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Culture Calendar: August 2015

What to do, watch, and see this month.

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August 1: Cold Mountain Opera Premieres in Santa Fe
Composer Jennifer Higdon debuts her first opera, Cold Mountain, at Santa Fe’s acclaimed open-air theater this month. Based on Charles Frazier’s Civil War story of a deserting Confederate soldier who flees to North Carolina, the book’s characters and setting strike a personal chord for Higdon, who grew up in nearby Tennessee. Her production stays true to the atmosphere, and features bluegrass twangs, an American cast, and authentic Southern dialects. For more on Higdon and her opera, read our story from the July/August issue. 301 Opera Dr.; 505-986-5900;

August 1: Anderson Ranch Arts Center Art Auction
Aspen’s Anderson Ranch Arts Center—a favorite summertime gathering place among artists, collectors, and art aficionados—hosts its 35th annual art auction to raise funds for their residencies, classes, lectures, and workshops. The sale includes at least 200 works, including sculpture by Jessica Stockholder, stoneware by Takashi Nakazato, and prints by Amy Arbus. For more on the Ranch and its auction, read our story from the July/August issue. 5263 Owl Creek Rd.;

August 1: Jerry Seinfeld at Lucille Ball Comedy Festival
Jerry Seinfeld will headline the 2015 Lucille Ball Comedy Festival in Jamestown, New York—Ball’s hometown and the site of the museum honoring her legacy. Melissa Rivers and Nick Offerman (of Parks and Recreation fame) will also perform during the festival’s three-day run. From $88; Jamestown Savings Bank Arena, 2 W Third St.; 716-484-0800;

August 1: Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of Katrina in New Orleans
August 29th marks a decade since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. On the occasion of the anniversary, local cultural centers are preparing new exhibits that explore the storm’s legacy, and the city's future. At the Contemporary Arts Center, REVERB draws together a variety of artists to examine the consequences of the hurricane in social, economic, and political terms (900 Camp St.; 504-528-3805; The treasured Beaux-Arts style Orpheum Theater will also reopen after an extensive renovation this month, with the first events scheduled for September (129 Roosevelt Wy; 504-592-7854;

August 12: Prudential RideLondon Bicycle Fest
Back for its third year, Prudential RideLondon invites professional cyclists and amateur riders alike to participate in a range of competitive and charity fund-raising events. Hosted on London’s city streets, the festival pays homage to the races hosted during the Summer Olympic Games, held in London in 2012.

August 4: Alice Hoffman’s The Marriage of Opposites
Novelist Alice Hoffman, best known for her 1995 bestseller Practical Magic, has a new book out this month, The Marriage of Opposites. Set in St. Thomas in the 19th century, the novel tells the story of Rachel, the adventurous mother of the French painter Camille Pissarro, as she seeks to escape an unhappy marriage, and winds up in a scandalous affair.

August 5: Haruki Murakami’s Debut Works Reissued
Good news for English-speaking fans of acclaimed writer Haruki Murakami: his first published works will be re-translated and released in one volume, called Wind/Pinball, with a new introduction by the author. The novellas, Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973, were first published in Japanese in 1979.

August 57: Classical Spree Festival with Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal
The Classical Spree Festival celebrates its fourth iteration this year with a number of events that seek to bring classical music into public vernacular. Performers scheduled to appear include the violinist James Ehnes, playing Frank Zappa’s Envelopes, and Kent Nagano conducting Beethoven’s iconic Fifth Symphony. From $10; 1600 Rue Saint-Urbain; 514-842-9951;

August 5October 31: Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet
British heartthrob Benedict Cumberbatch joins a long line of actors who have taken the stage to play the fated Prince of Denmark, perhaps the most challenging and iconic role in Shakespeare’s canon. Advance tickets were sold out long ago (thanks to the actor’s obsessive fan base), but London’s Barbican theater has reserved 100 tickets per show that will be available for same-day purchase. For more on the production and the history of the play, read our story. From $15; Silk St;

August 515: Film Festival del Locarno
Filmmakers hoping to make a splash in Europe head to Locarno, a Swiss town located next to Lake Maggiore, where German, Italian, and French culture intersects. The film festival’s most iconic setting is the Piazza Grande, where films screen in the open air to thousands of onlookers in the historic town square. This year’s event begins with a screening of Meryl Streep’s new drama-comedy Ricki and The Flash and an awards ceremony honoring the actor Edward Norton.

August 69: Wilderness Festival
England's Wilderness Festival—Burning Man’s more intellectual, less naked cousin—returns bigger and better for its fifth year this August. Set in Oxfordshire’s bucolic countryside, the weekend-long event offers attendees a cornucopia of live music events, thought-provoking talks and debates, workshops, and top-notch cuisine. This year, Bjork and George Clinton headline, while cooking classes, author panels, access to the great outdoors, and special performances are all on offer, morning, noon, and night. From $275; Cornbury Park;

August 7: Charlize Theron Stars in Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places
Another novel by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, is being made into a mystery-thriller movie this summer, starring Charlize Theron and Christina Hendricks. Dark Places is set in a rural town in Kansas, where the main character, Libby, wrestles with the long-ago murder of her family in attempt to discover who was really responsible for their deaths.

