A musical love triangle

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Fresco Opera’s Clara looks at an unsung heroine — and a scandal

By Holly Henschen

Clara Schumann shattered gender norms and may have broken hearts in 19th-century Germany.

In Clara, Fresco Opera Theatre tackles the scandalous tale of one of history’s finest yet most frequently overlooked musicians. Performances run April 1-3 at Overture Center’s Promenade Hall.

“It’s a true, tragic love story straight from a soap opera. You can’t make this stuff up,” says Frank Cain, Fresco Opera Theatre’s executive director, co-founder and co-writer of the libretto.

Not only was Clara Schumann a child prodigy and groundbreaking female performer and composer, she was also at the center of a Romantic-era love triangle with Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms. She battled for emancipation from her stage father in order to marry Schumann. Robert, supposedly envious of her renowned talent, later attempted suicide, went mad and died in an asylum. Meanwhile, superstar Clara developed an intriguing and intimate relationship with the Schumanns’ student, Johannes Brahms. Supposedly, the two lovers actually burned their letters at one point to avoid detection. Rumor has it that Clara’s eighth child, born when Robert was institutionalized, was actually Brahms’ son.

– See more at: http://isthmus.com/arts/stage/fresco-opera-clara-schumann-play/#sthash.DNvxisvg.dpuf

Designed to Inspire

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Lynda Barry’s Visionary Exhibit at Madison Children’s Museum

By Holly Henschen

“Why do kids like making marks that make shapes that make stories? Adults are scared to do this. Why?”

This is the central thesis of “Drawing Fast and Slow: The Compbook Art of Lynda Barry,” on display at the Madison Children’s Museum through the end of March. The exhibit provides a glimpse into the imagination and artistic process of Wisconsin’s premier cartoonist-turned-creativity coach.

The eclectic display, located on the ground floor of a museum dedicated to free-form creativity, dissects societal attitudes and behaviors toward art. It is bursting with visionary yet kitschy paintings, drawings and collages paired with inspiring koans like, “Do kids need to draw? Do adults? Why?”

– See more at: http://isthmus.com/arts/lynda-barry-exhibit-madison-childrens-museum/