Things To Do

Best Bets: Genji, Rigoletto and Clyde’s

Ensemble intercontemporain makes their Texas debut this Thursday at Rice University's Stude Concert Hall.
Ensemble intercontemporain makes their Texas debut this Thursday at Rice University's Stude Concert Hall. Photo by Franck Ferville
It’s National Puppy Day, so be sure to pet the nearest, friendliest pup before heading out to check out this week’s best bets. This week you’ll find a familiar festival in a new location, a world premiere chamber ballet, and an almost 50-year-old ensemble making their first trip to Texas. Keep reading for these and more upcoming events.

Just two days before playing Carnegie Hall, the Polar Music Prize-winning Ensemble intercontemporain will make their Texas debut at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 23, in Rice University’s Stude Concert Hall, Alice Pratt Brown Hall, courtesy of DACAMERA in partnership with Rice’s Shepherd School of Music. The ensemble, specialists in music of the 20th and 21st centuries since their founding in 1976, will play Arnold Schoenberg’s Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 16, and Ensemble intercontemporain founder and composer Pierre Boulez’s Dérive 2. DACAMERA’s Artistic Director Sarah Rothenberg will also be joined in conversation by Ensemble intercontemporain Conductor Matthias Pintscher. Tickets to the in-person concert, part of the French Cultures Festival, can be purchased here for $37.50 to $67.50.

The Art Colony Association, Inc. is bringing the Bayou City Art Festival to Memorial Park from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, March 24, through Sunday, March 26. The Bayou City Art Festival Memorial Park has named Minneapolis mixed media artist Dewey James as the festival’s featured artist. James will join 300 additional artists representing 19 artistic disciplines from all around the country. You can spend time strolling through the park looking at the artworks, meeting the artists and, of course, buying something for that empty space on your wall. Extras will be on hand like a food truck park, a craft beer and wine garden, a four-hole mini putt-putt course, an imagination zone and more. Tickets must be purchased in advance online here – $20 for adults, $5 for children between six and 12, and free for children under five. For the serious festival lovers, there’s also a VIP package for $75.
click to enlarge
Jindallae Bernard and Ryo Kato during a rehearsal for Genji, an original ballet by Nao Kusuzaki and commissioned by Asia Society Texas, on Monday, January 30, 2023, at the Houston Ballet. Genji makes its world premiere at Asia Society Texas March 24–25, 2023.
Photo by Chris Dunn, Courtesy of Asia Society Texas
Japanese-American choreographer and former soloist with the Houston Ballet Nao Kusuzaki has taken inspiration from one of the world’s oldest novels – if not the oldest – The Tale of Prince Genji for her work, Genji, which will premiere this weekend at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 24, and Saturday, March 25, at Asia Society Texas Center. The chamber ballet, commissioned by Asia Society Texas and presented in partnership with the Houston Ballet, focuses on four female characters, along with Prince Genji, from the Japanese epic written by lady-in-waiting Murasaki Shikibu in the 11th century. Kusuzaki told the Houston Press that though “we tend to think of Genji as just going through one [woman] after the other, going through relationship after relationship,” each female character has “their own voice” and “point of view.” Tickets for either performance can be purchased here for $45 to $55.

Martyna Majok’s Obie Award-winning play, Sanctuary City, about two undocumented teenagers divided when one become naturalized and the other must return to his country of origin, will open at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 24, at 4th Wall Theatre Company. Raven Justine Troup, who plays “a rough and tumble inner city kid” named G, recently told the Houston Press that the play is “like a wash of memories,” and that anyone “who has ever who’s wanted any more clarity on immigration issues” should see it, as it is “a very involved, emotional human story but you also get a lot of information that you may not have known. It takes place directly after 9/11 which is when immigration locked down. It's an interesting perspective on the whole situation." Performances will continue at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays (with a pay-what-you-can night on Monday, April 10) through April 15 at Spring Street Studios. Tickets are available here for $17 to $53.

Stop by The Ensemble Theatre on Friday, March 24, at 8 p.m. for their next production, Lynn Nottage’s Clyde's, a one-act, 90-minute show that will take audiences to a sandwich shop at a Pennsylvania truck stop, where formerly incarcerated folks attempt to make good on their second chance all while trying to create the perfect sandwich and withstand their villainous boss, Clyde. Actress Michelle Elaine will play the titular Clyde, and she tells the Houston Press that Clyde is “absolutely awful and purposefully so which is what makes her fun to play,” a person who “takes advantage of the fact that [her employees] are formerly incarcerated and their options are few,” but that “it's rewarding to see how the other characters rise above what pain she inflicts on them." Performances will continue at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays through April 16. Tickets can be purchased here for $37 to $53.

Few operatic songs are as recognizable as "La donna è mobile" from Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto, and at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 25, you can hear the song and experience the classic tale when Opera in the Heights opens their latest production. Opera in the Heights Artistic Director Eiki Isomura says of baritone Nathan Matticks, who will perform the role of the titular character, a hunchbacked court jester, “It takes a really insightful performer to be able to tap into the darker aspects of the character, almost sadistic parts of that character but also to be able to access that pure, fatherly love that has to be 100 percent believable in order for all of the heartbreak in the piece to really communicate to the audience." Performances will continue at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 26, and April 2, and at 7:30 p.m. on March 31 at Lambert Hall. Tickets can be purchased here for $42.50 to $87.50.
click to enlarge
Matthew Dirst will lead Ars Lyrica in a performance of Clori, Tirsi, e Fileno.
Photo by Pin Lim
Though ultimately enduring, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky himself guessed that his 1812 Overture would “probably be of no artistic worth” because it was written “without any warm feelings of love,” unlike his Serenade for Strings in C major, Op. 48. Tchaikovsky's Serenade, which will be performed by Mercury Chamber Orchestra on Saturday, March, 25, at 8 p.m. was “a piece from the heart” and he believed, as such, would “not lack artistic worth.” Joining the serenade, “full of unmistakable Tchaikovskian melancholy” and comprised of a “beautiful and rich chorale,” a “gracious waltz” and “extremely lyrical writing,” will be Richard Strauss’s “memorial elegy,” Metamorphosis for 23 Solo Strings. Tickets to the in-person concert at the Wortham Theater Center can be purchased here for $10 to $76. If you can’t make it, you can buy virtual event access for $20 through Mercury at Home streaming.

On Sunday, March 26, at 4 p.m. Ars Lyrica Houston will welcome soprano Lauren Snouffer, countertenor Key’mon Murrah and contralto Cecelia McKinley to Hobby Center for the Performing Arts for a performance of a gender-swapped Clori, Tirsi, e Fileno – complete with full Baroque orchestra. Artistic Director Matthew Dirst will lead the ensemble in George Frideric Handel’s 1707 cantata, and he told the Houston Chronicle that “We know that castrati commonly sang female parts in the early 18th century and that contraltos often sang male parts; and so here we’ve simply embraced that wholeheartedly and reversed the genders of all three, mostly because we had singers who were available who could enable that kind of casting.” Tickets are available for the in-person performance here for $25 to $75. If you can’t make it, you can buy a digital pass for $20 to enjoy the show from the comfort of your own home.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Natalie de la Garza is a contributing writer who adores all things pop culture and longs to know everything there is to know about the Houston arts and culture scene.