Porto prepares to strut its stuff

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NEW YORK -- As a Cultural Capital of Europe this year, Porto, Portugal, will showcase its most established art institutions, including the Serralves National Museum of Contemporary Art and the Center of Portuguese Photography.

Serralves will have exhibitions on three 20th century Portuguese artists, Fernando Lanhas, Angelo de Sousa and Albuquerque Mendes.

Borrowing from Porto's sister Cultural Capital city, Rotterdam, Netherlands, Serralves will exhibit works from the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum Collection through March.

Landscape works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Gaugin, Monet and Kandinsky are among the paintings to be shown.

Another show at Serralves, running from July to September, will focus on the art of 20th century Dutch modernist Piet Mondrian and his Portuguese contemporary, Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso.

Internationally admired artists such as Switzerland's Claes Oldenburg (March to June), Germany's Anselm Kiefer (September to December) and American Richard Serra (ongoing) will all be the subject of retrospectives.

To learn more about Portuguese art, visitors can check out Serralves' exposition titled "Artists Celebrating Porto in the Second Half of the 20th Century" from July through Oct. 7.

The Center of Portuguese Photography, to open this April in a former 19th century prison, will display 2,000 cameras of special interest and a collection of rare photography books.

Porto's picturesque parks and winding streets, marked by tile-covered residences on steep hilltops, also will serve as the stage for Cultural Capital.

Live dance and music performances are expected to entertain onlookers in a number of neighborhoods and on the harbor at the Douro riverfront, including Carnival processions Feb. 26 and 27.

But the city's most colorful festival takes place in honor of St. John on June 23 and 24, with a regatta on the Douro River and a fireworks display.

During weekends from July through September, Cuban, Brazilian and African musical groups will perform in the gardens of the Palacio de Cristal.

The "2001 Summer Nights" show on July 29 brings Venezuelan jazz percussionist Gerado Rosales y su Venesalsa to the palace gardens.

"Rock and World Music" also will be on the garden's musical program throughout the summer.

In July, Porto's waterfront will be the star of Bridge of Dreams, a light show and pageant on the upper level of the Ponte de Luis I bridge.

Following the Serralves' contemporary motif, the Rivoli National Theatre will welcome the best in modern dance, with programs by Merce Cunningham (June 21 to 23), Wim Vanedekeybus (Oct. 22 to 25) and William Forsythe (Nov. 29 to 30).

Contemporary music will be represented during the Great Names of Jazz series at the Coliseum.

Highlights will include serenades by saxophone player Wayne Shorter on March 3 and singer Maria Joao on June 29.

Twentieth century opera is also on the Cultural Capital agenda: The Birmingham Opera Company from England will present "Prodigal Son" on April 2 at the Monastery of Leca do Balio and "Wozzeck" from April 6 to 7 at a location to be announced.

The House of Music, a new establishment that is the cornerstone of Porto's urban renewal programs for 2001, will be home to the Porto National Orchestra, scheduled to perform with international soloists throughout the year.

The Cultural Capital program is the launching pad for numerous renovations and construction projects in Porto.

The Soares Do Reis National Museum, housed in a palace dating from the 1700s, is being restored in order to expand its exhibition space and will reopen in June.

One of the most ambitious renewal projects is the upgrading of Porto's historical Baixa district, a U.N. World Heritage site.

Building styles include Gothic, renaissance, baroque and neoclassical designs.

Streets will be repaved; gardens and plazas will be remodeled, and trolleys will once again traverse the Baixa.

For more information on Porto Cultural Capital 2001, visit the Web site at www.porto2001.pt.

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