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A Travel Blog from the Editors of T+L

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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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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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