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Taylor Swift adds third show at St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center

Posted by: Tim Campbell Updated: November 21, 2014 - 4:10 PM

 

 

Taylor Swift, performing last month in New York. (photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)

She's nowhere near Garth Brooks territory, but Taylor Swift now has three shows scheduled at Xcel Energy Center next fall.

Swift had announced two concerts Sept. 11-12, but when tickets went on sale Friday morning, demand was heavy enough that promoters added a Sept. 13 date.

Tickets for that show will go on sale at 10 a.m. Dec. 12 at the arena box office or via Ticketmaster. Limited seats remain for the two earlier concerts.

Xcel Center has been Swift's Twin Cities home ever since she opened for Rascal Flatts there in 2008. Since then she's headlined the arena five times, with two-nighters in 2011 and 2013. All were sellouts.

While Brooks set a North American single-city sales record with his recent 11-show run at Target Center in Minneapolis, he is no match for Swift on the record-sales front. His new record "Man Against Machine" made its debut at No. 4 on Billboard's albums chart Thursday while Swift's latest, "1989," held the No. 1 spot for the third week in a row.

Brooks' album -- his first studio release in 13 years -- sold just 130,000 compared with 312,000 for Swift, bringing total sales for "1989" to 2 million. While Garth's disc did top the country chart, he was outpaced by new discs from the Foo Fighters and Pink Floyd (!).

Karen Armstrong: Study faith, stress Golden Rule

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: November 12, 2014 - 1:23 PM

After decades spent studying, researching and writing books about the history of world religions, British author Karen Armstrong (pictured) appears to have arrived at a stunningly simple resolution: follow the Golden Rule.

Armstrong spoke Tuesday night at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul as part of Talking Volumes, a series co-presented by Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio, in collaboratiion with The Loft.

In her new book, "Fields of Blood," Armstrong zeros in on myths and reality surrounding the role of religion in the history of warfare and violence.

With ISIS in the news, interviewer Kerri Miller of MPR asked Armstrong about the situation in Syria and Iraq, and the perception in the West that the violent leaders of ISIS are motivated mainly by their Muslim faith.

"First off, it is a mistake to think that all ISIS fighters are devout jihadists," Armstrong said. "Many are secular" militia, including troops left over from Saddam Hussein's armed guard. She said there had been a story about one ISIS leader who had ordered the book "Islam for Dummies" from amazon.com.

The resurgence of radical Islam in parts of the Mideast today, Armstrong said, is in part a response to the violence used to repress religion and impose a secular state in places like Iran and Egypt in the mid-20th-century.

Another factor, she said, "is a perception in many parts of the Middle East that the West is indifferent to human suffering."

While some have labeled Armstrong an apologist for Islam, she said she abhors the ISIS-sponsored aggression and says that it actually defies Islamic law that forbids violence against civilians and prohibits attacking any country where Muslims are allowed to practice their faith freely.

Armstrong has been a leader in the Charter for Compassion, a global effort to involving elected leaders, clergy and laypeople to sign on to this simple notion: "Do not impose on others what you yourself would not desire." She read an elaboration of that Golden Rule, which is available here.

Armstrong, who turns 70 on Nov. 14, lived in a convent, leaving it after six years, when she was 24. Since then, she remained unmarried and without children. She lives alone and spends much time in study, research, reflection and writing, so that her life today "remains very nun-like," she said.

But Armstrong is no stay-at-home. She travels globally to speak and promote her books. She has given TED talks and is a regular TV commentator. She has made numerous trips to Pakistan, where she has helped promote a chain of progressive schools.

While her topic is a serious one, Armstrong frequently displayed flashes of wit and self-deprecating humor. She acknowledged Britain's once-mighty status as a colonial power, but said "we now view ourselves as the poodle of the United States."

Star Tribune writer Graydon Royce recently interviewed Armstrong, here.

Armstrong's full talk is scheduled to be rebroadcast at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18, on Minnesota Public Radio.

Netrebko sings Lady Macbeth, live from the Met in HD

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: October 6, 2014 - 3:59 PM
Anna Netrebko as Lady Macbeth at the Metropolitan Opera. Photo by Hiroyuki Ito.

Since making her Met debut in 2009 in Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor," Russian soprano Anna Netrebko has sung regularly on the Met stage, and on the popular livecasts from the Metropolitan Opera.

This Saturday (noon, Oct. 11), Netrebko will appear as Lady Macbeth live in "Macbeth," Verdi's opera based on Shakespeare's blood-soaked tragedy. Her Macbeth is Željko Lucic in a production that also stars Joseph Calleja as Macduff and René Pape as Banquo. Fabio Luisi conducts this revivial of Adrian Nobles' modern-dress 2007 production.

