The Whitney Museum of American Art To Present Jason Moran This September

The first solo museum show of Jason Moran (b. 1975, Houston, Texas), the interdisciplinary artist who grounds his work in music composition, will make its New York debut at the Whitney September 20, 2019. Jason Moran, which originated at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in the spring of 2018, presents the range of art Moran has explored, from his own sculptures and drawings to collaborations with visual artists to performance and video.

Jason Moran, STAGED: Slug’s Saloon

An immersive installation will fill the Whitney’s eighth floor galleries from September 20, 2019 through January 5, 2020. The exhibition will be activated by in-gallery musical performances by the artist himself and by other musicians throughout the run of the show. Two marquee events unique to the Whitney’s presentation will include the New York premiere of Kara Walker’s Katastwóf Karavan (2018), a steam-powered calliope housed in a parade wagon, and a special twentieth anniversary concert for Moran’s trio, The Bandwagon.

Jason Moran is overseen at the Whitney by Adrienne Edwards, the Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance, who originated the show at the Walker.

A renowned musician and composer known for jazz styles from stride piano to free improvisation, Moran’s experimental approach to artmaking aligns objects with sound in an effort to underscore their inherent theatricality. Whether executed through the medium of sculpture, drawing, or sound, his works bridge the visual and performing arts. In all aspects, Moran’s creative process is informed by one of the essential tenets of jazz music: the “set,” in which musicians come together to engage in a collaborative process of improvisation, riffing off of one another to create the musical experience.

Jason Moran is one of the most vital and boundary-breaking creative voices of our time, and his wide-ranging collaborations with other visual and performing artists have had a profoundly generative effect on their work as well as on his own artistic development,” remarked Scott Rothkopf, the Whitney’s Senior Deputy Director and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator. “This exhibition extends the Whitney’s long and vibrant history of presenting artists who traverse the boundaries of the visual and performing arts and brings together so many artists who are dear to the Museum. We’re thrilled the show marks Adrienne Edwards’s curatorial debut in our galleries and also Jason’s return to the Whitney, following his appearances in Glenn Ligon: AMERICA in 2011 and our Biennial the following year.”

Jazz pianist, composer, and performance artist Jason Moran was born in Houston, Texas in 1975 and earned a degree from the Manhattan School of Music in 1997, where he studied with Jaki Byard. He was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2010 and has been the Artistic Director for Jazz at the Kennedy Center since 2014. Deeply invested in reassessing and complicating the relationship between music and language, Moran’s extensive efforts in composition, improvisation, and performance challenge the status quo while respecting the accomplishments of his predecessors.

It is heartening to have the national tour of Jason’s exhibition culminate in New York City, where he and so many of his collaborators live and make their work. New York is where jazz has evolved, and the venues that fostered it are referenced directly in the major sculptures that serve as stages within the show,” noted Edwards. “Presenting the exhibition at the Whitney makes for a double ‘homecoming,’ since Jason and his collaborators have long-standing histories with the Museum, having exhibited here or featuring in our collection. Taking its cue from Jason’s art and that of his collaborators, this show questions the boundaries between artistic disciplines and how they are presented. It is a solo show that is also a group show; it takes place in neither a white cube nor a black box theater or nightclub, but rather in an in-between space that is some combination of them all. It is a survey exhibition, yet holds together like a singular art installation—at times a visual art show and at other times a performance venue.

Jason Moran, which originated at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in the spring of 2018, and has traveled nationally to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and the Wexner Center for the Arts, considers the artist’s solo and collaborative works as generative investigations that further the fields of experimental jazz, performance, and visual art. Shown together for the first time in this exhibition, Moran’s mixed-media “set” installations STAGED: Savoy Ballroom 1 (2015), STAGED: Three Deuces (2015), and STAGED: Slugs’ Saloon (2018) pay homage to iconic jazz venues of New York’s past. Collaboration has been central to Moran’s experiments, and among the many artists with whom he has collaborated are Stan Douglas, Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin, Theaster Gates, Joan Jonas, Glenn Ligon, Julie Mehretu, Adam Pendleton, Lorna Simpson, and Carrie Mae Weems. These collaborative works are exhibited here, many in a synchronized loop arranged by Moran on projection screens. Moran’s original musical scores and a recent selection of his charcoal drawings from the ongoing Run series, which give sculptural presence to sound, are also featured in the exhibition.

STAGED

Sculptural vignettes based on storied New York City music venues, Moran’s STAGED works reimagine the architecture of these cultural landmarks and double as concert stages. STAGED: Savoy Ballroom 1 and STAGED: Three Deuces were part of Moran’s contributions to the 2015 Venice Biennale international exhibition All the World’s Future, curated by Okwui Enwezor. The latest sculpture from the series, STAGED: Slugs’ Saloon (2018), was commissioned for this exhibition by the Walker Art Center. Each is integrally connected to the social history and real politics of the venues for which they are named—important sites of invention and innovation in jazz that were also testing grounds of American policies of nondiscrimination at the height of the Jim Crow period of segregation.

The legendary Savoy Ballroom, which operated between 1926 and 1958 on Lenox Avenue in Harlem, was synonymous with the Swing Era and presented legendary big bands and performers, including Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, Chick Webb, and Count Basie. Moran’s STAGED: Savoy Ballroom 1 is lined with an ornate Dutch wax print fabric and features a lush curving wall and overhanging ceiling. The sculpture’s pristine veneer seems counter to the repetitive and droning prison work songs that emanate from speakers. Midtown Manhattan’s Three Deuces club, which operated on 52nd Street from the mid-1940s to 1950s, was an incubator for bebop pioneers like Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Max Roach. To evoke this seminal venue with STAGED: Three Deuces, Moran uses pale vinyl padding compressed under a barely eight-foot-tall ceiling and focuses on the corner of a room to conjure the compressed dimensions of the original venue.

Similarly, STAGED: Slugs’ Saloon pays homage to the celebrated East Village jazz venue that presented music from 1964 to 1972 on East Third Street. Often referred to as a “jazz dive”, Slugs’ Saloon showcased free jazz and some of the most important avant-gardists of the era, including Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, and Sun Ra. While the original space was described as narrow and oftentimes tightly packed, Moran’s Slugs’ Saloon is open with two mirrors flanking the stage and a multitier platform with a wooden floor that holds a vintage upright piano and drum set. The lower level holds a single chair and Wurlitzer Americana II jukebox, programmed with whistling tunes and samplings of audience incantations from the Village Vanguard.

RUN

Moran’s drawings from the Run series, originally shown at Luhring Augustine in 2016 for his first gallery exhibition, offer highly gestural entrees into the artist’s process. To create the works, Moran tapes elongated pieces of paper on the keys of a piano or keyboard and caps his fingers with charcoal. The paper then catches the movements of his playing. Reminiscent of Robert Morris’s series of Blind Time drawings, the works also bring to mind David Hammons’s basketball drawings and body prints or the impromptu drawings created by Joan Jonas during live performances. Achieved through acts of repetition, the Run series reveals the usually private and deliberate process of jazz composition and the artist’s performance practice, offering viewers an intimate view of his body’s movements in relation to the piano.

COLLABORATIONS

Projects and collaborations, central to Moran’s practice, are represented in the exhibition through the presentation of the artist’s work with leading visual artists. Since 2005, Moran has completed four collaborations with pioneering video performance artist Joan Jonas, and the evolution of much of Moran’s visual work, such as his extension of performance techniques to the process of drawing in the Run series or his transposition of traditional cultural forms into contemporary art, can be tracked through his work with Jonas. Moran first collaborated with Jonas on the music for The Shape, the Scent, the Feel of Things, an opera performed for the first time in 2005 at Dia: Beacon, and later on Reading Dante (2007–10), Reanimation (2012), and They Come to Us without a Word II (2015). For his first foray into filmmaking, artist Glenn Ligon tapped Moran to compose the score for Death of Tom (2008), an abstract re-creation of a scene from Edwin S. Porter’s fourteen-minute silent film version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In Stan Douglas’s six-hour, single-channel film Luanda-Kinshasa (2013) depicting a fictional jazz-funk band in a recording session sometime in the mid-1970s, Moran appears as the band leader and worked with Douglas on song sequencing for this intricately composed film.

