Lincoln Center, Josie Robertson Plaza
Columbus Ave. at 63rd St.
August 26 - September 5, free, starting time between 7:30 and 8:00
Looking to catch up on your opera viewing? The Met has just announced the full schedule for its annual — and free — Summer HD Festival, eleven nights of filmed operas from 2008 to 2016, projected onto a large screen on Josie Robertson Plaza, beginning August 26 with Miloš Forman’s Oscar-winning 1984 drama Amadeus, being shown as a tribute to playwright and screenwriter Peter Shaffer, who passed away in June at the age of ninety. The first-come, first-served festival, which has 3,100 seats up for grabs at every screening, continues August 27 with Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, directed by Richard Eyre, conducted by James Levine, and starring Amanda Majeski, Marlis Petersen, Isabel Leonard, Peter Mattei, and Ildar Abdrazakov; August 28 with Sir David McVicar’s production of Verdi’s Il Trovatore, with Anna Netrebko, Dolora Zajick, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and Yonghoon Lee; August 29 with Verdi’s Otello, directed by Bartlett Sher, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and featuring Aleksandrs Antonenko as Otello, Sonya Yoncheva as Desdemona, and Željko Lučić as Iago; August 30 with Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment, with Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Flórez; August 31 with Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, with Dessay, Joseph Calleja, and Ludovic Tézier; September 1 with Rossini’s La Cenerentola, conducted by Fabio Luisi and with a cast led by Joyce DiDonato and Flórez; September 2 with the popular double bill of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, with Marcelo Álvarez (as the lead in both), Eva-Maria Westbroek, Patricia Racette, and George Gagnidze, conducted by Luisi; September 3 with Renée Fleming singing the title role in Susan Stroman’s adaptation of Lehár’s The Merry Widow, with Nathan Gunn and, in her 2015 Met debut, Kelli O’Hara; September 4 with Franco Zeffirelli’s version of Puccini’s Turandot, starring Nina Stemme; and September 5 with Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles, with Diana Damrau, Matthew Polenzani, and Mariusz Kwiecien, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda.
EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT (EL ABRAZO DE LA SERPIENTE) (Ciro Guerra, 2015)
Socrates Sculpture Park
32-01 Vernon Blvd.
Wednesday, August 24, free, live music at 7:00, screening at sunset
Colombian writer-director Ciro Guerra takes viewers on a spectacular journey through time and space and deep into the heart of darkness in the extraordinary Embrace of the Serpent. Guerra’s Oscar-nominated film, the first to be shot in the Colombian Amazon in thirty years, opens with a 1909 quote from explorer Theodor Koch-Grünberg: “It is not possible for me to know if the infinite jungle has started on me the process that has taken many others to complete and irremediable insanity.” Inspired by the real-life journals of Koch-Grünberg and botanist and explorer Richard Evans Schultes, Guerra poetically shifts back and forth between two similar trips down the Vaupés River, both led by the same Amazonian shaman, each time guiding a white scientist on a perilous expedition in a long, narrow canoe. Shortly after the turn of the twentieth century, ailing white ethnologist Theo (Jan Bijvoet) and his native aid, Manduca (Yauenkü Migue), seek the help of Karamakate (Nilbio Torres), a shaman wholly suspicious of whites and who believes he is the last of his tribe. However, Theo claims he knows where remnants of Karamakate’s people live and will show him in return for helping him find the magical and mysterious hallucinogenic Yakruna plant that Theo thinks can cure his illness. Forty years later, white botanist Evan (Brionne Davis) enlists Karamakate (Antonio Bolívar Salvador) to locate what is thought to be the last surviving Yakruna plant, which he hopes will finally allow him to dream in order to heal his soul. Evoking such films as Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, Embrace of the Serpent makes the rainforest itself a character, shot in glorious black-and-white by David Gallego (Cecilia, Violencia) in a sparkling palette reminiscent of the work of Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado. As the parallel stories continue, the men encounter similar locations that have changed dramatically over time, largely as a result of rubber barons descending on the forest and white missionaries bringing Western religion to the natives. It’s difficult to watch without being assailed by imperialist concepts of the “noble savage,” mainly because the Amazon — and our Western minds — have been so profoundly affected by those ideas. “Before he can become a warrior, a man has to leave everything behind and go into the jungle, guided only by his dreams,” the older Karamakate says. “In that journey he has to discover, completely alone, who he really is.”
