(Jancee Dunn’s article appeared in The New York Times, 6/24; via Pam Green.)
In the video for “Bitch I’m Madonna,” a party anthem released last Wednesday, the pop star of the title, in a clingy Moschino leopard-print dress, hot-pink coif and gold teeth grills, romps through the corridors of the Standard hotel along Manhattan’s High Line. “The bass is pumping,” she sings, adding a suggestive phrase before gleefully making out with some guy in the hallway.
Madonna will turn 57 in August. As she has repeatedly pointed out, her age is not going to slow her down. “Shut up jealous bitches!” she wrote recently on her Instagram account. “I hope you are as fun loving and adventurous as me when you’re my age!!!! Hahahhahaha let’s see.”
(Patrick Healy’s article appeared in The New York Times, 1/6; via Pam Green.)
Why do some serious-minded Broadway shows flourish and others flop? Monday night’s announcement that the new musical “The Last Ship” will close on Jan. 24 after a meager four-month run, despite unusual efforts by Sting, its composer, to increase ticket sales, raises that question more than most other foundering musicals in recent years.
On Tuesday the show’s producers, who will lose their entire $15 million investment, had no easy answers. What’s clear is that Sting’s gambit last month — to join the cast in hopes of drawing bigger audiences — provided a short-term lift at the box office but failed to generate enough excitement for the show to last. Sting was set to stay only until Jan. 24; ticket sales for performances after that were poor, one of the show’s producers, Jeffrey Seller, said in an interview on Tuesday.
(Alex Ross’s article appeared in the New Yorker, 10/20.)
Beethoven is a singularity in the history of art—a phenomenon of dazzling and disconcerting force. He not only left his mark on all subsequent composers but also molded entire institutions. The professional orchestra arose, in large measure, as a vehicle for the incessant performance of Beethoven’s symphonies. The art of conducting emerged in his wake. The modern piano bears the imprint of his demand for a more resonant and flexible instrument. Recording technology evolved with Beethoven in mind: the first commercial 33⅓ r.p.m. LP, in 1931, contained the Fifth Symphony, and the duration of first-generation compact disks was fixed at seventy-five minutes so that the Ninth Symphony could unfurl without interruption. After Beethoven, the concert hall came to be seen not as a venue for diverse, meandering entertainments but as an austere memorial to artistic majesty. Listening underwent a fundamental change. To follow Beethoven’s dense, driving narratives, one had to lean forward and pay close attention. The musicians’ platform became the stage of an invisible drama, the temple of a sonic revelation.
(Dorian Lynskey’s article appeared in the Observer, 10/12.)
is the same as it always was.’
A warm afternoon in the Côte d’Azur village of Villefranche-sur-Mer. Yachts bob lazily in the bay, diners dawdle al fresco, and Bono, nursing a hangover behind mirrored Ray-Bans, is playing tour guide. He wants to show me the Chapelle de Saint Pierre des Pecheurs, a tiny 12th-century chapel with 1950s murals by Jean Cocteau.
Inside the chapel, he encounters a group of grey-haired American choristers. He spontaneously invites them to sing Amazing Grace with him, to their initial bemusement. Afterwards, one man asks, “Are you a well-known musician? Should we know who you are?”
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