The Children’s Theatre, Cincinnati Opera, and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra all have monumental milestones coming up, and they’re each celebrating with major events that you won’t want to miss.
Suffragettes: With Liberty and Voting for All
The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati
September 21 & 22
The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati uses stories and songs to mark the centennial of women winning the right to vote, in a brand-new creation from two local talents, singer-songwriter Tracy Walker (above) and playwright Mary Tensing. Public performances will be held at the company’s Red Bank Road headquarters, and the show then tours to classrooms, libraries, and community venues. It’s suitable for youngsters 8 and up.
The arrival of Suffragettes marks two other anniversaries. TCT itself turns 100, as does the organization that created it, the Junior League of Cincinnati. The Junior League began its legacy of roll-up-your-sleeves work with projects such as the Babies Milk Fund to serve families in need, but member Helen Schuster-Martin, who ran a drama school in Walnut Hills, wanted to feed children’s spirits as well, and so launched what would become TCT, with League members acting, selling tickets, and doing whatever it took to bring live theater to Cincinnati kids.
A century later, TCT is a separate organization with a full-time staff of 33. The company’s touring shows frequently transform classic kid-lit into tales rich with lessons about empathy, empowerment, and inclusion. Meanwhile, its mainstage productions at the Taft Theater are calculated to draw Broadway-savvy families.
Cincinnati Opera Gala “Love Letters to Patty”
Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza
Here are four things you can expect when you’re standing in the Music Hall lobby before an opera performance: You will see people you know, you will see people you don’t know, you will see people you never in a million years imagined you’d see at the opera, and everyone will look excited to be there. Back in the day, when the company performed at the zoo, accompanied by screeching peacocks and barking seals, Cincinnatians were first introduced to the idea that opera was for everyone, that a night with Puccini was no more intimidating than a day at the beach, and that the vocal pyrotechnics of Tosca were just as awesome as Rozzi’s fireworks.
Since 1984, Patricia K. Beggs has honed that notion, first as marketing director and then as general director and CEO. Under her leadership, Cincinnati Opera has worked to nurture young talents and attract established ones, premiering new works to acclaim, thrilling audiences with fresh, challenging productions, and looking to the future of opera at Music Hall and beyond its walls. Beggs will retire when the curtain comes down on the 100th anniversary season next summer.
To honor her work, the nation’s second-oldest continuous opera company has established the Patricia K. Beggs Fund for Championing Women’s Voices, an endowment to support the efforts of female composers, directors, and other creators. Tributes begin with the annual Opera Gala, whose straightforward theme is “Love Letters to Patty.”
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
January 10 & 11
It’s the velvet voice, the amazing phrasing, the way she cradled a grieving nation’s aching heart singing “Danny Boy” at Sen. John McCain’s funeral. The exquisite soprano Renée Fleming will join the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Louis Langrée, performing Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs on Friday evening and more works by Strauss (plus Broadway and film tunes) on Saturday.
Fleming’s appearances come just before the CSO’s official anniversary. In the late 19th century a group of 15 energetic, arts-minded women, led by Helen “Nellie” Taft (wife of William Howard), saw their labor come to fruition when the Cincinnati Symphony played its first concert on January 17, 1895. The future first lady and her contemporaries might be surprised to see the diversity of the talent on the organization’s calendar these days, stunned at the number of new works being debuted, and amazed by its modern initiatives. What would they make of CSO Proof, for example, an intimate, inventive new concert series being presented backstage at Music Hall that melds music, choreography, and vogue culture?
Nellie Taft and her gang were the kind of visionary women who launched an orchestra for the ages, so they’d probably approve.