Escape this winter's discontent by exchanging your woollies for warmer weather. Bermuda beckons with pink beaches, lush golf greens and, from January 12-February 28, a world-class stage when The Bermuda Festival of Performing Arts entertains tourists and locals with a stream of international dance, music and theatrical performances.
For music lovers the 23rd annual festival offers an array of sounds, including the Midsummer Opera Company's version of Verdi's Rigoletto, performed in English with a small orchestra (Feb. 23, 25, 27 and 28); Empire Brass, a past participant in the 1987 and 1991 festivals, who welcome local Kenneth Amis to the brass quintet (Feb 16, 17 and 18); and The American Boychoir. The choir, who has performed at the Vatican, Westminster Abbey and The White House is made up of North American boys who audition to attend the fiercely-competitive American Boychoir School (Jan. 16, 17 and 19).
For dance buffs shows include the Philadelphia-based Philadanco who offers two alternating modern dance programs: one, features classical music from Bach to Ravel; the other more contemporary sounds like Prince and Earth, Wind and Fire (Feb. 2, 3, 4 and 5); and The Royal Winnipeg Ballet who dances a variety of numbers from tangos to the Pas de Deux from Giselle to the popular Italian folk dance Tarantella (Jan. 12, 13, 14 and 15).
For the theatregoer shows include The Complete History of America (Abridged) acted by The Reduced Shakespeare Company, a trio of modern-day Marx Brothers who have also performed at the White House, the Kennedy Center and London's West End (Feb. 9, 10, 11 and 12); and Checkmates, a comedy about two couples and their generation gap, presented by The National Black Touring Circuit (Jan. 20, 21 and 22). The Company, founded in 1974 to make black theatre productions more available, also attended the 1992 festival with their version of the play Williams and Walker.
Most events are held at the 378-seat City Hall Theatre and cost between $15 and $30. Festivalgoers also benefit from daily activities like teas, fashion shows, nature walks, cooking demonstrations and tours of sights like the Botanical Gardens that the Bermuda Department of Tourism sponsors Jan. through Mar. The tourism board even guarantees the weather for travelers. If temperatures fall below 68 degrees (between Jan. and Mar.), various establishments award hotel bonuses, complimentary transportation passes and free admission to places like the Aquarium.
For a 1998 Bermuda Festival brochure, call 1-800 BERMUDA or the Bermuda Festival box office at 1-441-292 8572; and, be sure to check out www.gobermuda.com. -- By Sandra Mardenfeld