Arts Roundup: #teamconan or #teamjay? Edition
Good morning! The Washington National Opera revealed its 2010-2011 season this week after announcing in December it would be scaled back to five productions. Director and world-famous tenor Plácido Domingo (right) said the weak economy has made raising money increasingly difficult, which also means a fairly conservative season of popular, mostly German and Italian works—a far cry from the American operas Domingo has said he hoped to stage . In an analysis piece today, WaPo classical critic Anne Midgette says Domingo shouldn't blame the scaled-back season on the difficulty of raising money for unfamiliar material. Rather, she writes, the company's troubles stem from its lack of a cohesive artistic vision and a fully present leader:
Why can't a general director with the fame, charm and ability of Domingo roll up his sleeves and work to realize his vision, rather than distancing himself from the results? The answer: because he isn't actually there, running the company. He's conducting "Stiffelio," or singing "Simone Boccanegra," or trying to keep up with his other company, the Los Angeles Opera (with equally dicey results) instead.
- Clearly the entertainment story of the week: Conan O'Brien's very open letter to NBC, in which he writes that he won't be part of aTonight Show that goes on at 12:05, following Jay Leno. City Paper Editor Erik Wemple is on #teamjay:
A blog post by ace entertainment reporter Bill Carter on the New York Times' site breaks down the impasse created by O'Brien's refusal to play along with the scheme, citing his belief that the "Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn’t the Tonight Show."
The viewpoint of the TV-viewing elite is available right under the Carter item, in a quickly expanding comments section. Test your luck in finding a pro-Leno comment among the bunch. "Conan—you're a class act!" pretty much sums up the sentiment.
True, no doubt.
Also true: "Conan—you're just not as good as Leno."
If NBC forces Conan to walk: Could he land at the Washington National Opera? He has a 'do for Puccini if there ever was one.
What's most striking is that lists of the top 10 movies rented in 20910 (Silver Spring) and 20912 (Takoma Park) more resemble those in 20814 (Bethesda) and 20815 (Chevy Chase) than other zip codes in Silver Spring. If we wanted to make a gross, irresponsible, generalization, we could say that a revitalized Downtown Silver Spring has attracted educated, affluent people whose interests and values line up with our stereotypes of people in Bethesda, while everyone else has been forced to take refuge with their shitty action movies in places like Wheaton and Burtonsville.
- Smithsonian mag's Around the Mall blog begins wraps up a series of interviews with curators discussing the last decade in exhibitions and acquisitions. Up first is National Museum of African Art Curator Christine Mullen Kreamer.
- Today in City Lights: the ongoing "Portraiture Now: Communities" exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, of which critic Maura Judkis is, to say the least, skeptical. In her expanded pick, she writes:
“Portraiture Now: Communities” is supposed to teach us about the tightly forged bonds of community, and three in particular: artists in Philly, a family in Colorado, and the citizens of Maquoketa, Iowa. But all we learn about these communities from this exhibit is that they happen to be inhabited by a collection of friendly-looking white people, and that they have the good fortune of having attracted the attention of three very talented artists. Rose Frantzen, Jim Torok, and Rebecca Westcott’s paintings are lovely, really—they’re detailed, emotional, and exquisitely realistic. But the exercise of cataloging every member of a community with a portrait feels stiffly ancient and anthropological, like George Catlin’s attempt in the 1830s to document entire Indian tribes before they were lost to assimilation.
- Eric Rohmer, one of the great names of the French New Wave, has died at 89.
- I have never watched Better of Ted on ABC, but this NSFW reel of outtakes has me reconsidering.