By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
REALLY OLD LADIES OF PASADENA
Roberta Martinez, author and head of the Pasadena nonprofit Latino Heritage, discusses and signs her latest book, Latinos in Pasadena (Arcadia Publishing). Culled from private collections and local and university libraries, these vintage photographs, drawings and historical maps chronicle the contributions of Mexican-Americans in the City of Roses beyond Millionaires Row and the Tournament of Roses Parade, dating back to the thousands of Tongva Indians living in the San Gabriel Valley. After Martinez’s lecture, check out more of Pasadena’s ethnic history in the museum’s excellent current exhibit, Family Stories: Sharing a Community’s Legacy, which zooms in on six local African-American, European, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican and Armenian families — Duncan, Gertmenian, Kawai, Lowe, Mejia and Stevenson — via more vintage photos, recordings and other artifacts. Pasadena Museum of History, 470 W. Walnut St., Pasadena; Tues., May 26, 7:30 p.m.; $5 (exhibit through Jan. 10). (626) 577-1660.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 27
CLASSIC FLICKS, CLASSIC ARCHITECTURE, JUST GO
Celebrating three of the grand cinema palaces of the downtown Los Angeles Theater District, the 23rd annual Last Remaining Seats series rescues your summer nights from the boring torpor of heat prostration, returning you to a simpler time, when movies were an escape from war and the Depression — not like now, what with our fancy flying cars, world peace and biomechanical stilt implants. It’s a little odd to consider that, when the series began in 1986, some of the theaters — including the Cameo, the United Artists and the Orpheum — were still in operation, showing everything from Disney pabulum to grindhouse triple bills. Then again, those last remaining seats were sticky and occupied by winos and other wandering shreds of human debris, so it’s not as if there was anything to celebrate there. May 27, inaugural night, unspools The Sting (1973) at the Orpheum (arguably the best-kept of the theaters along Broadway), accompanied by Bob Mitchell on the Mighty Wurlitzer. Doubtless it’ll be a much more expansive viewing experience with the realization that Paul Newman has died. June 3 at the restored Million Dollar Theatre features the always-at-the-start-of-every-movie-book duo Abbott & Costello and their 1941 slapstick classic Buck Privates; Michael York hosts the screening of Cabaret (1972) at the acoustically pristine Los Angeles Theatre. At the Million Dollar on June 17 is the Brazilian fantasia Macunaíma (1969), with its tale of the titular hero voyaging through jungles both urban and natural in a way that’s equal parts Voltaire and Jodorowsky. June 24 sees A Streetcar Named Desire off at the Los Angeles, and Hugh Hefner closes out the whole he/shebang with a screening of the ironically preachy silent film Pandora’s Box (1929) at the Orpheum, prescribing you 10cc of cinematic Mycoxadryl (that’s Viagra to you and me, son) for your viewing pleasures. Orpheum Theatre, 842 S. Broadway, dwntwn; Los Angeles Theatre, 615 S. Broadway, dwntwn.; Million Dollar Theatre, 307 S. Broadway, dwntwn.; May 27-June 17, 7 p.m.; $16 per screening, $20 nonmembers, $80 series pass (members), $100 series pass (nonmembers). (213) 623-2489 or www.laconservancy.org.
IF YOU KNEW T.B. LIKE I KNEW T.B.
Despite its soapy melodramatics, nobody ever seems to get tired of La Traviata. The famed courtesan Violetta is romanced by the infatuated young nobleman Alfredo Germont, but alas, Violetta has two strikes against her: one, her dubious reputation, and two, the fact that she’s dying of consumption. Nonetheless, she succumbs to her young lover’s ardor and they set up housekeeping together in the country. But Alfredo’s dad, the elegant Count Germont, isn’t happy about this arrangement, because the gossip is hurting his family and his daughter’s chances of matrimony (“I have a daughter as pure as an angel ...,” he pleads, in a famous aria). Feeling chastened, and knowing she’s about to die anyway, the heartbroken Violetta sends Alfredo packing. Ah, but the fires of True Love cannot be so easily put out. After the Turtle Doves have a few big rows, Alfredo learns of Violetta’s sacrifice and rushes back to her. Unfortunately, his amour expires in his arms but not before she sings her big swan song, “Gran Dio! Morir si giovane!” (Oh, God! To die so young!) How somebody in the final throes of T.B. can manage to belt out an aria is something that’s never been explained, but heck, that’s opera. And if it sounds an awful lot like La Bohème — the consumptive Mimi and starving poet Rodolfo fall in love, break up because of a misunderstanding, and reunite just in time for Mimi’s melodious demise — well, Puccini couldn’t resist the suffering lover/disease-of-the-week themes. But we forgive him because the music is just so delicious. L.A. Opera reprises its sumptuous 2006 production of Traviata with a foolproof cast that includes sopranos Marina Poplavskaya and Elizabeth Futral alternating as Violetta; Massimo Giordano and Aleksei Dolgov sharing the role of Alfredo; and baritones Andrzej Dobber and Stephen Powell trading off as Count Germont. Los Angeles Master Chorale director Grant Gershon makes his company debut as conductor. Directed by Marta Domingo. Music Center; opens Thurs., May 21, 7:30 p.m.; continues May 27 & 30 & June 6 & 10, 7:30 p.m.; mats June 3, 14 & 21, 2 p.m.; $20-$250. (213) 972-8001 or www.laopera.com.