The Composer Behind That Difficult Opera (And Why He’s Difficult To Know)


“At its best a new production of a well-known opera will provide some marvelous insight into what the work should mean to us. The trouble is, we can’t know in advance how much sense the production is going to make and therefore don’t know how much effort we should put into deciphering what is going on onstage.”

What Place Do The Arts Play In Wellbeing?


“Most indicator systems and other initiatives rooted in wellbeing have historically overlooked the role of arts and culture, and continue to do so.”

Edinburgh Festivals Post (Yet Another) Record Year At The Box Office


“The fringe broke the 2 million barrier for the second year in a row, recording a rise of 5.24% on last year’s figures to 2,298,080, on an increase in productions of 3.79% to 3,314. The Edinburgh International Festival posted ticket sales valued at a record £3.8 million. The number of tickets issued passed 163,500, the highest since 2003.”

The TV Ratings Hit Of Summer 2015? Why Donald Trump, Of Course


“Based on that performance, the Sept. 16 GOP debate with Trump and his competitors at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in Simi Valley is expected to be the most watched event ever on CNN. And the network is cashing in on the anticipation.”

Los Angeles Philharmonic Ups Its Innovation Cred Hiring Opera Director Yuval Sharon


“The L.A. Philharmonic is expected to announced on Wednesday that Sharon will be named as the orchestra’s artist-collaborator, a newly created post that will involve curating projects for the orchestra, with the assistance of the Industry. The projects are expected to embrace multiple artistic genres and will take place at Walt Disney Concert Hall as well as other venues around L.A.”

What Should The Arts Be Doing That They Aren’t?


Barry Hessenius: “Sometimes I look around at what we’re NOT doing, especially when compared to other sectors, and I just don’t get it.”

So Who Needs Professional Writers? (Well…)


“Self-publishing, print-on-demand and the fan-fiction phenomenon have eroded the distinction between amateurs and professionals in the literary industries, but every so often you get a small reminder that sometimes you need to send in a pro.”

Technologists Race To Save 3D Images Of Ancient Historical Sites Before ISIS Smashes Them


“As ancient sites across Syria and Iraq crumble under bombs and mortar from the region’s battles, archaeologists and technologists are racing to be able to one day reproduce them. In the coming months, they will be distributing thousands of low-cost, high-quality 3D cameras across the Middle East that will hopefully capture these ancient sites before they disappear.”

What’s With All These Punctuation-Challenged Dance Company Names?


“Sure, it’s fun to play around with the punctuation marks on your keyboard. But invented punctuation doesn’t guarantee inventive choreography. It’s just punctuation run amok.”

Six Questions About The Future Of Television

future of tv

With ever more material out there, how do viewers find what’s good? How do you get people to keep paying for what they watch instead of getting it from torrent sites and/or blocking ads? And what will and won’t constitute success?

Five Television Shows They’ll Never Stop Making

5 tv shows

“What about the things that come back year after year, with slight variations, sometimes to great acclaim and sometimes to quick cancellation? Let’s take a tour of some of the conceptual habits that seem hardest to break” – such as item one, “The Adventures Of Mr. Superabilities And Detective Ladyskeptic.”

Blondell Cummings, Who Made Dance From Floor-Scrubbing And Shirt-Folding, Dead At 70

blondell cummings

“[Her] work, which fused dance, theater, mime, spoken word and video into small quasi-narrative worlds, … mined quotidian experiences like washing, cooking and building to yield works celebrated for their rich characterizations and dramatic momentum.”

The 101 Greatest Plays (Chosen By The Guardian’s Theatre Critic)

101 greatest plays

Michael Billington’s list, though it limits itself to the western tradition, runs all the way back to Aeschylus (The Persians) and right up to last season (King Charles III). Of course, there’s lots to argue over.

Here’s How To Revitalize Classical Music, Says Wunderkind Music Director Of Louisville Orchestra

teddy abrams

Teddy Abrams: “All major arts organizations should not only have musicians on staff but there should also be a department of composition; people who are composing for the moment. In Bach’s time there was a department of composition in every church and state office; there was a constant need for new music. … Granted that might be a huge expense. But think of the effect.”

There Is No Third Harper Lee Novel In That Safe-Deposit Box

harper lee

“That’s the finding of James S. Jaffe, a rare-books expert brought in to review the contents of the safe-deposit box at a bank in Ms. Lee’s hometown of Monroeville, Ala.”

Should Galleries Be Paying Artists Less? Five Voices From The Noisy Debate

should galleries pay artists less

“A Twitterstorm erupted in the US last month over the findings of survey of 8,000 art galleries based in the US, UK and Germany.” Magnus Resch recommended “that most artists should be paid only 30% of sales not the traditional 50/50 split of most galleries (superstar artists aside). It probably hasn’t helped that he divides artists into some all-too-pithy categories.”

