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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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Paris Watch: The Seine Gets a Facelift + New Cultural Venue

Cité de la Mode et du Design

The rehabilitation of the quais along the Seine will be completed by this summer (just in time for Paris Plage, which kicks off at the end of July). The Left Bank section, stretching from the Pont Royal to the Pont d’Alma, will open exclusively to pedestrians in June; by the following month, newly installed traffic lights on the Right Bank will make strolling the Seine even safer.

One of this year’s most anticipated openings also takes place on the beloved Parisian river: after a seven-year renovation, the funky green multi-level space known as Dock d’Austerlitz will re-open in late July as the Cité de la Mode et du Design, a center for fashion, design, and all things culture related. Look out for boutiques, restaurants (like MoonRoof on the top floor), fashion shows, museum exhibitions, and even a nightclub run by André Saraiva and Lionel Bensemoun (of the popular Le Baron, Hotel Amour, and Le Montana).

Tina Isaac is Travel + Leisure’s Paris correspondent.

Photo by Hemis / Alamy

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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Best Openings from Around the World

Montreal

From hotel openings to cultural happenings, we’ve got the latest in five buzzing cities.

BARCELONA
Stay: Primero Primera

A stylish boutique hotel in a tucked-away bourgeois barrio alto. Doubles from $255.

Eat: Fábrica Moritz Barcelona
Tapas restaurant set in an old Moritz beer factory and made over by French architect Jean Nouvel. 34/93-426-0050; dinner for two $55.

Do: Museu d’Idees I Invents de Barcelona
A two-story showcase for wacky inventions such as a mop with a microphone. —Suzanne Wales

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Denver Art Museum Hosts Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective

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On display at the Denver Art Museum (DAM) until July 8th is the first exhibition to provide a glimpse into the life and achievement of Yves Saint Laurent, one of the 20th-century's most celebrated fashion designers.

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Rare Russian Photography Featured at FotoFest

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Their faces are the very image of a blank expression. Perched high on a heap of sand, the two beach-going women in Igor Savchenko’s “Untitled (4-90-22)” strike a pretty pose for the close-up. To the photographer, however, their physiognomy means less than zero. Savchenko styles his models not with powder puffs but with razor blades, and he's fed their faces to Glad bags.
 
This scene is one of many stunning images now at the biennial FotoFest, the international photography exhibition—America’s largest—running throughout Houston until April 29.

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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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Gustav Klimt Turns 150, Vienna Celebrates

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“Forest Demon” (“Waldschrat”) was the nickname given to Gustav Klimt by the locals around the Attensee, the lakeside retreat near Vienna where the artist spent summer holidays, tramping through the woods loaded down with painting supplies, when he wasn’t relaxing with his companion Emilie Floge and her family. In glorious landscapes, such as "Farm Garden with Sunflowers" (pictured below), in the collection of Vienna’s Belvedere Museum, he transforms the hot-house sensuality of his better-known portraits and allegorical paintings into a vision of Nature’s mystery, cloaked in a brilliant dream of color and pattern.

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Guide to 2012's World Design Capital: Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland: A21 Dining

A head-to-hand guide to this year’s World Design Capital.

Smell: Lilies and lilacs mingling with the aroma of freshly brewed espresso at the cozy café and flower shop Fleuriste. 13 Uudenmaankatu; 358-40/051-9745.

See: Cutting-edge furniture and light installations at Design Gallery 12 inside the downtown Design Museum, which showcases work from creative up-and-comers. 23 Korkeavuorenkatu; 358-9/622-0540.

Hear: Symphony No. 2 by renowned Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, performed by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra at the recently opened Helsinki Music Center. April 25–26; 13 Mannerheimintie; 358-20/707-0400.

Touch: Silk sundresses and feather-print tunics from local fashion house Ivana Helsinki at its flagship store. 15 Uudenmaankatu; 358-50/505-1624.

Taste: Foraged meadow herbs with elderflower vinaigrette and cloudberry-glazed wild boar at A21 Dining, the city’s latest hot spot, or a basil-and-rhubarb martini at its chic neighboring cocktail bar. 17 Kalevankatu; 358-40/171-1117; dinner for two $105.

Photo courtesy of A21

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