Theater & Arts

Arts picks: ‘Don Quixote’ brings love story to the Saroyan

State Street Ballet’s ‘Don Quixote’ will be performed March 5 at the Saroyan Theatre.
State Street Ballet’s ‘Don Quixote’ will be performed March 5 at the Saroyan Theatre. Special to The Bee

For seven years, the Valley Performing Arts Council has had a wonderful working relationship with State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara. My week’s top pick, “Don Quixote,” is a chance to share a great family cultural moment.

Tilting at windmills

▪ The event: Twenty professional dancers from the State Street company are in Fresno this week offering student outreach performances and master classes. A Saturday public performance of “Don Quixote” will showcase a fully staged production that adds 16 student dancers from Fresno Ballet Theatre in secondary roles. The ballet focuses on a couple of chapters of Miguel Cervantes’ classic novel and tells the love story between an innkeeper’s daughter and a barber. And, yes, there’s a windmill on stage.

▪ The draw: State Street is a fine professional company that will give you the chance to appreciate some stellar ballet. Be on the lookout for the famous and splashy pas de deux in the second act that requires the heroine, Kitri, to execute 32 foutté turns, just like the Black Swan variation in “Swan Lake.” Not easy.

▪ Details: 2 p.m. Saturday, March 5, Saroyan Theatre, 700 M St., 559-442-5699. $29.50-$62.50 adults, $29.50 children.

Babayan times two

▪ The event: Sergei Babayan, the famed Armenian-American pianist well-known to Fresno-area piano enthusiasts, returns to the Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts Series with a solo recital featuring works by Verdi/Liszt, Schumann, Rachmaninoff and Mozart. Fans will be able to get a double dose of Babayan a few days later when he performs Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 4 with the Fresno Philharmonic.

▪ The draw: Babayan, now in his 50s, is at the top of his game, continuing to perform an astonishingly broad repertoire and appear in the world’s great concert halls. He played a BBC Proms performance last year of two Prokofiev piano concertos with the London Symphony Orchestra. It doesn’t get much more prestigious than that. I remember a 2007 Fresno Philharmonic concert when he played Tchaikovsky’s second piano concerto in which his musicality and furiously flying fingers mesmerized me.

▪ Details: The Keyboard event is 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 9, Fresno State Concert Hall., 559-278-2337. $25, $18 seniors, $5 students. The Fresno Philharmonic concert is 3 p.m. Sunday, March 13, Saroyan Theatre, 700 M St., 559-261-0600. $25-$79.

Next generation

▪ The event: The Orpheus Chamber Ensemble salutes up-and-coming musicians with a concert featuring former Fresno residents flutist Elisa Moles and pianist Michael Krikorian.

▪ The draw: Moles and Krikorian both earned bachelor degrees in music performance at Fresno State and are both pursuing doctoral degrees: Moles at the University of Illinois and Krikorian at the University of Southern California. Will they be the next classical music stars hailing from Fresno?

▪ Details: 5 p.m. Sunday, March 6, Fresno State Wahlberg Recital Hall., 559-278-2654. $15, $5.

60th birthday

▪ The event: The Fresno Community Chorus Master Chorale celebrates its 60th anniversary with a gala concert.

▪ The draw: The chorus commissioned an original piece by Glady Ruiz and Joungmin Sur. It’ll be a highlight in a program filled with memorable pieces and soaring emotions. Go to for my Sunday column about the concert.

▪ Details: 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 6, Shaghoian Hall, 2770 E. International Ave., 559-709-6245. $25.