ARTful Living

Happy New Year!!

Remember how we held our collective breath, waiting for the new millennium to send gremlins into our computers? That was ten years ago! I learned something from that period of global worry; primarily, don’t stress unnecessarily. There are plenty of causes for concern in our world, without adding worry for what might possibly maybe happen. As we enter this second decade, I hope we all get to relax a little. That’s what I hope for the new year: a little less stress. So, how does this relate to art? Music soothes the soul. It touches us. It moves us. It inspires us. Maybe this is the year to listen to something new.

Are you an opera fan, or is opera a musical delicacy you’ve yet to taste? Teatro Lirico D’Europe, one of Europe’s beloved touring opera companies, returns to the Touhill Performing Arts Center on Saturday, January 16 to present just one fully staged performance of Guiseppe Verdi’s classic La Traviata.  Experience the only U.S. touring company performing opera in Italian, complete with a symphony orchestra, a chorus of trained singers and professional dancers. This opera will be performed in Italian, with English supertitles.

To enhance your opera-encounter with La Traviata, the Touhill also presents its E3! Program. Explore-Experience-Engage offers pre-show discussions, which begin 50 minutes prior to the performance, and a post-show reception, all free to ticket holders.

The opera is set in 19th century Paris and tells the story of a young man who falls madly in love with a wealthy French courtesan (who says opera isn’t intriguing!?). According to the Boston Phoenix, “A tragic story about thwarted happiness, shame and selfless sacrifices, this opera is extraordinary and heartbreaking.”Of course, the love affair faces doom from the start. Let the music sweep you from Paris salons to its countryside. You’ll leave humming the dramatic, enduring works.

The performance starts at 8 p.m. in the Anheuser-Busch Performance Hall of the Touhill. Tickets are $30, $35 and $40, available online at www.touhill.org or by phone at 314-516-4949. The Touhill is located on the north campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL), Exit #240 from I-70. There’s ample free parking. Better yet, make the trip “green” by taking MetroLink to the UMSL North Campus Station, just steps from the Touhill’s main entrance.

The St. Louis Art Museum offers live performances from the Metropolitan Opera in New York on the big screen of the auditorium. I happened to be in the St. Louis Art Museum one Saturday when a performance from the Met was about to begin. I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised to see the line for tickets. A new generation is discovering the operatic classics. Der Rosenkavalier will be performed on January 9 and Carmen will be performed on Saturday, January 16. All performances start promptly at noon, so arrive early to get the best seat! Tickets are just $22 (members $15). With Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant in the same wing of the museum, why not make the day into an event (reservations recommended). The Art Museum’s snack bar is also right there, if you prefer to warm up with a quick cup of coffee. Call 314-721-0072 or visit www.slam.org for more details.


Maybe you’d rather move to the beat of the music. COCA provides plenty of dance opportunities for children and adults alike, guaranteed to shake the winter chills. “Ay Carramba” offers 4 sessions of fast-paced salsa, samba and more, starting on January 13. Children can work on their Mexican folk dance steps, starting on January 16. The rest of the month provides adults with “Motown Meltdown” (4 sessions, from January 17); “closed embrace” Tango starting on January 15 (polish up those steps before Valentine’s Day!), and even Haitian dance, beginning on January 23. All at 524 Trinity Avenue in the Delmar Loop area. Call 314-725-6555 or visit www.cocastl.org for more details.


Since we’re talking about international music this month, round out your musical experience on January 22 when Nigerian master musician Ken Okulolo performs with his brothers. The African rhythms begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Grigg Gallery of the St. Louis Art Museum. The performance is free, but seating is limited.