Exclusive to the presentation of Jason Moran at the Whitney will be the temporary installation of Kara Walker’s Katastwóf Karavan (2018) outside in front of the Museum. A steam-powered calliope housed in a parade wagon featuring silhouetted scenes on all four sides in Walker’s distinctive style, Katastwóf Karavan debuted in 2018 at the Prospect.4 Triennial in New Orleans. Katastwóf Karavan takes its title from the Haitian Creole phrase for “caravan of catastrophe” and alludes to the subjugation, violence, and humiliation of life for African Americans in the Antebellum South. The work also plays songs and sounds programmed by Walker and Moran that the artists associate with the long history of African American protest music. In the Prospect.4 Triennial, Moran played the work live via keyboard for two improvised performances. Moran will present another improvised performance with the work at the Whitney in October 2019.

Moran’s recording and performing activity has included collaborations with masters of the jazz form, including Charles Lloyd, Bill Frisell, and the late Sam Rivers. His work with his acclaimed trio The Bandwagon (with drummer Nasheet Waits and bassist Tarus Mateen) has resulted in a profound discography for Blue Note Records. Moran has a long-standing collaborative practice with his wife, the mezzo-soprano and composer Alicia Hall Moran. For the 2012 Whitney Biennial, together they organized BLEED, a five-day performance gathering that featured more than ninety performers, including Rashida Bumbray, Bill Frisell, Joan Jonas, Lorraine O’Grady, Esperanza Spalding, and Kara Walker. In 2016, Moran and Hall Moran formed the indie label YES RECORDS. Releases include Moran’s critically-acclaimed live solo piano recording, The Armory Concert (2016), as well as Thanksgiving at the Vanguard (2017), and BANGS (2017). Moran, who teaches at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, has produced several film scores and soundtracks, including the scores for Ava DuVernay’s films Selma and 13th.

Moran’s work has been presented by institutions including the Walker Art Center, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Park Avenue Armory, the Dia Art Foundation, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Harlem Stage, and Jazz at Lincoln Center. His first solo museum exhibition Jason Moran premiered in Minneapolis at the Walker Art Center from April 26 through August 26, 2018 and traveled to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston from September 19 through January 21, 2019. It was on view at the Wexner Center for the Arts through August 11, 2019 before its U.S. finale in Moran’s hometown of New York City at the Whitney.

This exhibition is accompanied by a 272-page publication, published in conjunction with the Walker Art Center’s 2018 exhibition, which considers the artist’s practice and his collaborative works as interdisciplinary investigations that further the fields of experimental jazz and visual art. Edited by Adrienne Edwards, it features an interview with the artist, and essays by Philip Bither, Okwui Enwezor, Danielle Jackson, Alicia Hall Moran, George E. Lewis, and Glenn Ligon. These texts are accompanied by a photo essay by Moran, a section documenting the creation of Moran’s STAGED sculptures, installation views from the Walker, photographs and other ephemera, and a complete list of works included in the Walker exhibition.

Jason Moran is organized by the Walker Art Center, and curated by Adrienne Edwards with Danielle A. Jackson. The Whitney’s presentation is overseen by Adrienne Edwards, the Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance.

Jason Moran is sponsored by Delta. Generous support for Jason Moran is provided by The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Significant support is provided by Norman and Melissa Selby and the Joyce and George Wein Foundation.

“She Loves Me” from THIRTEEN’s “Great Performances” Kicks Off PBS’s Broadway’s Best Lineup

The critically-acclaimed Roundabout Theatre Company production of She Loves Me comes to THIRTEEN‘s Great Performances, Friday, October 20 at 9 p.m. (check local listings) as the opening presentation of PBS’s fall Broadway’s best lineup. Every Friday night, from October through December, PBS will give theater lovers a front-row seat to some of the best-loved Broadway shows, from glorious, feel-good musicals to captivating dramas. All four titles are productions by the theater streaming service BroadwayHD in association with THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET.GP-Logo

She Loves Me joins Present Laughter (November 3), Indecent (November 19), and Holiday Inn (November 24, and also from Roundabout) as part of PBS’s Broadway’s best lineup, directed for television by Emmy Award-winner David Horn, executive producer of both Great Performances and THIRTEEN‘s local Theater Close-Up series.

For over 50 years, PBS has provided audiences locally and across the country with unparalleled access to some of the most exciting and eclectic theater offerings on Broadway and beyond. We’re pleased to continue this great tradition with a diverse mix of recent critically acclaimed productions,” Horn said.

She Loves Me was the first Broadway musical ever to stream live during a performance at Roundabout Theatre Company’s Studio 54. In the musical, Tony Award® winner Laura Benanti and Tony Award® nominee Zachary Levi star as Amalia and Georg, two parfumerie clerks who aren’t quite the best of friends. Constantly bumping heads while on the job, the sparring coworkers can’t seem to find common ground. But little do they know, the anonymous romantic pen pals they have both been falling for happen to be each other. Will love continue to blossom once their identities are finally revealed?

Critics unanimously embraced this latest production. Mark Kennedy of Associated Press, for one, remarked, “An astounding cast, a nifty story and memorable songs turn this revival into a celebration of classic musical construction.

Marilyn Stasio of Variety raved, “The enchanting Broadway revival is so charming, you kind of wish it would follow you home.”

For BroadwayHD this performance of She Loves Me was produced by Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley and captured by BroadwayHD in June 2016, in association with Ellen M. Krass Productions, Inc. and THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC FOR WNET. It was directed for television by David Horn.

Part of Roundabout’s 50th Anniversary Season, She Loves Me also starred Byron Jennings (Maraczek), Gavin Creel (Kodaly), Tom McGowan (Sipos) and Jane Krakowski (Ilona) with Nicholas Barasch (Arpad) and Peter Bartlett (Head Waiter).

The production was directed by Tony Award® nominee Scott Ellis, choreographed by Warren Carlyle with musical direction by Paul Gemignani. This classic musical comedy features a book by Joe Masteroff, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and music by Jerry Bock.

This marks the second presentation of She Loves Me on Great Performances which aired a well-remembered British studio version starring Robin (“Poldark”) Ellis and Gemma (“The Slipper and the Rose”) Craven which delighted viewers.

The celebrated score features favorites such as “Vanilla Ice Cream,” “A Romantic Atmosphere,” “Dear Friend,” and “She Loves Me.” The musical is based on a play by Miklos Laszlo, whose well-known romantic story was the basis for the 1940 James Stewart film “The Shop Around the Corner,” the 1949 Judy Garland and Van Johnson musical “In the Good Old Summertime,” and the 1998 Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan film “You’ve Got Mail.

Roundabout’s Associate Artistic Director Scott Ellis previously directed Roundabout’s ten-time Tony-nominated revival of “She Loves Me” in 1993, which marked the first Broadway musical in the company’s history and launched the Musical Theatre Program at Roundabout.

The production started previews on February 19, 2016, and with the official opening on March 17, 2016. The creative team includes David Rockwell (sets), Jeff Mahshie (costumes), Don Holder (Lights), Jon Weston (Sound), Larry Hochman (Orchestrations), David Krane (Dance Arrangements & Incidental Music).

Major support for the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of She Loves Me is provided by The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation. The stage production of She Loves Me also benefits from Roundabout’s Musical Theatre Fund with lead gifts from The Howard Gilman Foundation, Perry and Marty Granoff, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, and Michael Kors and Lance Le Pere.

The Full Schedule:

GREAT PERFORMANCES: She Loves Me

Friday, October 20, 9 p.m.