Winner of the Directors’ Fortnight Art Cinema Award at the Cannes Film Festival and nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award, Embrace of the Serpent is an unforgettable spiritual quest into the ravages of colonialism, the evils of materialism, the end of indigenous cultures, and what should be a sacred relationship between humanity and nature. Written by Guerra (2004’s Wandering Shadows, 2009’s The Wind Journeys) and Jacques Toulemonde (Anna), it is told from the point of view of the indigenous people of the Amazon, whom Guerra worked closely with in the making of the film, assuring them of his intentions to not exploit them the way so many others have. Aside from the Belgian Bijvoet and the Texan Davis, the rest of the cast is made up of members of tribes that live along the Vaupés. Guerra actually brought along a shaman known as a payé to perform ritual ceremonies to ensure the safety of the cast and crew and to protect the jungle itself. “What Ciro is doing with this film is an homage to the memory of our elders, in the time before: the way the white men treated the natives, the rubber exploitation,” Torres, in his first movie, says about the film. “I’ve asked the elders how it was and it is as seen in the film; that’s why we decided to support it. For the elders and myself it is a memory of the ancestors and their knowledge.” Salvador, who previously had bad experiences with filmmakers, notes, “It is a film that shows the Amazon, the lungs of the world, the greater purifying filter, and the most valuable of indigenous cultures. That is its greatest achievement.” Embrace of the Serpent is a great achievement indeed, an honest, humanistic, maddening journey that takes you places you’ve never been. Embrace of the Serpent is screening August 24 in Long Island City, concluding Socrates Sculpture Park’s seventeenth annual free summer Outdoor Cinema series, programmed by Film Forum, and will be preceded by a live performance by Bulla en el Barrio, with South American food available for purchase from La Carreta Paisa.
The New School, Marcus Garvey Park, Tompkins Square Park
August 24-28, free
“Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn,” saxophone great Charlie Parker once said. “They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art.” The Kansas City native, known as Bird and Yardbird, blew away all boundaries on his sax during a career that was cut short by his death in 1955 at the age of thirty-four. His legacy will once again be celebrated at the annual Charlie Parker Jazz Festival as part of the City Parks Foundation free SummerStage programming. This year’s tribute begins indoors on August 24 at 7:30 (free with advance RSVP here) with a screening of N. C. Heikin’s documentary Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story at the New School, followed by a Q&A with alto sax player and Morgan protégée Grace Kelly and Morgan manager Reggie Marshall. On August 25 at 7:30 (RSVP here), the New School will host a screening of Bruce Spiegel’s Bill Evans: Time Remembered, followed by a discussion with Spiegel. The live music gets cooking August 26 at 6:00 in Marcus Garvey Park with performances by Jason Lindner: Breeding Ground, Antoinette Montague, and DJ Greg Caz, followed the next day in the Harlem park by a 2:00 master class with Samuel Coleman and a 3:00 concert with the Randy Weston African Rhythms Sextet, Cory Henry & the Funk Apostles, the Artistry of Jazzmeia Horn, and Charles Turner III. The festival concludes on August 28 at 3:00 in Tompkins Square Park with the great lineup of DeJohnette - Holland - Moran, Allan Harris, the Donny McCaslin Group, and Kelly.
Who: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
What: Stadium leg of the River Tour
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
When: New tickets on sale August 22 at 12 noon for shows Tuesday, August 23, Thursday, August 25, and Tuesday, August 30, $68-$150, 7:30
Why: After Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band’s U.S. arena tour celebrating the thirty-fifth anniversary of The River, during which the 1980 double LP was played in its entirety every night, and a European leg in which the setlists changed, with chunks of the album featured along with an evolving roster of deep cuts (“New York City Serenade,” “Roll of the Dice,” “Reason to Believe,” “Streets of Fire”), classic covers (“Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “You Never Can Tell,” “Summertime Blues,” “Lucille”), and rarities (“None But the Brave,” “Frankie,” “Iceman,” “The Promise”), the group returns to the States for a brief stadium jaunt beginning August 23, 25, and 30 at MetLife Stadium. Yesterday it was announced, “Now that the exact location for the stage on the field is set and production has been finalized, additional tickets have become available.” That usually means pretty good seats, as these kinds of changes don’t impact the faraway locations that are practically in another area code. Bruce and the band are in top form, and Springsteen might be ultra-juiced because his autobiography, Born to Run, and companion CD, Chapter & Verse, are being released on September 27, four days after his sixty-seventh birthday.
