• Laurel Contributor

Masterful Performances at PAC

by Mary Adair Trumbly

The Highlands Performing Arts Center offers a full slate of MET Opera performances and a quartet of plays from London that are both hilarious and heartbreaking.

The MET Opera will present three operas during January and February for your enjoyment.

All MET Operas are on Saturdays and all begin at 12:55 P.M. with a pre-opera discussion at 12:30 P.M.

January 11 brings “Wozzeck” by Berg. This 20th-century shocker stars baritone Peter Mattei in the title role, and soprano Elza van den Heever as the long-suffering Marie. Groundbreaking visual artist and director William Kentridge unveils a bold new staging set in an apocalyptic wasteland. Its running time is 1:57.

On February 1, it’s a new production of Gershwin’s “Porgy & Bess.” This modern American masterpiece has its first Met performance in almost three decades. Director James Robinson’s stylish production transports audiences to Catfish Row, a setting vibrant with the music, dancing, emotion, and heartbreak of its inhabitants. Running time is 3:40.

“Agrippina” by Handel is offered on February 29. As the imperious title empress, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato leads the Met premiere of Handel’s tale of deception and deceit. Sir David McVicar’s wry new production gives this Baroque black comedy a politically charged, modern updating. It’s running time is 4:10

The National Theatre of London will present four plays during the first two months of 2020. On January 18, audiences will enjoy “All My Sons” by Arthur Miller, starring Sally Field and Bill Pullman. Written in 1947, this is the sad post-World War II story about the Kellers, a seemingly “All-American” family. The father, Joe Keller, has concealed a great sin.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare is presented on January 25. The course of true love never did run smooth. A feuding fairy King and Queen of the forest cross paths with four runaway lovers and a troupe of actors trying to rehearse a play.

On February 8, it’s “Fleabag,” written and performed by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag, Killing Eve) and directed by Vicky Jones. “Fleabag” is a rip-roaring look at some sort of woman living her sort of life. “Fleabag” may seem oversexed, emotionally unfiltered and self-obsessed, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

On February 22, look for “Present Laughter,” Noël Coward’s provocative comedy. As he prepares to embark on an overseas tour, actor Garry Essendine’s colorful life is in danger of spiraling out of control. Engulfed by an escalating identity crisis as his many and various relationships compete for his attention, Garry’s few remaining days at home are a chaotic whirlwind of love, sex, panic and soul-searching.

Tickets for all of these wonderful events are available at highlandspac.org or highlandsperformingarts.com or at the door. Highlands Performing Arts Center is located 507 Chestnut Street.

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