.
11/15 • thespco.org