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Short List: Week of March 4 - 11

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You won't need opera glasses to feel close to the performers for Pittsburgh's newest opera troupe. As its name implies, the Microscopic Opera Company intends to draw you close to the contemporary operas it performs. Its founders are two emerging names in local music. Andres Cladera, who directs the Renaissance City men's and women's choirs, has made an impression from perches like the musical director's chair for Quantum Theatre's recent Candide. Cladera has teamed with Erica Olden, an accomplished vocalist (and Carnegie Mellon grad) who's performed with the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh and companies nationally. The pair (pictured) offer an inaugural production including two short operas. Milton Granger's "The Proposal" is a 1987 comedy about a woman whose boyfriend has just proposed ... and whose five personalities emerge in turn to weigh in. Each, from the 5-Year-Old to the Sensuous Woman, is embodied by a different singer. (Performers include Mary Beth Sederburg and Elizabeth Rishel.) The work's style is neither traditionally "operatic" nor Broadway-tuneful, says Cladera, but "contemporary avant-garde." In complete contrast is "To Hell and Back." This work for two voices is by Jake Heggie, the acclaimed composer whose Dead Man Walking the Pittsburgh Opera staged in 2004. Commissioned for a baroque orchestra (think Stravinsky), "To Hell" is a dark take on the Persephone myth, sung by Olden and Carissa Kett as a young woman and her mother-in-law. "This is a fantastic piece of theater, as well as brilliant musically," says Cladera. Cladera conducts both works, which are directed by Lisa Ann Goldsmith, and arranged for solo piano accompaniment by Bill Larson. The minimalist set, at Lawrenceville's intimate Grey Box Theatre, will link the two works by suggesting an oversized wedding cake. Cladera promises more Microscopic experiments ahead: "These are the two most traditional [operas] we're going to do." Bill O'Driscoll Fri., March 5-Sun., March 7, and March 12-14. Grey Box Theatre, 3595 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $20. microscopicopera.com or www.microscopicopera.org

 

Fri., March 5 -- Music

The music of John Cage -- often based on chance operations and other intellectual exercises -- is less frequently associated with emotion than with theory. But that doesn't mean it can't figure as sacred music. Thus, Pleasant Hills Community Presbyterian Church launches its Lenten Concert Series with a five-hour performance of Cage's Organ2/ASLSP (As SLow aS Possible), by organist Robert Morehead. On this World Day of Prayer, visitors are encouraged to meditate -- not necessarily see it through from start to finish. Note that this version of Organ2 remains shorter than one being played in Halberstadt, Germany, which started in 2000 and is slated to end in 2640. Andy Mulkerin 12:30-6 p.m. 199 Old Clairton Road, Pleasant Hills. Free. 412-655-2000

 

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Fri, March 5 -- Art

Painter/sculptor/hep cat CZM shows off her retro-fab collection of fake-album art at the equally groovy Zombo Gallery tonight. Obsessed with mid-century abstracts a la Joan Miro, Pittsburgh-based CZM interprets various musical genres in vibrant, kooky colors and shapes. These imaginary but life-sized album covers are a throwback to avocado kitchens and cat-eye glasses. In-house DJ Zombo sets the vintage-record-store mood to complement CZM's kitschy kind of cool. Anna Reilly 6 p.m. 4900 Hatfield St., Lawrenceville. Free. 412-904-3703 or www.zomboworld.com

 

Fri, March 5 -- Words

Nancy Martin's best-known mysteries have been set on the other side of the state -- the best-selling "Blackbird Sisters" trolled the upper echelons of Philadephia. Her new book, Our Lady of Immaculate Deception, brings the mystery west -- to Pittsburgh, where Martin herself resides. Spunky, working-class Roxy Abruzzo is a single mom who falls suspect at a murder scene and finds herself entangled in a mess. Martin visits Mystery Lovers Bookshop to chat about some other mysteries of Pittsburgh. AR 7 p.m. 514 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont. Free. 412-828-4877 or www.mysterylovers.com

 

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Fri., March 5 -- Rock

It's hard to believe that Alkaline Trio's debut album, Goddamnit, came out way back in 1998. Now its seventh full-length, the brand-new This Addiction, finds the band taking a more stripped-down approach that hails its early punky roots. Also on the bill tonight at Club Zoo is acclaimed Nebraskan indie-rock band Cursive; opening is the New Wave-influenced The Dear & Departed. Aaron Jentzen 7:30 p.m. (doors at 6:30 p.m.). 1630 Smallman St., Strip District. $19.99 ($23 day of show). All ages. 412-201-1100 or www.clubzoo.net

 

