The cultural highlights in our region this weekend include an alt-opera blending Bizet’s Carmen with Olympic figure skating; a festival of new plays; bluegrass; Chinese music; folk-rock harmonies; and collage art.
In the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, two figure skaters representing America and East Germany battled for Olympic gold, both accompanied by music from "Carmen." On Saturday at 8 p.m., mezzo-soprano Alicia Hall Moran, herself a former figure skater, tells French composer Georges Bizet's epic story in "Breaking Ice," an all-out musical fantasy for the concert stage, joined by fearless NYC jazz trio Harriet Tubman, at MASS MoCA in North Adams, in a work-in-progress showing.
The second annual Radius Playwrights Festival presented by Berkshire Playwrights Lab, featuring fully staged readings of six short plays by local writers - anyone within a 50-mile radius of Great Barrington - takes place at St. James Place tonight at 7, and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. This year's playwrights include Maizy Scarpa, Joe Starzyk, Anne Undeland, and Barry Jay Kaplan.
The Picky Bastards - the Berkshires' own bluegrass-centric power duo featuring Chris Merenda (on banjo & vocals) and Rob Sanzone (on guitars & mandolin) bring their musical grab-bag of everything from old-time traditionals to modern pop to classic rock 'n' roll and diamond-in-the-rough originals, all executed under the guise of bluegrass, to the Barn at the Egremont Village Inn in South Egremont, Mass., on Saturday at 8 p.m. Whenever they perform, the Bastards are typically joined by a rotating cast of all-star musicians.
On Sunday at 3 p.m., Bard's Fisher Center for the Performing Arts in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., will host a celebratory concert to launch the Chinese Music Development Initiative, a new collaboration between the U.S.-China Music Institute of the Bard College Conservatory of Music and the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. The Orchestra Now will collaborate with the Chamber Orchestra of the Central Conservatory in a concert featuring six new works by Chinese composers, all using a combination of Chinese and Western instruments.
The DuPont Brothers and The Sea The Sea share a double-bill featuring two of the region's preeminent indie-folk duos at Club Helsinki Hudson in Hudson, N.Y., tonight at 9. Zack and Sam DuPont are a Burlington, Vt.-based, sibling indie-folk-rock duo. The Sea The Sea is an upstate New York-based indie folk-pop duo featuring what Huffington Post calls, "Two of the loveliest male-female voices you might ever hear this or any other year."
“Intersections,” an exhibition featuring the work of Berkshire artist Leslee Carsewell, is on view at Knox Gallery at the Monterey, Mass., Library. Carsewell began making collaged compositions from her drawings, which evolved into direct paintings. She describes her work as “an outgrowth of design problem-solving using grids.” The work remains on view through Saturday, March 3.
Seth Rogovoy is editor of Berkishire Daily and the Rogovoy Report, available online at rogovoyreport.com