(See Above) Continue reading

Lifestyle Network, Feast It Forward, Provides Major Funding for “Chefs Flight” on THIRTEEN’s American Masters Series May 2017 on PBS

“Foodie Film Festival” Will Features Four Documentaries On Iconic Chefs: James Beard, Julia Child, Jacques Pépin And Alice Waters

American Masters has announced that Feast it Forward™ has provided major funding for aChefs Flightof four documentaries on culinary legends James Beard, Julia Child, Jacques Pépin, and Alice Waters, premiering May 2017 on PBS as part of the series’ 31st season. New documentaries American Masters – James Beard: America’s First Foodie and American Masters – Jacques Pépin: The Art of Craft will be paired with encore presentations of American Masters: Julia! America’s Favorite Chef and American Masters: Alice Waters and Her Delicious Revolution, respectively.feast-it-forward-logo-fif_black-2-10-3-16

Exploring beyond the plate, bottle and guitar, Feast it Forward Network, the new online lifestyle network featuring all things food, wine and philanthropy with a taste of music, seeks to feed the soul with entertaining, inspiring and educational programming. As their Ultimate Airstream Film Lounge continues to hit the road and engage viewers while hosting unique lifestyle events, its flagship “Live Studio Showroom” will open in downtown Napa Spring of 2017. A two story experiential estate, it will feature a 16 premier vintner tasting collective, a full demonstration studio kitchen, educational outdoor entertaining space, performing music stage, interior design showroom and much more. Beyond the growing online network programming which features master chefs, actors, tastemakers, and musicians, this live studio will truly bring Feast it Forward Network to life as viewers will be able to personally experience all things food, wine and philanthropy…with a taste of music. (More information can be found at feastitforward.com)screen-shot-2016-01-07-at-9_37_54-am

We are thrilled to be able to bring the savory stories behind these culinary geniuses to viewers thanks to Feast It Forward’s generous support. Collectively, they set America’s dinner table, and I think people will enjoy seeing the connections between each of these chefs and how we eat today,” said Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters.

We are elated to be supporting such important programs. The food world is beyond grateful for these iconic chefs and we are indebted to them for the path they helped pave for us to walk. Our online network tells the story of people, places and experiences that connect us to one another in ways that are beyond the plate and bottle, so it was a natural fit to be part of this impressive series. Along with celebrating the work of James Beard, Julia Child, and Alice Waters, it’s a true honor to say we took part in sharing Jacques Pépin’s story. I think it is safe to say I speak for masses who grew up watching him with such admiration; this is our way of saying thank you. It’s time to give something back for all those years he shared with us,” said Katie Hamilton Shaffer, founder and president of Feast it Forward.

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Chef James Beard. Credit: Dan Wynn

American Masters – James Beard: America’s First Foodie

Premieres Friday, May 19, 9-10 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)

Experience a century of food through the life of one man, James Beard (1903-1985). Dubbed the “Dean of American Cookery” by The New York Times, Beard was a Portland, Ore., native who loved and celebrated the bounty of the Pacific Northwest. He spoke of the importance of localism and sustainability long before those terms had entered the vernacular. At a time of “all things French,” Beard appreciated what America had to bring to the table, and was the first chef to go on television to teach not only women, but men, how to cook. A cookbook author, journalist, television celebrity and teacher, Beard helped to pioneer and expand the food media industry into the billion-dollar business it is today. Written and Directed by Elizabeth Federici. Produced by Elizabeth Federici and Kathleen Squires. A production of Federici Films LLC and THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC’s American Masters for WNET. Continue reading

THIRTEEN’s American Masters Presents the World Premiere of Patsy Cline Documentary Beginning March 4 on PBS During Women’s History Month

Features Exclusive Access To The Cline Estate, Rare Performances And New Interviews With Reba McEntire, LeAnn Rimes, Kacey Musgraves, Wanda Jackson, Beverly D’Angelo And Others, With Narration By Rosanne Cashscreen-shot-2016-01-07-at-9_37_54-am

Born Virginia Patterson Hensley in Winchester, Virginia, The late Patsy Cline (September 8, 1932-March 5, 1963) defined modern country music by using her singular talent and heart‐wrenching emotional depth to break down barriers of gender, class and genre. In her music and her life, she set a standard of authenticity towards which artists still strive. After years of hard work to overcome industry gender biases and her own personal hardships and professional missteps, she achieved success, only to have it punctured by uncanny premonitions and her untimely death at age 30. The new documentary Patsy Cline: American Masters premieres nationwide beginning March 4 on PBS (check local listings) during Women’s History Month as part of the 31st season of THIRTEEN’s American Masters series. 2017 marks the 85th anniversary of Cline’s birth.

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Patsy Cline. Credit: Courtesy of Universal Music Enterprises

Cline boldly bucked female conventions of the 1950s with her fashion sense, her decision to divorce, her support of fellow female artists, and her assertive ambition to get opportunities equal to those of her male Nashville peers, such as the same kind of headliner billing and radio airplay, particularly after breaking free of her unfavorable contract with Four Star Records. Six years after her national breakthrough on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts (CBS, 1957), she died in a plane crash returning home from a benefit performance. Her many posthumous honors include being the first solo female performer to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and a U.S. postage stamp. She was also portrayed in the Oscar-winning feature film Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980) by D’Angelo and in Sweet Dreams (1985) by Jessica Lange.

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Patsy Cline. Credit: Courtesy of Universal Music Enterprises

Narrated by Rosanne Cash, Patsy Cline: American Masters examines the roots of Cline’s impact in both personal and cultural terms to illuminate how she arrived at a pivotal moment in the evolution of American culture and, with Decca Records producer Owen Bradley, synthesized country, pop and rock in a new way to create the Nashville Sound. With exclusive access to the Cline estate, the film features rare performances of such Cline classics as “Walkin’ After Midnight” “Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray,” “Come On In,” “I Fall to Pieces,” “Crazy,” “You Made Me Love You” and more.

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Patsy Cline. Credit: Courtesy of Universal Music Enterprises

The documentary also features exclusive archival interviews with Cline’s contemporaries and new interviews with a wide range of artists who have been influenced by Cline: LeAnn Rimes, Kacey Musgraves, Rhiannon Giddens, Wanda Jackson, Bill Anderson, Beverly D’Angelo, Callie Khouri, Reba McEntire, Mickey Guyton and more.

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Country music singer-songwriter Mickey Guyton, who was influenced by Patsy Cline, is interviewed in “Patsy Cline: American Masters.” Credit: Peggy Sirota

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Country music singer-songwriter Mickey Guyton, who was influenced by Patsy Cline, is interviewed in “Patsy Cline: American Masters.” Credit: Peggy Sirota

It’s been such a privilege to tell the story of Patsy Cline. For me, her story exceeds her musical accomplishments. She is in a rare class of women who simply set out to achieve their dreams and through those efforts left an indelible mark,” said Emmy-nominated director and producer Barbara J. Hall. Continue reading

THIRTEEN’s American Masters Presents Exclusive U.S. Broadcast Premiere of Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, February 21 on PBS During Black History Month

First Feature Documentary On The Author/Activist Features Exclusive Interviews With Dr. Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Common, Bill And Hillary Clinton, And Others

Year-Long #InspiringWomanPBS Online Campaign Launches This Week At pbs.org/americanmasters

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Dr. Maya Angelou on the set of “Oprah’s Master Class,” circa January 2011. Credit: OWN

Distinctly referred to as “a redwood tree, with deep roots in American culture,” Dr. Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928-May 28, 2014) led a prolific life. As a singer, dancer, activist, poet and writer, she inspired generations with lyrical modern African-American thought that pushed boundaries. Best known for her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Random House), she gave people the freedom to think about their history in a way they never had before. The first feature documentary about her life, American Masters – Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, premieres nationwide Tuesday, February 21 at 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) during Black History Month as part of the 31st season of THIRTEEN‘s American Masters series. PBS Distribution will release the film on DVD the same day, with additional bonus features, and on Digital HD February 22. The film title is based on one of our favorite poems by Dr. Angelou, “Still I Rise” from her poetry collection And Still I Rise (Random House).

