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PEOPLE - May 2002

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Friday May 31

FRAUGHT WITH FREUD: Lucien Freud is widely considered Britain's best living painter. Next month he'll get a major retrospective of his work in London. "As many of his sitters have found, having Lucian Freud recreate you in paint is not an unrelieved joy. Jerry Hall's portrait turned her into an amorphous lump of pregnant fleshy blubber. The Queen's portrait, unveiled last December, provoked a tirade of abuse for its unflattering delineation of a blue-chinned nightclub bouncer in a fright wig and a filthy temper." The Independent (UK) 05/30/02

BROWN STEPS DOWN: J Carter Brown, former head of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, for 23 years, "a trustee at Brown University, chairman of the jury for the Pritzker Prize, the prestigious architecture award, and a member of the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, among other positions," has resigned from "the many arts, education and historic preservation boards on which he serves," because of severe bad health. Washington Post 05/31/02

Wednesday May 29

"ROMANIAN CULTURE IS TWICE IN MOURNING": A former principal dancer with the Romanian Opera House commited suicide after her partner died last weekend. "Irinel Liciu, 74, took an overdose of sleeping pills after the death of celebrated Romanian poet Stefan Augustin Doinas, 80. They had been married for more than 42 years." Nando Times (AP) 05/28/02

Tuesday May 28

PORTRAIT OF A PHILANTHROPIST: Jean-Marie Messier is the charismatic head of Vivendi Universal, the world's second largest media company. In France he is a controversial figure, but in New York, where he moved eight months ago, he's become immersed in the city's cultural life, joining prestigious boards of major cultural institutions. "Mr. Messier's smooth entree into New York is one of the clearest examples of how an outsider with financial resources, status and connections can penetrate the city's inner circle of culture and philanthropy, even as his corporate leadership comes under severe attack." The New York Times 05/28/02

Monday May 27

PLAYING SWEET: It wasn't too many years ago that playwright Peter Gill was bitter and frustrated by British theatre. "Now 62, the Cardiff-born writer and director, who made his name at the Royal Court in the 1960s, is enjoying the kind of exposure that is generally accorded only to the very young or very dead." The Guardian (UK) 05/27/02

Sunday May 26

SECOND ACTS: Itzhak Perlman is one of the great violinists of the past century. But since he turned 50 a few years ago, increasingly his interested have turned to teaching and conducting. "That means he'll make a call to a student at intermission of one of his own concerts if he remembers something he forgot to say during a lesson." As for conducting, "his stick technique is quirky, but the players can follow him; he communicates through a deep reservoir of animated expressions and gestures. He has large, strong hands, and all those years of walking on crutches have created tremendous torque in his upper body; his physical energy is commanding." Detroit Free Press 05/26/02

CONDUCTOR MOVES ON: Eiji Oue is leaving his post as music director of the Minnesota Orchestra. The orchestra has a long and storied history, but had fallen into a rut before Oue came. "His greatest and most indelible feat is intangible coaxing this orchestra to perform from the heart rather than the mind. It also exposed what some see as his greatest failing. People inside and outside the orchestra see Oue as soft and underinvolved in the technical details required for flawless performance. Oue wanted his musicians to soar through a boundless skyline; with Oue, some musicians felt adrift in the wind." St. Paul Pioneer Press 05/26/02

Friday May 24

ABRUPT EXIT: Giving only a week's notice, Dallas Opera General Director Mark Whitworth-Jones quits the company after two years on the job. He "acknowledged frustration with the local fund raising situation during the economic downturn and in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He said subscription revenue was down 17 percent during the 2001-02 season. The company has also found its fund raising for annual operations competing with efforts to raise money for the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, as part of the proposed Dallas Center for the Performing Arts." Dallas Morning News 05/23/02

FORMER EXEC SUES LA CHAMBER ORCHESTRA: The former executive director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra has sued the orchestra, claiming that he was treated badly by the board and that after he left the orchestra "publicizing untruthful statements about his job performance." Los Angeles Times 05/24/02

