What To Do in July
It’s always enthralling to watch Madison Opera perform at Overture Center, but there’s something special—and quintessentially summery—about Opera in the Park. For one night each July, Garner Park fills with blankets, picnics and music lovers who come to hear singers from the company’s upcoming season perform arias and ensembles from opera and Broadway along with the Madison Opera Chorus and Madison Symphony Orchestra. madisonopera.org
Through October 20
Summer for theater buffs means at least one trip to Spring Green and American Players Theatre. This month, catch Shakespeare’s Hamlet or The Two Gentlemen of Verona, or Too Many Husbands, a comedy set in post–World War I Britain, on the outdoor stage. Or opt for Molly Sweeney, a play about a doctor who attempts to restore his new wife’s sight, or Dickens in America, staring James Ridge as Charles Dickens (and his most famous characters), in the indoor Touchstone Theatre. americanplayers.org
The Monona Terrace rooftop is the place to be as Madison blues-rock trio Aaron Williams & the Hoodoo offer a free outdoor concert. Enjoy Aaron Williams, Eric Shakelford and Z’s mix of blues, roots, soul and rock along with gorgeous views of Lake Monona and downtown. mononaterrace.com
July 12–August 25
Color and pattern are the elements that connect the work of Wisconsin artists Jill Olm, Beth Racette and Leslie Vansen. And they also serve as the starting point for diverse visual explorations into social, geographical and biological processes in Systems of Abstraction, a new exhibition at the James Watrous Gallery. (pictured right) wisconsinacademy.org
Through June 2014
The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art focuses in on Mexico City and the painters, photographers and printmakers that flourished there in the post-revolutionary period of the early twentieth century. Los Grandes del Arte Moderno Mexicano draws from the museum’s permanent collection to showcase works that embraced avant-garde movements of the time and championed social reform and national identity. mmoca.org
While they call Madison home, the Oak Street Ramblers draw inspiration from the American South. Hear the band’s bluegrass jams, country tunes and originals that “wouldn’t sound out of place at a barn dance circa 1954” at the High Noon Saloon’s Thursday-evening Summer Patio series. high-noon.com
For its second season, the Madison Shakespeare Company presents Antony and Cleopatra. As the Shakespearean tragedy is staged outdoors at Breese Stevens Field, the event is a bring-your-own-chair and bring-your-own-food affair, with food carts from Banzo, In N Out Empanadas and others stationed nearby before the play begins. madisonshakespeare.org
Music Theatre of Madison pays homage to one of America’s most fascinating presidents in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. The musical holds a contemporary lens to Jackson, using humor and rock music to examine his life and political career—from his war-waging to a gun duel to wild bashes he threw at the White House. mtmadison.com
The seventeenth annual La Fête de Marquette, Madison’s celebration of French music and culture, returns with a lineup of performers hailing from New Orleans, Canada, Haiti, Mali and elsewhere—plus Madison’s own Johnny Chimes, the Cajun Strangers and Mama Digdown’s Brass Band. And don’t miss the festival’s fabulous food, from Buraka, Natt Spil, Lao Laan-Xang, Double S BBQ and others. wil-mar.org/la-fete-de-marquette-2013
A summer must for local art lovers is Art Fair on the Square. Artists from around the country descend on the Capitol Square—along with a variety of food vendors and entertainers—to showcase their photography, paintings, prints, sculpture, ceramics, wood works and much more. And along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, peruse more works of art and crafts at Art Fair Off the Square, highlighting the talents of roughly 140 Wisconsin artists.
with Greg Hettmansberger
Ira Gershwin tells us that in summertime the “livin’ is easy” and “fish are jumpin.'” Whether our local fish are jumping or not, the music will be, with some Gershwin and lots of other delights to make the month feel easier, at least for a few hours here and there.
The fun begins with the fourteenth annual Madison Early Music Festival (July 6–12, continuingstudies.wisc.edu/lsa/memf). In addition to six concerts, there are a variety of workshops, a Handel Aria Competition for emerging singers and a masked ball.
With five Wednesdays in the month we get the remainder of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra’s Concerts on the Square (July 3–31, wcoconcerts.org), starting with some familiar favorites in celebration of July 4 and later on tributes to Elton John, John Denver and Dan Fogelberg. But my calendar has July 10 circled, when the “Paganini of the harmonica,” Robert Bonfiglio, comes to town. You never heard a concerto for harmonica and orchestra? Several dozen have been written, and I heard Bonfiglio perform one about fifteen years ago. His startling and compelling artistry aside, he’s a living link to musical Americana: He’s a descendant of a man who played piccolo under John Phillip Sousa—and was the real-life inspiration for the title character of The Music Man.
And if it’s July, it must be time for the Madison Savoyards to bring some vintage Gilbert and Sullivan to the Music Hall (July 19–28, madisonsavoyards.org).
As the company begins its second fifty years, they revive the operetta that launched their splendid run a half-century ago, Iolanthe. You’ll get seven chances to frolic with the frothy wit and musical charm of this political satire cloaked in a fairy-tale setting.
Want more classical coverage? Find Greg Hettmansberger’s blog.
Katie Vaughn is managing editor of Madison Magazine. Check out her arts and entertainment .