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Move over Brunehilde: Opera goes diverse

By AMY ABBOTT, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 29, 2002

If you equate opera to Italian men and horned women, meet three African-American tenors who could change your mind.

Victor Trent Cook, Rodrick Dixon and Thomas Young trained their talents in musical genres such as blues, jazz and gospel.

But they have moved on to heighten awareness of African-Americans in the opera world.

Opera is in Dixon's blood. He has performed with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Portland Opera, Virginia Opera, and Columbus Opera, among others.

When Cook was in Smokey Joe's Cafe, audiences got sore hands from clapping. Cook received a 1995 Tony Award nomination. Solo performances have taken him to the White House, Avery Fisher Hall and John F. Kennedy Center.

Young is at home in the theater, on the jazz circuit or as a soloist. Tan Dun included him in Marco Polo, Anthony Davis added him to Amistad and The Life and Times of Malcolm X, and John Adams sought him for The Death of Klinghoffer.

Three Mo' Tenors is the creation of Marion J. Caffey, who wanted to showcase African-American talents trained in the European arts. The performance spans more than four centuries of music.

The orchestra is under the direction of Joseph Joubert.

Three Mo' Tenors, 8 p.m. tonight, $21-$49. Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Carol Morsani Hall. Call (813) 229-7892.

29 -- TODAY

Damon Fowler Group. Local blues prodigy. 8 p.m., $5. Skipper's Smokehouse, 901 Skipper Road. Call 971-0666.

George Wallace. His practical side first accumulated a nest egg. His funny side cracked the egg to pursue comedy. The gamble worked: In 1995, he won an American Comedy Award for Best Stand Up Comedian. 8 p.m., 10:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., $27. Improv, 1600 E Eighth Ave. Call 864-4000.

Art: Jeffrey Kronsnoble -- New York. Kronsnoble chronicled his travels abroad and in the States with his brush rather than a pen. Pieces range from surreal to classic landscapes. Reception, 7-9 p.m.; through April 22, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Clayton Galleries, 4105 S MacDill Ave. Call 831-3753.

Book Signing: John Dufresne. Author of Deep in the Shade of Paradise rubs elbows with readers. Dufresne also wrote Louisiana Power & Light and Love Warps the Mind a Little. 7 p.m. Inkwood Books, 216 S Armenia Ave. Call 253-2638.


Bill Cosby. Thinking of pudding pops, picture pages or a prime-time pop will get you in the mind frame for this comedic legend. 8 p.m., $30, $35, $45. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. Call (727) 791-7400.

2nd Annual Brora's Bug Show. Not the bugs that buzz but the VW Bugs that sounds like Harleys on helium. Skipper's parking lot will be filled with Bugs. Tim Dorsey will sign his books Florida Road Kill, Hammerhead Ranch Motel and Orange Crush. Supreme bluegrass acts Swift Creek Ramblers and Southern Fried Musical Freak Show will be on stage inside. Noon, free. Skipper's Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road. Call 971-0666.

Alejandro Escovedo Orchestra. This Texan's musical interests in punk, art rock, cowpunk and roots rock is as diverse as his family tree. His niece is Sheila E. Two brothers played with Santana. His father played in mariachi bands and his wife is in an Austin punk band, a genre he began exploring in the mid '70s. Now he keeps busy with his orchestra and his metal band, Buick McKane. 8 p.m. Skipper's Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road. Call 971-0666.

Eggstravaganza 2002. Pancakes for breakfast, pictures with the Easter Bunny, an egg hunt and petting zoo are all free. 8:30 a.m. Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center grounds. Call (813) 229-7892 Easter Family Fun. Anticipating you'll be in a candy-coma on Sunday, Ybor's Fresh Market throws a party a day early. Pony rides, a petting zoo and amusements.

Picnic in the Village Antique Car Show. For the 16th year, people will don period clothing and hop in vintage buggies for an afternoon of food, music, bragging and maybe a little envy. Muscle cars be gone, this is for 1959 and older. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Pinellas County Heritage Village, 11909 125th St., Largo. Call (727) 588-9128.

Budweiser American Invitational. The piece de resistance of horse jumping. Jumpers compete for the $200,000 grand prix. 7 p.m., $15-$30. Raymond James Stadium, 4201 N Dale Mabry Highway.

Spring Training: New York Yankees vs. Philadelphia Phillies. 1:30 p.m., $4-$15. Legends Field, Tampa.

31 -- SUNDAY

Billy Bacon and the Forbidden Pigs. If you dig rockabilly, swing and blues all sloshed together, then you'll be in hog heaven. 5 p.m., $7-$10. Skipper's Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road. Call 971-0666.


Rigoletto: Opera-tunity. Get the inside scoop with the Opera Tampa Guild on Giuseppe Verdi's classic before it opens April 5. 7:30 p.m., Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Jaeb Theater. Call 229-7892.

Wine Tasting: The Diverse Red Wines of Spain. Regions of Toro, Ribera del Duero and Navarra may not ring a bell like Tuscany and Bordeaux do but they match ranks in the taste department. Test them yourself. 6:30 p.m., $25. SideBern's, 2208 W Morrison Ave. Call 250-9463.

Ice Hockey: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Rangers. 7:30 p.m., $8-$80. Ice Palace. Call 301-2500.


Eddie Gossling. Taking the mike wasn't hard for this ex-radio DJ. Winning HBO's Comic Relief VIII in 1995 took a little work. For practice, he teamed up with the likes of Bobcat Goldthwait and Pauly Shore. 8:30 p.m. Tues.-Thur., April 7; 8 p.m., 10:30 p.m. April 5-6. $5-$14. Side Splitters, 12938 N Dale Mabry Highway. Call 960-1197.

