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Best Virtual Bets: Finches, Melismatic, and LuPone

Patti LuPone leads off the Live from the West Side: Women of Broadway series, the proceeds of which will go towards a group of nonprofits including Theatre Under the Stars.EXPAND
Patti LuPone leads off the Live from the West Side: Women of Broadway series, the proceeds of which will go towards a group of nonprofits including Theatre Under the Stars.
Photo by Rahav Segev

This coming week just so happens to include International Day of the Nacho, National Apple Day, National Boston Cream Pie Day, National Greasy Food Day and more. If you’re looking for an experience to indulge in while you and your stomach celebrate, we’ve compiled a list of things to do to keep you happy and full in the privacy of your own home.

If you thought you’d never see an opera about professional finch calling – yes, that’s real and it’s Belgian – then Houston Grand Opera has a surprise for you. This Friday, October 23, at 7:30 p.m. HGO will present Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera, by composer David T. Little and librettist Royce Vavrek. The 45-minute virtual film will be a chamber version with seven performers, including bass-baritone (and production co-director) Ryan McKinny, who Houstonians may recognize from last season’s turn in Don Giovanni. McKinney told the Houston Press that the opera, in which each of six singers have a bird and compete for whose bird chirps most in an hour, is “sort of in the style of a mockumentary." The one-act, comic opera is free and can be found on Marquee TV, an on-demand streaming platform.

In an interview with NPR, Zeshan Bagewadi, better known as Zeshan B, said, “When I was growing up and my folks were bopping to Desi music as well as soul music, I felt that these things were so intrinsically linked because of that shared struggle." NPR notes that "he channels the music of Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding" with a "signature" that combines “that classic soul sound with lyrics that pay tribute to his South Asian roots." This Friday, October 23, at 7:30 p.m. Zeshan B will livestream from New York to join Asia Society Texas Center and Miller Outdoor Theatre to play songs from his new album, Melismatic, and engage in an artist-to-artist dialogue with The Suffers' Kam Franklin. The performance and conversation are free and can be viewed on YouTube or Facebook.

Buffalo Bayou Park continues its five-year anniversary celebration, Artful Anniversary, this Saturday, October 24, at 7 p.m. when Da Camera lends its talented musicians to the festivities, including Chilean-American jazz pianist Jose-Miguel Yamal and a selection of DACAMERA Young Artists past and present. Specially curated for the series, which has scheduled five different virtual performance throughout October, the works will be performed at different spaces within the park. You can catch Da Camera’s performance film here, and you can still catch up on prior performances including Urban Yarnage by Knitscape, Houston Grand Opera vocalists singing on a BBP pontoon boat during Songs on the Water, and Urban Souls Dance Company using movement to explore Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern.

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Patti LuPone. We could probably stop there, but we’ll keep going just in case there’s a musical theater lover not already clicking over to see what’s up. What’s up is that Theatre Under the Stars has joined a group of nonprofits for a virtual concert series: Live from the West Side: Women of Broadway. And yes, LuPone – possessor of Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Actress – leads off the three-part series this Saturday, October 24, at 7 p.m. Digital passes including on-demand viewing for the concert are $30 and a discounted 3-show package is available for $75 here, with proceeds from the series, livestreamed live from The Shubert Virtual Studios in New York, going toward supporting TUTS. And with Tony Award winner Laura Benanti scheduled for Saturday, November 14, and star Vanessa Williams on Saturday, December 5, you really might want to consider that package deal.

In 1986, Diana Piazzolla recalled a day hearing her father, Astor Piazzolla, the great Argentinean composer widely acknowledged as the originator of nuevo tango, playing the bandoneon alone. “It was a very sad, terribly sad melody. He was composing ‘Adiós Nonino,” she said, one of his most recognizable works, composed after the death of his father. The beauty of Piazzolla’s work will be on display this Saturday, October 24, at 7:30 p.m. when Aperio presents a program that includes Piazzola’s piece alongside works from Heitor Villa-Lobos, Paquito D’Rivera, José Bragato, and Aaron Copland. The chamber music ensemble, well known around town for specializing in the works of contemporary composers from across the Americas, will perform during Aperio Presents Music by Copland, Piazzolla, D'Rivera, & Bragato, on the closed stage of Miller Outdoor Theatre. The performance is free and can be watched here, here, or here.

This Saturday, October 24, at 7:30 p.m. Ars Lyrica will premiere the first of two all-Bach related programs this fall. Saturday’s 60-minute program, Conflict & Concord, will include Bach’s Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust, BWV 170,  Trio Sonata from A Musical Offering, BWV 1079  and Ein Herz, and das seinen Jesum lebend weib BWV 134. Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased here.

When the Houston Symphony titles its program Tchaikovsky’s Serenade, you can expect a masterwork, and that’s what you’ll get on Saturday, October 24, at 8 p.m. when the Symphony and Yoonshin Song, violinist and program leader, tackle Tchaikovsky’s Serenade in C major for Strings, Op. 48. The complexity of the piece is shown in a first movement marked by "a beautiful and rich chorale" and "perpetual musical motion," to a “gracious waltz that ‘updates’ the requisite dance movement” to “a more contemporary dance form” in the second; and the "direct, emotional and extremely lyrical writing" of the third movement (“Elegy") before “Tchaikovsky channels the inventiveness and unpredictability of his beloved Mozart” in the fourth. You can purchase tickets for $20 to watch the livestream of the program, which includes Puccini’s “Chrysanthemums” and “Tepito: Barrio de Resistencia” by Gabriela Ortiz, here.

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