By Howard Pousner
Even if you’re not among the 200 million people worldwide conversant in French, you may find the free and ticketed cultural programs being presented during the 14th Francophonie Festival, March 16 through March 25, of interest.
Held at Alliance Francaise in Midtown, the fest includes film showings, a lecture and a friendship brunch. Highlights:
Jane Krakowski to headline Alliance benefit
The Alliance Theatre has announced that “30 Rock” star Jane Krakowski will be the entertainer for its annual “A Tony Evening” gala on May 18. The fifth annual event, benefiting Alliance educational program for youth and families, will honor Georgia Power president and CEO Paul Bowers and Sesame Workshop, the non-profit behind “Sesame Street,” for their support of arts in early childhood education. Stephanie Blank is serving as event chairwoman. Tickets: $300, $500 couple. 404-733-4612, www.alliancetheatre.org/atonyevening. HOWARD POUSNER
Rialto leader Leslie Gordon to be knighted
Rialto Center for the Arts director Leslie Gordon will bestowed with the French honor of Knight in the National Order of Arts and Letters in a private ceremony on March 27. Denis[CQ, ONE N] Barbet, Consul General of France in Atlanta, noted the many French artists that Gordon has brought to Atlanta in recent years, including musician Angélique
Michael Simanga, hired by the National Black Arts Festival a year ago to create a new strategic direction for the Atlanta institution and to orchestrate this summer’s 25th anniversary event, announced his resignation Friday.
An NBAF statement suggested the July festival, presented mainly in Centennial Olympic Park in recent years, will go on.
Simanga’s resignation is effective March 15, when he completes his one-year contract as executive director. He is departing to “pursue other opportunities,” the statement said.
Simanga was the NBAF’s third director in four years. Still, the former Fulton County arts and culture official was seen by many as an insider who could be a stabilizing force.
But signs of instability remained. In December, Simanga eliminated the NBAF’s six full-time staff positions, converting three of the employees to contract roles. He called it a strategic shift aimed at making the festival sustainable.
NBAF board Chairman Evern Cooper Epps credited Simanga
Teen stars sought for new festival
If you are a teen artist, you have the opportunity to star in the Voices & Vibes Festival, April 26-27 at the Woodruff Arts Center. The free fest is a two-day talent showcase and workshop series for metro teens produced by the Wells Fargo ArtsVibe Teen Program, a $2 million undertaking being launched by the financial services company in partnership with the Woodruff’s four divisions. The online application deadline for Voices & Vibes auditions (and to submit visual art portfolios) is March 11 via www.artsvibe.com/voices-vibes-festival. Tryouts will be held March 16. HOWARD POUSNER
Pinch ‘n’ Ouch reveals 2013 season
Pinch ‘n’ Ouch Theatre has announced its 2013 lineup, starting with Grant McGowen’s already-running romantic drama “Let’s Make It,” extended through March 30. Also to be staged by the Poncey-Highland troupe: Lesyle Headland’s “Assistance,” a biting office comedy, April 12-May 5; Annie Baker’s off-Broadway cult hit, the comic drama of misfit friendship “The Aliens,” June 14-July 6; and Atlanta playwright Britton Buttrill’s “Scratching,” inspired by the tattooing craze, Aug. 9-31. http://www.pnotheatre.org. HOWARD POUSNER
Marietta bassist selected for new national orchestra
Andrew Sommer, a Marietta high-school senior and son of Atlanta Symphony Orchestra double bassist Douglas Sommer, as been selected for the first National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, announced by Carnegie Hall on Monday. Andrew, who is home-schooled, is principal bassist with the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra. The 120 musicians
Frank Boggs makes music, inspires it too
The Georgia Festival Chorus under Frank Boggs kicks off a series of spring concerts a bit ahead of spring, on March 10 at Smyrna First Baptist Church. And before the month is out, Boggs himself will be honored when an anthem is premiered in his honor on March 24 at Northside United Methodist Church.