Donald Johanson. Remember Lucy? No, not the funny girl with braces. The hominid girl excavated in 1974. The earliest example of humankind's beginnings. Paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson found her and has written books about her. His USF lecture will expound on his philosophy: "As guardians of the past, we must be guardians of the future." 7 p.m. USF University Lecture Hall, 4200 E Fowler Ave. Call 987-6816.

Rachel Bissex/Groovelily. Bissex is like the fun friend with good advice, except she sings high-energy folk with high-energy flair. Groovelily's eclectic whirlwind blows the dust off traditional folk. 8 p.m., $10. Skipper's Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road. Call 971-0666.

Baseball: Tampa Bay Devil Rays vs. Detroit Tigers. 7:15 p.m. Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg.


John Morgan. This New Orleans comedian's bio reads more like a future senator, not a funny man, but maybe his schmoozing abilities lend to a witty stage presence. 8 p.m. Wed.-April 6, 10:30 p.m. April 5-6, 7 p.m. April 7, $8-$14. Improv, 1600 E Eighth Ave. Call 864-4000.

Daniel Ash. This Brit blazed the path for new wave with his band Bauhaus in 1978. He may be better known for his part in the band Love and Rockets in the '80s. Now he's exploring solo work, minus the Goth. 8 p.m., Masquerade, 1503 E Seventh Ave. Call 247-3319.

Ellis Island. Mike Finn, USF's resident Irish playwright/director/actor, recreates the story of European immigrants leaving home for America's gilded streets. 8 p.m., Wed.-April 6. $8 adults, $3 students and seniors. USF Theatre 2, 4200 E Fowler Ave. Call 987-2323.

Red Star Red Army Chorus and Dance Ensemble. Eighty performers kick up their heels in a chorus line, dances set to famous traditional Russian music. 7:30 p.m., $19.50, $24.50 & $29.50. Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Ferguson Hall. Call 229-7892.

Baseball: Tampa Bay Devil Rays vs Detroit Tigers. 7:15 p.m. Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg.


Pat Metheny Group. His high-energy jazz performance has sold out Ruth Eckerd Hall in the past. Expect modern jazz improvisation as well as the standards. 8 p.m., $32.50-$37.50. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. Call (727) 791-7400.

Life Drawing. 6-9 p.m. Don't be shy; the live model isn't. Tampa Museum of Art, 600 N Ashley Drive. Call 274-8130.

Ice Hockey: Tampa Bay Lightning vs Pittsburgh Penguins. 7:30 p.m., $8-$80. Ice Palace. Call 301-2500.

Baseball: Tampa Bay Devil Rays vs. Detroit Tigers. 2:15 p.m. Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg.


Rigoletto: April 5, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

Tampa Bay Blues Festival: April 5, Vinoy Park, St. Petersburg.

Millencolin: April 5, Masquerade.

Herman's Hermits with Peter Noone: April 5, Ruth Eckerd Hall.

Barrage: April 5, Mahaffey Theater.

Champions on Ice: April 6, Ice Palace.

Carrot Top: April 6, Ruth Eckerd Hall.

Jazz Ensemble Concert: April 7, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

Earth Charter Awareness Concert: April 7, Skipper's Smokehouse.


Enrique Iglesias: April 8, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

X-Ecutioners: April 10, Masquerade.

Art: April 11, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

VNV Nation: April 11, Masquerade.

Not the End of the Story: April 11-28, Gorilla Theatre.

Storytelling Festival: April 12-14, Several Tampa locations.

Red Elvises: April 12, Skipper's Smokehouse.

Kevin Pollack: April 12, Improv.

David Brenner: April 12, Side Splitters.

Ragtime: April 12-14, Ruth Eckerd Hall.

Bouncing Souls: April 13, Masquerade.

Karamu: April 13, Lowry Park Zoo.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young: April 14, Ice Palace.

Young King Arthur: April 14, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

Florida Orchestra, Elmar Oliveira: April 14, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

Dashboard Confessionals: April 16, Masquerade.

Barry Manilow: April 16, Ruth Eckerd Hall.

USF Jazztet: April 16, USF Theatre 2.

Tender Land: April 17, USF Theatre 1.

Cassandra Wilson: April 18, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

USF Wind Ensemble and Symphony Band: April 18, USF Theatre 2.

Jimmy Thackery: April 19, Skipper's Smokehouse.

Florida Orchestra, April in Paris: April 19, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

Lyle Lovett: April 20, Ruth Eckerd Hall.

Outside the Box: April 20, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

Ricochet: April 20, Borderline.

Antique Evaluation Saturday: April 20, University of Tampa.

Tap Kids: April 21, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

USF Student Brass Quintets: April 21, USF Music Recital Hall.

Symphonic Orchestra: April 24, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

Sycom: April 25, USF Theatre 2.

Mike Watt: April 26, Orpheum.

David Ball: April 27, Borderline.

The Best of Tampa Bay: April 27, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

Maria Muldaur: April 28, Skipper's Smokehouse.

- Want to send out an RSVP to the Tampa area? Fax press releases at least 10 days before publication to Amy Abbott at 226-3381, or mail to 1000 N Ashley Drive, Suite 700, Tampa, FL 33602. Amy's phone number is 226-3374 and her e-mail is

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  • Move over Brunehilde: Opera goes diverse
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