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Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Georges Sand In The Pantheon? In France there's a campaign to get writer Georges Sand reburied in the Pantheon on the 200th anniversary of her birth. "If Sand joins this Gallic dead white men's club - one that nevertheless includes a couple of men of color - she would only be the second woman among the 70-odd people buried there to be admitted 'on her own merits.' The first was the physicist Marie Curie (1867-1934) who was 'panthéonized' in 1995 with her scientist husband Pierre." OpinionJournal.com 01/30/03

Perlman To Go Under The Knife Acclaimed violinist and part-time conductor Itzhak Perlman will be undergoing rotator cuff surgery at a New York hospital in mid-February. Perlman sustained a torn rotator cuff as a result of years of wear and tear from playing the violin, an injury familiar to many musicians. The procedure is a routine one, but the popular soloist will be out of action for at least three months. Detroit Free Press 01/29/03

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Pavarotti To Sing Opera Again Many though Pavcarotti had sung his last opera performance after canceling two performances of "Tosca" at the Metropolitan Opera last May. But he's scheduled another "Tosca" at the Deutsche Oper Berlin next June. The performances are expected to cause a run on tickets, just as they did last May. CNN 01/28/03

Sunday, January 26, 2003

John Browning, 69 American pianist John Browning has died of heart failure. "Mr. Browning maintained an active solo career, if never quite at the most glamorous level, and with the name Cliburn dogging his own in many a review and article. Although he lacked nothing in bravura technique, his pianistic style was reserved, elegant and penetrating, more intellectual than overtly emotional yet eminently approachable." The New York Times 01/27/03

Polarising Wynton Marsalis "At 41, Wynton Marsalis is the most famous living jazz musician, named in 1996 as one of Time magazine's 25 most influential Americans. While many jazz players have been classically trained, he is rare in straddling both worlds professionally." Yet he inspires camps of critics as well as admirers. "While friends cite his charm and humility, others find him dogmatic, and worry about the power of his patronage. Marsalis rails against a 'jazz establishment' as 'racist, ignorant and disrespectful of musicians'."
The Guardian (UK) 01/26/03

Al Hirschfeld, Artist "As an artist, Hirschfeld, who died at 99 on Monday, cared about visual cues: gestures, mannerisms, the way an actress dashed across the stage or cocked her head while he sat in the dark of the theater jotting shorthand impressions to take home and translate into drawings. Call them abstractions of the drama, which became loopy lines, dashes, dots, curlicues and crosshatches. He was a genius at capturing likenesses in a few serendipitous strokes — as good as they got, week after week, since the 1920's, turning the viewing of his work on this page into an American ritual. But what really separates him from other caricaturists is the vitality and suppleness of his line, an abstract matter." The New York Times 01/26/03

Glory To Slava "Rostropovich is a genuine hero of the Soviet era and what followed, having stuck up publicly for his friend Alexander Solzhenitsyn when the wrath of the Kremlin was upon him, and having flown to Moscow from the West in 1991 to support Boris Yeltsin, who at the time was facing down an attempted coup. He has lived his life as though borders and limits to freedom don't exist, which hasn't exempted him from sometimes having to accept that they do. He's also a human cyclone. Rostropovich turns 75 in March."
The Globe & Mail (Canada) 01/25/03

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Bill Viola - Careful Screening "It's been a long journey for Bill Viola, from the small fringe world of video art in the early 1970s to his current position as one of the most highly regarded artists working in any medium, but his odyssey has always been closely tied to the cutting edge of technology." LAWeekly 01/23/03

Rosen Stepping Down From RIAA Hilary Rosen is stepping down as head of the Recording Industry Association of America. Rosen has been the industry's spokesperson in its battle against music downloading. "Rosen's departure comes as the organization sought to soften its image among Internet consumers, many of whom viewed the RIAA and Rosen personally with antipathy over incessant pressure for crackdowns on sharing digital music over the Internet." Wired 01/23/03

  • Who Is She, Anyway? Hilary Rosen is not as naive as you might imagine. In fact, she believes that MP3s are the format of the future, and spends a good deal of time trying to convince record executives of it. What she and the RIAA have been fighting for is a file-sharing method that upholds the profit margins of the industry by communicating to consumers the basic idea that taking music without paying for it is wrong. "But by moralizing the issue... Rosen and her colleagues have failed to grasp the fact that they've already lost. File-sharing has become part of pop culture." Wired 01/23/03