Composed by Mormon Tabernacle Choir director Mack Wilberg, the anthem, “Homeward Bound,” will be sung by the NUMC Choir, directed by Mike Moffit. A former Westminster School choral director who celebrated his 85th birthday last April at a Georgia Festival Chorus concert gala, Boggs is a long-time Wilberg friend and mentor.
The anthem is part of a varied NUMC program, open to the public, titled “Pilgrim Song: Our Journey in Faith” at 8:30 and 11 a.m. Palm Sunday services. The church is at 2799 Northside Drive N.W., Atlanta. www.northsideumc.org.
Meanwhile, Boggs’ Georgia Festival Chorus begins its series of “Alpine Adventure” concerts —
In her role as the tragic Violetta Valery, in Atlanta Opera’s production of Verdi’s “La Traviata,” Mary Dunleavy personifies all the emotion and nuance that make opera timeless. Anyone who has had a rough patch in his love life, a dramatic or demanding in-law or a jealous partner will feel those life experiences ringing through her dynamic soprano.
The opera runs through March 10 at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.
Although this is Dunleavy’s Atlanta Opera debut, she has portrayed Violetta more than 60 times. With that experience, one could call it a signature role, so the singing is expected to be brilliant. It is. Dunleavy sings with such ease, as if Verdi’s composition is right in the sweet spot of her register. She displays all of the intoxication and zippy joy of finding of love, to that can’t-get-off-the-carved camel-back-settee emptiness, with spot on intonation and inflection.
Her notes are effervescent in the first act in “Un di felice, eterea.” But of
By Howard Pousner
Susan Mitchell Crawley, the High Museum of Art’s folk art curator since 2004, is resigning effective March 3.
“I am pleased by what we have been able to accomplish over the past 10 years,” Crawley wrote in an email, “and I look forward to new challenges, beginning with an exhibition for the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center next winter.”
One of Crawley’s greatest achievements was the 2009 exhibition “The Treasure of Ulysses Davis: Sculpture from a Savannah Barbershop.”
“This legacy-changing retrospective revealed that the self-taught artist was considerably more complex and sophisticated than he has been given credit for,” then-Atlanta Journal-Constitution critic Catherine Fox wrote.
Davis’ wood-carvings were featured in the seminal 1982 exhibition “Black Folk Art in America, 1930-1980” at Washington’s Corcoran Gallery of Art, but further national exposure for the work was limited. The artist rarely sold his pieces because he wanted them to
Actress and director Jasmine Guy took the arts community to task on several fronts at the annual Women in the Arts panel luncheon sponsored by Synchronicity Theatre at the Georgian Terrace on Wednesday.
A last-minute panel replacement for casting director Alpha Tyler, who was unable to attend, Guy said she moved to Atlanta four years ago but has grown discouraged by the dearth of work she has found here.
“My mission is to leave Atlanta so I can find work,” she said, half in jest.
Guy, who has directed and performed in productions for Theatrical Outfit and True Colors Theatre, complained about attending fundraisers so lavish that their budgets could have paid for staging multiple productions.
And she expressed frustration with fans who ask her why she doesn’t take her plays on tour – the answer is money, of course – and she encouraged arts patrons to become more knowledgeable about how the business of arts works.
“Maybe it’s because I’m black, but everybody always asks me, ‘Why
Jewish festival breaks attendance record
The 13th Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, which concluded last week,[cq, 2/20] drew 31,530, eclipsing its own box-office record. Atlanta’s biggest film fest is still No. 2 among Jewish film festivals nationally, coming up a bit short of the San Francisco fest’s 34,700 attendance last summer. Sixty five of the Atlanta festival’s 122 screenings were sellouts. HOWARD POUSNER
Gwinnett Ballet prepares to compete
Gwinnett Ballet Theatre will host the Southeastern semifinals of the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix classical ballet competition in early March, bringing hundreds of young dancers, their parents and teachers to the company’s new facilities in Lawrenceville. To help ready 10 of its own dancers for the competition, GBT is hosting a studio performance at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The fund-raiser, including refreshments, is $10 at the door. 1800 Macleod Drive. 770-237-0046, www.gwinnettballet.org. HOWARD POUSNER