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A Travel Blog from the Editors of T+L

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Vail International Dance Festival Celebrates 25th Anniversary

This week marks the 25th Anniversary of the Vail International Dance Festival in Colorado, renowned as a showcase for diversity: from ballet masterpieces, to new work by established and emerging choreographers, and dancers and companies from New York City to Seattle and beyond. It is also a place of experimentation: traditional dance styles can blend with novel forms of movement, often with eye-popping results. Prime example: Charles “Lil Buck” Riley, whose cross-pollination of the Memphis-born jookin' street dance and classical ballet has gained him worldwide acclaim.

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Santa Fe International Folk Market Showcases 170 Artists from 50 Countries

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Santa Fe, New Mexico is known and loved for many reasons: as a hiking and ski destination, for its cultural scene, from galleries to the acclaimed Santa Fe Opera, and a range of delicious cuisines. Less well-known—but not for long—is the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this weekend and is extraordinary in its breadth and mission.  Why?  It brings 170 artists and artisans of fine craft from more than 50 countries to New Mexico to display their creations:carved horn jewelry from Peru, felt and muslin shawls from Kyrgyzstan, paper kites from Japan, embellished leather saddles from the Republic of Tuva (Russia), woven silk scarves from Madagascar, embroidered clothing, textiles, jewelry, pottery and ceramics from every continent, except Antarctica.

In addition to being the largest folk art market in the world, it provides the opportunity for artists to sell their work (they retain 90% of the proceeds), which in many cases provides the primary support for families at home and even sustains entire communities.  What’s more, as a showcase for artisans and their work, the Folk Art Market has become a catalyst for the preservation of creative tradition, some of which would surely have been lost without exposure and economic incentive.  The world is a more beautiful place because of it.


Mario R. Mercado is arts editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo © Marcella Echavarria. All rights reserved.

 

Organists Compete in Philadephia's Longwood Gardens

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Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, near Philadelphia and equidistant from Washington, D.C. and New York City, is one of the world's spectacular botanical parks, with more than 1,000 acres of woodlands, gardens, flowers, and fountains.  Vibrant in all four seasons, Longwood takes on a particular hue in summer with a concert season that features performers ranging from Lyle Lovett to Tony Bennett to the Philadelphia Orchestra.   In a grand ballroom, it also houses one of the world's largest concert organs with more than 10,000 pipes (music was a passion of Pierre S. du Pont, whose family legacy supports the gardens) that give full aural dimension to grand 19th and 20th symphonic organ music.

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Q+A with Founder of Adventures in Art

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This month and next, art—Old Masters to Impressionists to contemporary—is on the auction block at the major auction houses, including Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Bonhams, in New York, London, and beyond. They coincide with art fairs, Frieze New York, Art Basel in Switzerland (June 13-16), and the granddaddy of all international art exhibitions, the Venice Biennale (June 1-November 24)). T+L spoke with Karen Stone Talwar, founder of Adventures in Art, about this high season for art and what it means for the traveler.

Q: What is the allure of the art sales?
A: First, admission to the previews at the auction houses is free, and second, although the viewings take place during five to eight days, they often offer the only opportunity to see works that have been in private collections and likely little exhibited.  Depending on the purchaser they may never be lent for public exhibition.  So this could be your once-in-a-lifetime chance to see that rare Picasso, just as it is for the collectors, gallery owners, and museum directors.

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Rite of Spring Redux: 100 Years of a Stravinsky Masterpiece

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One hundred years ago on May 29, 1913, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring exploded onto the European scene in a celebrated, riotous premiere at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris. Ever since, dance companies have taken up the challenge to stage a work that captures the power and the sweep of Stravinsky’s revolutionary masterpiece. 

On the day of the centennial anniversary, May 29, 2013, the Richmond Ballet, as part of the Virginia Arts Festival, presents the Rite, in Salvatore Aiello’s sensual staging. While in Paris, the Mariinsky Ballet returns to the scene of the crime, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, with a reconstruction of the imagined, original production, choreography and décor newly realized by Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer.

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World's Piano Virtuosos Head to Texas

Every four years, 30 of the most talented musicians from around the world arrive in Fort Worth, Texas to participate in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, May 24-June 9.  The young pianists, whose ages range from 19 to 30 and hail from Russia, Poland, Italy, Chile, China, and the U.S., among other countries, are gifted, of course, armed with prodigious technique, and musical personalities that belie their years.  They also possess the energy of thoroughbreds.

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Who is the Opera Singer in Your Neighborhood? Isabel Leonard Meets "Sesame Street"

The mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard makes her role debut as Blanche de la Force in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Dialogues of the Carmelites, May 4-11. Francis Poulenc’s opera, the gripping story of a convent of nuns caught up in the tumult of the French Revolution, returns to the MET for three performances in John Dexter’s landmark staging, led by conductor Louis Langrée. 

Ms. Leonard, recently won the prestigious Richard Tucker Award, has also just made her debut on Sesame Street. She takes time from rehearsals at the MET to speak with T+L.
 
Tell us about your appearances in Sesame Street. Since it is filmed in New York, I suppose it didn’t involve travel.

