In his rougher years, when he has battled either physical or spiritual challenges (or both), Ray Adams has always found solace in the “Messiah.” Handel’s choral masterwork, especially its soaring “Hallelujah” chorus, has never failed to cast a spell on Adams, nor has the process of marshaling the singers, experienced and beginners, and presenting it as a foundation of Aspen’s holiday offerings. This year Adams, the artistic director of the Aspen Choral Society and the conductor of the “Messiah,” is in notably good health and spirits, so the performances may have even more of a celebratory feel. Part of the good cheer can be chalked up to the big turnout of singers: A few weeks ago, Adams was scrounging for participants; now he is up to a near-record 130. The 29th annual presentation of the “Messiah” is at the United Methodist Church in Glenwood Springs on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 11-12, and at St. Mary Catholic Church in Aspen on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 15-16.
Youth and innocence come into focus in the work of Texas-based artist Amy Adler. The title of Adler’s one-person show, opening this week at the Aspen Art Museum, is Make-Believe, and the show features two series of works. “The Rainbow Hour” is a series of portraits of Adler’s young niece, which capture her dressed as a princess and hugging a teddy bear. The new series, “The Sky Observer’s Guide,” likewise explores themes of vulnerability and an unselfconscious state. The opening, Thursday, Dec. 14, will feature a performance by singer Amy Cook, whose new CD is also called “The Sky Observer’s Guide,” and was co-written by Adler. The exhibition catalog for “The Rainbow Hour” is a children’s book, with a story by Art Museum director Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson. Also opening is the first one-person, American museum show by Austrian artist Markus Schinwald. Both exhibits show through midwinter.
The fact that Cedric Klapisch’s “Russian Dolls” manages to say something about modern romance – mostly, that the perfect relationship is an impossibility – is an achievement in itself. “Russian Dolls” – which revisits the same characters, five years on, from Klapisch’s “L’auberge Espagnole” – never stops moving long enough for a message to settle in. It jumps from Paris to London to Russia, from English to French to Russian. The main character, Xavier, a writer who avoids putting idealized romance into his TV screenplay, even as he chases one in real life, jumps from one woman to another so often it is hard to keep track of them. Klapisch actually plays up the frantic pace with quick cuts and even fast-motion camerawork, but somehow, barely, “Russian Dolls” doesn’t become a dizzying experience. Credit it to a strong cast who make likable people out of their over-amped, 30-ish characters. The film shows Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 13-14, at the Wheeler Opera House.
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