Last June, American contemporary-classical composer Nico Muhly, who is barely 30, electrified London audiences with the world premiere of his genre-busting opera Two Boys. That work, a disturbing detective story set in a world of sinister Internet chat rooms, comes to the Metropolitan Opera in 2013. But New York City is getting a chance to sample Muhly’s iconoclastic gifts, with his equally unconventional second opera, Dark Sisters, which currently has its premiere production by the Gotham Chamber Opera (through November 19). Dark Sisters moves next summer to the Opera Company of Philadelphia (June 8-18).
The new piece, which has a libretto by playwright Stephen Karam, follows one woman’s desperate attempts to escape from a polygamist Mormon sect. Fifty Nine Productions, the lighting and projections team responsible for integrating dramatic moving images into the Two Boys staging, creates images that range from stark landscapes of the American southwest to the re-creation of a sensational television news show, studio and telecast feed, side-by-side.
Washington, D.C.: As part of a project that included a three-part HBO documentary and a book, photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’s “Black List” portraits are now showing at the National Portrait Gallery(through April 22).
Bentonville, Arkansas: Until recently, the small town was best known as Walmart’s home base. But that’s all changing with the Moshe Safdie–designed Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art(479/418-5700). Walmart heiress Alice Walton donated much of the collection.
Recently, ukelele crossover star Jake Shimabukuro showed T+L around his hometown of Honolulu. Now, he lands on our turf to perform tracks from his latest album “Peace Love Ukelele” this Tuesday, November 15 at the Highline Ballroom in New York City. 212/414-5994. Don't miss his sweet rendition of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."
Cousins of Afrobeat pioneer, Fela Kuti, The Lijadu Sisters have rhythm in their veins. Twins Taiwo and Kehinde emerged as the primary female voices of Nigeria in the ‘70s, writing and performing their own music and bringing women into the foreground of a largely male-dominated scene. Their 1976 LP Danger is being rereleased this week by Knitting Factory Records, the first of a four-album reissue that will unearth the out-of-print tracks and dust them off for a new generation of music lovers.
As the Dead Sea vies for a spot as one of the New7Wonders of Nature, the biggest archeological discovery it yielded has settled into a temporary new home. Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Biblical Times premiered at New York’s Discovery Times Square on October 28—the same venue that has housed other historic exhibitions like Titanic and King Tut. It marks the most comprehensive collection of ancient artifacts from Israel ever organized in North America, including the oldest known copies of the Hebrew Bible and a scale recreation of part of the Western Wall. With a video feed broadcasting activity at Jerusalem’s iconic Temple Mount, it’s perhaps the closest experience to the religious pilgrimage as one can make without making the 5700+ mile journey.
At London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, “Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970–1990” is a romp through two decades of excess and provocation—and the final installment in a series of seminal blockbuster shows that have included Art Deco, surrealism, and Modernism. The exhibition, curated by Glen Adamson and Jane Pavitt, is the first to cover the postmodern period in depth, tracing the movement’s origins as an architectural style to its influence on pop culture in art, film, graphics, fashion, and music. Expect to see bold colors and patterns, with ample servings of parody and irony. Among the 250 objects on display are the drawings for Philip Johnson’s AT&T building (1984) in New York City; a re-creation of Jenny Holzer’s illuminated billboard Protect Me from What I Want (1983–85); and stage costumes for Annie Lennox, Devo, and David Byrne (his big suit from the 1984 documentary Stop Making Sense). Exhibition surprise: a video room playing New Order’s 1986 single “Bizarre Love Triangle,” the epitome of the aesthetic overload of the eighties—and postmodernism (through Jan. 15, 2012).
The opening of a 15-gallery suite that houses the peerless collection of Islamic art at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art(opens Nov. 1) could not come at a more appropriate geopolitical moment. Filled with 1,200 works of art, from Spain to India, the renovated galleries show the extraordinary diversity, sweep, and influence of 13 centuries of Islamic civilization. Don’t miss the Patti Cadby Birch Court, an interior patio based on a late-medieval Moroccan design meticulously created by craftsmen from Fez.
Silver-screen actors are answering the curtain call. Here, a look at who you’ll see in New York and London this season.
The Star: Frank Langella The Show: Roundabout Theater Company’s Man and Boy, Terence Rattigan’s drama about a ruthless tycoon facing ruin by scandal. The Details:American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St., New York; 212/719-1300; through Nov. 27.
The Stars: Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett The Show:The Mountaintop, centered on the last night of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life. The Details:Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 W. 45th St., New York; 212/239-6200; throughJan. 15.
The Star: Tracey Ullman The Show:My City—the premiere of acclaimed writer/director Stephen Poliakoff’s first play in more than a decade—follows a former teacher and two students from her past. The Details:Almeida Theatre, Almeida St., London; 44-20/7359-4404; through Nov. 5.
The Star: Harry Connick Jr. The Show:On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, a twisted and funny redo of the 1965 musical about reincarnation. The Details:St. James Theatre, 246 W. 44th St., New York; 212/239-6200; opens Dec. 11.
The Stars: Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones The Show:Driving Miss Daisy, the classic tale of friendship between a stubborn old lady and her driver. The Details:Wyndham’s Theatre, 32 Charing Cross Rd., London; 44-844/482-5120; through Dec. 17.
Set your clocks. This fall the world shifts to “Pacific Standard Time,” the festival of exhibitions and performances highlighting southern California’s contribution to American postwar art and design. Involving more than 60 institutions, Pacific Standard Time gives a West Coast perspective to the period from the mid-1940’s to the 1980’s when the U.S. supplanted Europe as the center of the art universe. Highlights: “Crosscurrents in L.A. Paintings and Sculpture 1950–1970” (Oct. 1–Feb. 5, 2012), at the Getty Center, is a survey ranging from the sculpture of Billy Al Bengston and John McCracken to the conceptual Pop of Ed Ruscha and John Baldessari.
“Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960–1980,” at the UCLA Hammer Museum(through Jan. 8, 2012), sheds new light on the dynamism of African-American expression in the turbulent 60’s and 70’s.
The Museum of Contemporary Art explores post-Vietnam political and social upheaval in works by Raymond Pettibon, Bruce Nauman, and others in “Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974–1981” (through Feb. 13, 2012).
“California Design, 1930–1965: Living in a Modern Way” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art(through Mar. 25, 2012) includes furniture and decorative objects that epitomize California style.