It’s Not Just “Mikado” – Opera’s Full Of Racial Stereotyping, And We Should Deal With That

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Aida, Otello, Turandot, Madama Butterfly, and on and on. Gwynn Guilford lays out what she sees as the problem and how she thinks opera companies in 21st-century America might address it.

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Artists, Officials, Celebrities Unite To Ask Venice To Ban Cruise Mega-Ships

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“More than 50 leading figures from the worlds of art, film, fashion and architecture have signed a petition calling for a ban on giant cruise ships sailing through Venice. Cate Blanchett, Julie Christie, Michael Caine and Rob Lowe are among the signatories urging the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the Italian Minister of Culture and Tourism, Dario Franceschini, to ‘halt the passage of the big ships across the Bacino San Marino and along the Giudecca canal’.”

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NYC Mayor Fires Eight Board Members Of Queens Library System

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“The board members were removed after they voted in April against firing Thomas W. Galante, director of the Queens library system, who has been under investigation for using money earmarked for library improvements for renovations to his personal office and for steering contracts for the work to a friend.”

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How On Earth Does One Illustrate “Finnegans Wake”?

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“The book is sui generis, a circle in a spiral, a linguistic Escher drawing … So when John Vernon Lord was asked to illustrated the book for the Folio Society it is no surprise that he found the experience ‘bewildering’.” But he seems to have pulled it off.

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How Do Conductors Keep Working Into Ripe Old Age? Three Of Them Tell Us

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Head Of Big New Arts Center In Beverly Hills Out After First Season

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“The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, which only recently completed its inaugural season, confirmed Thursday that Executive Director Lou Moore has left the fledgling arts organization. Moore, who spent more than a decade raising money to construct the new center and then led its 2013 opening and first season, left the organization on Tuesday.”

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Andy Serkis, Star Of A Movie Medium That’s Anti-Star By Its Very Nature

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“Serkis, whose resume includes playing some of the least likely critical favorites of all time – Gollum, King Kong, and Godzilla – seems like an ideal spokesman for motion-capture if it wants high-brow cred. … [Yet] the singular focus on him in some ways clashes with the collaborative, chameleonic spirit of motion-capture, a field that has a long and glorious tradition of eschewing thespian concerns entirely.”

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Angel Corella: “I Have A Lot Of Plans” For Pennsylvania Ballet

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They include “closely coaching the dancers, touring more, giving outdoor public performances, organizing outreach programs with schools, and bringing in new choreographers. He listed Christopher Wheeldon, Wayne McGregor, Justin Peck, and Liam Scarlett as possibilities. He also wants to reassure his dancers and artistic staff.”

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David Hallberg On Becoming A Celebrity Dancer

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“Ballet needs figures that people can recognize and relate to. People don’t know ballet dancers as well as they know other artists.”

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Natalia Osipova Will Have No Truck With The Ballet Diva Mystique, Thank You

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“I am not interested in sporting diamond tiaras on stage, or having my point shoes cooked and eaten by my fans. Ballet has evolved and the ballerina figure with it. … There is simply no reason, nor time, to perpetuate century-old clichés, such as the remote, semi-divine figure of the 19th-century ballet star.”

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Seems The Hindu Gods Have Been Working Out

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“In new comics, paintings and popular books, depictions of Vishnu, Rama and other greats in the Hindu pantheon are being reimagined to give the deities broad shoulders, six-pack abs, flashy get-ups and smoldering good looks.”

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Where Hearing Voices Can Be A Good Thing (Other Places’ Schizophrenia Is Not Like American Schizophrenia)

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“A new study suggests that schizophrenic people in more collectivist societies sometimes think their auditory hallucinations are helpful.”

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The World Around Us Shapes the Delusions Inside Us

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“The current view of delusions is that they are the result of biology gone awry, of neurons in the brain misfiring, but [Joel and Ian Gold] argue that delusions are in fact the result of the interaction between the brain and the social world.” (audio)

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John Malkovich Gets Very Rude About The Sydney Opera House

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“I mean, I don’t know, I have only played in about 200 opera houses, and it certainly has acoustics that would do an aeroplane hangar a disservice. For a catholicity of reasons, it’s not the wisest place to put on anything … with the possible exception of maybe a circus.”

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Has Philly’s Historic Gay Bookstore Been Saved?

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“Owner and cofounder Ed Hermance told PW that he is in the midst of working out an agreement with the same potential buyer that he had alluded to in an e-mail blast to customers two months ago, a local LGBT organization.”

