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Fame Is A Boomerang

Jun 7, 2017

As far as flashy, oversize coffee table books go, opera star Maria Callas is a fitting subject. A larger-than-life figure, she had a complicated off-stage story that played out with as much searing drama as the operas she sang. With hard work and sacrifice, Callas vaulted to the top of her art while pushing it to new levels of intensity. In her personal life, she searched for love, found it, then lost it and died young.

Concert pianist Simone Dinnerstein has shared her love of classical music with children across America.

Now she’s working with a youth orchestra in Havana, after a highly unusual recording session.

What’s it like to play Mozart, after midnight? And could American-Cuban cultural exchanges like this continue

if the Trump Administration reinstates travel restrictions between America and Cuba? We’ll discuss.

GUESTS

Simone Dinnerstein, Concert pianist

Objects in the Mirror, a new play from American playwright Charles Smith, seems ripped from the headlines. It's about a young man who escapes war-torn Liberia only to confront new dangers and an identity crisis in Australia, the country where he found shelter.

Westminster Choir College Professor James Jordan presents some of the recent research about the science of the human voice and how it can be applied to choral singing and teaching in the new book, The Anatomy of Tone, written together with some of his colleagues, and this week on A Tempo (Saturday 7 pm), host Rachel Katz will chat with him about some of these findings. Jordan will also discuss two of his other upcoming books - The Conductor as Prism, and Inside the Choral Rehearsal.

The much admired movie Groundhog Day is now a musical on Broadway, starring the magnetic Andy Karl. Hear theater critic Howard Shapiro's review this week on “In a Broadway Minute”. 

On a sidewalk in the Village in downtown Manhattan, an African-American woman leans on her elbows and knees, wearing only black underpants. Scrawled in black marker all over her body are the words "Ain't I a Woman?"

Across the street, another woman lies face down, sunbathing on a large sheet of tinfoil. The sentence "White Supremacy Is Terrorism" is inked across her white skin, which is turning pink under the hot sun.

Nearby, a young, black man is kneeling. His body is wrapped in duct tape inscribed with the phrase "Black People Die in Public."

It all started when a director and producer from a tiny theater in Portland, Ore., posted a message on Facebook; he was outraged that the Edward Albee estate wouldn't grant him rights to produce Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? because he'd cast a black actor in one of the roles. His post went viral, and a firestorm ensued.

For many people, New Orleans is practically synonymous with jazz; it's the birthplace of both the music and many of its leading lights, from Louis Armstrong to Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah. But now, one organization is working to draw attention to the city's history of opera music.

When Linda Grenis was diagnosed with breast cancer, one of the things that kept her going following surgery and through treatment was her yoga class. 

Two and a half years later, Grenis stands in tree pose on a yoga mat midstage with several dancers from Roxey Ballet, re-enacting that experience through music in an upcoming production of We Vs C: Personal Stories of Triumph, which weaves together the words, stories and emotions of 22 survivors through music, art and dance.

Kevin Kline is starring in the revival of Noel Coward's comedy Present Laughter on Broadway, the first time he's performing there in 10 years. Theater critic Howard Shapiro reviews the production this week on In a Broadway Minute.

How is this for a first day on the job: Maurice Murphy, the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO)'s late principal trumpet player, spent his very first day with the orchestra recording Star Wars' iconic opening theme, with its incredible brass fanfare — and Murphy leading the trumpets.

In the early 1920s, before he became an icon of the American songbook, composer Cole Porter wrote the score for a protest ballet. The production, called Within the Quota, criticized restrictive immigration laws that had been passed by Congress. According to Princeton music professor Simon Morrison, who rediscovered the score two years ago in Yale's Porter archives, the show opened in New York at a time of fearful backlash against Polish, Greek and Australian immigrants arriving in the U.S.

Dina Merrill was born Nedenia Marjorie Hutton on Dec. 9, 1923, into a life of high society.

Her father was Wall Street broker E.F. Hutton and her mother was cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post. Her parents divorced when she was 10 years old.

A 2010 exhibit at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco showcased precious pieces that the French jeweler Cartier made for America's mega-rich.

Vee Popat

Performers from 15 US high school jazz ensembles, and one from Cuba, came together last weekend to share performances and learn from mentors during Jazz at Lincoln Center's Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Competition and Festival. Among those bands coming out at the top was Newark Academy's (Livingston, NJ) Chameleon big band, which received honorable mention. The band was also honored for Outstanding Rhythm Section and Outstanding Reed Section, and several of its musicians received individual recognition.

When John Luther Adams won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2014 for his undulating orchestral piece Become Ocean, you'd be forgiven for thinking of him as something like the Jacques Cousteau of contemporary classical music.

In an unusual arrangement, Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon are trading roles each performance in the Broadway revival of Lillian Hellman's classic play, The Little Foxes. Hear Theater Critic Howard Shapiro's review.

Ask some actors about their dream role, and they're likely to offer range of answers: a character from Shakespeare, a superhero, the lead in Phantom of the Opera. As for Daniel Dae Kim, a Korean-American actor who has had roles in Lost, Crash and most recently Hawaii Five-0, his dream is to play a romantic lead. Any romantic lead.

When Josh Groban takes his final bow in Broadway's Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812, he'll leave some very big shoes to fill. Fans of the multiplatinum-selling recording artist have flocked to see him in this exuberantly offbeat musical, which is based on a section of the Russian novel War and Peace.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Music schools and conservatories face constant challenges, from attracting students and offering relevant curricula to seeking out funding to support their endeavors. This week on A Tempo (5/13), host Rachel Katz takes a look at an upcoming leadership conference sponsored by the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, featuring a roundtable with some of the conference participants: Jamal J.

Reading, Pennsylvania, is the setting for Lynn Nottage’s new Broadway play 'Sweat,' which looks at the hits factory towns and their residents have taken as manufacturing moves out. Hear theater critic Howard Shapiro's review of the play.

 

Creating a hit musical which appeals to family audiences is kind of Broadway's holy grail — think current long-running shows, like The Lion King and Wicked, which have run for decades, or earlier shows like Cats and Annie. Critics don't always give these shows good reviews, but that doesn't seem to matter much. Now, two new musicals are aiming to get the kid stamp of approval.

This week on A Tempo, host Rachel Katz interviews Theodore Ziolkowski, Princeton Professor Emeritus of German and Comparative Literature, about his new book, "Music into Fiction" (Boydell and Brewer). The book explores the relationship between the musical and literary arts as displayed by figures such as Robert Schumann, ETA Hoffman and Anthony Burgess, and also examines literary works whose structures were based on musical forms, or featured a musical work as its main theme.

Although more women have been winning Pulitzer Prizes for music lately, it's still next to impossible to hear works by female composers performed by America's symphony orchestras.

This year's Pulitzer winner, Du Yun, has a lot to say about the situation.

Conductor Gustavo Dudamel — one of the most famous Venezuelans in the world today and one of the world's most prominent classical musicians — issued an open letter today to the president and government in his native country.

Long reticent to address politics directly, he has published his comments in a letter titled "Levanto Mi Voz / I Raise My Voice," in both Spanish and English. (The full text is below, in both languages.)

Paula Vogel's new Broadway play "Indecent" is about another play, a Yiddish drama that depicted the first scene of lesbianism on stage. Howard Shapiro reviews "Indecent" this week on In a Broadway Minute Friday at 8 am and Saturday at 10 am.

Last year, the Tony Awards were swamped, particularly in the minds of many who only follow theater casually, by the phenomenon that was Hamilton. It got 16 nominations, it seemed like (and was) a lock to win many of them, and every other Tony story struggled to get a little bit of sunlight.

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