What's ON - Great Performing Arts for DECEMBER  - Plus Raphael's "Top 10 Best" picks for 2014!
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December 2014

Hello, friends!
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Here are some of the highlights of the arts in Cincinnati in the month of December.


- Rafael de Acha

Nov. 26 - Dec. 28, 2014

The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park's version of A Christmas Carol combines faithful storytelling with spellbinding stage magic to bring to life its familiar story of a sinner given one last chance at redemption by four persuasive ghosts. A Christmas Carol is one of the Playhouse's most popular productions each year. For details on additional performances, ticket prices, directions, etc., it’s better to contact the presenting organization.


by William Shakespeare 
November 21 – December 13, 2014 Cincinnati Shakespeare Company

For details on ticket prices, directions, etc., it’s better to contact the presenting organization.

Shakespeare’s earliest and wackiest comedy features not one, but TWO sets of identical twins, leading to twice the confusion: Twin masters Antipholus and Antipholus and twin servants Dromio and Dromio, separated at birth and each unknown to the other, just happen to end up in the same town on the same day, originating the expression: “It’s…complicated!”

36th Annual Advent Festival of Lessons and Carols. 

People are always looking for something to do that is, a) near home, and b) free. If you live in or near Clifton, you can either walk or drive to Calvary Episcopal Church, at 3766 Clifton Avenue where you can catch on Sunday December 14th at 10:30 AM the 36th Annual Advent Festival of Lessons and Carols. But, past that and all year-long on many Friday evenings you can enjoy a concert of choral or chamber music featuring visiting musicians from here and there. Afterwards the church invites you to stay for refreshments. For details on ticket prices, directions, etc., it’s better to contact the presenting organization.

Clifton is not all that easy to get to and park. So, there is the Cincinnati Civic Orchestra, now in its 86th Season, an all-volunteer enterprise whose ranks number many trained musicians who don’t mind being called amateurs but who play as well as professionals do, all for the love of music, bravely taking on Smetana, Respighi, Mendelssohn, Debussy and Handel along with Leroy Anderson, John Philip Sousa and Johan Strauss. The CCO plays all over the map, this December 4th at 7 PM at Parkside Christian Church (6986 Salem Road)…December 7th and March 2 at Tylersvillle Road Christian Church (6771 Tylersville Road)…May 4th at 3PM at Norwood Masonic Temple (2020 Hopkins Avenue.) For more details on ticket prices, directions, etc., it’s better to contact the presenting organization.

MORE highlights of the arts in Cincinnati in the month of December…

Wagner’s five-hour marathon Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in a MET LIVE IN HD presentation on December 13, 2014, at (note earlier time!) 12 pm. in Cinema De Lux in Springdale • Rave in Florence, KY • Levee 20 in Newport, KY • Cinemark in Oakley •  Regal in Deerfield • Milford 16 in Milford, OH. Tickets are around $20.

Johan Reuter sings Hans Sachs, Annette Dasch is Eva, and Johan Botha is Walther, here singing the Prize Song: 


Music for all Seasons at Peterloon presents Happy Holidays on December 7 at 3 pm

The second concert of our second series will feature traditional and classical music for voice and instruments with guest artists, faculty artists and student artists, all of them friends of series co-founder Kimberly Daniel. Among the participants: Kenneth Griffiths, Tom Baresel, Terrell Finney, Vince de George, and Carmine Miranda.

After the concert, stay to have tea-and-dessert with the artists. All proceeds benefit the Music Scholarship Fund at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Available at the entrance or payable by check to Music for All Seasons, PO Box 43172, Cincinnati, Ohio 45243. 

For details on ticket prices, directions, etc., go to 

CCM is on break during December. Still, the Music School that never sleeps does a few interesting concerts during the holidays. On December 3 at 8 p.m. there will be one titled War and Peace with the CCM Wind Orchestra; on the 5th, 6th,  7th,  of the month, the oddly-titled Fall Dance Concert (last time I checked December is in the winter…) and the annual Feast of Carols on December 6 at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. For more details on ticket prices, directions, etc., it’s better to contact the presenting organization.


Cincinnati’s two major museums, the
Art Museum and the Taft have some interesting stuff in store for the month of December, to wit:

Eyes on the Street 

October 11, 2014 to January 04, 2015 at the CAM features ten internationally renowned artists who work in photography, film, and video, each of whom deliberatively uses the camera’s technical capabilities to reveal new aspects of the urban environment.

Beyond Pop Art

October 31, 2014 to January 18, 2015 at the CAM features the work of Tom Wesselmann, a leading figure in the Pop Art movement.

