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Austin Opera will presents the Jeanette Nassour Pre-Opera Dinner, a three-course meal followed by a reception in the Kodosky Lounge with the cast and creative team of The Pearl Fishers.

Photo by Naomi Loghry

Austin burlesque performer holds benefit to shake out donations — including a new kidney

dance the wait away

Amelie Ahmose has been shaking it off and out for months — “it” being kidney disease, specifically IgA nephropathy, also known as Berger's disease. The burlesque dancer is awaiting an immediate kidney transplant and keeping her dancing shoes on in the meantime, including for a benefit event on February 25 at Elysium, called “A Wake Up for Amelie.”

The goal is manyfold: to dance, celebrate, and raise funds to lessen the financial burden on the performer, whose health coverage is limited. Ticket proceeds and additional cash donations will go to her kidney fund. Although Ahmose was placed on a waitlist for a transplant from a deceased donor, living donors are strongly preferred, she shared on Instagram in October of 2022.

The “dance party, burlesque show, and living wake” will be hosted by burlesque artist Coco Lectric, with performances by burlesque dancers Ruby Lamb, Mistress Moon, Sado Moore, Cimmeria Steel, Ginger Snaps; drag performers Jack Rabid and Alexander Danger; and cabaret singer Stella Pipes.

DJs Crescendoll & Neph will be playing dark genres including funeral pop and post-punk, and go-go dancers will keep the party going throughout. Alongside the performances, there will be a blacklight dance party, a raffle, and local vendors.

Ahmose was diagnosed with Stage 4 kidney failure due to hypertension and Berger's disease in 2022 at 34, having gone to the hospital with symptoms she had attributed to dehydration. There is no known cure for the disease, but it can be treated with medication and by performing a transplant.

She has been performing burlesque for 15 years, including some belly dance acts and a background in opera and acting. Her style is usually dark and gothic, and she prides herself on her “twisted sense of humor” according to her website.

Tickets ($10-100, 18 and older only) to “A Wake Up for Amelie” are available on Eventbrite, along with information on donating via Venmo. The party runs from 9:30 pm to 2 am, with a pre-party on Twitch from 7-9 pm. More information about donating a kidney, to Amelie or anyone else, is available at utclivingdonor.com or 210-567-5777.

Photo courtesy of Austin Opera

Austin Opera presents The Pearl Fishers

Bizet’s luscious opera The Pearl Fishers features the beauty of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in this heart-rending struggle to the death between friendship and love.

In the instantly recognizable duet, "Au fond du temple saint", best friends Zurga and Nadir swear that their friendship will never again be challenged by the love of a woman. Of course, as with all good foreshadowing, the arrival of a veiled and anonymous priestess does exactly that.

As the men each realize that the priestess is, in fact, Lei¨la, the woman they both once loved and fought over, the triangles at play in the opera are not simply between the three main characters. A battle also ensues between friendship, love and vows made in faith, and as secrets are revealed and vows are broken, love can only be won through sacrifice. But who must ultimately lose everything to allow the others to find love and happiness?

Photo courtesy of Austin Opera

Austin Opera presents Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

The tale of Sweeney Todd is a dark and brooding, yet sharply comic, story of love, revenge and meat pies. At the broken heart of the story is the wrongly exiled barber, Sweeney Todd, as he returns to London to seek revenge on the lecherous Judge Turpin who ruined his life and destroyed his family.

When Todd reunites with the ever-resourceful and ever-unscrupulous Mrs. Lovett, the owner of a local pie shop, his razor-sharp need for vengeance soon supplies Mrs. Lovett with as much meat as she needs for her new and highly popular range of delicious meat pies. But Sweeney’s desperate hunger for revenge cannot be satiated by a meat pie, however tasty.

Austin Opera presents Rossini's The Barber of Seville

The 2022–2023 Long Center Season opens with Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, a witty tale of bribery, deception, disguise, and of course, true love. With all the essential components of the best comic operas, Barber drops the audience into a forbidden love story between the rich-nobleman-disguised-as-poor-student Count Almaviva and the vivacious-but-orphaned Rosina, as they try to work out how to escape from the grasping hands of her cantankerous guardian, Dr. Bartolo.

To solve the problem, in steps the wiliest of sidekicks, local barber and handyman Figaro, who plots and schemes with the young couple to make sure that true love triumphs in the end, though only after numerous mischievous escapades and near-misses.

