Review: ISO's Viennese Yuletide 

4 stars

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra ushered 2011 in with style, elegance, and wit with a Viennese waltz- and polka-themed program.

Sean Newhouse returned to Indianapolis to conduct the ISO from his new post as assistant conductor to the Boston Symphony Orchestra's music director James Levine. Newhouse proved yet again his forte for teasing out the essence of a work, not merely getting the notes right.

ISO players were on target viscerally for a dozen selections, three of which were in concert with coloratura soprano, Jennifer Zetlan and Dance Kaleidoscope. It's not hyperbole to state, "Zetlan is swiftly garnering recognition for her artistry and captivating stage presence." She was one stanza into Johann Strauss, Jr.'s "Voices of Spring" when the audience acknowledged her vocal and acting artistry.

Again, with the arias, "Vilia" from Franz Lehar's "The Merry Widow," and "I Want to Be a Prima Donna" ("Art is Calling For Me") from Victor Herbert's "The Enchantress," Zetlan's chemistry gifted us with dimensional characters, placing their engaging personalities in context with the larger work. Dance Kaleidoscope brought a swirl of blue-indigo-violet costuming to sweepingly complex waltz steps punctuated by interludes of asides and assignations amidst a formal Ball. In a complete turn around, a duet imbued Strauss, Jr.'s amusing and fun-filled "Tritsch-Tratsch [Chit-Chat] Polka with flirtatious charm.

For Josef Strauss' "SpharenklangeWalzer [Music of the Spheres]," David Hochoy choreographed a universe of moon, sun, stars, constellations and planets appearing, disappearing, twirling and revolving, in configurations suggesting a very busy schedule of time and season changes. Throughout their collaboration with ISO players, DK dancers delivered lovely, flowing lines and graceful interactions. A show-stopping acrobatic solo by George Salinas interjected speed into a perpetually moving cosmology.

The ISO players earned applause on their own for Strauss, Jr.'s Overture to "The Fledermaus," "Pleasure Train Polka," "Eljen a Magyar," "Beautiful Blue Danube Waltzes" and the audience participation of "Radetzky March," composed by Johann Strauss, Sr.

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Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn has been covering craft beer and the arts for NUVO for two decades. She’s the author of True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana.

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