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Dr. Maya Angelou, circa late 70s/early 80s. Credit: Getty Images

MAYA ANGELOU

Dr. Maya Angelou is best known for her best-selling autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” (Random House), photo taken November 3, 1971. Credit: © WF/AP/Corbis

With unprecedented access, filmmakers Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack trace Dr. Angelou’s incredible journey, shedding light on the untold aspects of her life through never-before-seen footage, rare archival photographs and videos and her own words. From her upbringing in the Depression-era South and her early performing career (1957’s Miss Calypso album and Calypso Heat Wave film, Jean Genet’s 1961 play The Blacks) to her work with Malcolm X in Ghana and her many writing successes, including her inaugural poem for President Bill Clinton, American Masters – Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise reveals hidden facets of her life during some of America’s most defining moments. The film also features exclusive interviews with Dr. Angelou, her friends and family, including (in alphabetical order) Diahann Carroll, actress; Hillary Clinton, former U.S. Secretary of State; Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the U.S.’ Common, hip-hop artist/actor; Jules Feiffer, writer/cartoonist; Nikki Giovanni, writer; Louis Gossett, Jr., actor; Guy B. Johnson, Dr. Angelou’s son; Quincy Jones, musician/producer/composer; Robert Loomis, Dr. Angelou’s editor; Don Martin, dancer/opened for Dr. Angelou; Louise Meriwether, writer; Eugene Redmond, professor of English literature; Valerie Simpson, singer/songwriter; John Singleton, director; Cicely Tyson, actress; Alice Windom, friend/roommate in Ghana (1963-65); Oprah Winfrey, global media leader/philanthropist and Alfre Woodard, actress.

Photo of Maya Angelou

Dr. Maya Angelou, circa 1970. Credit: Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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Dr. Maya Angelou called Sonoma, California, home in the late 70s/early 80s. Credit: Magnum

“It was a unique privilege to be the first filmmakers to tell Dr. Angelou’s full story and exciting to uncover stories that most people hadn’t heard,” said co-director and co-producer Bob Hercules.

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Louis Gossett, Jr., is interviewed in “American Masters – Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise.” He and Dr. Angelou were part of the casts of off-Broadway play “The Blacks” (1961) by Jean Genet and TV miniseries “Roots” (1977). Credit: © Timothy Greenfield-Sanders | Photo credit required at all times.

The film reflects on how the events of history, culture and the arts shaped Dr. Angelou’s life, and how she, in turn, helped shape our own worldview through her autobiographical literature and activism,” said co-director and co-producer Rita Coburn Whack.

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Dr. Maya Angelou. Credit: Getty Images

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Dr. Maya Angelou. Credit: Ron Groeper

Maya Angelou

Dr. Maya Angelou, San Francisco, CA, circa 1970. Credit: Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS. Courtesy of Caged Bird Legacy

It is bittersweet that Dr. Angelou takes her rightful place in the American Masters series posthumously,” said executive producer Michael Kantor, Co-Executive Producer and American Masters series Executive Producer. “We are fortunate that Bob and Rita captured these insightful interviews with her just prior to her death so we can all learn from her wisdom firsthand.” Continue reading

THIRTEEN’s American Masters Kicks Off Season 31 with Exclusive U.S. Broadcast Premiere of By Sidney Lumet, Tuesday, January 3 on PBS

Exclusive Interview With Treat Williams, Star Of Lumet’s Prince Of The City, And Emmy-Winning Filmmaker Nancy Buirski Follows The Documentary

Prolific and versatile filmmaker Sidney Lumet (1924-2011) made 44 films in 50 years, earning the Academy Honorary Award for lifetime achievement after four Oscar nominations. Considered a quintessential New York filmmaker, Lumet frequently used New York City’s urban mettle to infuse his films with a realism and intensity that kept audiences in suspense while prodding them to consider their own morality. In American Masters: By Sidney Lumet, he tells his own story in a never-before-seen interview shot in 2008 by late filmmaker Daniel Anker and producer Thane Rosenbaum. With candor, humor and grace, Lumet reveals what matters to him as an artist and as a human being. Launching Season 31, American Masters: By Sidney Lumet premieres nationwide Tuesday, January 3 at 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) and features a new, exclusive interview with Golden Globe- and Emmy Award-nominated actor Treat Williams, who starred in Lumet’s Prince of the City, afterward.by-sidney-lumet_poster_goldposter_com_1-jpg0o_0l_800w_80q

Peabody and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Nancy Buirski (Afternoon of a Faun, The Loving Story, Loving) weaves Lumet’s personal stories and commentary with scenes from his films to create a portrait of one of the most accomplished, influential and socially conscious directors in the history of cinema. Clips spanning his canon, from 12 Angry Men, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, Prince of the City, The Verdict, and many more, reveal the spiritual and ethical lessons at the core of his work.

Looking back over his career, Lumet speaks intimately about the experiences that informed his work, which he loved. His Depression-era, working-class Lower East Side beginnings as a child actor with his father in Yiddish theater, on Broadway, and his gradual transition to directing live TV, informed the stories he chose and his ability to translate important stage works into film, such as The Sea Gull, The Fugitive Kind and Long Day’s Journey into Night. In clips from these films, American Masters: By Sidney Lumet underscores Lumet’s own journey: his relationship with his father mirrored in Long Day’s Journey into Night, Daniel, Running on Empty and Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.

Marching for workers’ rights in the 1930s, standing up to McCarthy-era blacklist interrogation and finding ways to employ his blacklisted friends, Lumet developed an appreciation for people who question authority. His movies often featured characters fighting for justice, standing up to the crowd and questioning personal responsibility. First and foremost a storyteller, Lumet’s strongly moral tales captured the dilemmas and concerns of a society struggling with essentials: how does one behave to others and to oneself? (You can read the full biography here.) Continue reading

THIRTEEN’s American Masters Tells the Story of Legendary Bluesman B.B. King During Black History Month on PBS

B.B. King: The Life of Riley Premieres Nationally Friday, February 12 at 9 p.m. (check local listings)

Features interviews with Bono, Eric Clapton, Aaron Neville, John Mayer, Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, Ringo Starr, and more

B.B. King, born Riley B. King, was one of the most influential and celebrated blues musicians of all time. From his roots as a sharecropper’s son, working in the cotton fields of Mississippi, he rose to become a living legend — the most renowned blues singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer of the past 40 years — earning the moniker ‘King of the Blues‘. King’s story of struggle and triumph is chronicled in American Masters: B.B. King: The Life of Riley, premiering nationwide during Black History Month on Friday, February 12 at 9 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listing). Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman narrates and appears in the film.

 B.B. King performs on stage at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Kevin Nixon

B.B. King performing on stage at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Kevin Nixon

Made with the full cooperation of The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, Mississippi, B.B. King: The Life of Riley was filmed in locations across America, as well as the United Kingdom. Award-winning Producer/Director Jon Brewer worked on the film with King for two years. Filming was completed shortly before King passed on May 14, 2015.

The bio-doc explores King’s challenging life and career through candid interviews with the man himself, his family, longtime friends, and fellow music contemporaries such as Bono, George Benson, Eric Clapton, Aaron Neville, John Mayer, Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, Ringo Starr, Johnny Winter, and more.

Born September 16, 1925 on a plantation in Itta Bena, Mississippi, near Indianola, King was raised by his maternal grandmother, Elnora Farr in nearby Kilmichael. After she died, his father brought him to live in Lexington. There, for the first time, King experienced segregation. A mob hung a black boy and dragged him behind a car to the courthouse in Lexington. King witnessed the boy being dragged; it was an image he would never forget. Like so many blacks of his generation, King was subjected to bigotry, racism, hatred and denial. But he never allowed it to destroy his spirit or his music.

King candidly reminisces about memorable people in his life such as preacher Archie Fair, the first person he heard play an electric guitar; cousin Bukka White, who taught him about being a blues singer; the musical influence of bluesman T-Bone Walker and French jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt; his stint as a disc jockey where his radio names (Beale Street Blues Boy and Blues Boy King) were eventually shortened to B.B. King; and how and why he came to name his guitars Lucille. A bittersweet moment in the film is King’s reflection on marriage. King had two wives, Martha Lee Denton, and then Sue Carol Hall. The failures of each marriage were attributed to King’s relentless touring schedule.

Rare archival footage is interspersed throughout the film, including his 1968 performance at Bill Graham’s Fillmore West where he was billed with some of the hottest rock stars, who idolized him and helped to introduce him to a young white audience.

Among the highlights from the film is footage of King’s collaboration with Bono, where King reveals that he “does not do chords,” and the story behind King and Eric Clapton‘s recording of Riding with the King. Though he made an exception for Clapton, King admits he doesn’t like to play acoustic guitar.