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Rock Star In Tails Back in the 1960s, Thomas Nystrom was the frontman for a nationally known rock band which once opened for the Beatles. These days, Nystrom is a 58-year-old music aficionado who has spent much of his time lately battling colon cancer. But yesterday, the old Minneapolis rocker fulfilled a dream which he swears was every bit as thrilling as opening for the Fab Four. As an audience of friends and relatives clapped, stomped, and cheered, Nystrom mounted a podium at Minneapolis's Orchestra Hall in full tux and tails, picked up a baton, and led his other favorite band, the Minnesota Orchestra. The Star Tribune (Minneapolis) 01/22/03

Norman Mailer At 80 At 80, with a new book out, Norman Mailer is still stuffed with big opinions. "People are always complaining in sports about how much money these athletes get. At least those athletes can answer, `I'm getting that money because I'm the best in my field.' In literature it's exactly the opposite. It's the mediocrities who make the mega-sums. That was always true to a degree, but it's intensified considerably." The New York Times 01/22/03

Monday, January 20, 2003

Top Of His Game - The High-Flying Career Of David Robertson "Whenever an opening appears for the music directorship of a leading American symphony orchestra, 44-year-old David Robertson is invariably mentioned. It's a good time to be an American conductor. The cellist Yo-Yo Ma observes that American classical music is at a moment when 'really interesting leadership' can make an enormous impact on the way classical is played here. Robertson is a passionate, articulate advocate of both old and new music who doesn't, as Ma puts it, see 'culture as a static block'." New York Times Magazine 01/19/03

Al Hirschfeld, 99 His signature drawings of performers from the theatre were instantly recognizeable. "Mr. Hirschfeld was the best-known artist in the world of theater and had won a special Tony — an Antoinette Perry award — as a sign that the theater world welcomed him not only as an observer but also as one of its own." The New York Times 01/20/03

Wynton Marsalis - Lightning Rod Wynton Marsalis is at the top of the jazz world. And his various projects animate the field. "The jazz world should love him, as audiences seem to. In fact, Marsalis seems to provoke equal amounts of admiration and loathing. Those who dislike him say he is a reactionary, holding back the progress of jazz and stifling innovation in his attempts to make jazz respectable and establish a canon of the 'greats'." The Telegraph (UK) 01/20/03

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Mikhail Baryshnikov Talks About His New Arts Center "There should be a kind of discovery of the unexpected here [New York]. After all, this city is the most cosmopolitan of American cities and should be able to attract and display emerging talent. Otherwise, we lose creative artists to countries that are able to fund the arts more generously, and with each loss the inner life of our city is poorer. Just like a person, a city without an artistic life is a pretty dismal thing." The New York Times 01/19/03

Friday, January 17, 2003

Yerba Buena Director Resigns "John Killacky has resigned as director of San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts after six years. Since becoming the Yerba Buena center's executive director in 1997, Killacky has consolidated the institution's local and national reputation as a showcase for adventurous visual and performing arts and for community involvement." San Francisco Chronicle 01/17/03

Fugard Hones In On Writing South African playwright Athol Fugard has been involved in all aspects of theater - as director, as actor, and most important as prlaywright. He used to insist on directing the first production of his new plays. But "starting in June this year, when I turned 70, I made a resolution to stop directing. And a few years ago I decided to stop acting. There's so much I still want to write, so many stories to tell if I'm going to climb into my box at the end - or into my urn, I guess, since I'll be ashes." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 01/17/03

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Getting Used To Stardom Ever since Salvatore Licitra stepped in to fill the shoes of an ailing Luciano Pavarotti at the Metropolitan Opera last year and brought the house down with his powerful tenor, he has been tagged as the Next Tenor. These days, preparing for his Carnegie Hall debut next week, Licitra is starting to adjust to being a star, but thankfully, he's not speaking in cliches yet. He complains that Pavarotti never even called to wish him luck on the night of his unexpected Met debut, and jokes that being a tenor has its downside - all the operatic tenor characters, he insists, are "stupido" or "son of a beetch." New York Post 01/16/03

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Life After Laureate - Quincy Troupe Begins Again Quincy Troupe, who had to resign as California's first Poet Laureate and from his teaching job at the University of California, San Diego last fall after it was discovered he had lied on his resume, has settled into a new life. "I think I did the admirable thing by resigning, but that wasn't enough for some people. They wanted me to bleed. You wouldn't believe the hate mail that I received. The (racial slurs) I was called. I didn't do anything that cost anyone a dime. It wasn't fraud. I didn't do what the people at Enron did. But some people wanted my head." Sacramento Bee 01/15/03

