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Bits & Bytes: ‘Acis y Galatea’; marionettes at Ventfort Hall; ‘The Spirit of Giving Illustrated’; West Stockbridge Chamber Players concert; Williams astronomer to observe solar eclipse

xArtwork on view includes Norman Rockwell’s “Christmas Trio,” in which a bundled-up group of Dickensian carolers and musicians give the gift of music

Crescendo to perform Baroque comic opera ‘Acis y Galatea’

Lakeville, Conn. — In collaboration with Ensemble El Fuego, Crescendo has announced that it will present a semi-staged performance of the Spanish Baroque comic opera “Acis y Galatea: A Tale of Divine Love and the River Spirit” Saturday, Dec. 28, at 4 p.m. at Saint James Place in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and Sunday, Dec. 29, at 4 p.m. at Lakeville United Methodist Church.

Crescendo founding artistic director Christine Gevert conducting at an October concert at Saint James Place in Great Barrington. Photo courtesy Crescendo

Antonio de Líteres’s “Acis y Galatea” is an opera in two acts with a libretto by José de Cañizares. It was first performed in 1708, and quickly became one of the most famous of the “zarzuelas,” which flourished in late Baroque times and were a blend of songs, choruses and spoken passages, often quick-witted and satirical.

“This work is very entertaining!” said Crescendo founding artistic director Christine Gevert,. “It brings together beautiful Baroque music like Monteverdi’s or Handel’s with a very funny story line. The dialogues will be in English so our audiences can enjoy the dramatic and comic exchanges without translation, while the arias and ensemble pieces will be sung in Spanish.”

The performers will be mezzo soprano Salomé Sandoval as Acis; soprano Catherine Hancock as Galatea; soprano Sarah Fay as Glauco; mezzo soprano Malina Rauschenfels as Tisbe; baritone Eric Miranda as Momo; and Thomas Schindler as Polifemo. They will be joined by Crescendo’s Vocal Ensemble Singers, and period instrument players Job Salazar and Malina Rauschenfels on violins; Tricia Van Oers on recorder; Christa Patton on recorder and harp; and Hideki Yamaya on theorbo and guitar.

Tickets are $10–$60. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact Crescendo at (860) 435-4866 or


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Ventfort Hall to host ‘The Frog Prince’ marionette show

Carl Sprague and his marionettes. Photo courtesy Ventfort Hall

Lenox — Carl Sprague will return to Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum for two marionette performances of the classic fairytale “The Frog Prince” Saturday, Dec. 28, and Monday, Dec. 30, at 3:30 p.m. Audiences will have the opportunity to meet Sprague over holiday refreshments after the performances.

Sprague appears annually at Ventfort Hall and has been a puppeteer since childhood. He inherited a collection of 60 antique Czech marionettes, each about 8 inches tall and assembled by his great-grandfather Julius Hybler with purchased heads and handmade costumes. Sprague has been a set designer for such motion pictures as “The Royal Tenenbaums” and Martin Scorsese’s “The Age of Innocence,” as well as for theater productions by Shakespeare & Company and others.

Admission is $15 for adults, $7 for youth ages 4–17, and free for children ages 3 and under. Children must be accompanied by adults. Reservations are recommended due to limited seating. For more information or to make reservations, contact Ventfort Hall at (413) 637-3206.


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‘The Spirit of Giving Illustrated’ offers a nostalgic look at holiday generosity

Christmas Trio, Norman Rockwell. 1923. Cover illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, December 8, 1923. From the permanent collection of Norman Rockwell Museum. Art Collection Trust. ©1923 SEPS: Licensed by Curtis Publishing, Indianapolis, IN. Image courtesy Norman Rockwell Museum

Stockbridge — In its holiday exhibit “The Spirit of Giving Illustrated,” the Norman Rockwell Museum pairs classic Rockwell artwork from its permanent collection with rarely exhibited paintings from the Peter and Elaine Guiffreda collection, plus several privately owned pieces, that demonstrate the compassionate spirit of giving.

Artwork on view includes Rockwell’s “Christmas Trio,” in which a bundled-up group of Dickensian carolers and musicians give the gift of music; and “Christmas Homecoming,” which evokes the warmth of a joyous family gathering. Visitors will also discover artist Haddon Sundblom’s 1949 impish elfin figure Sprite Boy, who invites viewers into his soda fountain to enjoy a Coke. A vision of Santa filling the stocking of a sleeping child by 19th-century author/illustrator Kate Greenaway is on view, along with Harold Anderson’s sidewalk Santa, who offers a hungry dog a bit of his sandwich. The exhibition includes holiday cards created by artists like Rockwell, gifts of their talent for family and friends.

The exhibit is on view through Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. For more information, contact the Norman Rockwell Museum at (413) 298-4100 or


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West Stockbridge Chamber Players to hold winter benefit concert

From left: Sheila Fiekowsky, Oliver Aldort and Catherine Hudgins at the West Stockbridge Chamber Players May 24 spring benefit concert at the West Stockbridge Old Town Hall. Photo: Carol Kuller

West Stockbridge — The West Stockbridge Chamber Players will present their annual Winter Concert Monday, Dec. 30, at 6 p.m. at the West Stockbridge Congregational Church. A reception in the house next door to the church will follow the concert.

The performance will feature music by Bruch, Khachaturian, Schumann and Dohnányi. Clarinetist Catherine Hudgins, the Players’ artistic director, will be joined by violinist Sheila Fiekowsky, violist Daniel Getz, cellist Oliver Aldort and pianist Deborah DeWolf Emery.

Tickets are $35. Proceeds will benefit the restoration campaign of the Old Town Hall. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar, call (413) 232-5055 or visit West Stockbridge businesses displaying blue music notes in their windows.


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Williams astronomer to observe solar eclipse across India

Jay Pasachoff in 2014 in front of the dome of the 200-inch telescope at the Palomar Observatory, which was the largest in the world for almost five decades

Williamstown — Jay Pasachoff, Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College and chair of the International Astronomical Union’s Working Group on Solar Eclipses, reports that a solar eclipse will be seen across India Thursday, Dec. 26. According to Pasachoff, the moon will be a little farther from Earth than average, so it will not completely cover the sun, leaving a ring known as an annulus.

Pasachoff will view his 18th annular eclipse in India with professor Jagdev Singh of the Indian Institute for Astrophysics, who is also a solar astronomer and a member of the Working Group on Solar Eclipses. Pasachoff has also viewed 35 total solar eclipses, most recently in Chile in July and in the United States in 2017, as well as partial solar eclipses, making the forthcoming eclipse his 72nd solar eclipse.

The eclipse will begin to be visible in Saudi Araba, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman low in the sky, and at least one cruise ship will intercept annularity in the Arabian Sea. Information about the times and places for viewing the eclipse can be found at the International Astronomical Union’s eclipse website. The maximum coverage of the solar disk will be 89% at Chennai, 84% at Mumbai, and 56% in New Delhi. After the path of annularity leaves India, it will cross northern Sri Lanka, Indonesia’s Sumatra and Kalimantan, and Singapore. Partial phases will be visible as far north as Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo. Guam and some Mariana Islands will be in the path of annularity as the eclipse exits across the Pacific.



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