Performing Arts

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It turns out, you can teach an old dog new tricks. Or, at least, you can teach an old dog to like new tricks. That's my thesis after accompanying my daughter to the Niall Horan concert at Comerica Theatre in Downtown Phoenix on Monday. I was skeptical that I wouldn't need ear plugs to survive the show, raised as I was on true rock 'n roll, not the flowery, moody pop that passes for music on the Top 40 stations these days. But, I must admit, the experience was tolerable, even enjoyable in parts (despite the near-constant squeals of joy and adolescent cooing coming from the audience).

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The season opener for Arizona Opera, Hercules vs. Vampires, demonstrates just how fine the line between highbrow and lowbrow can be. The mythological Greek hero Hercules ventures into the underworld to fetch a cure for a princess who, thanks to an evil king, has lost her memory. Sure... OK.

There’s nothing about this story that wouldn’t have been taken seriously by generations of grand opera composers. Indeed, it’s arguably a more straightforward narrative than that of many operas.

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What prompted you to make a live album? I was invited by Berklee College of Music [in Boston]. It was sort of an idea they had initially that we collaborated on to figure out how to use the talent they have in their students but to also do something that will have a real world release. While the students are still in school and haven’t graduated yet they can put out a record that will...

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