Royal Shakespeare’s Company’s New App Puts A Hip-Hop Spin On ‘Much Ado’

Royal-Shakespeare co.jpg

RSC education director Jacqui O’Hanlon says that the app, designed for students aged 11 to 16, “would act as a ‘trail of breadcrumbs’ to the original work. The app’s rap lyrics are derived from Shakespeare’s insults, and his characters’ amorous exchanges. It challenges users to spot the difference between the Shakespeare rap and those of modern hip-hop artists.”

New Brian Friel Festival Lights Up Ireland – On Both Sides Of The Border

brian firel festival

The Lughnasa International Friel Festival – created and directed (on a tiny budget) by Seán Doran, who also founded the Happy Days Festival focused on Beckett – is the first large-scale arts event to be shared between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Philip Glass’s Children’s Opera (Yes, He Wrote One)

philip glass

The Witches of Venice, an opera-ballet based on the children’s book by Beni Montresor, had its premiere at La Scala 20 years ago. It will finally have its U.S. premiere next summer, in a production directed and choreographed by Karole Armitage.

When Disaster Strikes, Museums Call In The A-Team Of Conservation

a team conservators

“You’ve got a muddy 18th century chest of drawers. Who you gonna call? The American Institute for Conservation Collections Emergency Response Team, also known as AIC-CERT. Okay, it’s not quite as catchy as Ghostbusters. But for workers at cultural institutions, the AIC-CERT is a disaster relief A-Team, solving problems ranging from a a burst pipe to a tsunami.”

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With Misty Copeland On Board, Broadway’s ‘On The Town’ More Than Doubles Its Box Office Take

misty on the town

“The first African-American woman to be named a principal in the 75-year history of American Ballet Theater provided a jolt to On the Town during her first week in the musical. The show, which is closing on Sunday, immediately went from a laggard to a leader: It grossed $914,434 in the week that ended Sunday, up from $395,379 the week before.”

Lucinda Childs Revives Her Legendary 1983 Collaboration With Frank Gehry And John Adams

lucinda childs

The choreographer originally created Available Light, now seen as a Minimalist milestone in both dance and music, as a site-specific piece for Gehry’s Temporary Contemporary at Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art. This past spring at MASS MoCA, she and Gehry revised Available Light for a proscenium stage; the work was just presented in Berlin and (finally!) makes its East Coast premiere this week at the Philly Fringe Festival.

Maybe Jonathan Franzen Isn’t Quite As Weird As His Public Statements Make Him Seem

Author Jonathan Franzen smiles as he speaks at an event at BookExpo America, Wednesday, May 27, 2015,  in New York.  (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

“Franzen, whose writing tends to be very careful, has a gift for putting his foot in his mouth when he speaks publicly. … But if you look at Franzen’s taste in writing, it’s clear that he isn’t quite as one-dimensional as his bad press would lead readers to believe.” Scott Timberg reviews the evidence.

New Broad Museum’s Online Reservation System Crashes On First Day


“The public’s enthusiasm was apparent – maybe a little too apparent – on Monday when the Broad Museum began booking online reservations for its Sept. 20 opening and beyond. By midafternoon, the Web page for reservations to the new contemporary art museum in downtown Los Angeles carried an announcement in red type: ‘Due to overwhelming demand, our ticketing system is currently down.'”

A 70-Year-Old Grandmother Is China’s Pole-Dancing Champion (And An Internet Sensation)

70 pole dancer

“The woman, called Dai Dali, first learned to pole dance at a gym four years ago and is now able to pull of moves that most people half her age couldn’t accomplish.”

The Lessons Of Times Square: A Great Public Space Requires Paying Attention


“The lesson is that painting the pavement blue and closing it to cars is a start, but reclaiming space alone is not sufficient to create the sort of vibrant public plaza we’d all like. That requires real stewardship. Civic culture needs cultivating and curating. Unless we do so, public space can become a public nuisance.”

Boston’s Institute Of Contemporary Art At The Crossroads


“Approaching the 10-year mark in its handsome waterfront building, will the ICA (which was founded in 1936 as the Boston Museum of Modern Art) step up to the next level? Will it galvanize both artists and the public, embarrassing older, slower museums with its fleetness of foot, its largeness of vision, its willingness to provoke, surprise, and seduce? Or will it continue to strike large slabs of its potential audience as fiddly and pinched, a place of pretension, predictability, and underwhelming exhibits?”

This Is What Happens When Universities Sell Their Souls


“College is seldom about thinking or learning anymore. Everyone is running around trying to figure out what it is about. So far, they have come up with buzzwords.”