Boston Symphony Orchestra Kicks Off Tanglewood Season 05:10

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James Levine and the Boston Symphony Orchestra open the Tanglewood season this weekend with Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” among others, but Morning Edition Critic-At-Large Ed Siegel has beaten them out to the Berkshires.

Siegel joined us to talk about what he’s seen, and what you might want to see if you’re headed out to Western Massachusetts this holiday weekend.

Bob Oakes: So let’s start with Tanglewood.

Ed Siegel: Right, the BSO opens its season Friday night and has what looks to be a great concert Sunday afternoon with “The Rite of Spring” and the Brahms violin concerto. Diana Krall takes over the Koussevitsky Music Shed July 4th. But, Bob, I’d like to put in a pitch for some of the second stages in the Berkshires.

Some of the best classical music I’ve heard anywhere has been the chamber concerts at Ozawa Hall, including last weekend when the Emerson String Quartet gave what amounted to a musical seminar in how American music came into being, including Dvorak’s “American” quartet.

This weekend the main attraction at Ozawa Hall is Christian Tetzlaff, who plays the Brahms’ concerto on Sunday, and surveys the entire 10 Beethoven violin sonatas with pianist Alexander Lonquich Sunday night and, if you’re still around, the following Tuesday.

I imagine you saw some theater while you were out there?

Right, let’s start with Shakespeare & Company, the Lenox-based troupe that’s run into some financial difficulties. So they’re reprising some “Greatest Hits” from years past, including “Othello” with Tina Packer and her son, Jason Asprey, playing Gertrude and her son in “Hamlet,” both on the mainstage.

But, you know, while Shakespeare has been their bread and butter, the company’s actors also excel in Harold Pinter and at the Elayne Bernstein second stage, company veterans Malcolm and Elizabeth Ingram, along with Stephen Pilkington, are putting on a clinic on how to make Pinter power plays Pinteresque in three one-acts.

And down the road in Stockbridge, the Berkshire Theatre Festival is presenting an all-but-definitive production of Irish playwright Brian Friel’s searing story of modern desperation, “Faith Healer.”

Well, Ed — Pinter, Shakespeare tragedies, desperation — it all sounds pretty heavy. Anything lighter?

How about Rodgers and Hammerstein? No summer is complete without a musical directed by Julianne Boyd at the Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield.

What are they doing this year?

Well, it’s not exactly light fare, it’s a two-piano version of “Carousel,” which is heavily concerned with domestic abuse, particularly in this production. And this is quite a production with excellent choreography and superb singing … especially Aaron Ramey as carnival barker Billy Bigelow. In “Soliloquy,” when he realizes he can’t support his daughter, you can see how Rodgers and Hammerstein set the stage for Stephen Sondheim and “Sweeney Todd.”

Sounds pretty powerful. Thanks, Ed.

Critic-At-Large Ed Siegel reviews theater and the arts for Morning Edition.

This program aired on July 2, 2009.