Overalls at Austin Opera’s ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ Downtown Steakhouses and more

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Christian Rodriguez and Brisa Ponce at Austin Opera's 'Romeo and Juliet.'
Christian Rodriguez and Brisa Ponce at Austin Opera's 'Romeo and Juliet.'

Christian Rodriguez and Brisa Ponce at Austin Opera’s ‘Romeo and Juliet.’

ARTS: I saw a man in overalls at the opera. Now, that’s a breakthrough. For an art form cursed with a high-brow social reputation, overalls are a good sign. Wasn’t always this way. From the late 18th century to the early 20th century, opera attracted all classes, especially in German and Italian-speaking countries. Here, German and Italian-speaking urban communities extended that tradition. In Texas, amateur companies sang operas in German and Czech in towns as small as Flatonia. It wasn’t until opera was sold as a socially exclusive, upper-crust experience — so that rich people would give money to support it on a grand scale — that the other classes were squeezed out.

Phyllis Kung and Joseph Herda at Austin Opera's 'Romeo and Juliet.'

Phyllis Kung and Joseph Herda at Austin Opera’s ‘Romeo and Juliet.’

Not always consistently, Austin Opera has done a good job of making everyone feel welcome. True, some people dress up. And they pay top prices for tickets — a form charitable giving, really. Other audience members, however, have always showed up in jeans, and, when the price is right, young and old from all backgrounds hang on every word and note. Such was the case Thursday, when Gounod’s “Romeo and Juliet” was the long but lovely offering at the Long Center.

Ken Sanborn and Victoria Alvarez at Austin Opera's "Romeo and Juliet."

Ken Sanborn and Victoria Alvarez at Austin Opera’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

We did a little non-scientific poll. Christian Rodriguez and Brisa Ponce hung out on the light platform in front of the terrace during the first intermission and called the show “magical.” Phyllis Kung said it was “classic,” while Joseph Herda described it as “rich.” Ken Sanborn and Victoria Alvarez judged their evening at “Romeo and Juliet” “enchanting!”

FOOD: Choose from 15 downtown Austin steakhouses. From Matthew Odam‘s story in the Statesman: “Can you have too many steakhouses? In downtown Austin, the answer seems to be “apparently not.” Just when you think we’ve reached a tipping point, another springs up. Most of these meat palaces are franchises of national brands, doing a good job of keeping Austin wide, if not weird. But there are a few locally owned steakhouses downtown, from Austin Land and Cattle on the west end to Vince Young Steakhouse on the east, with the legendary Original Hoffbrau sandwiched in between.” http://shar.es/1oHkcz


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