Performing Arts

UMKC opera students explore the dark and the light in works by Ravel, Poulenc

In “L’Enfant et les Sortilèges,” the tables are turned on a naughty child (Mindy Guidroz) by creatures he has victimized, including a dragonfly (Christina Ray).
In “L’Enfant et les Sortilèges,” the tables are turned on a naughty child (Mindy Guidroz) by creatures he has victimized, including a dragonfly (Christina Ray).

The Opera Department of the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance has become one of the most creative forces in Kansas City. Under its director, Fenlon Lamb, the department has been presenting satisfying and ingenious productions, like last year’s “Hansel and Gretel,” with sets and costumes made entirely from paper. Now Lamb and her students are presenting two important 20th century works in an operatic double-header.

Fire-Child 1
In “L’Enfant et les Sortilèges,” based on a fairy tale by French author Colette, a naughty child (Mindy Guidroz) gets his comeuppance. Fire is played by Lydia Bechtel. Cory Weaver

Sunday, March 25, is your last chance to see Francis Poulenc’s “La Voix Humaine” and Maurice Ravel’s “L’Enfant et les Sortileges” at White Recital Hall.

La voix humaine 2
In “La Voix Humaine,” a woman (Laurel Weir) gets a distressing phone call from her lover. The UMKC Opera Department will present Francis Poulenc’s work on Sunday. Cory Weaver

Poulenc based his opera on a play by surrealist Jean Cocteau. It’s a demanding showcase for a soprano that lets the audience eavesdrop on a disturbing phone call between a suicidal woman and her lover, who has informed her he’s leaving her for someone else.

Ravel’s “L’Enfant et les Sortilèges,” however, will lighten the mood. The opera is a setting of a fairy tale by French author Colette. It’s the story of a brat who gets his comeuppance from the objects, plants and animals that have been victimized by his tantrums. The work has its dark moments, but, spoiler alert, like all good fairy tales, it has a happy ending.

2:30 p.m. March 25. White Recital Hall, 4949 Cherry. $12. 816-235-6222 or tinyurl.com/y6u34j2n.

Kansas City Chorale

Along with robins and cherry blossoms, one of the harbingers of spring is the Kansas City Chorale’s concert at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art the day before Easter. Charles Bruffy will lead his multi-Grammy Award-winning chorale in “Springsong” on Saturday, March 31, at Kirkwood Hall.

Bruffy always chooses spiritually uplifting music for the concert, which is incredibly popular. If you’d like to go, you’re encouraged to get your tickets soon, as Kirkwood Hall fills up fast.

5:30 p.m. March 31. Kirkwood Hall, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 4525 Oak St. $25. 816-235-6222 or kcchorale.org.

Te Deum

Scottish composer James MacMillan is unusual among contemporary composers. A devout Catholic, MacMillan often reflects his deep faith in his works, which are the antithesis of happy-clappy, contemporary Christian music. They are challenging while at the same time spiritually nurturing.

The Te Deum Chamber Choir, led by its artistic director Matthew Christopher Shepard, will perform one of MacMillan’s most moving works, “Seven Last Words From the Cross,” Sunday, March 25, at Village Presbyterian Church.

BBC Television commissioned the piece in 1994, with each section played on a different night during that year’s Holy Week. Te Deum will present “Seven Last Words” in its entirety. Like a Renaissance artist, MacMillan creates a vivid musical painting of Christ’s last moments on the cross. “Seven Last Words” is now considered one of the great choral works of the 20th century.

3 p.m. March 25. Village Presbyterian Church, 6641 Mission Road, Prairie Village. $15. Tickets available at the door. For more information about Te Deum, visit te-deum.org.

Musica Vocale

Musica Vocale, conducted by its artistic director Arnold Epley and assistant artistic director Jay Carter, will present “Shared Music Transcends Time” Sunday, March 25, at Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral.

The program will feature music by Bach, Brahms, Krzysztof Penderecki and Kansas City composers such as Anthony Maglione, Ian David Coleman and Geoffrey Wilcken. Musica Vocale is led by two of Kansas City’s finest choral conductors and is made up of immensely talented singers who are devoted to their craft. Any concert by Musica Vocale is worth consideration for any lover of choral music.

2 p.m. March 25. Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, 415 W. 13th St. $10-$15. For more information about Musica Vocale, visit musicavocale.org.

You can reach Patrick Neas at patrickneas@kcartsbeat.com and follow his Facebook page, KC Arts Beat, at facebook.com/kcartsbeat.

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