Sun July 22, 2012
Chautauqua this week zeroes in on Pakistan, plus a Puccini opera and Public Radio Day
The Chautauqua Institution's 2012 season reaches its half-way point this week with a focus on an international hot-spot, a Puccini opera and a celebration of public radio. Mark Scott has this preview of Week Five.
Initial planning for the lecture theme Chautauquans will experience this week actually began 18 months ago. Back then, Pakistan was in the news. But in a fast-changing part of the world, no one could be quite sure of where Pakistan would be politically when this week arrived. Chautauqua's Education Director Sherra Babcock says their goal was to hear from Pakistanis about what's happening in their country.
"What we do when we present these geopolitical weeks is to try and get underneath and to understand," Babcock said. "We're really not interested in Americans talking about the American view of Pakistan. We start there with Fareed Zakaria (Monday) on the political situation in Pakistan. But we also want to hear from Pakistanis.
"So, we have two people, Maleeha Lodhi and Husain Haqqani -- both of whom have been (Pakistani) ambassadors to the United States -- talking about the (internal and external politics)."
Pakistan straddles the border between Asia and the Middle East. It has nuclear weapons. And its relationship with the United States is strained at times. All these issues are likely to be explored during the morning lectures in the Amphitheatre. But during the afternoon hours in the more intimate setting of the Hall of Philosophy, more personal stories will be told. For example, Amin Hashwani, a Pakistani businessman, will talk about how religion author Karen Armstrong provided him with inspiration. Chautauqua's Director of Religion Joan Brown Campbell says both will be speaking this week -- Hashwani on Thursday and Armstrong on Friday.
"They will talk about what does it mean when a business person with resources says (he's) worried about (his) country, and (he) wants them to learn about compassion," Brown Campbell said.
Chautauqua Opera, the oldest continuously producing summer opera company in the nation, is in the midst of its 83rd season. Director Jay Lesenger says the company's second production of the season is a rarely produced Puccini opera.
"Manon Lescaut is not done as much, mostly because it's really hard to do. But the music is gorgeous," Lesenger said. "This is a young Puccini. It's one gorgeous melody after another. It's like he couldn't stop writing melodies."
As is tradition at Chautauqua, the opera will be performed in English.
Chautauquans will have two chances to see Manon Lescaut -- this Friday night and then again on Monday, July 30th -- at Norton Hall.
Saturday is Public Radio Day at the Chautauqua Institution. Weekend Edition on WBFO will be filled with news and interviews about Chautauqua. Classical 94.5 WNED's Bill Raffel will be live from the Amphitheatre's "back porch" for his Saturday Rounds program, starting at 10am. Stratton Rawson speaks at the Hall of Philosophy at 1:00. Chautauqua Vice President of Programming Marty Merkley says Public Radio Day culminates with a live concert by the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra.
"WNED in Buffalo and WQED in Pittsburgh will broadcast the concert live to both cities," Merkley said. "(Guest Conductor) Christopher Seaman will be with (pianist) Alexander Gavrylyuk (for a performance) of Rakhmaninov's Second Piano Concerto."
One other item of note this week. Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey celebrate the 50th anniversary of Peter, Paul and Mary with a concert at the Amphitheatre Friday night at 8:15.
The full schedule for the coming week at the Chautauqua Institution is available at http://www.ciweb.org.