Der Rosenkavalier: For the famous comic opera Der Rosenkavalier, the great Bavarian composer Richard Strauss and Austrian librettist Hugo von Hofmannstahal were mining a centuries-old comic tradition that didn't begin when Nathan Lane donned a Barbara Bush wig and pearls for The Birdcage--boys trying to look and act like girls. Gay male entertainers hardly have an exclusive patent on drag, but it's true they took this genre to its next level, transforming the source of comedy from failure to success--in other words, getting laughs not by playing women badly but by playing them well. Der Rosenkavalier relies on the hetero version of drag, the absurdity of a man disguising himself as his beloved's handmaid and succeeding when, of course, it's obvious that he's a man. In the Germany of 1911, the year this opera was written, the major cities featured seamless female impersonations that were the kind of "perversions" that would be severely punished under Adolf Hitler. Performances are January 10, 15, and 18 at 7:30 p.m. and January 12 at 2 p.m. at the Music Hall in Fair Park. Tickets are $25-$110. Call (214) 443-1000.
Establishment and Revelation: Dallas Visual Art Center is on a roll for Texas artists. Last year they began their trilogy of shows dedicated to the Lone Star State with Establishment Exposed, a look at some of the brightest of our own state who've earned national and international reputations while working outside of New York City and Paris. The Establishment trilogy continues with Establishment and Revelation, a show that also features no common style or theme other than the fact the artists are all Texans and they are all just now making an impression on the national art community. Those represented include Michael Collins, James Drake, Mary McCleary, Gael Stack, and Dixie Friend Gay. The show opens January 10 with a reception at 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Dallas Visual Art Center, 2917 Swiss Avenue. Call (214) 821-2522.
Joan Laage: Dancer-choreographer Joan Laage isn't letting the dust settle beneath her pointe shoes. After having premiered a trio of performances last month at the New Dance/New City Festival in Seattle, Laage comes to the McKinney Avenue Contemporary to perform one of her solo dances, a piece called "White Sanctuary." In it, Laage dances for 50 minutes through a forest of sculptures draped with clear and opaque pieces of plastic. She'll follow this show with "Waiting for Butoh," a 15-minute improvisational number that features Laage in Japanese cotton robe, black wig, men's briefs, T-shirt, and silver sandals. The piece is reportedly either comic or tragic, depending on audience feedback. If Laage, who is artistic director of Seattle's acclaimed Dappin' Butoh dance company, doesn't pull this one off, the tragedy will be all those contemporary dance lovers who lost $12 at the MAC box office. Performances happen January 9-11 at 8 p.m. and January 12 at 2 p.m. at the Mc-Kinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave. Tickets are $12. Call (214) 953-1212.
Dallas Democratic Forum's Kickoff to the Presidential Inauguration: Although many of us have long since resigned ourselves to Bill Clinton's reelection in November 1996, his actual inauguration in Washington, D.C. doesn't take place until January 20. The Dallas Democratic Forum is too excited to wait for an inaugural ceremony that just two years ago looked flat-out impossible. They're throwing a local shindig that not only kicks off the presidential inauguration but celebrates their 20th anniversary. Honored guests will include Congressman Martin Frost, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, Congressman John Bryant, and Congressional Candidate John Pouland. Considering Clinton's recent stands on social and economic issues, however, we have one question--has the Forum checked to make certain the president is still a registered Democrat? The event happens at 6:30 p.m. at the home of the Forum's founding member. Tickets are $50, which includes a 1997 membership. For info call (214) 742-1160.