Showing posts with label Longwood Gardens. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Longwood Gardens. Show all posts

Saturday, July 1, 2017

DSO Concludes Its 2016-17 Season Celebrating Beethoven

By Christine Facciolo
A Beethoven overture followed by a Beethoven concerto followed by a Beethoven symphony. It doesn’t get much better than — that unless you factor in solid performances in a lush garden venue on a perfect early summer evening.

The Delaware Symphony Orchestra under the direction of David Amado gave a post-season performance in the open-air theatre at Longwood Gardens that continued the orchestra’s year-long exploration of the works of Ludwig van Beethoven.

The opening offering, the Coriolan Overture, was written in 1807 intended for Heinrich Joseph von Collin’s tragic play Coriolan, which was about the semi-legendary Roman figure Gaius Marcius Coriolanus. The work loosely follows the course of the play, beginning with some emphatic declamatory chords followed by an anxious scurrying motif. The first part is cast in a minor key depicting a bellicose Coriolanus and his intention to invade Rome. The move to a gentler theme in a major key suggests a softening of his attitude as he yields to his mother’s pleas not to invade the city. He has, however, brought his army to Rome’s gates and cannot turn back, so he kills himself. The performance was as fierce as the music, allowing Amado to demonstrate to perfection his control of the orchestra and its dynamics.

The highlight of the evening was Peter Serkin, one of the great pianists of our time, playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2. It was hard not to feel starstruck by such an accomplished musician, and when he walked onstage with a relaxed smile, he seemed not only confident but relaxed and generous.

This work, which Beethoven wrote before the first piano concerto, features some of the composer’s most famous tunes. Serkin, who is obviously very familiar with this concerto, gave the first movement a delicate and elegant reading. He captured the serenity and spirituality of the second movement with a personal and beautifully touching interpretation. The third movement was all fun as it introduced the theme in an off-beat rhythm. (Later when the theme is played on the beat, it almost sounds wrong.) The tempo was well-judged and the interplay between orchestra and soloist was well-nuanced under Amado’s direction.

After the break, the evening continued with the Symphony No. 4, an Amado favorite but one that continues, unfortunately, to be underrated given its position between the “Eroica” and the ubiquitous Fifth.

The first movement opened with a tension-filled Adagio which gave way to a vigorous Allegro with striking dynamic contrasts, including some mellow sounds from the woodwind section. The Adagio was beautifully sculpted with some very effective soft-playing mid-movement. The finale scampered along with a strength and brio that characterized the entire performance.

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Longwood & Brandywiners Team Up for a Fine "Fiddler"

By Guest Blogger, Julia Mason
Julia has been working in the marketing world for over seven years and has a deep passion for Wilmington, Delaware. When she is not working on revitalization efforts and exciting projects for Wilmington with The Buccini/Pollin Group, she enjoys working on her personal project,

Brandywiners' cast of Fiddler On the Roof
The charming and thought-provoking Fiddler on the Roof is now on performance at the magical Longwood Gardens Open Air Theatre.  The talented Brandywiners are putting on the production, and like the Longwood Gardens have a unique history.

The group began in 1932 with the goal to bring joy into people’s lives during the Great Depression. Chick Laird, co-founder of the group, just so happened to also be the favorite nephew of Pierre S. du Pont, owner of Longwood Gardens and the Open Air Theatre, The Brandywiners have been performing there ever since!

Fiddler on the Roof is The Brandywiners 84th annual performance and all of that experience strongly shows through the play. The jubilant Marissa Broujos’ energy as The Fiddler can be felt strongly throughout the entire show, and her dancing was perfectly on point. William Fellner, as Teyve was impeccable at bringing out the character’s wit. Susan Brown captivated the audience with her motherly yet quick-witted personality. The real head turner was Tricia Beichner, who perfectly carried out the role as old Grandma Tzeital and was both mystifying and terrifying all at the same time!

The entire cast and orchestra did an excellent job and if you haven’t been to The Open Air Theatre to see The Brandywiners, or you haven’t seen Fiddler on the Roof, I would highly recommend attending. The play is just as wonderful as the setting and by being outdoors it somehow brings you that much more entrenched with the performance. The star-filled night sky and fireflies dancing above your heads make it all very enchanting.

P.S. The ending of play is not the end of the show, there is a dazzling fountain display, but I won’t spoil the surprise! You have to go see The Brandywiners yourself!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Folks, Get Your Tickets...Annie's Got Her Gun!

Annie &Frank. Photo courtesy of The Brandywiners.
Danielle Rice is Executive Director of the Delaware Art Museum. She and her husband, Dr. Jeffrey Berger, are theater and music lovers and support all of the arts in Delaware.
It certainly didn’t hurt that the weather was absolutely perfect, but we were thrilled to finish off a busy week with dinner and a show al fresco. The Brandywiners that energetic community theater group that has been staging summer shows at Longwood Gardens for 60 years  this year arranged a special 15% discount for theater-goers with local restaurants. So we gladly started our evening with a relaxed (and discounted!) dinner at Buckley’s.

We arrived at Longwood with half an hour to spare and we spent it strolling amidst the glorious gardens. There’s nothing better for washing away the stresses of the workweek! We were delighted to see that the outdoor theater was almost full to capacity with a diverse and enthusiastic crowd, and, of course, we always love seeing the illuminated fountains that serve as curtains while we wait for the show to begin.

Annie Get Your Gun is based on the remarkable true story of Annie Oaklely, the first major American entertainment celebrity. Born in poverty in rural Ohio, Annie supported her family with hunting and trapping and at age 15 she defeated Frank Butler in a shooting match but won his heart. The two were married and enjoyed a long relationship and partnership in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

The Broadway musical, which opened at the Imperial Theatre on May 16, 1946, was written specifically for Ethel Merman, with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin from the book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields. It was the biggest Broadway hit of Merman's career. The 1999 Broadway revival, which showcased Bernadette Peters, was updated for modern times. Not only did Peter Stone make revisions to Herbert and Dorothy Fields's original book (the story is now a show within a show, namely Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show), but there have been revisions to Berlin's original score as well. It is this version that The Brandywiners are staging at Longwood Gardens this summer.

The show opens with that old time favorite, There’s No Business Like Show Business which becomes the recurring theme (and of course we all go out humming it to ourselves). Other recognizable tunes include That Girl That I Marry, You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun and of course, the absolutely delicious Anything You Can Do, which will have your kids singing for a long time to come! The Brandywiners’ production features clever sets that roll in and out of the hedges and dazzling costumes. Rebecca Buswell Kostifas gives us an adorable and energetic Annie who blasts out her numerous songs with confident gusto. Robert Welch is cast as Frank Butler 
 the man that Annie has to figure out how to win over after winning over him with her shooting. While a bit stiff as an actor, Welch has a lovely voice that pairs beautifully with Kostifas’.

It took the large cast a bit of time to get into the swing of things and the first act dragged a bit, but the second act was sheer delight. The Ballroom Scene was exquisite in the unadorned garden setting and the choreography was tight and effective. The dance performed by Winnie (Carolyn Peck) and Tommy (Ricky Rotandi) was exceptional. And of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the delightful children’s ensemble and in particular Jessie (Alie Weldon), Nellie (Nicole Hemphill) and Little Jake (Misha Teixido) who perform a show-stopping Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly in the first act.

All in all, Annie Get Your Gun marks another ambitious success for The Brandywiners, and it is well worth seeing. Be sure to check out all the area restaurants that are offering the discounted dinners throughout the run of the show.

Get tickets and additional information at: but please, leave your guns at home!