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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
Late August has been eventful along the East Coast -- the rumbling of an earthquake, hurricane Irene and the aftermath -- yet beautiful weather has returned and with it come some last opportunities for summer culture. Top of the list: the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival that celebrates its 25th anniversary with a final performance of Hamlet and The Comedy of Errors this weekend. To this pairing, the company offers Around the World in 80 Days (Friday, Sept. 2), ingeniously staged by Christopher V. Edwards with five actors playing 39 roles! The global romp, witty and droll, brings the range of characters to England, India, China in varied modes of 19th-century transport: steamship, train, elephant.
During the 2010-11 season, cultural exchange between the United States and Cuba has demonstrated marked achievements. Last fall, musicians from Jazz at Lincoln Center and the dancers of American Ballet Theatre performed in front of packed Cuban audiences and offered master classes to gifted, young Cuban performers (the New York Philharmonic is planning a visit). On our shores, the electrifying musicians and dancers Los Muñequitos de Matanzas are winding up a month-long, 16-city American tour that began in Seattle in early April and concludes in New York City (May 5-7) and Purchase, New York (May 8).