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the TO-DO list

MATTHEW MURPHY

‘THE SOUND OF MUSIC’ JANELLE MONDANARO/ VIRGINIA OSBORNE

OPERA IN THE ROCK: ‘MADAMA BUTTERFLY’ FRIDAY 5/17, 6 P.M.; SUNDAY 5/19, 8 P.M. ARKANSAS REPERTORY THEATRE. $20-$65.

Without a riveting soprano, you do not have a “Madama Butterfly.” With one like Francesca Mondanaro at the top of your cast list, your “Madama Butterfly” will ruin the eyeliner and wreck the psyches of your audience members in one fell swoop. (That swoop has a name, actually — “Un bel di vedremo.” Second act. Can’t miss it.) Puccini’s title role is demanding enough to be considered a rite of passage for singers, and Mondanaro is beautifully equipped for it, with a leviathan of a dramatic soprano voice and a technique that draws upon the Italian Swedish singing school, the same school of thought that gave us Birgit Nilsson and Kirsten Flagstad. For Opera in the Rock’s performance of the tragedy set in Nagasaki, Japan, Mondanaro will be joined by Daniel Foltz-Morrison, Sarah Stankiewicz Dailey, Theodor Carlson and Tania Kelley, a 15-year-old making her operatic debut. David Ward — a basso buffo with a marvelous eye for painting a picture on stage — directs, and pianist Gio Antipolo serves as orchestra. Get tickets at oitr.org. SS

FRIDAY 5/24-SUNDAY 5/26. 7:30 P.M. FRI.-SAT., 2 P.M. SAT.-SUN. ROBINSON PERFORMANCE HALL. $33-$87. The hills of Little Rock will be alive with the sounds of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical, which somehow combines the cutesy origin story of a nun-turned-stepmother-led family band with the decidedly less cute rise of Nazis in 1930s Austria. The story of Sister Maria and the Von Trapp family has been captivating audiences in various forms for over 50 years and shows no signs of stopping. Carrie Underwood starred in a 2013 live version of the musical for NBC. Ariana Grande’s 2019 hit “7 Rings” interpolates a melody from the musical’s “My Favorite Things.” The plot for the musical is beautifully absurd: a nun kicked out of her convent for being too fun becomes governess to a military officer/widower and his gaggle of children, eventually melting his icy heart and using the family’s impressive musical abilities to pull the wool over the Third Reich’s eyes and skip town. I once played the role of the eldest Von Trapp son, Friedrich, in my church’s version of this musical and my lederhosen broke on stage, a nightmarish scenario from which I have never fully recovered. This touring version, in addition to showstoppers like “Do Re Mi,” “Climb Every Mountain” and “Edelweiss,” is likely to have sturdier lederhosen. DF

AFRICA DAY FEST

SATURDAY 5/25. 11 A.M.-6 P.M. BERNICE GARDEN, SOUTH MAIN STREET. The third annual Africa Day Fest on South Main is a chance to discover and celebrate the diverse spectrum of African cultures, including authentic African cuisine from Kontiki African Restaurant, live music, dancing, a drum circle and a fashion show displaying the stunning signature colors, patterns and silhouettes of traditional and contemporary African fashion. This year’s fashion show features Liberian-born designer and stylist

22 MAY 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

Korto Momolu, Tanzanian fashion designer Missy Temeke and Little Rock native fashion designer Freddie Reynolds. Africa Day Fest is free and kid-friendly. “Since I came to [the] United States,” Africa Day Fest founder Benito Lubazibwa told us, “I have realized many people in this country have misconceptions about Africa, and I am using the festival as a way to educate and transform the way people think about Africa.” MM

Profile for Arkansas Times

Arkansas Times | May 2019  

New Look for Pettaway KOKY KEEPS SPEAKING | DRIVING THE TALIMENA BYWAY | BIG IDEAS 2019

Arkansas Times | May 2019  

New Look for Pettaway KOKY KEEPS SPEAKING | DRIVING THE TALIMENA BYWAY | BIG IDEAS 2019