Pick List: Tom Jones, ‘Being There,’ ‘O+E’

Your weekly Seattle entertainment recommendations.


Don’t confuse Samuel Coleridge-Taylor with poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge; the former (1875–1912) was one of the few composers of African descent to make a career in classical music, as well as one of the few from Victorian England with a lot to offer a curious contemporary listener. Kokopelli, an excellent new chamber ensemble led by clarinetist Sean Osborn, plays his luscious 1895 Clarinet Quintet, by turns moody and vernal, on an all-British program. Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, orcamusic.org. $15–$25. 7:30 p.m. Mon., June 4.

When it was invented, about 400 years ago, opera was an innovation that looked backward: The renaissance poets and musicians who launched it were overtly emulating ancient Greek drama, which they knew somehow incorporated singing. Naturally they turned to ancient subject matter too, Greek and Roman myths and history. Over the next century and a half, these sung dramas became more elaborate, both scenically and vocally—and consequently more stylized and formulaic (when demand outstrips supply, what’s a busy composer to do?). So when Christoph Gluck came along, suggesting that maybe theater should be about human emotion rather than display, and that clearing out the clutter might return the art form to its original Greek ideals, he chose the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, about the musician who tried to persuade Hades to return his dead beloved. And now Seattle Opera, intent on increasing the diversity of voices represented in its productions, is cycling back yet again, redubbing Gluck’s 1762 opera O+E and reimagining it using a hospital bedside vigil as a framing device and a same-sex couple as the tragic protagonists. Director Kelly Kitchens leads an all-female cast and creative team. Sung in English; Lucy Tucker Yates conducts. Seattle Opera Studios, seattleopera.org. $45. 8 p.m. June 2, 7, & 9; 2 p.m. June 3 & 10.


In Hal Ashby’s 1979 satire Being There, Peter Sellers (in arguably his greatest performance) plays an isolated man whose only knowledge of the world comes through television and whose inscrutable utterances are misread as profound wisdom. Through a series of comic happenstances, he winds up president. Needless to say this could never happen in real life. (Hal, a documentary about Ashby, also screens at SIFF Cinema Uptown, 6 p.m. Fri., June 1 and 12:30 p.m. Sun., June 3.) SIFF Cinema Uptown, siff.net. $12–$14. Noon Sat., June 2.


At 77 (77!!!), Tom Jones is well into his sixth (sixth!!!) decade as an international pop star and Wales’ preeminent sex symbol. Among the songs which his virile baritone has turned into hits is probably the Bondiest Bond movie theme ever, “Thunderball.” The Paramount, stgpresents.org. $41–$121. 8 p.m. Fri., June 1.