The music is modern yet melodic, even in its urgency and its occasional dissonance. It’s mostly, but not always, accessible.
The story is creepy yet fascinating — about a brother and sister who are way too close, the weird psychological game they play and the carnage it causes for all involved.
Despite the fact that it made me work a little to keep track of the plot (did I say it was a little off-putting?) and absorb the unusual genre — a dance opera — I came perilously close to loving “Les Enfants Terribles,” the first production in this year’s Opera Omaha ONE Festival.
Going in, I wasn’t sure that I would like it, and, as the twisted story unfolded, I wasn’t sure that I should.
But everything about the production, directed by James Darrah, was first class: the staging, the stark white set, the stellar vocal work, the unusual and beautiful costumes and especially the innovative dancing.
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This complete guide of local music, movies, dining and entertainment will have you weekend ready.
If you know anything about iconic composer Philip Glass before you go to this 90-minute show, you will recognize his style after the first few notes.
He drives home the same motifs and tempos over and over, yet the music is fresh and surprising throughout. He knows how to ramp up drama and suspense. Three pianists — Maureen Zoltek, Eric Andries and Bryan Stanley — on three grand pianos provide the accompaniment under conductor David Bloom in his Opera Omaha debut. They all got a workout, and all were up to it.
The score, sung in French, is a huge challenge for singers because their parts are a counterpoint to the pianists — the accompaniment rarely offers a hint about the vocal lines. Theo Hoffman as Paul, the brother; Vanessa Becerra as Elisabeth, the sister; Adrian Kramer as their friend, Gérard, who also acts as narrator; and Naomi Louisa O’Connell as Agathe, another friend, didn’t need any prompts. All had strong, superb and true operatic voices and all were well-prepared, though Becerra and Kramer were especially fine.
It was unusual for an opera because it had as much dancing and instrumental music as it did singing, and it didn’t have the arias you find in more traditional opera. But Gustavo Ramirez Sansano’s choreography propelled the plot as much as the words do in classic pieces. At times that call for confusion or conflict, the moves are jerky and even feverish. At calmer moments — certain times when the dancers serve as alter egos for the characters, for instance — the dancers are more fluid as they mirror the actors. Clever lighting that casts the shadows of the dancers on a white backdrop emphasizes this even more. At those points, words aren’t necessary.
Dancers Shauna Davis, Lindsey Matheis and Charbel Rohayem deserve mention for executing the cutting-edge choreography.
As you probably could figure out, the plot made me cringe at times, notably when it veered dangerously close to incest. It definitely didn’t have a redemptive resolution, though some characters fared far better than others. But I found myself leaning forward with anticipation throughout the show, so even though I’m not sure that I would have chosen Jean Cocteau’s short story for a stage production, my attention never waned.
I was surprised how much I liked it, but I suspect that I may not have been as enthusiastic if the production had been in lesser hands. No doubt, some may not be able to get over the grim, sometimes shocking story. A couple walked out after about 20 minutes Friday night.
I’m glad I stuck with it. Opera Omaha helped me step out of my comfort zone, and it was a leap worth taking.
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Come to the Ralston Arena, 7300 Q St., this weekend for the Nebraska-Iowa Train and Toy Show. This two-day family event takes place Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will include more than 200 vendors and train displays. Cost is $7. Kids 12 and younger are free. More.
Kids are starting to search for the Easter Bunny — and eggs. So we rounded up a list of Easter egg hunts in the Omaha area. Check out the full list here.
The University of Nebraska at Omaha and Inter-Tribal Student Council will host an all-nations Wambli Sapa Memorial Pow Wow on Saturday at the Sapp Fieldhouse. The grand entry starts at 1 p.m. and dancing will continue until 6 p.m. The event will also include song, arts and traditional crafts. Admission and parking are free. UNO is at 6001 Dodge St. More.
Come to the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum on Saturday to learn about science in popular culture at the Nebraska Science Festival: SciPop Interactive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Three University of Nebraska faculty members will demonstrate the chemistry and physics behind Harry Potter and comic book characters. Guests are encouraged to wear a costume in support of their favorite character. Cost is $12 for adults and free for children 12 and younger. Admission includes activities, demonstrations and make-and-take projects. The museum is located at 28210 W. Park Highway in Ashland, Nebraska. More.
Go Kids Gym, 4223 S. 120th St., will host a one-year ownership party Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. The event will include cake, face painting, balloon animals and more. Cost is $5 per child for members and $10 per child for non-members. More.
Enjoy a night of circus-inspired activities and fun at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum’s “Under the Big Top Family Night” on Friday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. The free event will include the Tangier Shrine clowns, the Keystone Kops, a juggling workshop and more. The museum is at 200 Pearl St. in Council Bluffs. More.
In recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Charles E. Lakin Human Services Campus will host a free Family Fun Fair on Saturday from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. The family-friendly event will include food, crafts, games, community resources, face painting, balloon twisting, a story walk, live music and more. The campus is located at 1515 Avenue J in Council Bluffs. More.