NORMAN MEETS THE QUEEN: Queen Elizabeth invites in Britain's cultural elite for a meet and greet. "We were, someone said, the elite of the arts: the 600 makers and shakers of creative society. But the guest list for the party at the Royal Academy in Piccadilly was entertainingly eclectic. I met a man who runs a theatre in a North Yorkshire village of 200. Just beyond him was Sir Simon Rattle, music director of the world's premier orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic." London Evening Standard 05/23/02

Wednesday May 22

ELVIS LIVES (OLD NEWS): This year is the 25th anniversary of Elvis' death. "But although Elvis might be dead – despite reports to the contrary from people who have seen him serving in chippies in Doncaster, square-dancing by himself at the Clinton County Fair in Oregon or, most recently, buying two chicken mega-buckets at KFC in Glasgow while cunningly disguised as a business development manager for an international finance company – his legacy is emphatically not. This anniversary year, in addition to all the existing commercial exploitation of his memory," a flood of products eager to cash in on the King are planned. The Independent (UK) 05/18/02

SCORE ONE FOR THE IVORY TOWERS: A Massachusetts court has dismissed a case against Wellesley College brought by high-profile professor Adrian Piper. Wellesley hired Piper, a prominent artist and author, with great fanfare back in 1990, but the relationship quickly soured, with the college contending that Piper appeared not to be interested in fulfilling the obligations of an academic career, and Piper insisting that Wellesley was blocking her from pursuing her career. Boston Globe 05/22/02

Tuesday May 21

STEPHEN JAY GOULD, SCIENTIST, AUTHOR: "Stephen Jay Gould - who died of lung cancer yesterday at the age of 60 - was a prize example of a very rare breed. Gould was a professor at Harvard, a longtime columnist for Natural History magazine, the author of numerous bestsellers, and a dependably feisty public intellectual. He did not suffer fools gladly; he pummeled them in print." Washington Post 05/21/02

MILLER FIRED FROM MET? Star director Jonathan Miller says he's been fired by the Metropolitan Opera "following a dispute with the Italian diva Cecilia Bartoli. In a startlingly frank interview with a respected music writer, Miller is also scathing about the acting skills of the 'Three Tenors', Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras, and savagely attacks opera audiences." The Guardian (UK) 05/20/02

ADAMS TO CARNEGIE? Carnegie Hall is expected to announce that John Adams will be its next composer-in-residence, succeeding Pierre Boulez at the end of next season. NewMusicBox 05/19/02

Sunday May 19

AND HE SHOWS UP FOR PERFORMANCES, TOO: While the arts world trades gossip about the spectacular collapse of the most famous of the Three Tenors, one of the others has quietly gone about securing his place in operatic history. Placido Domingo, still a fine singer at the age of 61, has broadened his activities over the last decade to include conducting, directing, and the art of running a major opera company. In all these things, he has found success, to the surprise of many observers, and, in so doing, has crafted one of the most impressive operatic careers of the last century. Washington Post 05/22/02

ROBESON REDUX: "On May 18, 1952, Paul Robeson -- who will be remembered as one of the greatest singers of the 1940s, the first black superstar in the United States, a civil-rights hero and a tragic figure destroyed by McCarthyism -- stood on the back of a flat-bed truck parked at the edge of the Canadian border and sang songs of solidarity to a crowd of 40,000. Fifty years later, that legendary concert will be recreated at the very same park." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 05/18/02

DODGING BULLETS FOR A LIVING: Tessa Jowell may have the most thankless job in Tony Blair's New Labour government in the U.K. As Culture Secretary, it is her job to deal with every arts controversy that could make the government look bad (no shortage of those,) and do it quickly and quietly. "Tessa Jowell is adept at having things more than one way at once, a crucial New Labour quality. So she emphasises her reputation for efficiency, but says more than once that she thinks the Government's emphasis on targets is overdone and that her job is in large part about 'investing in risk'." The Observer (UK) 05/19/02

PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS SELF-ABSORBED: Artist Tracy Emin's career has always been more or less an exercise in voyeurism, with high-profile pieces ranging from an unmade bed (which was shortlisted for the Turner Prize,) to "a tent embroidered with the names of every man she ever slept with." Emin is at Cannes this month, raising money for the ultimate peep show into her life - a feature film detailing her childhood in Margate, England. BBC 05/19/02

IT'S A DIRTY JOB, BUT... Okay, so it's not exactly curator at the Guggenheim, but Mierle Ukeles likes her job just fine. She is the artist-in-residence at the New York City Department of Sanitation, and has been described by one critic as 'the art world's preeminent garbage girl.' She creates art from trash, art celebrating trash (and the folks who get rid of it for us,) and would prefer to hang out at Staten Island's famous Fresh Kills Landfill than at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But judging from the critical reaction to her work, the garbage theme is no gimmick. For Ukeles, it's a passion. A darned weird passion, but a passion, nonetheless. New York Times 05/19/02

Thursday May 16

ARTS ADVOCATE: Karen Kain was Canada's most famous dancer ever. Five years after she retired from the stage, she's now one of the country's savviest cultural promoters, transforming herself into "one of the most passionate, articulate and effective cultural advocates Canada has ever had." Toronto Star 05/15/02

ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: "The least-known great architect who ever worked in the [U.S.] capital -- or, for that matter, in the nation -- may be Benjamin Henry Latrobe. Representatives from nine preservation and cultural groups -- including five from Washington -- yesterday announced a five-year, $50 million attempt to make the name more famous... Latrobe was the architect of the most memorable rooms in the U.S. Capitol, including Statuary Hall and the old Senate and Supreme Court chambers. He designed both the north and south porticoes of the White House." And that's just the beginning... Washington Post 05/16/02

Sunday May 12

TOSCANINI'S LOVE LETTERS: He defined a generation of conductors with his rages and his passionate performances, but off the podium, Arturo Toscanini was a private man. Still, much has been written of his life, and many writers have spent many pages speculating on his motivations. A new collection of letters, many written to his several mistresses, sheds some fresh light on a legend which has threatened to grow stale in recent years. The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 05/12/02

Friday May 10

CULTURE WARRIOR REMEMBERED: Livingston Biddle, who died this week at the age of 83, was one of the architects of the National Endowment for the Arts and a former NEA director. An ideological opponent remembers him fondly: "What was missing in newspaper accounts were the distinguishing humane qualities that Biddle possessed, especially the gentle mien and fundamental decency, in short supply amid public debate surrounding culture in America. He was a writer himself, married to an artist, and so understood what was at stake in debates over the future of arts raging during the 1990s." The Idler 05/10/02

SUPER SLAVA: Is Mstislav Rostropovich one of the great cellists in history?  "The former music director of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., for 17 years has been awarded more than 40 honorary degrees and more than 90 major awards in 25 different countries, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Kennedy Center Honors in the United States." Christian Science Monitor 05/10/02

CRONENBERG'S CANNES: No one could ever accuse David Cronenberg of lacking Hollywood's taste for excess. But aside from one or two brief flirtations, his career as a filmmaker has mostly taken place outside of Tinseltown, and his best films have achieved only "cult classic" status. His latest work is called Spider (no "man," thank you,) and it is Canada's only entry in the judging at this year's Cannes Film Festival, a fact of national pride which is not lost on Cronenberg. Toronto Star 05/10/02

Thursday May 9

PAVAROTTI BOWS OUT OF MET: So Pavarotti canceled another performance at the Met. Nothing much unusual about that (it was the flu this time). Except that it was his second-to-last scheduled performance there, and he's not on the schedule next year or thereafter. Some feel he may never appear at the Met again. And expectations for this Saturday's performance of Tosca are high. Philadelphia Inquirer 05/09/02

