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Paris Opera asks woman in veil to leave, renewing national debate

France's national debate about overt displays of religion in public -- specifically full veils worn by some Muslim women -- has resurfaced after an incident at the Paris Opera.

A female spectator was asked to remove her veil or leave an Oct. 3 performance of Verdi's "La Traviata" at the company's Opera Bastille venue, according to reports from Le Monde and Agence France-Presse.

The woman, reportedly a tourist from the Middle East, was seated just behind the conductor and was wearing a veil that covered her mouth and nose. Certain members of the opera chorus threatened to stop the performance if the woman didn't leave. 

The spectator and her male companion left the performance after speaking with a representative of the opera. The news was first reported by the French publication Metronews.

On Tuesday, Le Monde reported that it has obtained an internal memo from the opera saying that in the future, audience members whose faces are obscured by a veil, a hood or a mask must be refused...

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'Death of Klinghoffer': Protests in New York, but not in other places

The Metropolitan Opera's opening of "The Death of Klinghoffer" on Monday in New York has resurrected the long-running controversy surrounding the 1991 John Adams opera. With its depiction of the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro by Palestinian terrorists and the execution of Jewish American passenger Leon Klinghoffer, the opera is an artistic tinderbox with political dimensions. 

In recent years, however, the cloud hovering over Adams' opera had dissipated, and the piece has been performed with far less commotion.

Long Beach Opera presented "Klinghoffer" in March in a staging from the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. No protesters appeared in person, but the company did receive a fair amount of feedback, according to artistic and general director Andreas Mitisek.  

"Within the Jewish community, we had people who said that they didn't know what the fuss was about, and others who said they were offended," Mitisek said. He said the feedback came from post-performance...

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Bill Nighy and David Hare: Five notable collaborations

Few British theater partnerships have been as fruitful as the relationship between playwright David Hare and actor Bill Nighy. Like De Niro and Scorsese, Clooney and Soderbergh, they not only seem to understand each other on a molecular level but also seem to channel each other's creative vibes with an apparent effortlessness.

The recent London revival of Hare's "Skylight," starring Nighy and Carey Mulligan, is scheduled to be broadcast to cinemas worldwide starting Thursday. Next month PBS will air "Turks & Caicos" and "Salting the Battlefield," the final two installments in Hare's BBC trilogy about MI5 agent Johnny Worricker, played by Nighy. 

Here are five notable Hare-Nighy collaborations, most of which have been on the stage:

"Skylight": Nighy plays the much-older suitor to Mulligan's schoolteacher in this revival of Hare's 1995 drama. The play opened this year in London and ran through Aug. 23 at Wyndham's Theatre on the West End. The National Theatre is broadcasting the...

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Danny Elfman talks about Halloween concerts of Tim Burton movie music

Danny Elfman will be back this Halloween season for concerts of his music from the movies of Tim Burton. The performances, which will feature a live orchestra and choir, are scheduled for Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, and Nov. 2 at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

Elfman will perform vocals from "The Nightmare Before Christmas" as he did at last year's Halloween concerts. Conductor John Mauceri will lead the orchestra in musical selections from Burton movies including "Edward Scissorhands," "Beetlejuice," "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Alice in Wonderland." 

Speaking recently by phone, the Oscar-nominated composer spoke about working in a live orchestral environment and his favorite Burton scores. He also answered questions about his music for Fox's "The Simpsons."

So is this going to become an annual Halloween event?

No, I don't think so. I've kind of agreed in my mind to see it through 2015. 

What qualities does a movie score need to also work...

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Klinghoffer daughters' protest letter to appear in opera playbill

Just one day before the Metropolitan Opera is set to open the controversial "The Death of Klinghoffer" in New York, the daughters of Leon Klinghoffer have released a letter expressing their opposition.

The opera by John Adams dramatizes the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro by Palestinian terrorists and the killing of Jewish-American passenger Klinghoffer. In a statement released Sunday by the Anti-Defamation League, Klinghoffer's daughters Lisa and Ilsa said the opera "presents false moral equivalencies without context and offers no real insight into the historical reality and senseless murder of an American Jew."

The full statement from Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer will be featured in the playbill for the Met production, according to the ADL.

"We are strong supporters of the arts, and believe that theater and music can play a critical role in examining and understanding significant world events," the daughters wrote. "'The Death of Klinghoffer' does no such thing.... It...

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Jeff Koons' Whitney retrospective ending with 36-hour marathon viewing

This is the final weekend for “Jeff Koons: A Retrospective,” the controversial exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art that occupies all four floors of exhibition space. It will be the last show prior to the museum’s departure from Manhattan's Upper East Side for a brand new facility in the meatpacking district on the Lower West Side, opening next spring.

When I stopped by Friday, the line of visitors waiting to enter stretched out the front door to Madison Avenue and around the corner down 75th Street.

The show has been a popular hit. When all is said and done, attendance — long past a quarter-million — will put it at or near the top of the list of “most visited” exhibitions in the Whitney’s 83-year history. The museum has announced it will stay open for 36 hours straight this weekend, a marathon viewing from 11 a.m. Saturday through 11 p.m. Sunday.

Critical reaction, on the other hand, has tended to fall into one of two camps: There’s “the end is nigh” crowd, with the...

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