The ‘King of Blues,’ who delighted audiences around the world with such classic R&B hits as Three O’ Clock Blues, Paying The Cost To Be The Boss, Every Day I Have The Blues, and of course his most popular cross over hit, The Thrill Is Gone, died at age 89. The city of Memphis, where he had performed so many times, held a funeral procession for him down Beale Street, with a brass band marching in front of the hearse, playing When the Saints Go Marching In.

Play the best that I can. Reach as many people as you can, as many countries,” says King. “In other words, I’d like the whole world to be able to hear B.B. King sing and play the blues.

B.B. King became America’s most recognizable and influential blues musician,” says Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters. “The thrill isn’t really gone yet – I think anyone who sees this film will be thrilled and inspired by this legendary artist.”

"American Masters," THIRTEEN's award-winning biography series, explores the lives and creative journeys of America's most enduring artistic and cultural giants. With insight and originality, the series illuminates the extraordinary mosaic of our nation's landscape, heritage and traditions. Watch full episodes and more at http://pbs.org/americanmasters. (PRNewsFoto/WNET)

“American Masters,” THIRTEEN’s award-winning biography series, explores the lives and creative journeys of America’s most enduring artistic and cultural giants. With insight and originality, the series illuminates the extraordinary mosaic of our nation’s landscape, heritage and traditions. Watch full episodes and more at http://pbs.org/americanmasters. (PRNewsFoto/WNET)

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THIRTEEN’s ‘American Masters’ Presents the World Premiere of the New Documentary ‘Loretta Lynn: Still a Mountain Girl’ March 4 on PBS

Bio-Doc Features Never-Before-Seen Performances And New Interviews With Lynn, Jack White, Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Miranda Lambert, Sissy Spacek and Others

You either have to be first, best or different. Loretta LynnAM_LORETTA_end-frame_FINAL

Inducted into more music Halls of Fame than any female recording artist to date, Loretta Lynn (b. April 14, 1932) has earned four Grammy Awards, Kennedy Center Honors and a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and sold more than 45 million records worldwide. Still going strong after more than 50 years, “The Queen of Country Music” is now the subject of the new documentary American Masters – Loretta Lynn: Still a Mountain Girl, premiering Friday, March 4 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) during Women’s History Month as part of the 30th anniversary season of THIRTEEN‘s American Masters series. The world premiere broadcast is the same day as the release of Lynn’s first new studio album in over 10 years, Full Circle (Legacy Recordings).

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You couldn’t make up a better example of the American Dream than Loretta Lynn’s astonishing rags-to-riches story. Her 48-year marriage to Doo and their rare partnership is also one of the great love stories of our times,” said executive producer Elliott Halpern of Yap Films Inc.

With unprecedented access to Lynn, her family and archives, Still a Mountain Girl features never-before-seen home movies, performances and photos, as well as insightful interviews with her friends and fellow musicians, including Jack White (producer of Lynn’s Grammy-winning album Van Lear Rose), Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Miranda Lambert and Bill Anderson. The documentary also features never-before-seen footage of Lynn in the studio with producer John Carter Cash, as she records Full Circle and other new songs at the Cash Cabin Studio in Hendersonville, Tenn. Filming with Lynn, her family and business team also took place at her ranch and other locations in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., the community she formed as a re-creation of her Appalachia birthplace, Butcher Hollow, Ky., where she was raised in poverty. Other interviews include Sissy Spacek, who starred as Lynn in the Oscar-winning biographical film of her life, Coal Miner’s Daughter (based on Lynn’s 1976 autobiography), and its director Michael Apted.

Legacy Recordings will release FULL CIRCLE, the first new studio album in over ten years from American music icon Loretta Lynn, on March 4, 2016. (PRNewsFoto/Legacy Recordings)

Legacy Recordings will release FULL CIRCLE, the first new studio album in over ten years from American music icon Loretta Lynn, on March 4, 2016. (PRNewsFoto/Legacy Recordings)

She’s written anti-war anthems, songs about birth control, pregnancy and divorce, all with a sincerity and honesty that transcends music genres, politics and gender,” said executive producer Elizabeth Trojian of Yap Films Inc.

American Masters – Loretta Lynn: Still a Mountain Girl explores Lynn’s hard-fought road to stardom, her struggles to balance her marriage to Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn and six children with her music career, her friendships and collaborations with Spacek, Patsy Cline, Conway Twitty, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash and music producer Owen Bradley, along with her life on the road, her Nashville and Hurricane Mills communities, her songwriting inspirations and her music’s lasting impact on her peers and fans.

“You don’t have to know country music to love Loretta Lynn,” said Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters. “Somehow the Lynn family makes you feel like there is a little country in all of us. Continue reading

THIRTEEN’s ‘American Masters’ Premieres New Documentary ‘Carole King: Natural Woman’ February 19 on PBS

Documentary Also Honors the 45th Anniversary of Her Landmark Album ‘Tapestry’CaroleKing_end-frame_FINAL

The career of singer-songwriter Carole King (b. February 9, 1942) is unparalleled. She is a four-time Grammy Award-winner, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, a 2015 Kennedy Center Honoree and the first woman to be awarded The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. To date, more than 400 of her compositions have been recorded by more than 1,000 artists, resulting in 100 hit singles, including songs co-written with Gerry Goffin: “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” (The Shirelles), “Up on the Roof” (The Drifters) and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” (Aretha Franklin).

"American Masters," THIRTEEN's award-winning biography series, explores the lives and creative journeys of America's most enduring artistic and cultural giants. With insight and originality, the series illuminates the extraordinary mosaic of our nation's landscape, heritage and traditions. Watch full episodes and more at http://pbs.org/americanmasters. (PRNewsFoto/WNET)

“American Masters,” THIRTEEN’s award-winning biography series, explores the lives and creative journeys of America’s most enduring artistic and cultural giants. With insight and originality, the series illuminates the extraordinary mosaic of our nation’s landscape, heritage and traditions. Watch full episodes and more at http://pbs.org/americanmasters. (PRNewsFoto/WNET)

Now, King tells her own story in the new documentary American Masters – Carole King: Natural Woman, premiering nationwide Friday, February 19 at 9 pm. on PBS (check local listings) as part of the 30th anniversary season of THIRTEEN’s American Masters series. This year also marks the 45th anniversary of King’s landmark solo album Tapestry, which was released February 10, 1971, and spawned the hits “It’s Too Late,” “I Feel the Earth Move,” “You’ve Got a Friend” and “So Far Away.”

Carole King. Photo Credit: Elissa Kline

Carole King. Photo Credit: Elissa Kline

Weaving previously unseen and rare performances and home movies with a new, exclusive interview with King, American Masters – Carole King: Natural Woman delves into her life and career. New interviews with friends and colleagues, including fellow songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Tapestry producer Lou Adler, drummer Russ Kunkel, guitarist Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar, daughter and manager Sherry Goffin Kondor, lyricists Toni Stern and Carole Bayer Sager, and former manager Peter Asher, complete the biographical tapestry. Continue reading

Julie Andrews Returns as Host of “From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2016,” Conducted by Mariss Jansons

Featuring the Vienna Boys’ Choir, On THIRTEEN’s Great Performances Friday, January 1 at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. ET on PBS

The Vienna Philharmonic And Soloists Of The Vienna State Ballet Return For The Beloved Annual Tradition Against The Joyful Backdrop Of The Scenic City

Stage and screen legend Julie Andrews returns for the seventh time to host the festive annual New Year’s celebration with the Vienna Philharmonic, under the direction of Mariss Jansons, from Vienna’s MusikvereinFrom Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2016, featuring the infectious melodies of the Strauss Family and their contemporaries, airs on Great Performances, Friday, January 1 at 2:30 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings) with an encore performance that evening at 7:30 p.m.

Vienna Philharmonic. Phot Credit: Terry Linke

Vienna Philharmonic. Photo Credit: Terry Linke

Maestro Jansons is returning for the third time to conduct the ever-popular concert. The Vienna Boys’ Choir and soloists of the Vienna State Ballet also return for the gala evening.

