Essential Arts: Theater of terror, beyond Spock and 'Figaro, Figaro ...'

Here's a look at what was going on in the arts world this week, plus a sneak peek at what we have planned for readers soon. I'm Kelly Scott, arts and culture editor for the Los Angeles Times.

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The theater of terror

Cultural terrorism or staged provocation? Watch  the video above and see what you think. Museum officials around the world, the United Nations and just about anyone on the Internet this week saw Islamic State members smash statues and other priceless ancient artifacts at the Mosul museum in Iraq. Times art critic Christopher Knight had a different take: What if it wasn’t all real? More on the story from Carolina Miranda.

A building with hair?

(Iwan Baan / Heatherwick Studio)

You’ve got to love a renowned architect whose lifelong dream is to design “a hairy building.” And he did: Thomas Heatherwick's British pavilion at 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. The Heatherwick Studio in London is the subject of a current retropsective at the Hammer Museum, and architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne toured it with the architect. The firm, in conjunction with Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, also has designed new headquarters for Google that the town of Mountain View, Calif., isn’t crazy about. Hawthorne will have a review of the Google plans later this week.

Beyond Spock

Leonard Nimoy's "Self-Portrait With Bulb" from 2003. (Leonard Nimoy / Louis Stern Fine Arts)

The world mourns the late Leonard Nimoy as "Star Trek's" Mr. Spock, but Los Angeles knows him as more than the iconic character. Nimoy, along with his wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, was a serious art collector and enthusiast. There is more to Nimoy’s arts resume: a one-man play about Vincent Van Gogh, photography exhibitions and books.

Figaro winters in Los Angeles

This winter, arts groups big and small have provided a stage for opera's wily character to inhabit, all part of L.A. Opera's "Figaro Unbound." The events have pulled back the curtain on the man who created Figaro -- Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, the author of the 18th century plays from which the operas spring. Mark Swed examines the man, the playwright and the influence on the opera canon. Watch for his review of “Barber of Seville,” which opened Saturday.

Major dance event

This week in Orange County the American Ballet Theatre unveils its new “Sleeping Beauty, adapted by choreographer Alexei Ratmansky from the Petipa choreography. The world premiere -- which is happening here because the company was able to spend a full week at the Segerstrom Center to prepare -- coincides with Los Angeles Ballet’s own new production of the ballet, which fans can still see over two weekends in March.

Quick takes

(Associated Press)

stolen painting by Picasso was found by New York law enforcement packed as a holiday gift. "La Coiffeuse" had been missing from Paris' Centre Pompidou since 2001.

Yes, the Oscars are over but once again the major awards went to a backstage story. What’s the appeal? David Ng explains.

Coming soon

Composer Jake Heggie ’s opera “Dead Man Walking,” based on the film, arrives at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica on March 6 and 7.

Times Theater Critic Charles McNulty returns from New York with a report on “Hamilton," the hip-hop musical by Lin Manuel Miranda about the founding fathers.

Mark Swed reviews the Unsuk Chin opera "Alice in Wonderland," the Los Angeles Philharmonic production directed by Netia Jones.

We visit the Los Angeles studio of David Hockney, who has new paintings and photo-based work.

What we’re reading

A different perspective on the film "Selma" in the New York Review of Books -- Christopher Knight

The Financial Times lunches with Esa Pekka Salonen -- Mark Swed.

Sienna Miller, who gives a strong performance in "American Sniper," talks to Vulture about her segue into Sally Bowles in Broadway's "Cabaret -- Kelly Scott


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