Robert Faires' Top 10 Joys in Dance and Classical in 2019
It was a year in which the bold and the beautiful made strong impressions in dance and music
1) SILENT NIGHT (Austin Opera) This rich staging of the Puts/Campbell Pulitzer winner about a Xmas Eve truce on a World War I battlefield proved opera to be an ideal form for showing the horrors of war and the fragility of peace.
2) GRIMM TALES (Ballet Austin) Deliciously dark, grotesquely funny fairy tales brought to lurid life from Natalie Frank's art by Stephen Mills' outstanding choreography, vivid design work, and the BA company at their best.
3) IDÒBÁLÈ (Dance Repertory Theatre) The finale to DRT's Fortitude, a memorial to student Haruka Weiser created by Charles O. Anderson with student dancers, grieved and honored her in glorious, deeply moving ways.
4) MADISON LEONARD IN RIGOLETTO (Austin Opera) Every note, every step, every gesture radiated young love with a freshness and honesty that made you fall for her Gilda the way she fell for the Duke. And that voice!
5) MOZART: PIANO CONCERTO NO. 12 WITH LEON FLEISHER (Austin Symphony) The 90-year-old seemed to bring his full musical career to bear on every note, sounding each with purpose and a rare contemplation.
6) WHEN HEAVEN IS WEDDED TO EARTH (Ensemble VIII) This celebration of spring in Franco-Flemish choral music of the 16th century and before had exquisite harmonies blooming and cascading like falling waters.
7) RUB A DUCK (Frank Wo/Men Collective) Dance as an endurance test in a shower with a dominatrix. Absurd, audacious, ineffable barely begins to cover this show, but it ends with: totally, intensely fascinating.
8) IN LIGHT (Blue Lapis Light) Humans channeling angels – spinning, twirling, and making contact suspended in air at unreal heights. Again, Sally Jacques' aerial dancers awed with their artistry and rare courage.
9) MYSTIC, SCIENTIST, SCHOLAR, NUN (Texas Early Music Project) Whatever holy spirit moved Hildegard von Bingen must have inspired TEMP in performing her music, as its 14 women singers were beyond heavenly.
10) THE HOPE OF LOVING (Conspirare) The title tells the tale: Craig Hella Johnson's company of voices wrapped Jake Runestad's choral compositions in a loving embrace and then released them in glorious song.
STEPHEN REDFIELD (La Follia/Conspirare/TEMP)
EVERYTHING! EVERYTHING! EVERYTHING! (Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company)
THOMAS BURRITT CHAMBER PERCUSSION (Butler School of Music)
THE SINGING GUITAR (Conspirare)
PRAISING THE BELOVED: THE SONG OF SONGS (Texas Early Music Project)