August 7: Nicolas Aracena Muller at Chamber
New York gallery and boutique Chamber debuts a new performance piece and exhibit this month from Chilean artist Nicolas Aracena Muller. Having already scoured New York City for scrap wood and found materials, Aracena Muller returns to the gallery for nine days of "improvised carpentry," in which the materials dictate the form and function of his creations. The public is invited to visit the gallery during this period to watch his process and view his pieces (all for sale) until the exhibition closes on September 12. 515 W. 23rd St.; 212-206-0236;

August 731: Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Billed as “the largest arts festival in the world,” Edinburgh Festival Fringe dates back to the end of World War II, when a group of performers who were excluded from the Edinburgh International Festival set up shows nearby. Of the 3,000+ performances showing this year, don’t miss Remains, an hour of stand-up comedy from Rhys James, and the musical Freedom: New Rhythms of Soweto set in Johannesburg, South Africa. 180 High St.; 44-0/131-226;

August 7: The Diary of a Teenage Girl Hits Theaters
Kristen Wiig, Bel Powley, and Alexander Skarsgard star in this drama from director Marielle Heller, set in 1970s San Francisco. The plot revolves around the teenage Minnie (Powley) who carries on an affair with older man Monroe (Skarsgard), the boyfriend of her mother (played by Wiig). Diary of a Teenage Girl premiered at Sundance to much acclaim.

August 8: Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited
As part of the nearly three-week-long Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, the Los Angeles–based band Watkins Family Hour performs the classic Bob Dylan album from 1965, cover to cover. Fiona Apple, Ted Leo, and Aimee Mann will join the Watkins siblings on stage for the alfresco showcase in Damrosch Park. Free, seating is first come, first served; Amsterdam Ave. and W 62nd St.; 212-504-4115;

August 9: Singapore’s Golden Jubilee
Singapore’s year-long celebration of five decades of independence culminates this summer on August 9, the true anniversary date of the occassion. Parades, concerts, museum activities, and art exhibits will take place throughout the city—and world wide—making for a cultural event on a massive scale.

August 1115: Mostly Mozart Festival
This summer, New York’s annual Mostly Mozart festival is mostly George Benjamin: The festival features four of the British composer’s works, culminating in the U.S. premiere of his visceral 2012 opera, Written on Skin. With sly hints of Gustav Mahler, touches of Bergian dissonance, and wild bongos to boot, the opera explodes Benjamin’s reputation for cold exactitude. David H. Koch Theater, 20 Lincoln Center Plz.; 212-721-6500;

August 1316: Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
For serious car collectors, there is no better event than the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Northern California, which showcases 200 of the best antique and collector cars and motorcycles in the world. Vehicles from Ferrari, DuPont, Lincoln Continental as well as British pre-war sports cars and post-war Cunninghams will be on display this year near the 18th hole of the stunning Pebble Beach Golf Links—an appropriate setting for the ultra-luxe eye candy. From $300; 1700 17-Mile Dr.; 831-622-1700;

August 15: Love & Money at the Signature Theatre
A new work from playwright A.R. Gurney makes its New York debut at the Signature Theatre. Like Gurney’s other plays (Love Letters, The Dining Room, The Cocktail Hour, etc.), Love & Money turns an eye on New England’s WASPs, with Tony-winning Maureen Anderman as the lead—a guilt-ridden older woman, plagued by a large inheritance. 480 W 42nd St.; 212-244-7529;

August 1516: 10th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party
Flappers and dapper gentlemen converge on New York’s Governors Island for this send-up of the Roaring Twenties. The weekend-long festivities (sponsored by St. Germain French Elderflower Liquor) will feature performances by Michael Arnella and the Dreamland Orchestra, dancing, food, and Prohibition-era inspired cocktails—like the Boathouse Punch, with lemon, orange, grapefruit, Aperol, and St. Germain. There’s also displays of antique gramophones, a Charleston dance contest, and an exhibit of cars from the Gatsby age. From $35; 646-543-8699;

August 16: HBO’s Show Me a Hero Debuts
A hotly anticipated new miniseries from The Wire’s David Simon begins showing on HBO this month. Show Me a Hero, based on Lisa Belkin’s book of the same name, is a story about the mayor of Yonkers, New York, in the 1980s as he confronts a court order to build low-income housing in a white section of Yonkers. The show stars Winona Ryder as a member of the city council and Catherine Keener as a local homeowner.

August 2023: Eat Drink SF
San Francisco’s annual food and drink event returns to the Bay Area with an all-star list of local restaurateurs, chefs, and wine experts. The Slanted Door’s Charles Phan and chef Elizabeth Falkner will kick off the festivities on August 21, while tastings of Pinot Noirs, Syrahs, Chardonnays, and Sicilian wines will take place throughout the weekend. Visitors can also look forward to classes on how to analyze wine and proper cocktail techniques, as well as a taco competition. From $30; 2 Marina Blvd.;

August 21: Lily Tomlin Takes the Lead in Grandma
In her first leading role since 1988, Lily Tomlin plays Ellie, a grieving poet who has recently lost her long-term life partner. In the wake of this loss, she accompanies her pregnant 18-year-old granddaughter on a hunt through L.A. to find the money needed to get an abortion. Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer, and Laverne Cox also star. Grandma originally premiered in January at Sundance to much fanfare.

August 31: U.S. Open
All eyes turn to Serena Williams at this year’s U.S. Open in New York. After her recent win at Wimbledon, Williams will be competing to become the first tennis player since 1988 to win all four major titles in one calendar year. A win at the U.S. Open would also put her one step closer to breaking records for U.S. Open singles titles and Grand Slam titles. From $70; Arthur Ashe Stadium, Flushing Meadows Corona Park; 1-866-673-6849;

Image Credits: Festival del Film Locarno;© Steve Burton / Courtesy of Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance


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