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A Travel Blog from the Editors of T+L

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NYC Hoedown: American Ballet Theatre Celebrates "Rodeo"

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When American Ballet Theatre revives this week at New York City Center its production of Rodeo, it celebrates the 70th anniversary of a milestone: the first truly American ballet, with an evocative score by Aaron Copland, painterly sets by Oliver Smith, and the groundbreaking choreography of Agnes de Mille. De Mille’s dance combined classical ballet with Broadway and popular styles, including square dance, pantomime (cowboys ride imaginary horses and rope cattle), and an exuberant tap dance solo.

Tap dance in ballet?  In this Western love story, where a cowgirl falls in love with a champion roper who dazzles with a tap tour de force—de Mille’s novel use of tap dance was and remains a showstopper.  And in a lead up to the ABT’s performances of the landmark Rodeo, ABT dancers, including Craig Salstein, who performs the role of the champion roper, gave tap dance lessons to 100 New York City public school children at South Street Seaport.

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Fearsome Faces and "Cuddle on the Tightrope" in Texas

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One of the cultural highlights in London this spring was the exhibition Lucien Freud: Portraits, which encompassed seven decades of the work of one of the most important artists of the twentieth century, and arguably the greatest postwar portraitist.  Happily for American travelers, the show, organized by the National Portrait Gallery, London, and the Modern Art Museum Fort Worth, opened last month in Texas—its only other venue—and is on view through late October.  

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Stresa: Italy's Best Kept Musical Secret

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Just as most summer music festivals are winding down in the United States and abroad, the Stresa Festival at Lake Maggiore, set on the southern banks of the Italian Alps kicks into high gear.  The festival runs a fortnight, August 24-September 8, and although this year marks its 51st season, the Settimane Musicali di Stresa may still be one of the best-kept secrets in the music world. But not for long.

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Mozart Takes Wing at New York’s Lincoln Center

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Mostly Mozart, the 46-year-old summer festival at New York City’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, is in full swing and more vibrant than ever.  Significantly, this year’s edition marks the tenth anniversary season of French conductor Louis Langrée as music director who, along with Jane Moss, artistic director, has been responsible for revitalizing Mostly Mozart, in particular, its heartbeat, the festival orchestra. He's credited with raising its playing standards and adding inventive programming that features soloists, both established and debut artists, period instrument bands, and contemporary music ensembles.

Year to year, the mix may include dance, sound installations, film, video.  This year, Mostly Mozart takes up the theme of birds, “the originators of song and an inspiration for countless composers,” according to Moss, as a point of departure for a range of programming.  Indeed, in the age of twitter, birdsong may never sound as pure.  T+L spoke with Louis Langrée earlier in the season during a stopover in New York en route to Paris about Mostly Mozart, a conductor’s role, American audiences, and why the festival remains popular with travelers and New Yorkers alike.

Q: What are your thoughts on your 10th anniversary? 

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75 Years of Tanglewood In Your Ear

201208-b-leonard-bernstein-tanglewoodjpgAs part of its 75th anniversary season, Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra located in Western Massachusetts, is celebrating in grand and generous style by offering an extraordinary gift to listeners: the Tanglewood festival and the BSO is presenting 75 free digital streams of performances from a storied 75-year history and unique audio archive.  One stream is offered each day of the season (through September 2) at Tanglewood.org.  The daily gratis performance is available starting at 8 a.m. EST for 24 hours; after the stream has ended, listeners can purchase it as a download.  What’s more, you can listen at a desktop computer, through a home music system, or mobile device—all you need is internet access.

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The Arts Invade Aix-en-Provence

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Few places are as evocative as Provence in the summer and among its many festivals, two claim special distinction: Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and Les Rencontres d’Arles Photographie.

The Aix-en-Provence Festival, which runs through the end of July, presents new opera productions of established repertoire, neglected works, and premieres—all within the span of a month.

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Gold Fever: London Debuts Once-in-a-Lifetime Exhibit

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There may be few places as exciting as London this summer.  First, there is that small, international sports event known as the Olympics, starting in late July.  Second, the London 2012 Festival, an olympiad of arts and culture of unprecedented scale—more than 25,000 artists from all 204 competing Olympic nations participating in 12,000 events and performances throughout the UK—spans the period June 21 to September 9 and involves the widest range of music, theater, dance, art, film, and then some. 

And while the Queen's jubilee year hovers over all these proceedings like a benevolent as well as royal presence, perhaps the most spectacular show in town is at the Goldsmith's Hall, a magnificent, neoclassical palazzo, northeast of St. Paul's Cathedral, where "Gold: Power and Allure, 4,500 Years of Gold Treasures from Across Britain" (through July 28) offers visitors a dazzling opportunity to consider the beauty and this most fabled, precious metal.

David Lamb, the managing director of the World Gold Council, gives T+L an overview of the splendid display:

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The Barnes Foundation Opens its New Philadelphia Home

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The new campus of the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia represents, simply put, a game changer for what a museum can be, the experience of art, and role architecture plays in both. It is also a game changer for Philadelphia, at a moment of splendid cultural renaissance.

When it opens to the public on Saturday, May 19th, visitors will find the celebrated collection displayed in a series of galleries that preserve the scale, proportion, and configuration of the original institution in Lower Merion (located in suburban Philadelphia), but now placed in a larger setting that invites contemplation and offers many pleasures.

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Q+A: Screen and Stage Actor Leslie Odom Jr.

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What do the Broadway musical, Leap of Faith, about a charlatan preacher; the NBC musical drama Smash, revolving around the intrigue and egos of the creative types working on a musical about Marilyn Monroe; and the Princess Grace Foundation have in common?  The actor Leslie Odom, Jr. Odom, who has received praise and award nominations for his role as Isaiah, the antagonist to Raúl Esparaza’s con man-of-the-cloth in Leap of Faith, has a continuing role on Smash, and has won a Princess Grace Award for Acting.
 
T+L spoke with the multitalented actor about the stage, screens both big and small, and dancing his butt off in New York.

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Q+A: Billy Budd star Nathan Gunn talks travel and music

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The dashing American baritone Nathan Gunn is currently starring in Billy Budd in the landmark production by John Dexter at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Benjamin Britten’s opera, based on the novella by Herman Melville, revolves around the clash of good and evil embodied in the young, charismatic sailor Billy Budd and the malevolent master-of-arms John Claggart.  The Met’s staging of this gripping work of 20th-century music theater, with Britten’s evocative music, was last revived 15 years ago. Gunn talks to T+L about the role, his life as a singer, and the essential part travel plays in it.

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