“DNA, natural ability, study of craft, development of and devotion to an aesthetic philosophy, naked desire for . . . fame? . . . love? . . . admiration? . . . attention? . . . women? . . . sex? . . . and oh, yeah . . . a buck. Then . . . if you want to take it all the way out to the end of the night, a furious fire in the hole that just . . . don’t . . . quit . . . burning,” Springsteen writes in the book’s foreword. “These are some of the elements that will come in handy should you come face-to-face with eighty thousand (or eighty) screaming rock ’n’ roll fans who are waiting for you to do your magic trick. Waiting for you to pull something out of your hat, out of thin air, out of this world, something that before the faithful were gathered here today was just a song-fueled rumor. I am here to provide proof of life to that ever elusive, never completely believable ‘us.’ That is my magic trick. And like all good magic tricks, it begins with a setup. So . . .” Might any of the extreme rarities on the new album, which include tunes from Bruce’s earliest bands, the Castiles and Steel Mill, work their way into the show? We wouldn’t complain if he played the amazing “He’s Guilty” on August 25....
West 135th St. between Malcolm X Blvd. & Frederick Douglass Blvd.
Saturday, August 20, and Sunday, August 21, free, 12 noon – 10:00 pm
Festival continues through August 27
The annual Harlem Week festival continues August 20 with “Summer in the City” and August 21 with “Harlem Day,” two afternoons of a wide range of free special events along West 135th St. Saturday’s festivities include the Higher Education Fair & Expo, New Yorkers Are “Dancing in the Street” (with Alvin Ailey instructor Robin Dunn teaching a hip-hop ballet and African dance class, with WBLS DJs), the Fabulous Fashion Flava Show, the first day of the NYC Children’s Festival (with a parade, sports clinics, health testing, arts & crafts, and more), Harlem Honeys & Bears swimming activities for seniors in the Hansborough Recreation Center, an International Vendors Village, the Uptown Saturday Concert paying tribute to Nina Simone, and the Imagenation Outdoor Film Festival screening in St. Nicholas Park of Leon Gast’s Oscar-winning 1996 documentary When We Were Kings, about Muhammad Ali and George Foreman’s Rumble in the Jungle. Sunday’s Harlem Day celebration features the “Harlem and Havana Classics” Upper Manhattan Auto Show, tennis clinics, the “Village within Our Village” health village, the second day of the NYC Children’s Festival (with a Back to School theme), an “International Roots of Jazz” program, the Upper Manhattan Small Business Expo & Fair, live music, dance, and spoken-word performances, a kids fashion show, and musical tributes to Prince and Earth, Wind & Fire leader Maurice White.
Hudson River Park, Clinton Cove
Pier 97 at West 55th St.
Saturday, August 20, free, 2:00 to 9:00
The seventeenth annual Blues BBQ is moving to a new location this year, taking place August 20 at Pier 97 in Hudson River Park. The free afternoon will feature live performances by Gaye and the Wild Rutz (2:00), Cash Box Kings (3:15), the Bernard Allison Group (4:30), the Sugaray Rayford Band (6:00), and the one and only Dirty Dozen Brass Band (7:30). Food and drink will be available for purchase from such hot joints as Arrogant Swine, Fort Gansevoort Bar-B-Cue, Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque, and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. The Blues BBQ is sponsored by the Hudson River Park Trust, which is dedicated to, among other things, “operate and maintain the park at a high level so that it remains a community asset and economic generator, and continues to serve the millions of New Yorkers and tourists who use it annually.”
SculptureCenter, one of the coolest places to see art in the five boroughs, is hosting the annual LIC Block Party on August 20 in Queens. The free afternoon, taking place inside and outside the gallery, will include live performances by Erin Markey, Daisy Press, OTIUM, Jessica Lang Dance, and Bianca Benson, DJ sets by Tygapaw, activity booths by Schuyler Tsuda, Jeannine Han & Eliza Fisher, Sam Stewart, Lauren Halsey, Jan Mun & Gil Lopez, Sydney Shen, Emma Banay & David Scanlon’s Quilt Music, Other Means, and Diamond Stingily, and an artists market with booths by American Chordata, Desert Island, Fastnet, Mixed Media, Packet Biweekly, the Perfect Nothing Catalog, Peradam, Sanguis Ornatus, and Workaday Handmade. There will also be food and drink available from such local restaurants as Bartleby & Sage, Doughnut Plant, Hibino LIC, Rockaway Brewing Co., and Stolle USA. Among the partners in the block party are the American Folk Art Museum, the Museum of the Moving Image, the Noguchi Museum, Sculpture Space NYC, and Socrates Sculpture Park.