Mock Opera, Rock Opera, Stargazing and Studio Tours Elevated
by Leslie Vreeland
Sep 20, 2012 | 600 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hard to choose between stars on stage or stars in the sky, as both are on offer tonight in Telluride. One man serves as a bridge between both events: indeed, this evening could just as well be dubbed Brian May Night. May is best known as the virtuoso guitarist in the rock group Queen. His instantly memorable, well-constructed melodic leads on such “mock-opera” classics as “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Are the Champions” and the David Bowie hit, “Under Pressure,” “put him in a class all by himself,” allmusic.com critic Greg Prato has said. Queen were never critics’ darlings – a writer from Rolling Stone dubbed one of their albums “fascist”– but they were enormously popular, and the rock film Hungarian Rhapsody: Live in Budapest 1986 which premieres at 6 p.m. tonight at The Palm, catches them at the peak of their powers. The concert, filmed before an audience of 80,000, was a first: a “Western” rock concert had never before been staged behind the Iron Curtain (the Berlin Wall would fall three years later). It was also a last: flamboyant lead singer Freddie Mercury, who died in 1991 from  AIDS, would never tour with the band again. “This is a band who lived to be on stage,” The Guardian’s critic Phelim O’Neill writes of Hungarian Rhapsody, “and this is the best document I’ve seen of that experience.”

Following Mercury’s death, the band members more or less went their separate ways, and in 2007, guitarist Brian May went on to earn a Ph.D. in astrophysics (his dissertation is entitled “A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud”). Those more likely to be impressed by May’s astrophysical calculations than his guitar riffs might be interested in the Pinhead Institute’s Stargazing event, also tonight, at the Telluride Historical Museum. It’s hosted by local astronomer Creighton “Woody” Wood, who usually observes the night skies from his home outside Norwood, and who “led the Transit of Venus viewing we held at the base of the gondola in June,” Pinhead Program Director Amy Laubenstein reports. The subject of this event is Amateur Astronomy and, more specifically, using a telescope. If you have one, bring it (the Pinhead folk are eager to help you get the most out of it). If you don’t have one, don’t worry – a selection will be on hand. Bring a jacket, too: evening weather is expected to be mostly clear, with temperatures in the low 40s. It’s Pinhead’s final Stargazing event of the year, though the Institute will be hosting “numerous scholars in local schools, as well as science programs in collaboration with the library this fall,” Laubenstein said. If you live closer to Montrose than Telluride, and would like to touch base with local astronomers, the Black Canyon Astronomy Club holds its monthly meeting next Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 7 p.m. in Delta at the Partners Building. The event will include an update on NASA’s Curiosity Rover, which touched down on Mars Aug. 5 in the Red Planet’s Gale Crater, on Bradbury landing. Shortly after the landing, the Curiosity team posted a message on Twitter:  “In tribute, I dedicate my landing spot to you, Ray Bradbury. Greetings from Bradbury Landing!” The author of The Martian Chronicles had passed away just two months earlier.

Musical theatre in Grand Junction

Colorado Mesa University’s theatre season opens with a flourish Thursday, Sept. 27, with the combustible rock opera, Rent. Based loosely on Puccini’s La Boheme, Rent tells the story of a group of struggling friends and artists in New York’s Lower-East-Side “Alphabet City.” Coincidentally, the show would debut exactly 100 years after Puccini’s classic. Its creator, Jonathan Larson, had lived a similar life to that of his onstage characters when he first arrived in New York, and elements of Larson’s bohemian existence, in an apartment with a bathtub in the middle of the kitchen, an illegal wood-burning stove and a broken door buzzer, found their way into the script. The playwright never lived to see his show on Broadway; he died the night before it opened. But his  musical lived on: Rent went on to net the playwright three posthumous Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize. The musical features several notable songs, including “Seasons of Love.” Jeremy Franklin, the show’s director at CMU, has an affinity with the production in at least one regard. While Rent is derived from La Boheme, Franklin, who has performed in numerous musicals himself as well as directed CMU’s production of Brigadoon last season, says one of his favorite roles is Tonio in Pagliacci – another Italian opera.

Speaking of artists who may or may not be struggling, this brings us to a studio tour today in Ridgway. The tour, sponsored by Weehawken Arts, is the fifth in a series that began last March in Ouray County. The free-of-charge events are intended for adults, and have so far included a look at sculptors’, ceramicists’, painters’, metal designers’ and even the musical Grammy Award-makers’ studios. Tonight, the tour concentrates on a single block in Ridgway’s Historic District, and will drop in on an architect, a photographer and graphic artist and a jewelry designer. It winds up at Weehawken’s new clay studio, where light refreshments will be served. Although Ridgway and Ouray’s populations are roughly the same, “there are definitely more artists in Ridgway,” Weehawken’s Susie Opdahl says. This is the last such event of the season. Look for more studio tours sponsored by Weehawken, out of Ridgway in particular, in 2013.
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