Kansas-reared mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato is the singer of the moment, winning raves for her work on-stage and deep appreciation for her human-rights advocacy off it. Latest success: the New York Times says her performance last night in Rossini’s “La Cenerentola” (Cinderella) was a triumph. Her costar, Mexican singer Javier Camarena, also got high marks. This production will be the Met’s Saturday-afternoon broadcast on May 10th, but I’m not sure that Javier Camarena will be part of it. He only joined the production at the last-minute, stepping in for Juan Diego Florez.
Maybe all those dance shows on television have made little boys less afraid of being tagged the dread “ballet boy” that “Billy Elliot” showed us. Whatever the reason, when Matthew Bourne — best known in the U.S. for choreographing the all-male “Swan Lake” — visits cities in England with his “Lord of the Flies” production, hundreds of local lads swarm to auditions, wanting to be part of it. It’s a little less genteel than “Nutcracker” don’t ya know. “Flies” may buzz over to the U.S. soon.
James Franco just opened on Broadway in “Of Mice and Men” and just opened a major show at New York’s blue-chip Pace Gallery. According to this article, ‘many art world insiders consider actor/serial dilettante Franco’s work nothing more than a joke, though few will admit that for the record, and even then, elliptically. A paparazzi-magnet, Franco’s presence in myriad exhibitions reflects an insecure art world’s seemingly harmless infatuation with celebrity and hunger for validation.’ I can’t get too worked up about Franco’s acceptance in every cultural field of endeavor. The art world has accepted much bigger frauds over the years than Franco: at least he brings people to galleries who’ve never been before. Maybe they’ll return to see something better.
Damon Albarn’s debut solo effort, “Everyday Robots,” hits shelves next week. The world has already heard five songs: the title track, “Lonely Press Play,” the Brian Eno-featuring “Heavy Seas of Love,” “You and Me,” and “Mr. Tembo.” Now, the entire record is available for streaming on iTunes Radio. Find out more here.
I’m beginning to wonder whether Leonardo DiCaprio wants an Oscar. He’s been been nommed five times, always the bridesmaid. Instead of making the liberal-martyr-with-a-death-scene movie that Oscar favors, he keeps being drawn to popcorn fare. And the biopics he does — Steve Jobs may be the next one — aren’t noble enough to win awards. Why doesn’t he do an indie movie or two: that strategy worked for Mr. Matthew Alright Alright, didn’t it? Or has Leo become the new Nicolas “Paycheck” Cage?
Grappling with declining box office income, high labor costs and a shrinking endowment, the Metropolitan Opera has proposed that the chorus singers accept pay cuts of roughly 16 percent, fourfold increases to their health care deductibles and reduced contributions to their pensions. The Met says it must reduce labor costs, which account for two-thirds of its expenses, to stay afloat. It says the proposed changes would mean that the singers, who earned an average of $200,000 each last season, would earn about $170,000. The American Guild of Musical Artists, the union that represents the chorus, says the changes would cut far deeper and has urged the Met to trim what it describes as wasteful spending instead. In other words, are the top executives at the Met also willing to take 16% pay cuts?
Hermione Lee considers a new biography of John Updike: ‘The pathos of past things is one of Updike’s most poignant subjects. Rabbit Angstrom is always listing them as his town changes; and the stories are full of them.’ Further: ‘But, remarkably, this is in general a story of cheerfulness. Updike is mostly happy: happy as a small boy drawing cartoons sprawled on the carpet, happy clowning about to entertain his friends, happy in his sexual freedoms, happy in his country (“America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy”). “He was cheerful by nature,” the biography says…Even in the anguish of marital breakdown, Updike was miserable, but “not too miserable to write.”’