Netrebko gave a "riveting performance dispatched with artistry and fearless intensity," said the critic at Bloomberg news. In a recent interview, Netrebko talked about the challenges she faces as she takes on more dramatic opera roles.

In recent years, Netrebko has sung in such Met operas as "Lammermoor" (2009), "Don Pasquale" (2010), "L'Elisir d'Amore" (2012) and "Eugene Onegin" (2013).

For these events, crowds gather at movie theaters across the United States on Saturday afternoons to watch and hear big-name singers in big-deal operas, without having to pay for trips to New York City and tickets to the Opera House at Lincoln Center. The live telecasts are usually repeated in the evening on the following Wednesday.

To get tickets for this Live in HD event, which is beaming to seven metro-area movie theaters on Saturday, go here. Next up, on Oct. 18, is Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro," conducted by James Levine.

'The Nance,' starring Nathan Lane, coming to PBS

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: October 3, 2014 - 5:11 PM

"The Nance," starring two-time Tony winner Nathan Lane as a bawdy gay entertainer in the waning days of burlesque in New York City, is coming to "Live from Lincoln Center" on PBS.

Locally, TPT, Channel 2, airs it at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 10.

The show, which played at the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway in 2013, tells the story of Chauncey Miles, played by Lane, whose broadly comic stage shows are jam-packed with swishy double entendres that make him a minor star and allow him to fly under the radar until censors take note and pressure theater owners to get rid of Miles and his fellow performers. Offstage, Miles falls in love with Ned (Jonny Orsini), a romance that must be kept secret.

The play takes place in 1937, on a revolving set (by John Lee Beatty) that turns to reveal a burlesque stage, the backstage area, an Automat frequented by gays, and Miles' apartment. Other cast members include Lewis Stadlen, Cady Huffman, Jenni Barber and Andrea Burns. Jack O'Brien directs.

"The Nance," by Douglas Carter Beane, was nominated for five Tony Awards, including a Best Actor nod for Lane.

"Topless Cellist" biographer to tell all at Walker Art Center

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: September 30, 2014 - 5:54 PM

Joan Rothfuss, author of "Topless Cellist: the Improbable Life of Chralotte Moorman."

Forget Pablo Casals and Yo-Yo Ma. Sure they were, and are, brilliant cellists, but those guys kept their clothes on. For sheer spectacle, madcap antics,exhibitionism and a generous dollop of cello skills, you want Julliard-trained Charlotte Moorman, a gal from Little Rock, AK who grabbed the avant garde by the scruff of its self-absorbed neck and -- in the 1960s and '70 -- dragged it onto the public glare of television variety and talk shows (Mike Douglas, Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin), shopping malls and prisons, and to New York City's Central Park, Shea Stadium and Grand Central Terminal.

In former Walker Art Center curator Joan Rothfuss, Moorman has found her perfect biographer. Rothfuss's "Topless Cellist: The Improbable Life of Charlotte Moorman," (MIT Press, $34.95) is fast paced, thoroughly researched, amusing, witty, compassionate, deeply informed and filled with jaw-dropping stories. Rothfuss will talk about Moorman and sign copies of the book at 2 p.m. October 5 in the Walker Cinema, 1750 Hennepin Av., Minneapolis. Free. 612-375-7600 or www.walkerart.org

Moorman played the cello while suspended from balloons floating over Australia's Sydney Opera House, performed on a cello made of ice, and often did her shows topless, in the buff, wrapped in cellophane, or wearing the "TV Bra," a contraption that sported two mini-televisions, one for each breast, in plexiglass boxes attached to transparent straps.

In February 1967 she was arrested (during a topless performance), tried and, in a sensationalized trial that generated huge publicity, convicted for violating "community standards of decency." Though humiliated by the incident, she embraced the "Topless Cellist" nickname that it spawned.

"TV Bra," was designed and built by Moorman's longtime companion and fellow avant-gardist Nam June Paik and is sometimes blamed for the breast cancer from which she died in 1991, age 57. To test that assumption, Rothfuss had the bra checked by a physicist who measured the radiation it emitted and concluded that it was highly unlikely that Moorman would have gotten cancer as a result of her performances while wearing it. "TV Bra" is now in the collection of Walker Art Center along with Paik's "TV Cello" and other Moorman/Paik memorabilia.

As a friend, colleague, pal and sometimes irritant to many contemporary artists, Moorman is remembered in Rothfuss' book by Yoko Ono, Jasper Johns, Allan Kaprow, and others too numerous to mention.

"Topless Cellist" is a brilliant portrait of a true original and the chaotic, confrontational, destructive, absurd era in which she lived. It's also a must read for anyone who was flirting with Artland back then, or wishes they'd been on the scene. A portrait of the times as much as the woman, "Topless Cellist," gives a full measure of a life lived with "extreme passion, extreme sex, extreme beauty." 

RIP Charlotte Moorman, 1933-1991

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