Oberlin Prof To Head Up Smithsonian Division "Sharon F. Patton, a scholar and the director of the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, yesterday was named director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art... The museum was founded by Warren Robbins in 1964 as a small private enterprise on Capitol Hill. Under the Smithsonian mantle, it became part of the largely underground complex of halls near the Smithsonian Castle Building. It has 7,000 objects of traditional and contemporary art, the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives and the Warren M. Robbins Library." Washington Post 01/15/03

Monday, January 13, 2003

Nobel-Winner Mahfouz In Egyptian Hospital Naguib Mahfouz, 91, the first writer in Arabic to win the Nobel prize for literature, is in intensive care in a Cairo hospital. "We took him to hospital with a heavy flu which made his breathing difficult and he was admitted as an emergency to the resuscitation unit. His memory has been a little disturbed by the fever, [but] thank God, he is doing better." BBC 01/13/03

Heppner Returns When last we heard from Ben Heppner, he was walking offstage in the middle of a program complaining of vocal problems. Now he's back, singing a program in Boston. Richard Dyer reports: "The Canadian tenor has emerged from 18 difficult months of vocal problems and cancellations. He has taken charge of his life; he must have dropped 50 pounds since the last time we saw him, and he looks terrific. And it is a relief and a joy to report that the mighty voice is back in full flood. This listener heard only one insecurely supported tone in the program, and it was quiet and in the middle register." Boston Globe 01/13/03

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Love Resigns From Dallas Theatre Edith Love, credited with stabilizing the Dallas Theatre Center's finances as the theatre's managing director, has resigned. "Before the Theater Center hired Ms. Love, it faced a $1.75 million deficit. By the 1999-2000 season, the company was in the black. Though the recent economic slump has caused a drop in donations and cancellation of some productions, the Theater Center's finances have remained stable as the annual budget has grown, from $3.9 million in 1996 to $5.5 million this year." Dallas Morning News 01/12/03

Thursday, January 9, 2003

EMI Legitimizing Old Bootleg Callas Recordings "EMI considers itself the protector of Maria Callas' official recorded heritage. Yet, in November, the company added four complete opera recordings and five recital discs to its Callas Collection, all pirated or quasi-legal releases from smaller labels. Why has EMI put out recordings that, not so long ago, it was trying to suppress? To remain the major player in the Callas market as recordings from the 1950s enter the public domain in Europe, where copyright protection for sound recordings lasts only 50 years. EMI has, in effect, legitimised these recordings, securing the tapes from a furtive independent label that had held them..." The Age (Melbourne) 01/10/03

Heppner Ready For A Comeback It has been a year since Canadian tenor Ben Heppner shocked a Toronto audience by cracking several notes and then calling a halt to his recital mid-aria. Heppner, long considered the most talented operatic tenor in a generation, has spent the last 12 months struggling to find out what it was that caused his voice to suddenly abandon him. He's cagey about specifics, but the answer appears to have been found in the side effects from a medication he was taking. He is scheduled to return to New York's Metropolitan Opera next month. Boston Globe 01/09/02

Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Sachs Steps Down From Running The Frick Samuel Sachs II has announced he's stepping down as director of the Frick Museum after six years there. "A quirky institution known for its stuffy, family-run board, it now attracts nearly 350,000 visitors a year, up 20 percent a year since Mr. Sachs became director. When he arrived, after having run the financially ailing Detroit Institute of Arts for 12 years, Mr. Sachs said his mission was more one of "fine turning" than of making major changes." The New York Times 01/09/03

Jean Kerr, 80 The celebrated playwright Jean Kerr has died of complications from pneumonia at her home in New York state. Kerr, who is best known for penning the collection Please Don't Eat The Daisies, which was later made into a film, also had multiple successes on Broadway, and was admired for her willingness to poke fun at the show business industry. Kerr was 80. Toronto Star 01/08/03

Monday, January 6, 2003

Solzhenitsyn Suffers Stroke? Heart Attack? Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 84, has been in a Moscow hospital since the end of December. He is said to have "spent the past few days there and was 'already feeling better'. Conflicting reports from Russian news agencies had suggested the writer was suffering from - variously - a stroke, hypertension or angina." BBC 01/06/03

