The cast lists for the Opera Nazionale Italiana touring production of Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci read like a who's who of European opera talent, but their names and pedigreed resumes won't mean much to anyone but opera aficionados. Suffice it to say the superstar company -- backed by the equally astute Budapest Opera Orchestra -- is more than qualified. But what about the operas, which are performed in Italian with English supertitles? The dramatic Cavalleria Rusticana (Rustic Chivalry) and tragic I Pagliacci (The Strolling Players) are considered two of the finest representations of the verismo style of Italian opera, known for powerful story lines that capture the primitive, highly emotional milieu of Italy in the 1880s. Curtain time is 8 p.m. tonight at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. Tickets range in cost from $25 to $50. Call 800-572-8471 or 561-832-7469.
It must be the hands. California classical guitar virtuoso Christopher Parkening is not only at the top in his field, he's also a fly-fishing and casting champion who's won the International Gold Cup Tarpon Tournament held in Islamorada. On his current tour (guitar playing, not fishing), the guitarist performs A Celebration of Andres Segovia. Parkening, an EMI recording artist for more than 25 years, is the recognized heir to the late Spanish guitar master to whom he pays tribute. He'll perform a selection of Segovia's favorites on the 1967 Ramirez guitar once used by Segovia himself. Parkening has to his credit dozens of honorary degrees and awards, but perhaps most telling of his prowess is the fact that he has been voted Best Classical Guitarist five times in Guitar Player magazine's readers' poll. Segovia himself once proclaimed: "Christopher Parkening is a great artist -- he is one of the most brilliant guitarists in the world." The concert, which opens with a short film about Segovia, begins at 8 p.m. at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. Tickets range in cost from $25 to $38. Call 800-572-8471 or 561-832-7469.
The Classical/Foreign Film Discussion Group, a gathering for serious film buffs, opens its 1998 season with a screening of the 1968 British-Italian version of Romeo and Juliet. Directed by Franco Zeffirelli, it is considered one of the best film versions of the Shakespeare play about two young lovers from feuding families. Film critic Leonard Maltin wrote of the film: "Unique for its casting leads who were only seventeen and fifteen, respectively, this exquisitely photographed film (by Pasquale de Santis, who won an Oscar) has a hauntingly beautiful musical score by Nino Rota and Oscar-winning costumes by Danilo Donati." No fair using Maltin's comments as Cliffs Notes. Group leader Edward J. Reininger says new, dedicated members are always welcome. The noon meeting at ArtServe, 1350 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, is free. Call 954-458-5825.
Kids of all ages -- one of them perhaps the next Tiger Woods -- are invited to attend the free, two-hour Nike Tour Junior Golf Clinic presented by Nike tour professionals. Young golfers get tips and watch demonstrations, then break into small groups for hands-on hitting. Clinic director J.C. Anderson is a former Professional Golf Association tour player who has also done time on the Nike tour, the minor-league professional golf circuit that is a stop on the way to the PGA for many up-and-coming golfers. He'll be joined by approximately seven other players from the Nike tour. The pros are coming to Palm-Aire Country Club, 551 S. Powerline Rd., Pompano Beach, to participate in the 1998 Nike South Florida Classic, which begins January 15. The clinic at Palm Aire's Palms driving range begins at 2 p.m. Call 954-453-6453.
He originally wanted to play trombone, but the only horn available at the time in his small hometown of Arlington, Oregon, was a trumpet. Good thing. Within a week of acquiring the instrument and with help from his violinist father, then-seven-year-old Doc Severinsen was invited to play in the high-school band. The flashy-dressing trumpeter, best known to American TV audiences as the flamboyant, Grammy Award-winning musical director of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, now leads Doc Severinsen and His Big Band, which he'll guide through a repertoire of jazz and big-band selections tonight at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. Severinsen -- who has recorded more than 30 albums -- became an NBC staff musician in 1949, joined the Tonight Show's orchestra in 1962, and became its leader in 1967. When he left that gig, he took with him some of the orchestra's best players, who now make up his touring group. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets range in cost from $20 to $40. Call 800-572-8471 or 561-832-7469.
On his current tour, popular pianist George Winston draws selections largely from his latest release, Linus & Lucy -- The Music of Vince Guaraldi. The album is a tribute to Guaraldi, the late jazz pianist who wrote the scores for the first sixteen Peanuts cartoon TV specials. "Vince's music is very much a part of the fabric of American culture," Winston comments. "It generates joy, warmth, and humor." Upon its release in 1996, Linus & Lucy reached No. 55 on the Billboard Top 200 Pop Albums chart. In addition to the Guaraldi pieces, Winston performs songs from his seasonal, rural folk-piano albums in a tribute to fall and winter. "Everything I do musically comes from the seasons," claims Winston. "That's the whole undercurrent of everything I visualize as I play or listen to music." The 7:30 p.m. concert is at the Carefree Theatre, located at 2000 S. Dixie Hwy. in West Palm Beach. Tickets cost $19.75. Call 561-966-3309.
A concert engagement by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra couldn't come at a more celebratory time for the group, whose homeland marks its 50th year of independent statehood in 1998. In two performances under the baton of music director and conductor Zubin Mehta, the orchestra presents a program featuring Richard Strauss' Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche. Tonight's concert also includes Mozart's Symphony No. 41 in C major, K551 (Jupiter) and Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. In addition to the Strauss work, a January 15 matinee concert includes Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 (Eroica) and a piece by contemporary Israeli composer Tzvi Avni entitled Communion. Both performances will be held at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. Tickets for either performance cost $25. Call 800-572-8471 or 561-832-7469.