It actually involved a bit of travel. Last summer, I was in Glyndebourne, the opera festival in England, when the MET called to say that Sesame Street was planning a segment called People in Your Neighborhood, with Murray the Monster and Ovejita, the bilingual lamb character who speaks Spanish, and asked if I would interested in appearing on the program. I said I would be there in a heartbeat, even if I were on the moon! On a Thursday morning, I went to rehearsal at Glyndebourne, got on a plane that night from London, flew to New York and made it home around one in the morning. The next day, I got up and ran errands like any New Yorker, then went to the MET, put on my costume as Rosina from Barber of Seville, and to the shoot with the Muppets. We finished around 7 pm. I rushed to the airport, made my plane, and was back in rehearsal in Englandby the following afternoon.

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Q+A: Mikko Nissinen, Artistic Director of the Boston Ballet

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Throughout the United States, the holidays is the season for the Nutcracker ballet. T+L spoke with Mikko Nissinen, the Finnish artistic director of the Boston Ballet and its new–and spectacular–production.

Q: Is this your first production of the Nutcracker in Boston?

A:  No, when I came to Boston, I inherited an extravaganza that had contributions from seven choreographers! There is such a thing as too many cooks in the kitchen. So I started to narrow down the production. I staged the first act, the second act, the Land of Sweets, was by another choreographer. For our new Nutcracker, I have staged the entire ballet, both acts.

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Q+A: Gloria Guevara, Secretary of Tourism, Mexico

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T+L spoke with Gloria Guevara, Mexico's Secretary of Tourism, in the closing days of the administration of Felipe Calderón, in whose cabinet she served, and days before the end of the cycle of the Mayan calendar and the beginning of a new era.

Q: Mexico is the number one international destination for U.S. travelers.  In fact, it has grown by record numbers in 2011 and is on track to exceed these figures in 2012.  To what do you attribute the growth?

A: Yes, in 2011, we had a record number of international visitors, 23.4 million.  Of these, 10.1 flew into Mexico, and of those 5.7 were from the United States.  First, I would have to say that the increase is due to an increased interest and appreciation in Mexico, that is, in the richness of the destination: the natural landscape, from Baja California to the Yucatán, our beaches and colonial cities, history, arts and culture, cuisine, and, of course, the hospitality of our people.  But the growth in tourism also is a result of the creation, and for the first time, of an overall tourism business plan.

Q: Tell us about the plan.

A: President Calderón dedicated one full year, 2011, to tourism, to building the foundation of an integrated tourism plan and strategy, involving federal, state, and local governments, as well as the private sector and enterprise. This overall plan was unprecedented, involved major investment, increased budgets for infrastructure–several billion dollars alone spent on airports, railroads, and highways in the past five years–to marketing. We diversified our product, developing various segments, including multi-faceted cultural and adventure and eco-tourism programs, in addition to the ever popular sun and beach segment.  And a part of our strategy also involved diversifying our outreach to foreign nationalities.

Q: From which countries come the largest number of your visitors?

A: First, the United States, then Canada, which has grown significantly, the UK, Spain, and Argentina.  However, in a close sixth place is Brazil.  And some months, Brazil moves into fifth place.  Overall, we have visitors from more than 130 countries. And notably an increase by more than 87 percent so far this year compared to last from Russia.  There is a direct flight from Moscow to Cancún but Russian tourists travel everywhere from the Copper Canyon in the state of Chihuahua in the north of the country, where I encountered a group, to Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast, and Mexico City, of course.  Also, the Russians spend on average $1,000 per person per day, which is very high.

Q: Are there new destinations on the horizon?

A:  Yes.  As you know, Cancún, was the initiative of Fonatur, one of the arms of the ministry of tourism.  Prior to its development, nothing existed there.  We have developed others, notably Los Cabos and Huatulco.  All are known as fully-integrated centers.  The new development is Playa Espiritú on Mexico's Pacific coast, approximately 80 kilometers south of Mazatlán.  The plan would be for it ultimately to be twice the size of Cancún in terms of hotel rooms, with approximately 44,000.  It would include a marina and golf.  We are in the process of building the infrastructure and we are including all the experience we have gained from the other developments so that Espiritú is 100% sustainable.

Q: Traditional Mexico cuisine was recently designated by UNESCO to its list of intangible cultural heritage or cultural treasure.  Along with the traditional French gastronomic meal, this citation represented the first time UNESCO considered food.  What does this signify?  

A: As part of the declaration, we completed a data base and were able to determine that there exist at least 1,500 traditional dishes, which speaks to the diversity of the foods as well as the forms of cooking. Partly as a consequence, we have developed 18 gastronomical routes, which can take the traveler throughout the country, allowing them to try various specialties, learn to cook some of them, and visit cultural sites along the way.  Particularly interesting are the cocinas tradicionales of the indigenous people in Michoacán, tied to the Day of the Dead celebrations.  The UNESCO designation offers a great opportunity for us to share what we have.  There are seven different levels of Mexican cuisine, the most sophisticated and difficult to prepare involves ingredients that are not found outside of the country.  Like the notion of terroir and French wine, the ingredients depend on the type of soil—and certain foods and ingredients grow only in Mexico.

mmpng Mario R. Mercado is arts editor at Travel + Leisure.

British Composer Thomas Adès Takes New York by Storm

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One of the most highly anticipated events of the New York cultural season—The Tempest by British composer Thomas Adès—blows onto the stage of the Metropolitan Opera this week.  The work, based on the Shakespeare play about betrayal, retribution, and the redeeming power of love, had its premiere in 2004 at London’s Royal Opera House and garnered for the 32-year-old Adès critical acclaim and popular success. Since then, the contemporary work has made a strong bid for a place in the operatic repertoire, and after productions in Germany and the American premiere by the Santa Fe OperaThe Tempest arrives in New York, in a staging by Robert Lepage.

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