  • GREAT EXPECTATIONS: "The Met is charging $75 to $1,875 instead of the usual $30 to $265 for Saturday night's performance, followed by a formal dinner and dance, and is setting up a video screen on Lincoln Center plaza and distributing 3,000 free tickets for a simulcast." New York Post (AP) 05/09/02

Wednesday May 8

MURRAY ADASKIN, 96: Murray Adaskin, one of Canada's most prominent composers, has died in Victoria at the age of of 96. "Adaskin, born in Toronto to a musical family on March 26, 1906, had a distinguished and varied career that spanned most of the 20th century. One constant was a passion for Canadian culture." The Times-Colonist (Victoria) 05/08/02

  • FOR THE JOY OF MUSIC: "Adaskin was a complete musician. He worked as a violinist, composer, teacher and mentor, and served as an unfailingly good comrade to five generations of colleagues." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 05/08/02

DIVA DREAMS: Soprano Joan Sutherland is 75. "It's nice to be remembered. But the whole opera thing has changed from top to bottom. It has all changed. Even the way that the productions are geared. I'm glad I finished when I did. I might have done a few walkouts." Did she ever think about singing again? "Only once since 1990 has Sutherland thought to let it rip one last time. A year or two after her retirement, her husband was flying home from Canada and 'I decided to surprise him'. But after a day's strenuous vocal exercises she found herself coughing and choking. 'So then I really did give up'." The Guardian (UK) 05/08/02

Tuesday May 7

EXIT INTERVIEW: Departing Lincoln Center chairman Beverly Sills says ''When I came here as chairman eight years ago I was promised that it would be a three-day week with five-hour days. It was never that, not from the first week. It was five-day, sometimes seven-day weeks, and the days sometimes went from 7:30 in the morning to 11:30 at night.'' But the worst time was probably the most recent. "In the past 18 months, Lincoln Center has seen the resignations of three successive presidents and its real estate chairman. City Opera is threatening to leave the Center altogether. Media reports have been rife with tales of tense, even screaming, board meetings (which Sills and others insist are exaggerated or false)." Boston Globe 05/06/02

FIRST COUPLE: Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu are opera's star couple. Married in real life, they also collaborate onstage. But the nicknames of "the world's greatest French tenor and the most celebrated of its young sopranos are not affectionate. They include 'the Ceausescus', while director Jonathan Miller famously nicknamed them 'Bonnie and Clyde' after Alagna failed to turn up for some rehearsals of his production of La Boheme at the Bastille opera in Paris. The Bastille also dubbed the Romanian-born Gheorghiu 'La Draculette'." The Telegraph (UK) 05/07/02

Monday May 6

LIVINGSTON BIDDLE, JR, 83: Livingston Biddle Jr. helped draft legislation to create the National Endowment for the Arts and was its chairman from 1971-81. "As endowment chairman, he ran interference with Congress and the public over complaints about funding of controversial subjects and combined his experience and savvy in government and the arts to increase the base of support for the arts. He helped work out relationships between federal and state art efforts, worked to keep politics out of the endowment and fought for support for minorities in the arts and for bringing arts to the handicapped." Washington Post 05/05/02

DRABINSKY RETURNS? Canadian theatre impressario Garth Drabinsky is accused of perpetrating a fraud of $100 million before his company Livent collapsed a few years ago. But that isn't stopping the dsigraced showman (who can't set foot in the US because he'd be arrested) from plotting a Broadway comeback. He plans to bring The Dresser back to New York. The New York Times 05/06/02

SUMMING UP MASUR: Kurt Masur is finishing up his last few weeks as music director of the New York Philharmonic. "The Masur decade sometimes seems like a barrier island, a sandy, pleasant enough strip of beach between relief and anticipation. All this is very unfair. Masur's tenure was not only full of musical accomplishments, it produced some genuine New York City rowdiness of its own. If Masur did his part in raising the orchestra's sense of dignity and common purpose, he did so by an odd mix of old-school tyranny and democratic participation." Newsday 05/05/02

