Scoff if you like at the Ouiji board; dismiss as you see fit the once-respected career of seer; doubt at your own peril the veracity of the medium's proclamations. But as far back as the Oracle at Delphi, Western civilization has sought a way to communicate with the beyond. It is human nature to want to know what lies on the other side; likewise, it is human nature to seek a way to take advantage of that want, at least for an enterprising sort of actor in search of a quick payday.
So it is for Madame Flora, a self-professed clairvoyant who fleeces lonely seekers with the aid of her daughter Monica and mute assistant Toby in Gian Carlo Menotti's chamber opera The Medium. The trio does quite well with their scheme -- until one night when they do too well, apparently providing the service they've only been faking up to this point. Faced with the possibility that she can actually hear the dead talk, Madame Flora abruptly loses control of herself and her business. Death, as always, stops for those who cannot stop for It.
Union Avenue Opera Theatre stages The Medium especially for the Halloween season at 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Monday (October 28, 29 and 31) at the Union Avenue Church (733 North Union Boulevard; 314-361-2881 or www.union-avenue.org/uaot.html). Tickets for each performance are $25. -- Paul Friswold
Sounds of Solace
Equinox Chamber Players
Rue this season of gonzo hurricanes, a nearing flu pandemic, fools in high places and unending brutality. But so it's always been; there never were any "simple" times. And still each year breathes in and out, a miracle, and the slow wheeling of the seasons gives solace. When a constant friend like autumn calls, who could be down for long?
Along with fall's visual beauty, we can savor the way certain melodies and harmonic patterns seem to complement these limpid days. The Equinox Chamber Players do, and so this quintet of St. Louis women offer their aural tribute to the season, a "Sounds of Autumn Celebration," with an evening of Latin, jazz and classical music at 6 p.m. at the Regional Arts Commission (6128 Delmar Boulevard). Local jazz stalwarts Carolbeth True and Gene Dobbs Bradford are guest artists. Call 636-530-0119 or visit www.equinoxchamberplayers.org to reserve tickets at $25; tickets are $30 at the door, and both a pre-concert reception with appetizers and a post-concert party with coffee and dessert are included in the price. -- Alex Weir
Choreographer Jacques Heim likes to examine the way people interact with their environment -- although we're not sure who lives in a giant metal cube or a free-spinning hamster wheel. But those doubts give way to thrills as the dancers of Diavolo leap and glide in harmony with these objects, or unleash the kinetic potential of mundane objects such as chairs and staircases. Diavolo performs Heim's explosive and graceful choreography at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (October 28 and 29) at the Edison Theatre on the Washington University campus (6445 Forsyth Boulevard; 314-935-6543). Tickets are $18 to $28. -- Paul Friswold
There's No Place Like Om
Dances of India in Oz
Hey! Dig this: The 29th annual season of Dances of India asks "What if OZ were India?" with a performance called Wizard of Oz: "Was that OZ or OM?" We've all heard of the Wicked Witch of the West, but how about the Wicked Witch of New Delhi? How about Dorothy and Toto aligning their chakras with a couple of sun salutations? It could happen, as the familiar story of the brave little girl from Kansas is retold through Indian dance and music in two shows at the DeSmet Jesuit High School auditorium (233 North New Ballas Road, Creve Coeur). The first performance is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday; the second is at 3 p.m. Sunday (October 29 and 30). Tickets are $15 to $18; for more information call 314-997-0911. -- Guy Gray