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The Arts in 1995: Michelangelo, Martha and ‘Miss Saigon’ Too

With the New Year comes a new season of arts exhibitions and performances. Following are some highlights:

Art

Among top attractions at Southern California’s art museums, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu will present for the first time a spectacular addition to its collection, Michelangelo’s “Rest on the Flight Into Egypt.” Purchased at auction on July 6, 1993, for $6.27 million, the 1530 drawing will be the centerpiece of a small exhibition Jan. 10-March 26, including related books, photographs and auction catalogues. In its inaugural showing in the United States, the rare double-sided drawing will be presented in a special case enabling visitors to see the image of the Holy Family on one side and a group of amorous cherubs on the other.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art will christen its new building, designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta, with a daylong celebration on Jan. 18. Inaugural exhibitions will include “Public Information: Desire, Disaster, Document,” “William Klein New York 1954-1955,” “Mario Botta: The SFMOMA Project” and several thematic displays from the permanent collection.

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On tap at the California Museum of Photography in Riverside is “The Garden of Earthly Delights: Photographs by Edward Weston and Robert Mapplethorpe,” comparing 80 works by two celebrated American photographers, from March 4 to April 30.

At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, “American Painters of Modern Life: Impressionism and Realism” will explore thematic similarities between two styles generally viewed in terms of their differences, from March 12 to May 14.

The San Diego Museum of Art will present “Rothko: The Spirit of Myth--Early Paintings From the ‘30s and ‘40s,” featuring the early work of an Abstract Expressionist known for painting luminous clouds of color, from March 18 to May 28.

Dance

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The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater plays its longest Southland season, Feb. 17-26 at the Wiltern Theatre (sponsored by UCLA), Feb. 28-March 1 at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert and March 3-5 at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. Female choreographers are featured, with Judith Jamison’s “Hymn” (text by Anna Deavere Smith) and new works by Brenda Way and Elisa Monte scheduled for the tour.

Celebrating the Martha Graham centennial, her company will include early rarities on its March 2 and 3 programs at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Cal State L.A. Each performance will include “Satyric Festival Song,” a 1932 solo long out of repertory but famous from vintage photographs. A reconstruction of Graham’s “Spectre 1914" (1936) and Ted Shawn’s “Serenata Morisca” (Graham’s first solo in her Denishawn apprenticeship) are also scheduled.

Theater

The much-anticipated West Coast premiere of “Miss Saigon,” the blockbuster musical by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg about the ill-fated romance between a young Vietnamese woman and an American soldier in 1975, opens Jan. 25 at the also much-anticipated, newly renovated Ahmanson Theatre.

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Anna Deavere Smith, acclaimed for her theatrical exploration of urban racial and class conflict, performs her solo show “Fires in the Mirror” at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido on Jan. 28. It is the first time Smith will perform the piece live in its entirety in Southern California.

Sherry Glaser’s “Family Secrets,” the tour de force theatrical gallery of family portraits that was a hit in Southern California before becoming a long-running Off Broadway favorite in New York returns with a multi-stop tour to the area. On Feb. 2, Glaser performs at McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert and then moves to the Henry Fonda Theatre in Hollywood on Feb. 7.

Twin brothers, separated at birth, form an ultimately tragic bond in “Blood Brothers,” a British musical fable written by Willy Russell (“Educating Rita”) and starring David Cassidy and Petula Clark (as the twins’ mother). The show opens Feb. 7 at Orange County Performing Arts Center and moves to the Wilshire Theatre on March 14.

“The Woman Warrior,” a stage adaptation of Maxine Hong Kingston’s novels, combines mythology, music, dance and personal history in the coming-of-age odyssey of a young Chinese American girl, opening Feb. 16 at the Doolittle Theatre in Hollywood.

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Playwright Jon Robin Baitz takes on capitalistic greed and cynicism in his drama “Three Hotels,” about a top-level executive beginning to face his own culpability for his company’s destructive profiteering, opening March 23 at the Mark Taper Forum.

Family

The Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis celebrates its 30th anniversary Jan. 28 with a touring production of a Victorian era “Animal Fables From Aesop,” at UCLA’s Ralph Freud Playhouse. Other dates: Norris Theatre in Rolling Hills Estates (Jan. 29), Irvine Barclay Theatre (Jan. 31, Feb. 1), L.G. Williams Theatre, Visalia (Feb. 2), Ventura High School (Feb. 4), Citrus College in Glendora (Feb. 5), Escondido’s California Center for the Arts (Feb. 10-11).

The Milwaukee-based Great American Children’s Theatre Company’s new musical version of Margery Williams’ classic storybook, “The Velveteen Rabbit,” begins its Southern California tour Feb. 1 at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. Other dates: San Bernardino’s California Theatre of the Performing Arts (Feb. 7-8), the Alex Theatre in Glendale (Feb. 14-16) and Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza (March 1-2).

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Music

The star singer from Modena, Luciano Pavarotti, returns to Los Angeles Wednesday, this time at the Forum in Inglewood and without fellow tenors. With him will be soprano Cynthia Lawrence and an orchestra conducted by Leone Magiera.

Sir Simon Rattle returns to town Friday through Sunday to conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic in fanfares by Sir Michael Tippett, Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony and the premiere of Gerald Levinson’s Second Symphony. From Jan. 12-15, Rattle will again lead the Philharmonic, this time with pianist Peter Serkin performing Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments.

Peter Sellars’ fervid imagination meets Debussy’s ineffable vagueness, with a new production setting “Pelleas et Melisande” in Malibu. In the pit, Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Opening Feb. 4, the opera repeats Feb. 7, 10 and 12 (matinee).

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Itzhak Perlman, the leading American violinist of his generation, makes a single Southern California appearance Feb. 5 at the new California Center for the Arts in Escondido.

German conductor Klaus Donath leads an English version of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” with staging by Jay Lesenger, sets and costumes by David Hockney, and a cast including Janet Williams, Anna Vickre, Paul Austin Kelly, Thomas Barrett and Kevin Bell in an Opera Pacific production at the Orange County Performing Arts Center March 11-26.

After being set back by a cold last fall, the acclaimed Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli appears Feb. 9 at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido.


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