  • BUILDING A LEGACY: Christoph von Dohnanyi is in his final month as music director of the Cleveland Orchestra. He's "had the artistic time of his life in Cleveland, where he achieved remarkable things: uncommon ensemble finesse, arresting performances, adventurous programs, distinguished recordings, a gleaming Severance Hall renovation. Along the way, the Berlin-born conductor experienced a few scuffles with management over artistic control, and he saw his ambitious project to record and to perform Wagner's four-work Ring cycle aborted after the first two operas because of the collapse of the classical recording industry." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 05/05/02

SVETLANOV, DEAD AT 73: Yevgeny Svetlanov, one of Soviet Russia's most-enduring conductors, has died at the age of 73. Russian president Vladimir Putin "wrote in a message to Svetlanov's wife, Nina, that the musician's death was an 'irreplacable loss for all of our culture'." Two years ago Svetlanov was "dismissed from his post conducting the State Symphony Orchestra after Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoi said he was spending too much time conducting overseas." Yahoo News (AP) 05/05/02

WAS SHAKESPEARE GAY? A portrait of one of Shakespeare's patrons has renewed speculation about his sexuality. "The debate over Shakespeare's sexuality is 150 years old and will hardly be resolved by this girlish-looking portrait of Southampton. But the identification of the subject of this painting, described by some British newspapers as 'Southampton in drag,' has reawakened speculation over the possible bisexuality of Shakespeare, who left his wife, Anne Hathaway, in Stratford-Upon-Avon when he moved to London." The New York Times 05/06/02

Sunday May 5

JARVI QUITS DETROIT: Neeme Jarvi, 64, has decided to step down as music director of the Detroit Symphony at the close of the 2004-05 season, leaving a 15-year legacy that will be remembered as one of the orchestra's most important eras. Jarvi - who says he has fully recovered from the ruptured blood vessel he suffered at the base of his brain last July - announced his plans to the orchestra at Thursday's rehearsal at Orchestra Hall." Detroit Free Press 05/03/02

Friday  May 3

HEPPNER RE-EMERGES: Tenor Ben Heppner has been a major star in the past decade. But when he walked out of a recital in Toronto a few months ago, then canceled the rest of his North American tour, he left critics whispering that he was having some major problems with his voice. Perhaps the kind of problems that could end a career. His concert in Seattle this week leaves some of those questions unanswered. "His formal program was only about an hour. He sang few fortissimos and a handful of fortes. High notes were at a strict minimum, and there were few technical challenges. The musical ones were substantial. Good sense dictated those terms. And even at that, there were some tiny, tiny breaks in the voice, an indication he is still not wholly recovered." Seattle Post-Intelligencer 05/02/02

PIPER'S LAMENT: "Adrian Piper arrived at Wellesley College in 1990 with the buzz of a Hollywood It Girl. The New York Times called her ''the artist of the fall season in New York'' for her conceptual art on racism. Her work in Kantian ethics had inspired Wellesley to make her the first African-American woman to become a tenured full professor of philosophy in the United States... But somehow, soon after arriving on campus, the It Girl of academe lost her way." Boston Globe 05/02/02

Wednesday May 1

HIS FRIENDS JUST CALLED HIM 'DOUBLE H': "Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, who died Saturday at age 81 at his home on the northern Mediterranean coast of Spain, was the greatest art collector of the second half of the 20th century." His massive collection of European and American art has been given a permanent home in Madrid. Los Angeles Times 05/01/02

HOW TO ACT LIKE A ROCK STAR ON YOUR BOOK TOUR: His name is Neil Pollack, and he may or may not be fictional. He may or may not be Dave Eggers. (His mother swears he's not.) He may or may not be the most exciting thing to happen to Canadian literature since Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid's Tale. And he most definitely does not care what you or Margaret Atwood or the stuffy old publishing industry thinks about any of it. National Post (Canada) 05/01/02

 

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