The Tree of Life 

November 11, 2014 to January 11, 2015 at the CAM features a seasonal Cincinnati tradition: a sixteen-foot, nineteen-year-old tree transformed into a sculpture by local artist Matt Kotlarczyk encouraging visitors to place handwritten wishes for the New Year into glass vials that adorn the tree and bring it to life. 


December 13, 2014 to March 15, 2015
at the CAM features the work of Bukang Kim, a Korean-born American artist based in Cincinnati.


Paris Night & Day

October 3, 2014–January 11, 2015
at the TAFT features vintage prints by photographers who worked in Paris, including Atget, Brassaï, Cartier-Bresson, Kertész and Man Ray



Our website regularly features a blog with links to our reviews of various arts events in Cincinnati, including some of those listed here, as well as a file of current and past What’s On newsletters.


Rafael's Best of 2014 in Cincinnati 

Here, in random order, are ten musical events that remain in my memory after a wonderful year of reviewing and concert-going.

  1. concert:nova created fi:re, an incendiary musical conflagration that mixed the music of Piazzolla, Ginastera, Golijov and de Falla in one evening, played by some of Cincinnati’s finest musicians, led by Ixi Chen, the group’s heart and soul, in an unlikely venue: a former furniture warehouse in one of Cincinnati’s suburbs.
  2. MamLuft&Co.Dance stunned one with The Tragedy of Time performed on the grand staircase of the Cincinnati Art Museum stretching the boundaries of the dance genre beyond the imaginable. 
  3. Cincinnati Opera’s production and cast of Francesco Cavalli’s 17th century romp La Calisto perfectly balanced the story’s randy and rambunctious elements with its delicate portions.
  4. Frank Weinstock in February’s Bearcat Piano Festival, at CCM, made music with a keen instinct for the poetic and the dramatic, his musicianship and musicality ageless, his energy and endurance that of a man half his age.
  5. Dawn Upshaw sang a colorful mix of Ives, Ravel, Bartok and Bolcolm for Cincinnati Chamber Music. Trinidadian soprano Jeannine de Bique made an auspicious Cincinnati debut, part of Matinee Musicale’s 102nd season. Countertenor Andreas Scholl gave a fine all-Lieder recital at CCM. Baritone Andrew Garland sang a terrific all-American Matinee Musicale recital with that most superlative of accompanists, Donna Loewy. All four belied all grumblings about the death of the song recital.
  6. Aubrey Berg and his production team, Stephen Goers, Diane Lala, Mark Halprin, Dean Mogle, David LaRose and Jeremy J. Lee successfully represented CCM in a production of Les Miserables that won them a fine judgment from judicious lovers of the musical. In the cast of hopefuls, three young artists stole the hearts of the audience: Julian Decker as Jean Valjean, Kimber Elayne Sprawl as Fantine and Lawson Young as Eponine.
  7. In Chabrier’s L’ étoile at CCM, in Robin Guarino’s fun and funny take on French comic opera, the fast-rising mezzo-soprano Sofia Selowsky, was the ideal singer for the ‘dugazon’ part of Lazuli, her supple voice with just the right balance of mezzo richness at the low end of the compass and a glistening upper-range. Boyishly beautiful, Selowsky was never better than in the bedtime serenade to her beneficent star, sung so as to melt the hardest of hearts.
  8. Maurice Ravel wrote L’ enfant et les sortileges after returning home from driving an ambulance in the killing fields of Flanders. His music and Colette’s libretto proved to be the perfect antidote to 21st-century cynicism and February-in-Cincinnati snowbound blues, in Kenneth Shaw’s sensitive production at CCM, in which the young soprano Annalise Dzwoncyzk, in the role of a spoiled child made one forgive all of her bad behavior once she opened her mouth to sing in a lovely soprano voice.
  9. In her main-stage directorial debut, Israeli director Omer Ben Seadia led the cast of Don Pasquale at CCM, with a full command of the style that infuses the spirit of Donizetti’s masterpiece, her comedic conceits solidly anchored in the raucous Italian commedia tradition of randy behavior and bourgeois bad manners that Carlo Goldoni perfected. Mark Gibson led the orchestra, principals and chorus with panache and a complete understanding of ‘bel canto’ style, brisk tempi and overall clarity. Charles (Zach) Owen, a hugely promising young lyric bass in his early 20’s, played the Don with assured delicacy.
  10. Claudio Monteverdi composed nine books of madrigals for mixed voices, among them ‘Madrigali guerrieri e amorosi’, which was given a vivid performance of excerpts by a group of excellent musicians led by Catacoustic Consort’s Annalisa Pappano. Among the singers, Michael Maniacci, sang in a pure-voiced male soprano, inhabiting the spirit and style of this music to utter perfection.

- Rafael de Acha


Here’s wishing all of you a happy holiday season!


Our WHAT’S ON NEWSLETTER will continue in January, 2015.

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