Fri., March 5 -- Stage

Off the Wall Productions continues to bring challenging work to Washington, Pa. In stage works like Bash: Latter-Day Plays, and films like In the Company of Men, Neil LaBute paints an unsparing portrait of self-centered moderns. So it is with The Mercy Seat, his decidedly antiheroic 2002 off-Broadway hit set in Manhattan on the morning of Sept. 12, 2001. A businessman who's officially among the missing meets his mistress (and boss) to debate whether to use the opportunity to start a new life together. Seasoned local actors Michael E. Moats and Adrienne Wehr take the roles originated by Liev Schreiber and Sigourney Weaver. Robyne Parrish directs this area premiere. Bill O'Driscoll 8 p.m. Continues through March 20. 147 N. Main St., Washington. $5-20. 412-394-3353 or www.insideoffthewall.com

 

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Fri. March 5 -- Country

The Four Roses are quick to note that they actually number five; it's also true that none of them is named Rose. In fact, the band consists of five guys who have been around the scene for quite some time, playing old-time country songs about drinking, jail, married life and such. Tonight, at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern, they release their first album, This Great Event. It's 14 tracks of honky tonk laid down by a capable band and topped off by the muscular baritone of singer Matt Knoblock. With The Trees and The Turpentiners. AM 9 p.m. 4412 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. $5. 412-682-8611

 

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Sat., March 6 -- Music

If you were intrigued by City Paper's recent coverage of Pittsburgh's experimental-music scene, Fantastic Voyagers is a great way to dive in. Now in its third year, the two-day festival of "mellow mutant music madness" curated by Mike Tamburo features 20 acts ranging from ambient sounds, noise and folk to experimental rock. It all takes place at the cozy Morning Glory Coffee House, in Morningside. Headlining today's 10 acts is R Keenan Lawler. Tomorrow is Eric Carbonara. The full schedule is at www.moglocoffee.com. AJ 4-11 p.m. Also 4-11 p.m. Sun., March 7. 1806 Chislett St., Morningside. $5-15 donation requested. 412-450-1050

 

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Sat., March 6 – Film

Now that the big studios have dropped their "indie" divisions, low-budget filmmaking has returned to its under-the-radar roots. Amir Motlagh's dramedy Whale, depicting some still-searching-for-something guys in their late 20s, kicks off Indies for Indies, at Dormont's Hollywood Theater. The occasional series will highlight films that garnered attention at festivals such as SXSW. Upcoming: Perciles Lewnes' political curiosity Loop and Jerrod Whaley's Hell Is Other People, about Southern poverty. Features are paired with shorts, and series organizer Lucas McNelly plans for directors to attend. Al Hoff 4:30 p.m. Also 7 p.m. Mon., March 8, and 9:30 p.m. Tue., March 9. 1449 Potomac Ave., Dormont. 412-344-1245 or indiesforindies.com

 

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Sat., March 6 -- Music

The voice behind WQED's morning show takes his talents off-air with the Pittsburgh Concert Chorale's two performances of Arthur Honegger's classic King David. Stephen Baum narrates the dramatic movements that bring the psalm to life. Other voices -- Katy Shackleton-Williams, Daphne Alderson and Dean Kokanos -- lead the choir. King David continues the Chorale's 25th season, "Music Fit for a King." AR 8 p.m. (Ingomar United Methodist Church, Franklin Park). Also 4 p.m. Sun., March 7 (Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church, Fox Chapel). $8-20 (children under 12 free). 412-635-7654 or www.pccsing.org

 

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Sat., March 6 -- DJs

This time last month, DJ Sleazy McQueen was scheduled to stop at the monthly Love Is Wet dance party staged by Lauren G and Nikkels. Nature intervened with a storm that dropped snow that largely still remains on the ground. (Gross, right?) The globetrotting house DJ from Orlando rescheduled, though, and -- barring further acts of nature -- appears tonight at the selfsame party, at the New Amsterdam. He brings his supply of disco- and funk-inflected beats to a night that also includes DJ Tom Cox and projections by video artist Tom McConnell. AM 9 p.m. 4421 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $5. 412-682-6414 or www.spoilerspgh.com

 

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Sun., March 7 -- Stage

Henry has no friends, no brothers orsisters, and nobody to play with. Then his parents buy him an adorable puppy ... who soon grows to be a giant dog ... who becomes Henry's best friend. Cynthia Rylant's children's classic Henry and Mudge comes alive in Theatreworks USA's musical adventure, courtesy of seven Pittsburgh International Children's Theater shows throughout the region starting with today's matinee, at the Byham Theater. AR 2 p.m. (101 Sixth St., Downtown). Performances continue at various venues through March 14. $9.50-11 door. 412-456-1390 or www.pghkids.org


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Thu., March 11 -- Music

Celebrated Scottish tubist and conductor James Gourlay accompanies River City Brass Band in Appalachian Spring, a celebration of classic American tunes, in a series of four Pittsburgh shows starting tonight, at Carnegie Music Hall. Renowned among European brass ensembles, Gourlay leads selections from West Side Story, movie themes by John Williams and more -- including, of course, Copeland's eponymous classic. Gourlay's homeland gets a nod with "The Bluebells of Scotland." AR 8 p.m. (4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland). Shows continue through March 16 at various venues. $20-41. 412-434-7222 or www.rcbb.com

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