This is the largest worldwide event in classical music reaching millions of people annually through radio and television in over 80 countries. The Vienna Philharmonic’s traditional New Year’s program has showcased Viennese musical culture at the highest level, and since the first television broadcast in 1959, sent the world a New Year’s greeting in the spirit of hope, friendship and peace. (The telecast marks the 32nd broadcast of the event on PBS.)

The musical program is as follows:

Johann Strauss – “A Night in Venice” Overture

Eduard Strauss – Out of Control, Quick Polka

Josef Strauss – Music of the Spheres, Waltz

Johann Strauss – Singers Joy, French Polka (with Vienna Boys’ Choir)

Josef Strauss – On Holiday, Quick Polka (with Vienna Boys’ Choir)

Johann Strauss – “Princess Ninetta” – Entr’acte between Acts 2 and 3

Emil Waldteufel – España, Waltz (after Chabrier)

Johann Strauss, Sr. – Sighs Galop

Josef Strauss – The Dragonfly, Polka Mazur

Johann Strauss – Emperor Waltz

Johann Strauss – On the Hunt, Quick Polka

Johann Strauss – Double-time! Quick Polka –

Johann Strauss – On the Beautiful Blue Danube, Waltz

Johann Strauss, Sr. – Radetsky March

Julie Andrews’ role as host of these New Year’s broadcasts continues to be a cherished tradition for viewers and the beloved singer, actress, and author herself: “Vienna is a magical city…rich in culture and history. The glorious music it has brought to the world is a gift. I look forward to hosting another New Year’s celebration and sharing some of the incredible sights and sounds that are uniquely Vienna.

As is customary with these broadcasts, Ms. Andrews will travel from her home base in the Musikverein hall itself to visit multiple picturesque Vienna landmarks, including The Imperial Summer Palace of Schönbrunn, and The Kaiserloge in the Royal Enclosure at Austria’s Freudenau racetrack; The Winter Riding School in the Hofburg; the Imperial Carriage Museum; Vienna’s first public park, The Volksgarten; and the Volksgarten Club Disco (once Petro Corti’s Kaffeehaus where the Strausses performed); and the historic Tirolerhof farmhouse. Continue reading

THIRTEEN’s American Masters: Althea Uncovers the Story of Legendary African American Tennis Pioneer Althea Gibson

American Masters: Althea premieres nationwide Friday, September 4, 9-10:30 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). Encore presentation of American Masters: Billie Jean King follows, 10:30 p.m. -12 midnight.

People often cite Arthur Ashe as the first African American to win Wimbledon (1975).  He was indeed the first African American male to win the men’s singles title, but it was, in fact, Althea Gibson, who was the first African American to cross the color line  playing and winning at Wimbledon (1957 and 1958) and at the U.S. Nationals (1957 and 1958 – precursor of the U.S. Open).11400992_930685700321663_6031720544218097232_n

PBS’s American Masters presents Althea, premiering nationwide Friday, September 4, 2015 at 9 pm during the U.S. Open.  The 90-minute documentary reveals the highs and lows of this remarkable athlete whose life and achievements transcend sports and have entered the annals of African American history. From her roots as a sharecropper’s daughter in the cotton fields of South Carolina, to her emergence as the unlikely queen of the highly segregated tennis world in the 1950s, her story is a complex tale of race, class and gender.

In recounting Gibson’s story, the filmmakers were meticulous in finding period imagery, including over 450 vintage photographs.  Producer and director Rex Miller weaves this archival visual material and interviews with those who knew Gibson, such as former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, Wimbledon champions Dick Savitt and Billie Jean King (who also serves as one of the film’s executive producers), Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, widow of Arthur Ashe, and more.

"American Masters," THIRTEEN's award-winning biography series, explores the lives and creative journeys of America's most enduring artistic and cultural giants. With insight and originality, the series illuminates the extraordinary mosaic of our nation's landscape, heritage and traditions. Watch full episodes and more at http://pbs.org/americanmasters. (PRNewsFoto/WNET) (PRNewsFoto/WNET)

“American Masters,” THIRTEEN’s award-winning biography series, explores the lives and creative journeys of America’s most enduring artistic and cultural giants. With insight and originality, the series illuminates the extraordinary mosaic of our nation’s landscape, heritage and traditions. Watch full episodes and more at http://pbs.org/americanmasters. (PRNewsFoto/WNET) (PRNewsFoto/WNET)

Gibson was born in Silver, South Carolina on August 25, 1927. At the age of three, her father moved the family north migrating to Harlem in 1930. Gibson was a tomboy who grew up loving sports, but disliked school so much that she started skipping classes at the age of 12 and, by 18, had dropped out of high school.  She played basketball, but “…paddle tennis started it all,” says Gibson, in a clip from a 1984 interview.

She learned to play that sport on the streets, but it was bandleader Buddy Walker, who was also the neighborhood play street director, who introduced her to tennis and The Cosmopolitan Club, a private black tennis club. At the club, she met Fred Johnson, the one-armed coach, who taught her how to play. Under the auspices of the American Tennis Association (ATA), an organization of African American players, she began to develop as a tennis player.  It was during this time that she met boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, who would become a friend and mentor.

Though a talented tennis player, Gibson was a street kid who lacked the genteel manner associated with the sport. It was under the tutelage of Dr. Hubert Eaton of Wilmington, NC and Dr. Robert W. Johnson of Lynchburg, VA, two African American physicians who loved tennis and helped young African Americans who wanted to play, that she flourished. She honed her skill, while receiving lessons in etiquette and the social graces, traveled and played in the segregated south, and even earned her high school degree.  Her success in tennis earned her an athletic scholarship (basketball and tennis) to Florida A&M, where she received a BA in 1955 at the age of 27. Yet, with all she achieved, she never felt comfortable with the black middle class.

She honed her skill, while receiving lessons in etiquette and the social graces, traveled and played in the segregated south, and even earned her high school degree. Her success in tennis earned her an athletic scholarship (basketball and tennis) to Florida A&M, where she received a BA in 1955 at the age of 27. Yet, with all she achieved, she never felt comfortable with the black middle class.

Gibson’s first appearance at the U.S. Nationals in 1950 is an extraordinary and dramatic story. Her triumphant return seven years later to win the U.S. Nationals in 1957 and then again in 1958 has been attributed to her coach at the time, Sydney Llewellyn (her second husband). In 1957 and 1958, Gibson was at the top of her game, winning major tournaments including at prestigious Wimbledon. Though now a world champion, Gibson was unable to make a living playing amateur tennis. In 1959, she turned professional, touring with the Harlem Globetrotters and played paid exhibition matches. Branching out to other areas, she recorded a jazz album for Dot Records, appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show, and even landed a role in a John Wayne/John Ford movie, The Horse Soldiers (1959), In the 1960s, she took up golf and in 1964 she became the first African American woman to become a member of the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association).

In 1965, she married the love of her life, William Darben. Angela Buxton, Althea’s doubles partner and friend, and Sandra Terry, Darben’s niece, speak lovingly about their relationship, though Gibson and Darben’s marriage ended in 1975. Gibson would remarry in 1983 to former coach Llewellyn. Art Carrington, ex-professional player, tennis historian and Athea’s friend, recalls she married Llewellyn because she was invited to bring a spouse on a trip for former champions. Buxton shares that they were just very good friends and that Gibson felt Llewellyn had done a lot for her. Five years later, this marriage also ended in divorce. Gibson and Darben remained close, reuniting towards the end of her life.

By 1968, Gibson had stopped competing and for a while worked as a tennis teaching pro. In the years that followed, Gibson found it difficult to make ends meet. Was her failure to achieve financial success partially her own doing? As portrayed in the film, Gibson is crushed when she is turned away — unrecognized and unwelcome — at the on-site restaurant on U.S. Open Championship Day.

Depressed and impoverished, in 1996, Gibson called Buxton to say goodbye. In a generous outpouring of financial support, orchestrated by Buxton, the tennis community showed Gibson she was not forgotten. Gibson died September 28, 2003. She was 76.

