Events for the week

february 12
Masterpieces of 19th Century Italian Painting From the Gaetano Marzotto Collection: When the average Joe or Jane is asked to name a famous Italian painter, one of the great religious painters of the Renaissance is usually cited. If, on the other hand, you ask the same individual to name a painter of merit from the late 19th century, you can almost guarantee that painter will be French. The Kimbell Art Museum hopes to throw light on a long-ignored corner of European art with its exhibition Masterpieces of 19th Century Italian Painting From the Gaetano Marzotto Collection. Curators at the Kimbell make no small claim--that this collection of 120 paintings is the first time Southwestern audiences have ever been allowed to consider works by Italian artists that anticipated, even influenced, the Modern age. Most of the pictures in this collection are still-lifes, portraits, panoramic reproductions of city scenes--anything and everything but the fervent religious images most of us normally associate with Italians' contribution to art. Masterpieces of 19th Century Italian Painting opens February 12 and runs through April 9 at the Kimbell Art Museum, 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd in Fort Worth. It's free. Call (817) 332-8451.

february 13
Third Annual Governor's Exhibition: Now that Shrub Bush has taken root in the governor's mansion, can we expect the same commitment to the popular arts--both as a state revenue source and a forum for individual expression--that former governor and Doritos commercial star Ann Richards provided? Don't hold your breath. Bush seems to have little affinity for the subtle rewards that government-sponsored arts programs can provide. And there's no telling how much longer the Texas Photographic Society will have the resources to present something like its Third Annual Governor's Exhibition--a statewide retrospective that features the work of 43 Texas photographers (five of them hail from the Dallas-Fort Worth area). All subjects and styles are represented in these 56 works. The Third Annual Governor's Exhibition runs through March 11 at the Photographic Archives Gallery, 5117 W Lovers Lane. It's free. For more information call 352-3167.

february 14
Lucky Stiff: In synopsis, it sounds like a slightly more high-falutin' version of the much-revered Weekend at Bernie's movies--a guy must drag a corpse through various social situations and pretend the whole time the damned thing is still alive. Yet this variation on that theme is a musical, staged to great critical acclaim first in London by lyricist Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty, and then later in New York City (even Frank Rich, the grumpy former "Butcher of Broadway" turned tireless advocate for public arts funding at The New York Times, wrote a glowing mention of the piece). Based on a serious crime novel, Lucky Stiff imagines what happens when a misanthropic shoe salesman stands to inherit $6 million from his deceased uncle--under the condition that he accompany said uncle on a wild final vacation at Monte Carlo. Before you prejudge the material, please remember that the British can turn the most inane material into a subtle, skillful, poker-faced exploration of human foibles. Let's just see if Theatre Three can do the same. Lucky Stiff in performances on Tuesday-Friday, 8:15 pm; Saturday, 2:30 & 8:15 pm; and Sunday, 2:30 & 7:30 pm through March 12 at the Theatre Three location in the Quadrangle on Routh Street just off McKinney. Tickets are $10-$23. Call 871-3300.

Liebesreigen: Want to do something...well, interesting to celebrate Valentine's Day? Rising Moon Theatre, one of the city's smaller but more defiantly noncommercial theatrical companies, presents what it calls "a Valentine's feast" to commemorate February's pop-culture commemoration of amour lost and found. Their latest production, George Schnitzler's dark comedy about relationships, Liebesreigen, may not be to everyone's taste--it assumes infidelity as a fact of life, and shows the disastrous consequences when five male-female couples go hunting for love and wind up returning, by sheer fate, to the commitments with which they started. Foreign film buffs might recognize Schnitzler's story as the basis of Max Ophuls' 1950 French farce La Ronde, starring Simone Signoret. Yet that version is considerably tamer than the one Rising Moon promises to deliver--they deliver a warning to the faint-hearted that this production contains "strong sexual content and nudity." Can they deliver something more than just cheap shock? Find out for yourself. Rising Moon Theatre opens Liebesreigen February 14 at 8:15 pm. Regular performances run Thursday-Saturday at 8:15 pm through March 4 at the Swiss Avenue Theater, 2700 Swiss. Tickets are $10. For more information call 824-9859.

february 15
Porgy and Bess: Remarkable as it may seem, no African-American artist has yet directed the countless local, national, and international productions given to George Gershwin's beloved folk opera Porgy and Bess--until now. While the music from Gershwin's tragicomic look at black American life has entered a collective songbook broad enough to encompass artists from Dizzy Gillespie to Nina Simone to Janis Joplin, it has always remained a largely detached work--a kind of idealization of ethnic experience that relies as much or more on what the majority imagines to be the pleasures and pains of outsiderhood as the experience to which those outsiders can personally testify. The Dallas Opera presents a new--and-umpteenth--version of this controversial American classic directed by theater veteran Hope Clarke and featuring the creative contributions of a host of national opera companies, including the Seattle Opera, the Houston Grand Opera, the San Diego Opera, the Cleveland Opera, the San Francisco Opera, the Orange County Performing Arts Center, and the Portland Opera. Nationally, this is considered a historic production, one which various local ethnic and arts organizations have sponsored in order to offer free or reduced-price tickets. The Dallas Opera offers performances of Porgy and Bess February 15-26, with evening and a few matinee performances scheduled during the run. All shows happen at the Music Hall in Fair Park. For ticket information call 443-1043.

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