People

Jessye Norman On How To Deal With Critics

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“Oh, they might write it, but, darling, I don’t read it. I don’t need it. I know whether or not I have done onstage what I intended to do that night. … And if it doesn’t suit somebody who is sitting there, not having paid for their ticket to be there, and they find it not to their liking – what does it matter? Who are they?” (video)

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A Remarkable Career: Soprano Magda Olivero Dies At 104

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The spell she cast could win over even skeptics like Schonberg, who began his review of her now-legendary Met debut by inexplicably claiming, “It wasn’t Magda Olivero’s evening, as it turned out.” But he then went on to aver, “It was history come to life last night, as the soprano, despite her age, gave us a feminine, fiery, utterly convincing Tosca.”

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The Intense Confluence Of Fashion And Art In New York (And In One Designer)

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“I like to consider the intersection between subverting personal style, fashion-as-branding and artistry. Technically speaking I work with a lot of color and patterns — mostly that’s a personal preference — but I also think that color and humor are great tools for sticking it to the man; which is ultimately what I’m trying to do.”

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Why Leonard Bernstein Still Grabs Hold Of Our Imaginations

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“It turns out Lenny was truly great after all: one of the biggest, most colorful, most popular and recognizable figures in American classical music. And posterity shows no signs of abandoning him. Recording catalogues and publishers’ lists are as full as ever of his recordings, DVDs and Bernstein-related publications.”

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Karl Miller, 83, Founding Editor Of London Review Of Books

Karl Miller literary critic

“After stints as literary editor of both the Spectator and the New Statesman, Miller co-founded the London Review of Books in 1979, editing it until 1992 and, according to an essay by his former colleague Andrew O’Hagan, once correcting the great Seamus Heaney, a long-time friend of his.”

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Hilary Mantel Is Not An Assassin, She’s A Fiction Writer, Okay?

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“Lest Americans think we have cornered the market on boneheaded, reductive and entirely symbolic political arguments, the British are currently discussing whether Hilary Mantel – the two-time Booker Prize-winning author of Wolf Hall – ought to be investigated for fantasizing about killing a dead woman.”

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Remembering The Remarkable Christopher Hogwood

Chrisopher Hogwood, conductor

“Hogwood’s scholarship, symbiotically related to his performances, is just as important as his music-making, and he leaves an outstanding legacy of books, articles, and lectures that are required reading and listening for anyone interested in Handel, Haydn, or the wider story of how music relates to social and cultural contexts from the baroque to the 21st century. To talk to Hogwood was to encounter a mind and personality of inspirational perspicacity, intellectual clarity, and delicately mischievous wit.”

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Conductor Christopher Hogwood Dies At 73

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“Hogwood worked with many leading orchestras around the world and was considered one of the most influential exponents of the early-music movement. The conductor founded the Academy of Ancient Music (AAM) in 1973 and directed the academy across six continents for some 30 years.”

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Kenny Wheeler, Jazz Trumpeter And Composer, Dead At 84

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“Wheeler’s ECM albums of the Seventies – recorded with Norma Winstone and John Taylor – remain a touchstone of quiet and unflamboyant ensemble playing. Wheeler, also a flugelhorn player, was a fine composer, as he showed in works such as Jigsaw, with its clever harmonic patterns.”

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The Most Unusual College President In America

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“Over the course of nearly forty years, [Leon] Botstein – a historian, writer, and conductor – has built Bard in his own polymath image,” revamping the curriculum, packing the faculty with well-known intellectuals, founding alternative high schools, operating degree programs in prisons … Everything but running sports programs and hitting alumni up for money, the way normal college presidents do.

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Actress Polly Bergen, 84

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“A brunette beauty with a warm, sultry singing voice, Bergen was a household name from her 20s onward. She made albums and played leading roles in films, stage musicals and TV dramas. She also hosted her own variety series, was a popular game show panelist, and founded a thriving beauty products company that bore her name.”

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Alastair Reid, 88, Poet, Essayist, Translator

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“In his poetry, he was perhaps best known for his anthologised poem ‘Scotland’, which concludes ‘We’ll pay for it, we’ll pay for it, we’ll pay for it!’ and he was renowned as a fine essayist” who wrote for The New Yorker for 40 years.

