If you prefer chowder to being pelted with unsold JarJarBinks merchandise, heaved at you by a sweaty adipose-laden fellow wearing only a threadbare lime green t-shirt and speedos, make sure you attend the May 4 Unplugged show at the Performing Arts Center. This is the last of these multi-media (now there's a marketing buzz word from the 90s) extravaganzas that are designed to help people experience classical music. This time around it's ladies night as all the pieces being played have been composed by members of the double-X chromosome club. And of course your admission price gives you full access to a post-concert party with lots of food and beer. No chowder, though, but if you are lucky they'll have cheese puffs. More information is available at .

As one ages, it's nice to know that there are some things you can count on: tulips in the spring, the low-frequency distorted thump coming from neighborhood cars, intestinal urges after a strong cup of coffee, and for the Fort Wayne Philharmonic to perform an opera as the final Masterworks performance. This year, though, they are performing a piece of sacred music called Requiem, which is not an opera. Surprise! But it's by Verdi and was never intended to be performed as part of a church service, so it's actually more like an opera than a requiem. Welcome back comfort zone!

Verdi is best known as an excellent fishmonger on the east-side of Peoria, but he also wrote a number of very famous operas in Italy during the late 1800s, including such wildly popular shows as Rigoletto, Aida, Falstaff and Otello. He was one of the few composers who actually made lots of cash (or liré) and he could have retired, but once a fishmonger always a fishmonger. Most of his operas had complex plots that were allegories to the political climate of his time, much like episodes of Seinfeld. Apart from a string quartet, the Requiem is the only non-operatic work of any consequence that Verdi composed. But old habits die hard (hey, YOU figure out how to stop eating those crispy, buttery butterfingers) and the Requiem is about 3/5 opera, 1/5 sacred, and 1/5 pinto beans, cooked to perfection. Operatic gesture is never far from the surface and often erupts into the foreground, most obviously in the explosive Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) section. There are clear theatrical influences throughout and many demanding solo parts, not to mention a lavish chorus and three poodles in drag serving finger foods. This absolutely massive work kicks off at 8:00 p.m. on May 12 at the grand Embassy Theatre and lasts until noon of Wednesday the following week. Join the rest of Fort Wayne as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the death of this fine composer!

In light of the recent economy, you might not think that you can afford an evening out at the symphony or even name brand spiced ham products, but you are wrong. WRONG WRONG WRONG! Obviously you have issues but this public forum is not the place to deal with them... this public forum is the place where I deal with MY issues, so no horning in! Not only are the regular concerts surprisingly affordable but there are many opportunities for free admission. If sneaking into the Embassy with the help of Pete the Pry Bar is not your thing, try the Foellinger Pops concert at 2:30 on May 20. It's 100% free, though in the past they have required that you bring a canned food item (and no, it's doesn't have to be chowder or a spiced ham product in a handy twelve ounce can). It's perfect for the entire family so bring the kids and the pet snails. The philharmonic plays short, well-known classical pieces as well as theme songs from famous movies, television, and the latest N'Sync "album". Unlike regular concerts where the Gestapo bar the doors, you can arrive late, leave early, apply adhesives, and balance your checkbook. It's all very informal although pants are not optional this season.

That's about it for the 2000-2001 Fort Wayne Philharmonic music season. As you while your days away shopping for a new toupee, be sure to check out one of my sites at which is full of gratuitous au gratin recipes and perfunctory photos of scantily clad produce. Tell 'em Uncle Feldspar sent ya!

Copyright 2001 Jason Hoffman

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