Though Gibson’s accomplishments put her in the forefront of the struggle to eliminate segregation in tennis and to gain equal rights for players, she was a reluctant figure of the civil rights movement. “As far as Althea was concerned, it was not about representing the race,” says Arvelia Myers, Althea’s friend and tennis professional.  Says Billie Jean King, “Arthur and I used our tennis as a platform, that’s not what she wanted. She just wanted to play.”

Gibson’s athletic prowess was unmatched on the tennis court, making her a formidable competitor,” says Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters and tennis enthusiast. “Her story remains an important part not only of sports history and African American history, but of American cultural history.  American Masters is proud to share the story of this trailblazing athlete and extraordinary woman.” Continue reading

GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET: LES CONTES D’HOFFMANN

Great Performances at the Met: "Les Contes d’Hoffmann" - Erin Morley as Olympia in Offenbach's "Les Contes d’Hoffmann." Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Great Performances at the Met: “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” – Erin Morley as Olympia in Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann.”
Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Italian Tenor Vittorio Grigolo stars in the title role as the tortured poet unlucky in love in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann on Great Performances at the Met Sunday, May 10 at 12 p.m. on PBS, in a production by Broadway director Bartlett SherThomas Hampson adds a new role to his extensive repertory as the Four Villains who interfere with Hoffmann’s courtship of four women: the mechanical doll Olympia, sung by American soprano Erin Morley in her role debut; the consumptive artist Antonia and the self-absorbed diva Stella, both portrayed by Russian soprano Hibla Gerzmava; and the Venetian courtesan Giulietta, sung by English mezzo-soprano Christine Rice. American mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey takes the trouser role of Nicklausse, Hoffmann’s faithful muse, and Canadian conductor Yves Abel leads the cast. Soprano Deborah Voigt hosts the broadcast.

Great Performances at the Met: "Les Contes d’Hoffmann" - Vittorio Grigolo in the title role of Offenbach's "Les Contes d’Hoffmann." Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Great Performances at the Met: “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” – Vittorio Grigolo in the title role of Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann.” Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Great Performances at the Met: "Les Contes d’Hoffmann" - Hibla Gerzmava as Antonia in Offenbach's "Les Contes d’Hoffmann." Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Great Performances at the Met: “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” – Hibla Gerzmava as Antonia in Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann.”
Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

After becoming the toast of Paris with his witty operettas, Jacques Offenbach set out to create a more serious work. He chose as his source a successful play based on the stories of visionary German writer E.T.A. Hoffmann. Three of these tales—at once profound, eerie, and funny—were unified in the play by a narrative frame that made Hoffmann the protagonist of his own tales. Each episode recounts a catastrophic love affair: first with a girl who turns out to be an automated doll, then with a sickly young singer, and finally with a Venetian courtesan. In the prologue and epilogue, the hero is involved with an opera singer who seems like a combination of these three previous loves. Throughout the opera, Hoffmann is dogged by a diabolical nemesis and accompanied by his faithful friend Nicklausse, whose true identity is only revealed after bitter experience. Failure in love eventually fuels his future artistic success. Offenbach died before the premiere, leaving posterity without an authorized version of the score.

Erin Morley as Olympia in Offenbach's "Les Contes d’Hoffmann." Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Erin Morley as Olympia in Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann.”
Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Vittorio Grigolo in the title role of Offenbach's "Les Contes d’Hoffmann." Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Vittorio Grigolo in the title role of Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann.”
Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Les Contes d’Hoffmann will be broadcast on THIRTEEN’S Great Performances at the Met Sunday, May 10 at 12 p.m. on PBS.  (Check local listings.) (In New York, THIRTEEN will air the opera at 12:30 p.m.) Les Contes d’Hoffmann was originally seen live in movie theaters on January 31, 2015 as part of the groundbreaking The Met: Live in HD series, which transmits live performances to more than 2,000 movie theaters and performing arts centers in over 70 countries around the world. The Live in HD series has reached a record-breaking 17 million viewers since its inception in 2006. Continue reading

PBS’S AMERICAN MASTERS 2015 SEASON AIRS AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE: A HISTORY

Ric Burns’ New Documentary American Ballet Theatre: A History Premieres Nationwide on THIRTEEN’s American Masters Series Friday, May 15 on PBS in Honor of the Company’s 75th Anniversary

THIRTEEN’s American Masters series teams up with Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Ric Burns to co-produce a new documentary about the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in honor of its 75th anniversary.

American Masters – American Ballet Theatre: A History premieres nationwide Friday, May 15, 2015 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) and delving into the rich history of one of the world’s preeminent ballet companies, Burns combines intimate rehearsal footage, virtuoso performances and interviews with American Ballet Theatre’s key figures: artists pivotal to the company’s formation, including Alicia Alonso and the late Donald Saddler and Frederic Franklin; contemporary luminaries, including dancers Susan Jaffe and Julie Kent, choreographer Alexei Ratmansky and artistic director Kevin McKenzie; past and present stars Misty Copeland, Gillian Murphy, Marcelo Gomes and Hee Seo; dance historian and author Jennifer Homans; and prominent dance critics Anna Kisselgoff and the late Clive Barnes.

Alicia Alonso in “Swan Lake.” Credit: Photo by Maurice Seymour

Alicia Alonso in “Swan Lake.” Credit: Photo by Maurice Seymour

The story of American Ballet Theatre, and the breathtaking rise of dance in the U.S. over the last three-quarters of a century, is one of the most inspiring stories in the cultural world,” says Burns. “Ballet is the most poignantly ephemeral and expressive of all the arts, both earthbound and transcendent. And ABT, indisputably one of the greatest dance companies in the world, has torn down an incredible number of barriers, welcoming choreographers of every kind and dancers from around the world.

American Ballet Theatre’s Corps de Ballet in “La Bayadere.” Credit: Photo by Buddy Squires

American Ballet Theatre’s Corps de Ballet in “La Bayadere.” Credit: Photo by Buddy Squires

Gillian Murphy warming up for the Black Swan variation in “Swan Lake.” Credit: Photo by George Seminara

Gillian Murphy warming up for the Black Swan variation in “Swan Lake.” Credit: Photo by George Seminara

Gillian Murphy receives last minute coaching from Kevin McKenzie and Clinton Luckett. Credit: Photo by George Seminara

Gillian Murphy receives last minute coaching from Kevin McKenzie and Clinton Luckett. Credit: Photo by George Seminara

American Ballet Theatre (ABT) is recognized as one of the great dance companies in the world. Few ballet companies equal ABT for its combination of size, scope, and outreach. Recognized as a living national treasure since its founding in 1940, ABT is the only major cultural institution that annually tours the United States, performing for more than 450,000 people. The company has also made more than 30 international tours to 43 countries as perhaps the most representative American ballet company and has been sponsored by the State Department of the United States on many of these engagements.

When American Ballet Theatre was launched in autumn 1939, the aim was to develop a repertoire of the best ballets from the past and to encourage the creation of new works by gifted young choreographers, wherever they might be found. Under the direction of Lucia Chase and Oliver Smith from 1940-1980, the company more than fulfilled that aim. ABT’s repertoire, perhaps unmatched in the history of ballet, includes all of the great full-length ballets of the 19th century, such as Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and Giselle, the finest works from the early part of the 20th century, such as Apollo, Les Sylphides, Jardin aux Lilas and Rodeo, and acclaimed contemporary masterpieces such as Airs, Push Comes to Shove and Duets. In acquiring such an extraordinary repertoire, ABT has commissioned works by all of the great choreographic geniuses of the 20thcentury: George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, Jerome Robbins, Agnes de Mille and Twyla Tharp, among others.

In 1980, Mikhail Baryshnikov became artistic director of American Ballet Theatre, succeeding Lucia Chase and Oliver Smith. Under his leadership, numerous classical ballets were staged, restaged and refurbished, and the company experienced a strengthening and refining of the classical tradition. In 1990, Jane Hermann and Oliver Smith succeeded Baryshnikov and immediately established an agenda that was dedicated to maintaining the great traditions of the past while aggressively pursuing a vital and innovative future.

In October 1992, former American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Kevin McKenzie was appointed artistic director. McKenzie, steadfast in his vision of ABT as “American,” is committed to maintaining the company’s vast repertoire, and to bringing the art of dance theater to the great stages of the world.

