It's a classic Madison weekend, one of the busiest of the year, with the grand opening of the new UW Union South and the conclusion of the UW Line Breaks festival; the Midwest Horse Fair, and the first Dane County Farmers' Market of the season, Record Store Day, and Isthmus Green Day. The calendar also includes: productions of The Consul, You Can't Take It With You; Vis-à-vis by UW Dance, and Cokata Upo! by the Lakota Sioux Dance Theater; Opera Up Close; performances by the Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, UW Varsity Band, and the UW Madhatters; more music from Of Montreal, Zion I and The Grouch, The Civil Wars, Prince Rama, Loudon Wainwright III, Owen Pallet, Tobacco, Breathe Owl Breathe, Mike Watt & the Missingmen, and Wolfgang Gartner; and, talks by Margaret George and Kelly Cherry.
BIRTHDAY: Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson, 1959.
Alliant Energy Center, 8 am-7 pm. Also Saturday (8 am-7 pm) & Sunday (8 am-5 pm), April 16 & 17
Saddle up for three days' worth of equine events. The animals will be stunning, as will be the aroma.
Overture Center's Rotunda Studio, 7 pm. Also Thursday & Saturday, April 14 & 16, 7 pm
The UW's Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives winds down its annual confab of spoken-word and hip-hop performance. Saturday features Rafael Casal, the OMAI artist in residence who is a champion slam poet and has appeared on HBO's Def Poetry.
The university's spankin'-new relaxation center is dedicated today, and the weekend is stuffed with entertainment. Tonight, check out comedian Jasper Redd (the Sett, 7 pm), attend a reception for multimedia artists Adam Trowbridge and Jessica Westbrook (Gallery 1308, 7 pm), watch flicks in the Marquee and much more.
UW Music Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Sunday (3 pm) & Tuesday (7:30 pm), April 17 & 19
University Opera stages Gian Carlo Menotti's Pulitzer-winning 1950 opera. It's a sobering work about a man who flees an authoritarian country and the family members who try to join him.
Overture Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), April 16 & 17
Instrumentalists and singers join forces to perform Stravinsky's "Symphony of Palms." Pianist Christopher Taylor plays Schumann's Piano Concerto in A minor, and there is also music by Vaughan Williams and Tchaikovsky.
Kohl Center, 7:30 pm
Mike Leckrone's band stirs the Badger faithful with a 125th-anniversary concert.
UW Vilas Hall's Mitchell Theatre, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday, April 16, 7:30 pm
University Theatre concludes its season with a staging of Moss Hart and George Kaufman's Pulitzer-winning comedy (see Theater).
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 8 pm
The South Dakota-based troupe celebrates Lakota culture with a theatrical flair, presenting Cokata Upo!, an evening of dance, music, storytelling and video imagery.
UW Union South's Varsity Hall, 8 pm
UW-Madison welcomes the new Union South with a performance by the funk-meets-glam indie-rock superstars. With Morning Teleportation and Lords of the Trident.
UW Lathrop Hall's H'Doubler Performance Space, 8 pm. Also Thursday & Saturday, April 14 & 16, 8 pm
The university's dance program presents its spring concert, with new work by UW choreographers including Jin-Wen Yu, Li Chiao-Ping and Kate Corby. Also, Chicago's Carrie Hanson presents choreography inspired by artist Jim Nutt.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
Oakland hip-hop duo Zion I blend socially conscious lyrics with beats that are positively futuristic. Sample their pensive 2010 release, Atomic Clock, for a thought-provoking start to the weekend. With One Be Lo, Shotgun Wedding Quintet and Ice Mantis.
UW Memorial Union's Rathskeller, 9:30 pm
This slick folk-pop duo's new album, Barton Hollow, debuted at No. 1 on iTunes' album-sales chart in February and gained a horde of new fans recently when Taylor Swift tweeted that it's one of her favorites. With White Dress.
Project Lodge, 10 pm
Hand-picked for Animal Collective's label and upcoming music festival, this Brooklyn, N.Y., trio bring a Hare Krishna upbringing and an art-school education to their otherworldly psychedelic rock. With Janka Nabay.
NOTEWORTHY: Student Seung-Hui Cho kills 32, wounds 25 in Virginia Tech rampage, 2007.
Capitol Square, 6 am-2 pm
The season kickoff. Spring has now officially sprung.
Monona Terrace, 9 am-5 pm
Isthmus' event is a one-stop shop for all your needs relating to sustainable living, with booths on health, gardening, transportation, etc. You can also attend breakout sessions and check out speakers including the Fabulous Beekman Boys, stars of the sustainability-themed reality show on cable's Planet Green.
Declare your devotion to record stores, the people who work at them and the music they sell with festivities citywide. Highlights include musicians Big Swell and Steve Schad at MadCity Music Exchange; and DJs Julian Lynch and the Real Jaguar at Strictly Discs.
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 1 pm
Madison Opera gives a multimedia preview of its production of La Traviata.
Orpheum Theatre, 7 pm
The university's signature a cappella group presents its spring concert (see Music).
Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 pm
Though many Gen-Xers know him as the father of musicians Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Loudon Wainwright III has had a storied career of his own, recording the 1972 hit "Dead Skunk (in the Middle of the Road)" and playing the singing surgeon on M*A*S*H. With Pieta Brown.
UW Union South's Sett, 9 pm
The artist formerly known as Final Fantasy has played violin and arranged string parts for an impressive list of notables, including Arcade Fire, Grizzly Bear, the Mountain Goats, Pet Shop Boys, Beirut and Death From Above 1979. Hear how his grand, orchestral album Heartland translates at his two-person live concert.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
The vocoder-loving recluse from Black Moth Super Rainbow will show off his newest solo release, Maniac Meat, a disturbing-yet-mesmerizing stew of analogue synths and dark hip-hop beats that features Beck on two of its tracks. With Beans and Shapers.
NOTEWORTHY: Star-crossed Apollo 13 splashes down safely after aborted moon mission, 1970.
A Room of One's Own, 2 pm
Madison's George has made a name for herself writing bestselling, meticulously researched novels set in milieus like the courts of Henry VIII and Cleopatra. Her latest is called Elizabeth I.
UW Pyle Center, 2 pm
The eloquent poet and former UW professor speaks on "Making Poetry from Modern History."
UW Union South's Sett, 7:30 pm
This band of Michigan neo-folkies quickly sold out the Majestic last year. Attend this show to find out why their 2010 release, Magic Central, earned them Paste's coveted Best of What's Next title. With Photographers.
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
The Minutemen cofounder and bassist for the re-formed Iggy & the Stooges has a new solo album, Hyphenated-Man, which explores characters from a startling 16th-century triptych. Watt and his band perform the whole thing tonight. With Hum Machine.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
This Grammy-nominated electro house DJ tends to appeal to fans of Justice and Deadmau5, but his newest single, "Forever," is a collaboration with the Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am. With Harvard Bass and Jack Mulqueen.