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Marin Sewell, left, as Julius Caesar and Kayla Marie Mudgett as Cleopatra appear in the University of Montana Opera Theater and Symphony Orchestra production of Handel’s "Julius Caesar" in collaboration with Missoula Community Theatre.

Opera collaboration

Chances to see a full-length opera are few and far between here in western Montana.

That void in your cultural education gets filled every other year courtesy of the University of Montana Opera Theatre, the college Symphony Orchestra and MCT Inc.

UM provides the musicians, while MCT provides the production expertise for this year's selection, Handel's "Julius Caesar." Opera theater director Anne Basinski said the baroque composer's work provides no shortage of special musical moments while bringing historical figures like Caesar and Cleopatra to life. Viewed through a contemporary lens, the story's women do triumph after their fair share of mistreatment.

The show runs Friday, Feb. 9, at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 10, at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 11, at 2 p.m. at the MCT Center for the Performing Arts. For tickets, go to mctinc.org.

A writer on her craft

Is there any medium as perfectly suited to expressions of its own failings as writing? Before answering, give Gina Ochsner's craft lecture a shot. She'll give a talk, "Mistakes I Have Made and Great Advice I Wish I Had Taken to Heart," at the University of Montana on Friday as part the UM Creative Writing Program's lecture series.

Later that day, she'll read from her work, which has accumulated the Flannery O'Connor Award and the Oregon Book Award.

Kirkus Reviews said her novel, "The Hidden Letters of Velta B," is set during the Soviet invasion of Latvia, is "an astonishing alchemy of history, romance, and fable."

The lecture is set for noon Friday, Feb. 9, in the Dell Brown Room of Turner Hall. Then, at 7 p.m., she'll give a fiction reading in the same place.

Native printmaker

Duane Slick, an indigenous artist (Meskwaki/Nebraska Ho-Chunk), will be in town next week to work with Matrix Press on campus with UM students and give a public lecture at MAM.

In the MAM's description, Slick's art centers on "figures that appear transitory, fragmentary, and elusive. He uses what he calls Trickster Theory — humor and deception — to reveal absurdity and dislodge and unpack colonial assumptions about Native Americans."

Slick is the latest artist and printmaker that MAM and Matrix Press has brought to Missoula. The resulting work will go on exhibition at the beginning of March for "The Shape of Things: New Approaches to Indigenous Abstraction."

His lecture is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, at the MAM, 335 N. Pattee St.

Indie folk

Pat Keen has a new album, "Albatross" (Ramp Local), that's less frantic than the angular, proggy jazz-inflected pop band, Wei Zhongle, who put on an excellent show at the VFW last February.

Keen, largely writing on guitar, retains some of the interesting rhythms and grooves from Wei Zhongle, in much more laid-back arrangements.

He'll get assistance from local band Tormi plus Clem from Melon Painting and JW Teller. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, at “The Farm," located at 3612 Rattlesnake Dr.

Piano showcase

Colorado-based, Juilliard-trained pianist Jennifer Hayghe will bring her award-winning keyboard abilities to UM for the latest entry in the Celebrate Piano Series. Catch her at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11, in the Music Recital Hall. Tickets are $20 general, $15 seniors, $10 students. 406-243-4581, griztix.com.

Valentine's jazz

Jazz likely has more romance-themed compilations and playlists than any genre of music — just Google "Bluegrass for Lovers" if you need proof.

Vocalist Greta Matassa will demonstrate why its sultry rhythms are suited to the subject on Wednesday, when she, bassist Clipper Anderson and friends present "Jazz for Lovers," the latest installment in the UM Jazz Artist Series. Matassa, who's based in Seattle, has won the Earshot Magazine readers poll for best vocalist in the Northwest four times, and the Los Angeles Times called one of her performances "a marvel of virtuosity."

The concert is set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, at the UM Music Recital Hall. Tickets are $25 general, $15 for seniors or $10 for students. 243-4581, griztix.com.

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