When American Ballet Theatre’s new production of The Nutcracker premieres at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on December 22, audiences will encounter a vision of the holiday classic like no other. The staging—with choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, spectacular sets and costumes by Richard Hudson (well-known for The Lion King and his designs for opera and dance), and Jennifer Tipton’s evocative lighting—follows the ballet’s traditional outline, based on the story by E.T. A. Hoffmann, The Mouse King and the Nutcracker Prince. But it also bursts with fresh dramatic theatricality. Ratmansky creates ballets that are emotionally rich, kinetically responsive to music (and what music: a Tchaikovsky masterwork), full of wit and imagination.
John Singer Sargent may have been the most cosmopolitan American
artist of the nineteenth century (born in Florence, Italy, trained in France,
travels in North Africa, commissions in the United States). One of his most famous paintings, Madame X (1883-84), caused a scandal when first exhibited in Paris because of the
daring sensuality of his depiction of Amélie Gautreau. Today, the portrait hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Half a block from the Met on a quiet Upper East Side street, the Adelson Galleries has organized the revelatory exhibition “Sargent and Impressionism,” on view until December 18.
Let's face it, we've had a long, hot summer. Still, you find yourself thinking "but where has the summer gone?" To stretch out the remaining weeks and re-charge psychic batteries, head to a performance outdoors. There's still time and there's lots to see and hear—music, theater, dance—at festivals across the country. Here are my top picks:
Tanglewood Music Festival (Massachusett) Located in the Berkshires in Lenox, Massachusetts, Tanglewood (through Sept. 5), the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, offers a mini-jazz festival (Sept. 1-5), a performance by Crosby, Stills & Nash (Sept. 1), and conductor David Zinman leading the BSO in Gustav Holst's sweeping The Planets (Aug. 27), among a range of orchestral and chamber music concerts.
One of the biggest names in dance, Mikhail Baryshnikov, is the force behind one of the best-kept secrets in New York City…but not for long. The Baryshnikov Arts Center located on West 37th Street in Hell’s Kitchen, recently opened the Jerome Robbins Theater. The 238-seat, intimate performance for dance, music, and theater (it's also the home of the avant-guard theater company The Wooster Group) is state-of-the-art, ravishing to look at, and, most important, has crystal-clear acoustics and perfect sightlines. Now through May 26, the BAC inaugurates the theater with a remarkable mini-festival, May Nights that will show off the space to advantage.
On Wednesday, April 14, the same day that First Lady Michelle Obama arrived for a two-day visit to Mexico City, drug violence erupted in Acapulco, one of Mexico’s most famous resort cities, 190 miles southwest of the Mexican capital on the Pacific coast. The shootings and murders (six people were killed; five wounded) were startling because they occurred during the day, on the main boulevard of the tourist zone, and three bystanders were victims. However, no tourists were among the casualties and the violence seems to have resulted from a power struggle within a drug cartel operating in Guerrero, the state in which Acapulco is located.
When, in 1989, American William Christie arrived at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) with his France-based vocal and instrumental ensemble Les Arts Florissants a new world opened up for audiences interested in opera, music, dance, theater, and something called "historical performance practice."
Christie and his troupe presented a work that was known—if it was known much at all—from music history books: Atys. It's a French Baroque opera by Jean-Baptiste Lully, who in his career served Louis XIV. Seeing that production it was hard to imagine anything more intensely dramatic, musically vivid, revelatory in its beauty, or vivid in performance. Oh, and did I say, erotic? (Atys is a young man who professes indifference to love, but there’s a nymph who stirs his passions...)
Three museums in European capitals—London, Madrid, Berlin—opened spectacular new galleries this fall/winter. The collections are unrivaled—some of them on view for the first time—and their exhibition design provides visitors with novel perspectives and insights that beg a lingering afternoon.
The holidays have become the traditional time for productions of the Nutcracker. The ballet, through Tchaikovsky’s evocative score, depicts a child’s inner life and imagination—a world transformed by dancing snowflakes and exotic lands of sweets and fantasy. What better time to indulge a bit of fantasy? Here are two, not-to-miss stagings, from the classic to modern interpretations.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York and the country’s most significant cultural complex is getting a makeover. In February, the center unveiled the thoroughly renovated Alice Tully Hall, one of the city’s premier spaces for chamber music. Next month's opening of the Atrium at Lincoln Center offers a first: a visitor center with a box office at which it will be possible to purchase same-day tickets, some at 50 percent discount, to performances presented by Lincoln Center and its resident companies (think TKTS for Lincoln Center, but better—the attractive indoor space has a ‘wichcraft café, free Wi-Fi, and an info desk, among other amenities).
In arts and culture circles, Dallas and Fort Worth have long been highly regarded. Fort Worth has remarkable museums and later this month Dallas adds to its luster when it opens a new performing arts center, touted as the most significant since Lincoln Center. But for anyone who grew up in Dallas-Fort Worth, as I did, amid the symphony orchestras, opera and ballet companies, and distinguished architecture, sports loomed large, and amid the professional sports teams the Dallas Cowboys loomed the largest.
Recently, the Cowboys unveiled a new $ 1.15 billion stadium (above) before a national television audience during the first, regular-season game against the New York Giants (for the record, the New York Giants won). But it may come as a surprise that in addition to the stadium's state-of-the art this and that, including the world's largest HDTV video board, is an art collection. And not kitschy “sports” art but the real thing.