The Mahler Man - First Amateur To Conduct The Vienna Phil Gilbert Kaplan has netted a number of firsts in his conducting career. "As well as being the first amateur to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic, Kaplan is also the conductor with the smallest repertoire in history.' Mahler 2nd. "Now 61, he made his conducting debut at the age of 40 with Mahler Two" and he's conducted it 100 times. Now "he is in Vienna for four days to make a recording of the work for Deutsche Grammophon with the orchestra that Mahler himself conducted." The Guardian (UK) 01/07/03

The Auteur's Soap Commercials (Gotta Pay The Rent) What did art filmmaker Ingmar Bergman do in the 1950s when he was short of cash? He made soap commercials. "He had eight children to feed, a long-running strike had paralysed the Swedish film industry, and theatres were closed for the summer. He needed to work. It was inevitable that film historians would track down the missing films..." The Guardian (UK) 01/06/03

Sunday, January 5, 2003

The Greatest Actor Of His Generation? Is Simon Russell Beale the best English actor of his generation? "Ask London theatergoers, critics and his fellow actors, and they will say that he is the finest stage actor of his generation. (He turns 42 next Sunday). In role after role, he has shown a virtuosic range with a depth of feeling that few actors can match, playing kings and common men, Restoration fops and Shakespearean clowns, characters from Chekhov and Ibsen, and even singing in the Leonard Bernstein musical Candide." The New York Times 01/05/03

Don't Break Up Andre Breton A network of latter-day surrealophiles is objecting to the impending sale of surrealist Andre Breton's collections at auction. "While the collection will be preserved on a CD-ROM, the signers of the petition insist that the contents of Breton's jumbled anti-museum make sense "together and only together." They call upon France to establish a permanent place to house this collection which, represents 'the history of a powerful mind, whose creativity, imagination, and moral indignation" were directed toward "the singular possibility of changing life and transforming the world according to the life-affirming movement of desire." Boston Globe 01/05/03

  • Previously: The Surrealist's Library - A Record Surrealist artist Andre Breton's collection of art - to be sold next year - provides "the most complete history of the evolution of an iconoclastic group which opposed all forms of moral and social convention and replaced them by the 'values of dreams, instinct, desire and revolt'." The 400 paintings, 1,500 photographs and 3,500 documents are an invaluable record. The Surrealists "1924 manifesto laid the ground for some of Europe's most devastating artistic quarrels, often turning on a love-hate relationship with Marxism, including Breton's falling out with the communist poet Louis Aragon." The Guardian (UK) 12/28/02
Friday, January 3, 2003

House Of Glass - A New Director Takes Over Smithsonian History Museum This week Brent Glass took over as director of "the third most popular museum in the world - the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. It is not an altogether happy place. But in his 55 years, Glass has developed a well-honed vision of what history is and what that museum can be." Washington Post 01/03/03

Thursday, January 2, 2003

More Than Just The 'Wrapping Artist' A new exhibit at a private estate in Florida is providing a unique look into the process and development of one of the world's best-known and most controversial artists. Christo, the large-scale installation artist who is reportedly in talks to mount a massive work in New York's Central Park, may be best-known for wrapping the Reichstag, but he and his collaborator insist that they are neither one-trick ponies nor cultural commentators. They believe in letting art just be art, even if their work occasionally causes political firestorms. The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 01/02/03

Who Was Shakespeare? The debate over who wrote the plays attributed to William Shakespeare has spawned a cottage industry of conspiracy theorists, with Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, and Queen Elizabeth I all contenders as the ultimate pretender. But some Shakespeare devotees think there's some pretty shoddy detective work behind the drive to discredit the Bard. "For example, elaborate scenarios have to be concocted for the lives of Marlowe, Rutland, Oxford, and Elizabeth I because they all died many years before the final play was written." Boston Globe 01/02/03

Wednesday, January 1, 2003

Trapnell Quits As Guthrie Managing Director Susan Trapnell, who came to Minneapolis' Guthrie Theatre a year ago as managing director, has quit the theatre, citing personal reasons. "By the time the announcement was made Tuesday, Trapnell already had returned to Seattle, where she was executive director of the Seattle Arts Commission and managing director of the nonprofit playhouse A Contemporary Theatre." The Star-Tribune (Minneapolis) 01/01/03

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