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Singapore Unbans Gay-Themed Children’s Books It Had Banned

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“Singapore has stopped its national library from destroying two children’s books with gay themes, after an outcry over literary censorship in the tightly regulated city-state.”

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When Manhattan Became The Capital Of The World (In The 1920s)

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“Beginning with the reconstruction of Park Avenue in the early 1920s, Midtown became a destination neighborhood for the city’s ultrarich, eager to abandon their stand-alone Fifth Avenue palaces in favor of contemporary “mansions in the sky.” Alongside the real estate boom came a decadent new night life and a host of more serious cultural diversions, all of them fueled, in Miller’s telling, by a steady supply of ambition, energy and illicit booze.”

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TV Edges Out Movies At This Year’s Comic-Con

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“Television has been growing here like kudzu in recent years, but this time around it seems to have finally blocked out the light for much of anything else to be noticed.”

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Short Attention Spans? Why, That’s Just A Sign Of How Smart We’re Getting

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“The world is faster, faster, faster these days. That’s the current reality, and it’s not going anywhere. Leaving a page that isn’t loading isn’t a character fault; it’s smart. You can get the information you were after elsewhere, and you can get it faster. If we really valued what we were made to wait for, well, we would wait.”

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How The Summer Festival Has Gone Big Time (Mainstream, Commercialized)

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“Long gone are the painted Volkswagen buses, talk of “free love,” and shoulder-length hair for men, but it’s only recently that the festivals associated with those things have also begun to disappear, replaced by a new breed of festival that’s tailored to a different group entirely: hipsters.”

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Women’s Project Theater Gets A New Producing Artistic Director

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Lisa McNulty, “who has been the artistic line producer at Manhattan Theater Club since 2006, will begin her new job on Aug. 11. She has a long history with the 36-year-old Women’s Project Theater, whose mission is to produce plays written and directed by women.”

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New York City Is Introducing A New ID Card (And It Wants Cultural Groups To Help)

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“To broaden the appeal of a card that will be available to all New Yorkers early next year but is designed to help those who do not have a driver’s license or other official identification, the administration has asked some of the city’s most prominent cultural institutions to offer benefits, like memberships or discounted tickets, to cardholders.”

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British Government Backs Down On Cuts To Music Education

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“This is undoubtedly good news. That extra £17 million (the government says £18 million, but no-one quite understands their arithmetic), means the total amount spread around the music hubs will rise to £75 million. This will reverse the decline of recent years, which has been steep.”

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80s Band Duran Duran Sues Its Own Fan Club

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“The band, known for hits such as Notorious and Hungry Like the Wolf, are claiming that Chicago-based company Worldwide Fan Clubs have breached contract by not paying the band promised revenue.”

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How Popular Culture Of The 1920s Became Obsessed With King Tut

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“The tomb’s discovery, at the start of the Roaring Twenties, followed the global upheavals of World War One. Mass media was able to bring news of objects being carried out of the tomb to a wider audience, faster than ever before. America, in particular, became obsessed by “King Tut” – as he became known. Even US President Herbert Hoover used the name for his pet dog.”

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Why Do Our Brains Leap To Stereotypes?

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“In essence, they write, our minds are hard-wired to categorize information and create mental shortcuts (attribute A is associated with behavior B). This helps us retain knowledge using minimal mental effort, and provides a needed sense of structure to an otherwise chaotic universe. In doing so, however, nuances and complications tend to be discarded.”

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Met Opera’s Peter Gelb Gives Unions Ultimatum: Contract In One Week Or Lockout

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“The labor strife at the Metropolitan Opera took on a new urgency Wednesday when its general manager, Peter Gelb, sent the company’s orchestra, chorus, stagehands and other workers letters warning them to prepare for a lockout if no contract deal is reached by next week.”

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Six Arrested In $1M StubHub International Hacking Case

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“Six individuals in Russia and the United States have been charged with taking part in a broad international hacking scheme that attacked over 1,600 StubHub users’ accounts and fraudulently purchased more than $1 million in tickets.”

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Hollywood’s Favorite Non-Dance-Movie Choreographer

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“If you’ve seen a movie in the last 20 years, chances are you know the choreographer Marguerite Derricks’s work, if not her name. Austin Powers’s epic go-go dance through the streets? Ms. Derricks’s idea. Abigail Breslin’s climactic strip routine in Little Miss Sunshine? Ms. Derricks was just off camera, encouraging Ms. Breslin to claw like a tiger. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s tango in Mr. and Mrs. Smith? Well, Ms. Derricks was Ms. Jolie’s first partner.”

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