London’s West End theatres are getting closer to opening for Sunday performances. “West End Union leaders representing theatre technicians voted for the move on Monday which includes a 5.5% pay rise and double time for working Sundays. The remaining workers will now vote on whether to accept the agreement.”
Foreign students contribute $13 billion to the American economy annually. But this year there was “a sharp plunge in the number of students from India and China who had taken the most recent administration of the Graduate Record Exam, a requirement for applying to most graduate schools; it had dropped by half. Foreign applications to American graduate schools declined 28 percent this year. Actual foreign graduate student enrollments dropped 6 percent. Enrollments of all foreign students, in undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral programs, fell for the first time in three decades in an annual census released this fall. Meanwhile, university enrollments have been surging in England, Germany and other countries.”
British newspapers line up to editorialize against the closing of a controversial play in Birmingham because of threats of violence.
Barnes & Noble’s CEO has reacted angrily to a suggestion by publisher Random House that it might begin selling its books directly to readers online. “The announcement of the new plans comes as the book business is suffering through a second consecutive year of almost-flat sales. The average age of book consumers continues to climb, and except for children’s and religious books, few areas of the business seem to be picking up new readers.”
In a growing trend, artists are bypassing established recording labels and selling their music in non-traditional outlets. “Bypassing the record labels, James Taylor has sold 1 million copies of his new holiday album by offering it next to the greeting cards at Hallmark Gold Crown Stores.”
Soprano Renata Tebaldi (who died last weekend) was a major influence on opera. “Tebaldi’s use of tone as a primary expressive device dictated much of what opera singing is about today. While Callas’ voice was the messenger of her character (often with a dark message, indeed), Tebaldi’s rich, sumptuous soprano was an end in itself. Kiri Te Kanawa and Kathleen Battle are her descendants, as are, to a lesser extent, Jessye Norman and Renée Fleming.”
JK Rowling has completed the next installment of the adventures of Harry Potter. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will hit stores July 16 and be published simultaneously in the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
San Francisco Opera is getting close to naming a successor to general director Pamela Rosenberg. Who might that person be? “Ideally, the search committee will recognize the tremendous strides the company has taken under Rosenberg’s leadership and select a general director who won’t roll back those advances. The task, instead, is to retain the artistic and theatrical excitement of the curtailed Rosenberg era while expanding its appeal to a wider and more varied audience base.”
What’s happened to Christmas music? “The proliferation of novelty tunes such as Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer suggest that Christmas as a public event has become so thoroughly commercial as to defy attempts to treat it non-ironically. Those who try end up producing songs that sound like advertising jingles.”
“After 21 years and more than 200 issues, the highly regarded Women’s Review of Books, published at Wellesley College, will suspend publication after the December issue. Editor in chief Amy Hoffman, who took over the review in 2003, cited falling subscriptions and advertising, as well as increasing costs, for the demise of the literary monthly.”