Southwest YMCA, 13010 Atwood Ave., will host a Spring Fling Family Fun Night on Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. The fun will include a bounce house, music, spring crafts, carnival activities, healthy snacks and swimming. There is a drop-in fee of $5 per child or $20 for the whole family for non-members. Members are free. More.
The La Vista Public Library, 9110 Giles Road, will host a Very Hungry Caterpillar party Friday at 10 a.m. The free party will include a storytime, activities, crafts and more.
Come to Nebraska Crossing Outlets on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for a Kids Jamboree. The event will include face painting, balloon twisting, stilt walkers, magicians and free sweet treats at Rita’s Italian Ice. Nebraska Crossing Outlets is located at 21209 Nebraska Crossing Drive in Gretna. More.
On Saturday, come to Metropolitan Community College’s South Omaha Campus, 2909 Edward Babe Gomez Ave., from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for Science Day. Learn about physics, chemistry and biology. More.
The Gretna Public Library will host an hour-long Lego Club on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. and Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Come build whatever you’d like with other Lego enthusiasts. No registration or library card is required, and all ages are welcome. The library is at 736 South St. More.
Kids are invited to participate in a coloring contest at Westroads Mall, 10000 California St. Come to the Easter set anytime through April 15 to get a picture with the Easter Bunny and pick up a free coloring sheet. Prizes will be given in three age categories — ages 2 to 4, ages 5 to 7 and ages 8 to 10. More.
On Thursday, come to Joslyn Art Museum for Opera Omaha’s ONE Festival from 6 to 7 p.m. and 7 to 8 p.m. Museum visitors can swing, slide and explore Playground, an interactive musical installation by composer Ellen Reid. More.
Kids are invited to Fontenelle Forest, 1111 Bellevue Blvd. North, Saturday for a Buffalo Art and Symbolism class at noon. Paul High Horse, whose artwork is currently on display at the Baright Gallery, will host the class for kids ages 6-12. Registration is required. Cost is $15 per child. More.
The fifth annual Storybook Land event will take place Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Saddlebrook Library, 14850 Laurel Ave. Several characters will be present at the event, including Biscuit, Pete the Cat, Elephant and Piggie, Madeline, Lilly, Mouse, Scamper and members of the 501st Legion. All children who attend the festivities will receive a free book. Storytimes will take place at 1:30 p.m. with Biscuit, 2:15 p.m. with Pete the Cat and 3 p.m. with Lily. Registration is not required. More.
There are tons of organizations that host weekday and weekend storytimes.
Join the Omaha Public Library at Lauritzen Gardens on Friday for stories that celebrate gardens, plants, insects and more. Kids will also discover the joys of nature, movement, music and literature. The event is geared toward preschool-aged kids, but all ages are welcome. The program is free. Lauritzen Gardens is at 100 Bancroft St. Register here. Other storytimes include Barnes and Noble (Oak View and Crossroads), Pottery Barn Kids, Leader Reader at the Omaha Children's Museum, the Omaha Public Library branches, the Gretna Public Library, the Bellevue Public Library, the La Vista Public Library, the Sump Memorial Library in Papillion, the Baright Public Library in Ralston and the Plattsmouth Public Library.
Omaha is home to more than 200 parks, and many include playgrounds, trails and other attractions. Check out the list here, and explore a new park with your kids.
The Omaha metro area has several indoor play areas for families to enjoy. They include Pump It Up, Backyard Playworld and BounceU in Omaha, and Jumpin Jax in Papillion. Oak View Mall and Westroads Mall also have fun indoor play areas. Check out Approach Climbing Gym at 4923 S. 72nd St. It offers day passes, instructional classes, youth programs and more. Several local gymnastic places also have open gym time, including Metro Stars Gymnastics, Premier Gymnastics, Airborne Academy, Go! Kids Gym and Kid's Body Shop. Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, 28500 W. Park Highway in Ashland, Nebraska, features an on-site indoor activity center.
Take an afternoon to go roller skating with your kids. You can laugh at each other while you fall down again and again. Check out Skate City, 1220 S. Fort Crook Road in Bellevue.
Do Space, Omaha's community tech space, is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Plus it's free. Check out five things to do at Do Space here.
Are your kids animal lovers? If so, there are several ways they can help the animals at the Nebraska Humane Society, including reading to them during adoption hours. Check out more fun ways here.
The Omaha, Bellevue and Council Bluffs Public Libraries are currently offering free day passes to Fontenelle Forest. Each pass admits two adults and children from their household. More information can be found at each library.
Community centers offer something for every member of your family — from infants to senior citizens. For a full list of community centers, click here.
Several area organizations host craft time for children every weekend. Kids can create a free craft Saturday at Lakeshore Learning Store from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Finally, kids 3 and older can make paper flowers for mom Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon with the Michaels Kids Club. Sign up online or drop in. The cost ranges from $2 to $5 per project, supplies included.
The Ralston Arena offers public ice skating for $5, with free ice skate rental. The Motto McLean Ice Arena inside Hitchcock Park near 45th and Q Streets offers Family Skate time Sunday from 4 to 6:15 p.m.
We put together a list of must-see spots across the state. How many of these destinations can you cross off your Cornhusker bucket list?