Courtesy of Zach Theatre

Zach Theatre’s esteemed artistic director shares his optimism on the state of the arts in Austin

THE SHOW MUST GO ON

In the 43 years since the founding of SXSW, Austin’s most iconic and well-attended festival had never been canceled, but on March 6, 2020, the unbelievable happened. Eventually, the entire state and nation went on pandemic lockdown, throwing businesses, restaurants, theaters, musicians, actors, and arts organizations into complete chaos. One local musician described it as one day sailing along under blue skies and the next being sunk by a tsunami.

But one of the beautiful things about arts organizations, especially those in Austin, is that they are populated by dreamers and creatives. They are also often populated by stubborn naysayers who refuse to give up and believe there is always a way to get through any crisis if you are dedicated.

Fast-forward to August 2021 and — albeit with a healthy dose of caution — Austin’s arts organizations are gearing up for their comeback 2021-2022 seasons. The way back hasn’t been easy, and there have been layoffs and cutbacks. Fortunately for Austinites, the creative forces behind the arts have found imaginative ways to survive, aiming to come back stronger than ever.

One such creative dreamer and arts leader is Dave Steakley, producing artistic director of Zach Theatre for the past 28 years. As the pandemic struck, Steakley was in rehearsal for the theater’s Roe-v.-Wade-inspired production. The lockdown ended Zach’s 2020 season and also canceled the educational outreach and classes for schoolchildren, but the team remained optimistic, revising their plans month by month.

The stress mounted as shows were canceled one by one and the realization hit that it was going to be a long-term shutdown. Steakley dubs it “the season that was not meant to be.”

Determined to find a way to stay afloat, Steakley meditated in the theater’s plaza in hopes of coming up with some creative solutions. That’s when it came to him that it might be a space where he could produce outdoor concerts and keep the connection with loyal Zach patrons and the music they love.

“I had just seen a virtual Sondheim production and thought of the conclusion where Bernadette Peters sang ‘No One is Alone’ from her apartment balcony in New York,” Steakley remembers. “I looked around at the space we have and I thought, ‘We have the balcony for Rapunzel, the stairs for Cinderella, we have the woods and the cow statue for Into the Woods,’ and I began to visualize ways that we could do that show, hoping for 2020. However, the actors union was not going to allow any shows to happen, so I began to think of what we could do with the outdoor space we have. We have always filled in our schedule with concerts and cabarets. So we began to produce concerts with people very spaced apart in pods — and they sold out quickly.”

In the spring of 2021, concerts resumed, but 70 people had been furloughed or laid off, leaving Steakley with a production crew of only three, including himself. The concerts have been consistently sold out and have become a “new Zach tradition” that Steakley plans to continue.

The 2021-2022 season officially kicks off September 29 with Into the Woods, which will be produced on the plaza, just as Steakley envisioned in 2020. Patron favorite A Christmas Carol will return to the Topfer theatre in November, assuming all goes to plan and productions can return to the indoors.

In addition to a creative pivot, Steakley says he is extremely grateful to the very loyal sponsors and patrons who have kept Zach afloat during these tough times.

“The Austin artists I know are resilient and creative to the nth degree,” he says. “While the challenge has been formidable and continues to be, I have been so impressed with our staff and artists and the way they have adapted to keep the arts going and to keep the connectivity that builds community. So many patrons have told us how it has helped their mental health to be able to get out of the house and hear some music that made them happy. We felt that we were providing a service that was desperately needed for everyone’s well-being. I am very optimistic moving forward. All of the arts organizations in Austin feed our souls, lift our spirits, and touch our hearts. I am grateful that our community did not let us falter during this time.”

Upcoming shows from Austin’s favorite arts orgs

(Note: In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, check each organization’s website and social media pages for updates prior to scheduled shows.)

  • Zach Theatre: The 2021-2022 season gets started with Into the Woods, composer Stephen Sondheim’s fairytale masterpiece. September 29-November 7.
  • The Long Center: In partnership with ACL Radio and Black Fret, the Long Center is hosting its free, socially distanced Drop-In series on the H-E-B Terrace, bringing local musicians to the stage every Thursday through September 9. Sign up here for admittance. The 2021 season kicks off October 27 with A Conversation with John Leguizamo in Dell Hall.
  • Ballet Austin: The season kicks off on September 24 with Joy / 3 Happy Dances By Stephen Mills. The Nutcracker returns to the stage December 3, and the season wraps up with a classic production of Swan Lake May 6-8, 2022.
  • Austin Symphony Orchestra: Austin’s famed symphony, led by the renowned Peter Bay, returns with live concert hall performances for the 2021-2022 season, beginning with ¡Espíritu Latino! September 17-18.
  • Austin Opera: Love, lust, seduction, infidelity, and forgiveness unfurl on the stage with a classic, The Marriage of Figaro, which opens the season on November 6.
  • Broadway in Austin:Hamilton kicks off the season December 7 at Bass Concert Hall. The 2021-2022 season is a good one, especially for those who have sorely missed Broadway.
  • University of Texas Performing Arts: From the McCullough Theater to the Bates Recital Hall and Bass Concert Hall, this promises to be a season packed with music, dance, and theater. The Wooster Group performs in their Texas debut at McCullough Theatre September 9-12.
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New Hill Country farmers market debuts in Bee Cave this month

