Police Almost Had Stolen Munches

Norwegian police were only a few steps away from two two stolen Edvard Munch paintings last year, but didn’t know it. “A month after the thieves struck, police were following a suspect, 30-year-old Stian Skjold, when he met another man at a gas station and the two drove to a farmhouse outside Oslo. Police didn’t know at the time that the paintings were hidden in an abandoned bus on the farm.”

Olympics Lose Out To “Idol”

NBC’s broadcast of the Olympics Tuesday night got trounced by “American Idol.” “Since its opening on Friday, the Turin games have been running well below the 2002 Salt Lake City games in viewership interest. Much of that was expected, but Tuesday’s ratings was the first alarming sign for NBC that increased TV competition has taken a toll.”

A Star Gala That Goes Kitsch In The Night

The ‘Stars of the 21st Century,’ an annual gala that returned on Monday to the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center ought to offer much but delivers kitsch. “At fault is the vulgar attitude toward dancing displayed in the so-called “defilé,” where all the gala participants leap and twirl, performing stunts like animals in a circus ring. The tastelessness of this finale, which spoils the curtain calls each year, has begun to leach into the gala proper.”

Wedding Singer – A Hit In The Making?

Hairspray was a big musical hit spawned in Seattle. Now the same company (The 5th Avenue) that birthed it is producing another musical-made-from-movie: “The Wedding Singer.” “Could The Wedding Singer be the equivalent of Pearl Jam, a second cash megacow? Despite the predictable standing ovation that greeted Thursday’s world premiere, the answer is, ‘No way’.”

Sondheim Finds New Life In Smaller Chamber Productions

“The current miniaturisation of Sondheim makes his more difficult works freshly viable. What it portends is a different kind of musical for our time – a chamber musical that can be produced without dependence on conservative theatrical owners and bankrollers, a genre that can take in everything from early Kurt Weill to the sort of work that never gets developed beyond festival fringes. It is exactly what spaces like Covent Garden’s Linbury Theatre and the South Bank’s Purcell Room were built for, not to mention downstairs at Carnegie Hall. When, I wonder, will these fusty places catch the wind?

Will The New Met Finally Crush The New Puritanism?

Mark Swed says that the Metropolitan Opera’s embrace of change under new director Peter Gelb comes just in time to counteract the creeping conservatism sweeping much of the rest of America’s classical music scene. “The inclinations of big money normally are not adventurous, and the companies reflect that. But there is also a climate of fear of offending an increasingly puritanical public. Although political and moral issues are an essential part of much great opera, these are touchy, politically divided times, and few arts administrators seem willing to take chances.”

Showing Opera To 8-Year-Olds Now A Firable Offense

A Colorado teacher is on the verge of being fired because she showed her class of elementary schoolchildren a few minutes of the opera, Faust. “Some parents said their children were traumatized by the appearance of a leering devil in the video as well as such objectionable elements as a man appearing to be killed by a sword in silhouette and an allusion to suicide.” The teacher has been on paid leave since late January, and says she intends to sue the school district if she is dismissed.

Warning: Talking To This Author Can Be Hazardous To Your Reputation

When author John Berendt laid the city of Savannah, Georgia bare in his bestselling book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, many of the town’s residents were aghast at what they saw as an invasion of civic privacy and a betrayal of their good will. Now, months after Berendt’s latest tome (an examination of the burning of Venice’s La Fenice opera house,) the complaints are starting up all over again – this time, in Italian.