July 28, 2009
"A newspaper that wishes to make its fortune should never waste its columns and weary its readers by praising anything."
Anthony Trollope, The Way We Live Now
Posted July 28, 2009 12:00 AM
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6011 entries and counting
A list of new things we've liked (subject to unexpected and wildly capricious updating). OPERA BOOK DANCE CD MUSICAL
Not new, but still worth a look or listen (and no less subject to change without notice). ANTHOLOGY CD
This is a blog about the arts in New York City and the rest of America, written by Terry Teachout, Laura Demanski (otherwise known as Our Girl in Chicago, or "OGIC" for short), and Carrie Frye (who signs her postings "CAAF"). Terry, who lives in New York, is the drama critic of The Wall Street Journal and the chief culture critic of Commentary.
Terry's latest book, Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong, will be published in December by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the U.S. and JR Books in England. One of his essays is included in Robert Gottlieb's Reading Dance, published last year by Pantheon. He contributed an essay to Coudal Partners' Field-Tested Books (as did OGIC) and wrote the introductions to William Bailey on Canvas and the paperback edition of Elaine Dundy's The Dud Avocado.
To watch Terry's wsj.com review of Guys and Dolls, go here.
Terry and Paul Moravec collaborated on The Letter, an operatic version of Somerset Maugham's 1927 play that was commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera and opened there on July 25. Here is an ongoing series of progress reports on the writing, production, and premiere of The Letter.
Lend me your ears (and eyes)
Men at work
Men at work (II)
Men at work (III)
Men at work (IV)
For better and worse
Men at work (V)
Men (and women) at work (VI)
Notes from an unkept diary
The case for lower-case opera
The envelope, please
Right turn at Albuquerque
Men at work (VII)
Scene stealing (I)
Scene stealing (II)
Becoming an artist
In one piece
Among the brethren
By the clock
No, but I heard the movie
The Doctor is in
A doll's house
Free at last
Looking for trouble
Step away from the car, sir
A ripping good show
All blessings are mixed
Almanac (apropos of The Letter, I)
Almanac (apropos of The Letter, II)
Almanac (apropos of The Letter, III)
Tied to the tracks
A very small world
A little taste
Now's the time
Another little taste
Who'd have thought it?
Tweeting an opera
At the starting gate
Minute by minute
Modern opera in a nutshell
All there is
The news in brief
In a mist
Did Maugham know best?
We know every part by heart
How it felt
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The Letter (Santa Fe Opera, Santa Fe, N.M., in repertory July 25-Aug. 18). Adultery, murder, lies, blackmail, confession, trial, hallucination, acquittal, confrontation, disaster, blood, blackout--all in ninety minutes with no intermission. An opera noir, in other words, based on the 1927 Somerset Maugham play and staged by Jonathan Kent (Faith Healer). Patricia Racette is the star, Hildegard Bechtler the set designer, Tom Ford the costume designer. Music by Paul Moravec, words by yours truly. A rattling good show, if we do say so ourselves (TT).
Lauren Braun Costello and Russell Reich, Notes on Cooking: A Short Guide to an Essential Craft (RCR Creative Press, $21.95). I can barely boil water, but I know an immensely informative guide when I read one, and this one fills the bill. Fans of Reich's Notes on Directing, among whom I number myself, will recall the drill: Notes on Cooking is a 143-page list of 217 dos and don'ts for cooks, aspiring and otherwise. Some are starkly practical ("Fish should not smell") and others subtly suggestive ("Embrace the mundane"). The advice--I'm told--is sound, the writing crisp, the design pleasing to the eye. Stuff a stocking or two with this one, and buy another for yourself (TT).
Pilobolus Dance Theatre (Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Ave., July 13-Aug. 8). The annual summer season of everybody's favorite...what? Pilobolus remains a pigeonhole-resistant fusion of modern dance, gymnastics, performance art, wit, and charm. Three New York premieres this time around, plus the usual assortment of repertory staples, including "Day Two," "Pseudopodia," and "Walklyndon." Prepare to be delighted (TT).
Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Steve Swallow, and Antonio Sanchez, Quartet Live (Concord Jazz). A 2007 reunion date by three of the most influential jazz-rock instrumentalists of the post-Coltrane era, with Sanchez providing ideal support on drums. The tunes include Metheny's "Midwestern Night's Dream" and Swallow's "Falling Grace" and the playing is exquisite. Excellent liner notes by all four musicians. Need I say more? (TT)
A Minister's Wife (Writers' Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe, Ill., closes Aug. 2). Josh Schmidt, Austin Pendleton, and Jan Tranen have teamed up to create a musical version of George Bernard Shaw's Candida that's better than the original. The score is exquisite, the book crisp and pointed, the lyrics plain-spoken yet poignant. The ensemble cast, led by Kevin Gudahl, is excellent in every way, and Michael Halberstam's staging is wonderfully sensitive. A perfect show, in short, one that is surely destined to make its way to New York--but why wait? You'll never see it done better than in Chicagoland (TT).
Out of the Past
Louis Kronenberger (ed.), The Portable Johnson and Boswell. This one's for OGIC, who's teetering on the edge of reading James Boswell's magisterial but long-winded Life of Samuel Johnson. In 1955 Louis Kronenberger abridged Boswell's Life for the Viking Portable series, filling out the volume with a judicious selection of other writings by Johnson and Boswell. This now-forgotten book, which has been out of print for years and years, is an excellent way to experience the Life without braving its occasional longueurs. Used copies are blessedly easy to find (TT).
Fats Waller, Handful of Keys. Every self-respecting record collection needs a generous slice of the collected works of Fats Waller, the stride pianist and comic singer whose 78s can put a smile on the sourest of faces. Proper Records' imported four-CD box set, originally released in 2004 and readily available in this country, contains ninety-five tracks that come about as close as is possible to covering all the Waller-related bases. A few classics are absent, but if you don't know what they are, you won't miss them. Meanwhile, put on "Serenade for a Wealthy Widow" or "It's a Sin to Tell a Lie" and see if you don't become happier within seconds. No jazz musician--not even Satchmo himself--has ever succeeded in squeezing more joy into a three-minute package (TT).
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Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
rock culture approximately
Rebuilding Gulf Culture after Katrina
Douglas McLennan's blog
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...
Martha Bayles on Film...
Drew McManus on orchestra management
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...
Jerome Weeks on Books
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog
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Archive 6011 entries and counting
A list of new things we've liked (subject to unexpected and wildly capricious updating).
Not new, but still worth a look or listen (and no less subject to change without notice).