MARKET BUZZ

Over 40 local farmers and makers will bring their goods to the Hill Country Galleria on Sunday, June 4 for the launch of the new Bee Cave Farmers Market. Visitors can shop at the Central Plaza Lawn from 10 am to 2 pm.

Locally-grown, fresh produce will be sold by Farmer Dave's, Citizen Mushroom, Pedernales River Farm, Persnickety Gardens, and Smyrna Farms. Gift and creative vendors include Auntie Gigi's Dog Treats, Austin Fine Jewelry, B&G Artisan Gifts, Herbal Root Collective, Luminosa Vida, Plant Lady ATX, and many more.

The farmers market doesn't just provide opportunities to shop local: Nonprofits that would like to spread the word about their cause can also find a place at the market with their free booth application.

Organizers have also dedicated an entire row of booths to young entrepreneurs looking to start their own small business, and provide any planning or decorating assistance as necessary, free of charge.

The market will also feature plenty of live music and family-friendly activities. Local bands will perform from 11 am to 2 pm every week in June. The Hens are scheduled to perform during the market's debut on June 4, and Rent Party will perform on June 11. Honeybee Jazz will bring their sultry vocals to the stage on June 18, and The Boss Jaguars will close out the month on June 25.

More information about the Bee Cave Farmer's Market can be found on their website.

Heartless Bastards to play two nights at Antone's, plus more Austin music picks for early June

Music Notes

School’s out for summer, so now you've got plenty of time to take in the many great local shows that are coming up. Recommendations for the first half of June can be found here.

Beat 4 Beat at the Belmont – Thursday, June 1
Beat 4 Beat, which provides free after-school music classes for Austin-area school districts and private schools, is holding a fundraising show this Thursday, June 1 at the Belmont. Latin funk vets Grupo Fantasma will headline, and Jaime Ospina (of Superfónicos) will open the show. There are two ticket options: $30 for GA, $60 for VIP.

Rickshaw Billie’s Big Dumb Fest at the Mohawk – Sunday, June 4
Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol have put together what they’re calling the Big Dumb Fest, and it's this Sunday, June 4 at the Mohawk. Aside from the buzzy rockers, the lineup includes Gus Baldwin & the Sketch, Tia Carrera, Eagle Claw, Billy Glitter, Buzz Electro, and Pinko, plus you can expect eats by Chilly’s Philly’s, Bad Larry Burger Club, Jim Jams Biscuits, and Chef’s Kiss. Tickets for the event are just $20.

Britt Daniel at C-Boys Heart & Soul – Wednesday, June 7
Spoon frontman Britt Daniel has a solo gig lined up for Wednesday, June 7 at C-Boys Heart & Soul. Jo Alice will join him for the set, and you can also expect performances from Alicia Gail and Shooks. Tickets for the show are $12.

Sir Woman at the Parish – Friday, June 9
Soul pop act Sir Woman (Kelsey Wilson of Wild Child) has a new song on the way and a show on the books for Friday, June 9 at the Parish. Cat Clemons, Motenko, and Sketch round out the rest of the bill. Tickets are $22 each.

Heartless Bastards at Antone’s – June 9 & 10
Heartless Bastards have two shows coming up at Antone’s – Friday, June 9 and Saturday, June 10. The rock act, which features the big-voiced Erika Wennerstrom, will be joined by Jon Muq on the first night and Tele Novella on the second. Tickets for each show are $30.

Being Dead at Hotel Vegas – Friday, June 16
Get yourself to Hotel Vegas on Friday, June 16. Not only will Being Dead be celebrating the release of a new single off their anticipated album, When Horses Would Run, but the rest of the bill also features some noteworthy up and comers, including Die Spitz, Font, and je'Texas. Tickets can be had for just $10.

