Take stock at four of the state's best rodeos (El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio). Plus: Matisse and Picasso go brush to brush (Fort Worth); remembering the Alamo yet again (San Antonio); Luciano Pavarotti, small man on campus (Austin); and classical piano movers and shakers (Houston).
THE MAIN EVENT
Cut ‘n’ Chute
Texans are highly susceptible to bronc-itis, particularly this month, when rodeos in four cities offer equine (and bovine) thrills and spills. The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo provides twenty chances to watch bronc busters, bull riders, calf ropers, and other Western whizzes ply their trades; musical excitement comes from stars such as Hank Williams, Jr., Brooks and Dunn, and—for those who prefer to buck tradition—Tony Bennett, above. Equally sprawling, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo incorporates the World Championship Finals of the National Cutting Horse Association as well as the usual arena antics; wee waddies, however, may prefer the likes of stick-horse rodeos and pig races. The venerable Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo offers thirty performances, 20,000 critters, and one ultra-Western experience (that’s why they call it Cowtown). Finally, El Paso’s Southwestern International Livestock Show and Rodeo, pitting Texas cowboy versus Mexican vaquero, begins with an overnight camp-out and real live cattle drive from the Zaragosa Bridge to the El Paso County Coliseum. So corral your family and go; whichever one you visit, you’ll be riding high. ANNE DINGUS
Clash of the Titans
Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso regularly grappled in public. If you don’t believe it, see for yourself at the Kimbell Art Museum’s exclusive exhibit “Matisse and Picasso: A Gentle Rivalry,” which illustrates the friends’ relationship as artistic sparring partners. Picasso, who settled in Paris in the early 1900’s, began occasionally citing—sometimes even parodying—works by Matisse, the leader of France’s Fauvists, sparking a friendly game of one-upmanship. More than one hundred paintings, sculptures, and drawings will be displayed in chronological order so that the viewer may witness the dialogue: Picasso’s 1931 painting Woman With Yellow Hair, for example, was his pictoral translation of Matisse’s sculptures of heads and figures from the early thirties; Matisse responded to the Spaniard’s interpretation by painting The Dream in 1935. The exhibit showcases examples of the exchange from the late twenties until Matisse’s death, in 1954. And as the paintings demonstrate, even after that date Picasso created canvas after canvas of elegiac works, as if he were attempting to revive his competitor. KATY VINE
Lone Star Studies
Current events often teach a well-worn history lesson: The past is never completely behind us. For example, Texans revisited the Battle of the Alamo late last year when the diary of José Enrique de la Peña, which reported that Davy Crockett was executed after the fall of the mission, went on the auction block and was purchased by UT alums Charles Tate and Thomas Hicks. If your interest in Texas history was aroused by that episode, consider remembering the Alamo again on February 5, when the Daughters of the Republic of Texas sponsor their fifth history forum on the grounds of the state’s sacred shrine. This year’s topic, “Laying the Cornerstone: Texians and Tejanos, 1821–1836,” will feature lectures on four men whose leadership was vital to the formation of the republic: Stephen F. Austin, Juan Seguín, Lorenzo de Zavala, and Sam Houston, above. The DRT has assembled an award-winning group of historians—including Madge Thornall Roberts, a great-great-granddaughter of Sam Houston and a recipient of the prestigious T. R. Fehrenbach award—who will offer their perspectives on these towering figures of the past. Be advised, however, that seating is limited, so plan ahead for your date with history. BRIAN D. SWEANY
The Thin Man?
As a performer, Luciano Pavarotti is still larger than life. As Austinites will witness on February 7, however, the once-rotund tenor has a noticeably smaller waistline. “You will never believe it,” says Tibor Rudas, Pavarotti’s longtime concert producer and friend. “He is a very thin man. He has lost about forty-five pounds and wants to play tennis and soccer again.” So perhaps it makes sense that the famous tenor is making his first-ever appearance in the Capital City, a town known for its obsession with health and exercise. But even if he isn’t spotted on the hike-and-bike trails of Town Lake, Pavarotti will definitely appear at the Frank Erwin Center with Cynthia Lawrence, one of the Three Sopranos, performing selections from some of his most famous roles and recordings. Pavarotti’s hectic schedule for the rest of 1999, meanwhile, may also help him stay trim with stops throughout the U.S. and Canada, including a performance by the Three Tenors (José Carreras, Plácido Domingo, and Pavarotti) this July in Detroit. Pavarotti may be trimming the fat, but he’s still one big act. EILEEN SCHWARTZ
Connoisseurs take note: Three major-league classical pianists will perform in as many days at the 1999 International Piano Festival, sponsored by the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music in cooperation with the Society for the Performing Arts. In Evgeny Kissin’s all-Chopin recital at Jesse H. Jones Hall on the first evening, the former wunderkind, now a mature 27, warms up the black keys with a romp through the 24 Preludes and the lovely Barcarolle before attempting the grand Sonata No. 2 in B-flat Minor. The next evening U of H and Juilliard School prof Abbey Simon, above, who founded the festival sixteen years ago, challenges Kissin in the more intimate Moores Opera House with an alternative interpretation of the same sonata and then continues with his own all-Chopin recital, including the difficult Twelve Etudes, Opus 10. But the most adventurous concert by far is reserved for the last. Naumburg prize winner Stephen Hough’s performance at the Moores Opera House adds lightness and variety to the festival mix, with pieces ranging from the Baroque-era sonatas of Scarlatti through representative Romantic pieces by Mendelssohn, Mompou, and Liszt to George Tsontakis’ energetic Ghost Variations, which Hough premiered. Vivacissimo. CHESTER ROSSON