Essential Arts and Culture: Spring events and classical music's blurry lines

Here in the arts section of the Los Angeles Times, we like nothing better than telling you on how to spend your time. With this Sunday’s Spring Arts Preview, we map out your next few months. I'm Kelly Scott, arts and culture editor for the Los Angeles Times.

'Forever Marilyn'

One man's fascination with the Marilyn Monroe the woman, not the star or brand, became the opera “Forever Marilyn” by Gavin Bryars. The U.S. premiere is at Long Beach Opera for two performances this month.

Sturtevant retrospective

David Pagel peels back the layers of the artist Sturtevant, the subject of a career retrospective at MOCA.

Alan Menken talks 'Newsies'

(Deen van Meer)

How did “Newsies” go from '90s flop movie to Tony-winning Broadway musical? To answer that question, you can see it at the Pantages Theatre starting March 26, but you might start with the work of composer Alan Menken.

A tribute to Odetta

The music of Odetta is part of the public conversation as we observe the anniversary of the Selma, Ala., voting rights march. The Alvin Ailey Dance Theater will bring a recent work choreographed to her music by Matthew Rushing during its April engagement at the Music Center.

(Steve Wilson / ModernLight2014)

But you’ll also find other stories and Times arts critics' top five events of the season in the spring preview.

Laura Linney's L.A. debut

Laura Linney has acted in many plays – on and Off-Broadway. But she has never worked in L.A. theater. “There’s something sort of exotic about it,” the actress told David Ng. She makes her L.A. debut as author Patricia Highsmith in Joanna Murray-Smith’s “Switzerland” at the Geffen Playhouse.  “I was a little hungry for something complicated,” Linney said. The woman who wrote the Ripley novels was nothing if not complicated. (Theater critic Charles McNulty will review the play Monday.)

(Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

Blurry lines

Blurred lines, indeed. In classical music it’s even blurrier, music critic Mark Swed writes, and proud to be. The kind of “borrowing” that a judge ruled was copying this week in a trial concerning the hit 2013 song "Blurred Lines," has been commonplace – at one point, even preferable to original music – for centuries.

David Bennett joins San Diego Opera

David Bennett has staged opera in New York botanical gardens and art museums. As the new general director of San Diego Opera, he’s taking on a more mainstream organization than Gotham Chamber Opera, his former company. He says he'll combine grand opera with more unconventional work. San Diego Opera's season continues with "Nixon in China," which Mark Swed will review Monday.

Pritzker Prize

The world of architecture lost two major figures this week. German Frei Otto, whose innovative lightweight roof materials have been rediscovered by young architects looking to build in a greener way, died Monday. On Tuesday, the Pritzker Foundation announced that Otto would receive the highest award in architecture, the Pritzker Prize, posthumously. Later in the week, his foundation announced that Michael Graves, a pioneer of postmodern architecture and design, had died. Architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne’s obituary of Graves reminds us of the era in which Graves came to public attention, and the design philosophy that guided both buildings and kitchenware he designed for Target.

(Frei Otto)

What we’re reading:

New York Times music critics discuss who should replace Alan Gilbert as music director of the New York Philharmonic. One name that keeps coming up: Esa Pekka Salonen. -- Kelly Scott

TV: The contemporary playwright's day job. -- Charles McNulty

A worthwhile interview with the new president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. --Christopher Knight

"What sinks in, as you absorb the show, is the spiritual spell of the Great Plains — an essence that will resonate with anyone who has spent time on the prairie." The New Yorker's Peter Scheldahl on "The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky" at the Met. -- Kelly Scott