8 enticing Austin exhibits to jump into this June

State of the Arts

The arts in Austin make a splash this month with a refreshing assortment of exhibits. There are community made fairy dwellings to admire, and hopefully a fairy or two to see at Zilker Botanical Garden; a group photography show at Cloud Tree Gallery that questions the role of photographer in a world where we are all photographers on our mobile devices; Patrick Puckett gives us bold, confident Southern tinged portraits at Wally Workman; and Austin artist Thomas Flynn II paints forests and nature meant to tickle your fancy at Vaughn Gallery. Soak up these energizing summer exhibits while the sun shines.

Zilker Botanical Garden

“The Woodland Faerie Trail” — Now through June 10
The fairies have arrived at Zilker Botanical Gardens to take up their summer residency in tiny, natural homes created by Austin families, school groups, and individuals on display off the Oak Grove, along the winding Woodland Faerie Trail. The Garden hosts special events like a chance to visit the fairies by moonlight on June 3, or a Fae Fest on June 10, where you can make your own fairy wings, be a part of a fairy fashion show, or explore examples of plants featured in botanical folklore.

Dougherty Arts Center

“Darcie Book: Second Sight: A Visual Opera" — Now through July 22
Interactive installations are always fascinating because, suddenly, we are told we can touch the art and enjoy a tactile experience beyond just gazing at it. “Second Sight: A Visual Opera” by multidisciplinary artist Darcie Book is a single piece — an abstract narrative — that unfolds as the viewer-participant moves through the space and is confronted by unexpected materials. "In the darkness, in the unknown," the description posits, "we are in a world between dimensions."

Austin Central Library

“Aubree Dale: Go-To’s” — June 2 through August 12
“'Go-To’s' is an exhibition of oil paintings big and small peppered with small supplementary sculptures," explains the artist's website. Dale’s sculptures are fashioned out of "rescued plastics and homemade bioplastics" that become "transparent artifacts and portals." The exhibit sprung out of the artist becoming a mother and her feelings of anxiety and abundance as well as “a scaling back of my eagerness to please others.”

Cloud Tree Studios and Gallery

“Generation Loss: Image Making in an Age of Over-Saturation" — June 3 through 24
In this group photography show, twelve artists examine what it means to be a photographer "in an age where everyone is a photographer." The gallery explains that "in analog media development, the term 'generation loss' refers to the modification of content and reduction of detail when duplicates or multiple generations of copies are created." Are we responsible for “reducing” the art of photography because of the abundance permeating our lives via social media?

Wally Workman Gallery

"Patrick Puckett: Mythos" — June 3 through July 2
If you enjoy "bold colors and languid figures," you may enjoy the work of Patrick Puckett whose paintings are "unapologetically sure of themselves." The works on paper aim for intimacy, with confident brush strokes and colors. The figures in Puckett's paintings are "visual inventions" from his experiences living in the South.

Vaughn Gallery

“Thomas Flynn II: To Catch the Sun Dreaming” — June 8 through July 22
Thomas Flynn II is an Austin artist bringing a fresh perspective on plein air painting (i.e. painting outdoors) creating environmental and thought provoking paintings on raw canvas. In Flynn’s work forests and nature "represent a place of eternal play and exploration" as well as the "cycles of growth and decay." After viewing his work you feel like you’ve had your daily dose of Mother Nature.

Art for the People

“Vibrance of Summer" — June 10 through August 11
With more 35 artists participating, “Vibrance of Summer” is all about immersing oneself in the vibrance of summertime and the energy of the season. Some featured pieces include a stained glass mountain landscape, a multimedia textured work displaying the art of tree bark, and a moody painting of blueberries that subverts the usual colors of summer. If you need a cheerful, sunny arts experience, then Art for the People is offering a dose of cheer.

West Chelsea Contemporary

Beauty and the Beast, 1959 by Slim Aarons, estate stamped print.

Courtesy of West Chelsea Contemporary

Beauty and the Beast, 1959 by Slim Aarons, estate stamped print.

“EDITIONS” — June 16 through July 16
“Editions” features more than 100 artists over a span of six decades showcasing limited-edition prints, which as the gallery points out, "creates a sense of exclusivity and scarcity." It continues, "From modern masters and blue-chip artists to street art pioneers and ultra-contemporary innovators, the exhibit delivers a diverse range of artists who have each utilized printmaking as a way to experiment within and expand the reach of their artistic practice." From Chuck Close, Keith Haring and Damien Hirst all the way to Fab 5 Freddy, the exhibit packs a punch with the breadth and depth of artists.