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Wonder Woman – And The Man Who Created Her

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“It isn’t only that Wonder Woman’s backstory is taken from feminist utopian fiction. It’s that, in creating Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston was profoundly influenced by early-twentieth-century suffragists, feminists, and birth-control advocates and that, shockingly, Wonder Woman was inspired by Margaret Sanger, who, hidden from the world, was a member of Marston’s family.”

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Ai WeiWei’s Dissident Prison (Alcatraz)

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“Given Mr. Ai’s sharp critiques of the Chinese government and the tireless campaigning for freedom of expression that led to his own imprisonment in 2011, he could have included himself in the group portrait. He did not.”

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Alison Bechdel’s Excellent, Wonderful Year

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She got a fellowship to an artists’ retreat in Italy; the play based on her memoir Fun Home won rafts of award nominations, was a Pulitzer finalist, and became a minor cause célèbre in South Carolina; the “Bechdel test” became common currency in movie circles – and then she got a MacArthur award. (includes video)

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2014 MacArthur Fellows Include Alison Bechdel, Joshua Oppenheimer, Samuel D. Hunter, Terrance Hayes, And A Poetry Translator(!)

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Cartoonist/graphic memoirist Bechdel (Fun Home), Oscar-nominated documentarian Oppenheimer (The Act of Killing), playwright Hunter (The Whale), poet Hayes (Lighthead, Arabic poetry translator Khaled Mattawa, jazz saxophonist/composer Steve Coleman, artist/Project Row Houses founder Rick Lowe, nd their fellow “geniuses” win five-year, $625,000 grants.

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“Three Tenors” Impresario Tibor Rudas Dead At 94

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The former opera singer and Holocaust survivor “made a name for himself in the United States by bringing Las Vegas-style brio to performances by highbrow artists. He presented the New York Philharmonic in an Atlantic City casino and produced large outdoor concerts for other classical artists at the Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Super Dome and other unconventional venues.”

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Kevin Kline Has Issues With Authority (And That Includes Maggie Smith)

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Just for instance, when he played Hamlet for Liviu Ciulei, he recounts, “The first day’s rehearsal, I picked up a chair and moved it a few feet, and he said, ‘No, no, Hamlet would never do that, he’d never move a chair himself, because he’s a prince.’ I said, ‘I’m the prince, I can do whatever I want.'” The next time he played Hamlet, he directed himself.

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Emma Thompson Is Having None Of This 50-Is-The-New-35 Business

Emma Thompson as solicitor Gareth Peirce in 1993's In The Name Of The Father

“Can I just say, very loudly, bollocks. If you look after yourself and you’re healthy, then you’ll have the energy to do things. But not to recognise getting older for what it is? I do think the infantilisation of our generation is one of the huge issues of our time. People wanting to be 35 when they’re 50 makes me think: why? Why don’t you be 50 and be good at that?”

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We Just Can’t Let Go Of Scott And Zelda Fitzgerald

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Adam Gopnik: “Second acts there may or may not be, but American epilogues go on forever. Scott and Zelda’s friends from the Jazz Age would doubtless have spit up into their morning coffee – or, more likely, into teacups filled with bathtub gin – to find the pair, almost a century after their meeting, not a poignant footnote to an ill-named time but an enduring legend of the West, a subject adaptable for movies and novels and probably paper dolls and ice shows.”

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Joe Sample, Pianist Of The Jazz Crusaders, Dead At 75

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“The Jazz Crusaders, who played the muscular, bluesy variation on bebop known as hard bop, had their roots in Houston, where Mr. Sample, the tenor saxophonist Wilton Felder and the drummer Nesbert Hooper (better known by the self-explanatory first name Stix) began performing together as the Swingsters while in high school.”

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For A Hard-working Actress, Finally A Chance At The Bronze Ring

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“Her characters often serve to ‘hold up the wall’ of the narrative, she said, like the empathetic best friend in ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ or the kindly stranger in ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.’ Or the kindly mental-institution psychiatrist in ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story,’ the kindly rape-treatment counselor in ‘Trust’ or the kindly medium in ‘Beautiful Creatures.'”

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