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A Travel Blog from the Editors of T+L

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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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Q+A: Spring for Music with Conductor Jacques Lacombe

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This week and through May 12, six North American orchestras arrive in New York to participate in Spring for Music at Carnegie Hall, a festival that celebrates the individuality of musical enterprise, from Alabama to Edmonton, Houston to Milwaukee, and inventiveness and adventurousness in programming.  Audiences get the chance to hear these orchestras, some in Carnegie debuts, at which new music or music, familiar or rare, in new contexts is key.  And the price of these musical adventures: $25 for all seats, regardless of the location in the hall—front row to top balcony. Carnegie’s celebrated acoustics ensure every ensemble will be heard at its best.

I spoke with Jacques Lacombe, music director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra(NJSO),  one of the participants who is traveling the least but which brings one of the widest-ranging programs.

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Randall's Island Hosts NYC's First Frieze Art Fair

The British are Coming…and the Chinese, the French, the Russians, and the Brazilians…
 
The most important contemporary art fair in London is coming to New York this weekend, May 4-7.  Frieze New York will be like no other.  It takes place on Randall’s Island in the East River, housed in a specially commissioned tent designed by SO – Il, a Brooklyn-based architecture and design firm, on a site with spectacular postcard views of the Manhattan skyline.

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Rave Reviews for "Mr. Broadway" and Spring's Best Shows

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Fall is generally considered the beginning of the cultural season, but in April and May there’s a special tingle in the air in New York City.  It could be the warmer temperatures and sunnier, longer days. But for me, the creative energy emanates from new plays and musicals opening on Broadway—the actors, musicians, designers, directors, and producers involved with them—just in time to be considered for various theater honors that culminate with the Tony Awards in June.  
 
Much of what visitors and New Yorkers experience today in the theaters and streets around Times Square is owing to the vision, passion, know-how, and work of Gerald Schoenfeld, the legendary chairman of the Shubert Organization for more than 35 years. His recently published memoir, Mr. Broadway: The Inside Story of the Shuberts, the Shows, and the Stars (Applause Books; $27.99), finished shortly before his death in 2008, is an absorbing page-turner. For those interested in Broadway history, it provides an insider’s view to the world of the fractious Shubert dynasty and the key role it played in theater in the 20th century in New York and beyond.

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Ludovic Morlot talks Seattle Symphony

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French conductor Ludovic Morlot's appointment as music director of the Seattle Symphony is one of the most exciting in the world of classical music. The 38-year-old Morlot has ideas—lots of them—from expanding repertoire to building 21st audiences for live music.  He talks with T+L in this, his first season in Seattle, which began in fall 2011 and included throwing out the first pitch at a Seattle Mariners baseball game. (For more on Seattle, see "Seattle State of Mind" by Gary Shteyngart in the March 2011 issue of Travel + Leisure).

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Composer Mason Bates talks Mass Transmission

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The San Francisco Symphony, with Michael Tilson Thomas its music director, has been celebrating its centennial throughout the 2011-12 season in a special, generous, and, for music-lovers, innovative fashion: first, it invited six of the leading U.S. orchestras to perform before San Francisco audiences, and, now this week (March 27-30) in New York's Carnegie Hall, the SFS brings a festival entitled American Mavericks, which features the music of pioneers of the ever evolving American sound from the 20th and young 21st century: Charles Ives to Meredith Monk, Aaron Copland to Steve Reich, Aaron Copland to John Adams.  Among four premieres is Mass Transmission by 35-year-old composer Mason Bates. T+L talks with Bates about the score, which features electronics, the sonic possibilities of which he has become expert, both as a composer and as DJ Masonic, his alter-ego. See the interview after the jump.

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Holiday Sparkle in NYC: See Elizabeth Taylor's Jewels at Christie's

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New York City sparkles during the holidays but this year it dazzles as never before!  Just around the corner from the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, on display at Christie’s auction house are the jewels, fashion, paintings, and memorabilia that were owned by film star Elizabeth Taylor.  And what an assemblage of bling and color. Here, among almost 300 remarkable pieces of jewelry are 80 iconic diamonds, gemstones, legacy jewels, including the 33.19-carat Elizabeth Taylor Diamond (once known as the Krupp diamond), the legendary pearl La Pérégrina (that belonged to the Spanish royal family), and a spectacular group of emeralds and diamonds—ring, necklace, bracelet, earrings—acquired by Richard Burton and Taylor from Bulgari in Rome around the time they made the movie Cleopatra (1963). Serious jewels.

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Gaultier Exhibit Opens in Dallas

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It might come as a surprise to some that the first exhibition devoted to an appraisal of the career of Jean Paul Gaultier should take place in Dallas, but Dallas is a stylish town (the headquarters of Neiman Marcus) and one of only two U.S. venues for The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk

The show, which just opened at the Dallas Museum of Art (through February 12; dma.org), presents 35 years of chic from the enfant terrible of Paris couture in an innovative—sometimes startling—display that includes 30 mannequins with animated faces and voices, including Gaultier himself, provided by audio-visual projection. Fashion comes alive!

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Q&A: Conductor Anne Manson Talks about a New Multi-National Opera

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Anne Manson, widely admired as a conductor of operatic repertoire that ranges from the Baroque to Philip Glass, leads the cast and orchestra of the Juilliard School in New York in the American premiere of “Kommilitonen!” She speaks to T+L about the unusual work, commissioned jointly by the Royal Academy of Music in London and Julliard.

Q: Peter Maxwell Davies, 77-years-old and considered the dean of British composers (he also holds the royal appointment as Master of the Queen’s music), wrote the score and David Pountney provided the libretto and has staged the work in London and now in New York. What is the work about?

A: It is about students, facing crucial issues at turning points in history: the black student James Meredith who in 1962 fought racial prejudice to enroll in the segregated University of Mississippi; a brother and sister in Munich who joined the White Rose resistance movement in Nazi Germany; and two Chinese students, who swept up in the Cultural Revolution, are compelled to denounce their parents. “Kommilitonen” is German for “fellow students,” by the way.

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