Over its 75-year history, the company has appeared in a total of 136 cities in 45 countries and has appeared in all 50 states of the United States. In keeping with ABT’s long-standing commitment to bring the finest in dance to the widest international audience, the company has recently enjoyed triumphant successes with engagements in Abu Dhabi, Brisbane, Hong Kong, Havana, Tokyo and Beijing. On April 27, 2006, by an act of Congress, American Ballet Theatre became America’s National Ballet Company®.

Isabella Boylston, Joseph Gorak and Thomas Forster executing a variation during class. Credit: Photo by George Seminara

Isabella Boylston, Joseph Gorak and Thomas Forster executing a variation during class. Credit: Photo by George Seminara

As we approach our 75th year, it is a tremendous honor to have Ric Burns and American Masters illuminate ABT’s history in such a rich and meaningful way,” said Rachel Moore, CEO of American Ballet Theatre. “I am certain the expertise and care Ric and his team have devoted to this film will offer a fresh perspective on our art form and serve as a fitting testament to this cultural institution.

In 2007, Misty Copeland made history by becoming the third African-American female soloist and first in two decades at American Ballet Theatre. She is interviewed and performs in Ric Burns’ new documentary “American Masters: American Ballet Theatre.” Credit: Jade Young

In 2007, Misty Copeland made history by becoming the third African-American female soloist and first in two decades at American Ballet Theatre. She is interviewed and performs in Ric Burns’ new documentary “American Masters: American Ballet Theatre.” Credit: Jade Young

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GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET: DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG

Met Opera Music Director James Levine Leads Wagner’s Grand Comedy Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg On Great Performances at the Met Sunday, April 12 at 11 a.m. on PBS

Soprano Renée Fleming hosts the broadcast

Great Performances at the Met: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: A scene from Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Great Performances at the Met: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: A scene from Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.
Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Met Music Director James Levine conducts Wagner’s epic human comedy Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (“The Master-Singer of Nuremberg”) in its first Great Performances at the Met broadcast.

German baritone Michael Volle stars as cobbler-poet Hans Sachs, with South African tenor Johan Botha as Walther, German soprano Annette Dasch as Eva, German baritone Johannes Martin Kränzle in his Met debut as Beckmesser, German bass Hans-Peter König as Pogner, American tenor Paul Appleby as David, and Scottish mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill as Magdalene.  The performance was part of the final revival of Otto Schenk’s acclaimed 1993 Met production.

Great Performances at the Met: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Johan Botha as Walther in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Great Performances at the Met: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Johan Botha as Walther in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Great Performances at the Met: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Johannes Martin Kränzle as Beckmesser in Wagner's "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg." Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Great Performances at the Met: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Johannes Martin Kränzle as Beckmesser in Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.” Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Great Performances at the Met: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Karen Cargill as Magdalene in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Great Performances at the Met: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Karen Cargill as Magdalene in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Great Performances at the Met: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Paul Appleby as David in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Great Performances at the Met: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Paul Appleby as David in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Great Performances at the Met: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - Michael Volle as Hans Sachs in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Great Performances at the Met: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg – Michael Volle as Hans Sachs in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Great Performances at the Met: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Great Performances at the Met: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Great Performances at the Met: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Matthew Rose as Nightwatchman in Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.” Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg will be broadcast on THIRTEEN’S Great Performances at the Met Sunday, April 12 at 11 a.m. on PBS.  (Check local listings.) (In New York, THIRTEEN will air the opera at 12:30 p.m.) Soprano Renée Fleming hosts the broadcast. Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg was originally seen live in movie theaters on December 13, 2014 as part of the groundbreaking The Met: Live in HD series, which transmits live performances to more than 2,000 movie theaters and performing arts centers in over 70 countries around the world. The Live in HD series has reached a record-breaking 17 million viewers since its inception in 2006. Continue reading

Annie Lennox: Nostalgia Live in Concert, Featuring Classics from the Great American Songbook, Airs on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances on Friday, April 3 at 10 p.m. on PBS

Grammy-nominated album – featuring legendary songs such as “I Put a Spell on You,” “Georgia on My Mind,” and “Mood Indigo” – inspires television special

"Great Performances – Annie Lennox: Nostalgia Live in Concert." Credit: Robert Sebree

“Great Performances – Annie Lennox: Nostalgia Live in Concert.” Credit: Robert Sebree

Throughout her four-decade career, music superstar Annie Lennox has defied categorization, diving into blues, soul, folk and pop to create songs that captivate and transcend boundaries. In her latest album Nostalgia, Lennox has revealed yet another dimension to her formidable talent.  Although jazz is not the genre for which she is best known, she could no longer resist the magnetic pull of some of the most memorable melodies and lyrics from the American Songbook. Nostalgia, the singer’s seventh solo album, has been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.

And with the Great Performances special, Annie Lennox: Nostalgia Live in Concert, the singer’s unique interpretations bring a new intimacy to these timeless classics. The special airs Friday, April 3 at 10 p.m. on PBS. (Check local listings.)

"Great Performances – Annie Lennox: Nostalgia Live in Concert." Credit: Robert Sebree

“Great Performances – Annie Lennox: Nostalgia Live in Concert.” Credit: Robert Sebree

In the 60-minute concert – which was taped at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles in January  Lennox performs songs from the Nostalgia album like “Summertime,” “Strange Fruit,” “I Cover the Waterfront” and “God Bless the Child.”

The special features Lennox’s fresh takes on iconic American compositions by such artists as Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Billie Holiday and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, as she pays tribute to some of the greatest artists of the 20th century, interpreting compositions that have moved her, stripping them down to their emotional and musical core and making them her own, demonstrating how these songs continue to resonate even amid the complexities of modern life.

On the album, Lennox approached each song as if she had never heard it before, boiling each down to its bare essence. Working together with co-producer Mike Stevens, Lennox started with keyboards and added instrumentation sparingly such as the lacerating guitar solo in the middle of “Screaming” Jay Hawkins’ torrid “I Put a Spell on You.” The orchestrations are used on the special.

Annie Lennox: Nostalgia Live in Concert was directed by Natalie Johns. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is series producer and David Horn is executive producer.

Great Performances is funded by the Anne Ray Charitable Trust, the Irene Diamond Fund, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, Rosalind P. Walter, The Agnes Varis Trust, The Starr Foundation, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, The Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, and PBS.

Memorable Arias and Duets from Today’s Operatic Superstars Topline Encores! Great Performances at the Met Airing in December on PBS

From Natalie Dessay and Anna Netrebko to Juan Diego Flórez and Jonas Kaufmann, show-stopping excerpts from “Carmen,” “Rigoletto,” “La Bohème,” and more, hosted by Deborah Voigt

Encores! Great Performances at the Met – featuring 19 unforgettable arias and duets selected from the past eight seasons of broadcasts, performed by today’s greatest opera stars and talents – will air on Great Performances in December. (In New York, THIRTEEN will air the program on Thursday, December 11 at 8:30 p.m.)

Hosted by soprano Deborah Voigt, from the Grand Staircase of the Met, the special covers a wide range of operatic ground, from

"Great Performances" logo, courtesy: WNET New York Public Media (PRNewsFoto/THIRTEEN/WNET New York)

“Great Performances” logo, courtesy: WNET New York Public Media (PRNewsFoto/THIRTEEN/WNET New York)

heartbreak to hilarity, delivered by such artists as Natalie Dessay, Plácido Domingo, Renée Fleming, Juan Diego Flórez, Jonas Kaufmann, and Anna Netrebko, along with Voigt herself.  These extraordinary moments, selected from more than 75 productions, were initially seen as part of the Met’s global Live in HD movie-theater transmissions, and later shared with PBS audiences as presentations of Great Performances at the Met. The musical excerpts are interspersed with commentary by Voigt and some backstage interviews with the singers.

Excerpts Listing:

“Chacun le sait, chacun le dit”
La Fille du Régiment (Donizetti)
Natalie Dessay

“Ah, mes amis”
La Fille du Régiment (Donizetti)
Juan Diego Flórez

“Figlia impura di Bolena”
Maria Stuarda (Donizetti)
Joyce DiDonato, Elza van den Heever

“Pourquoi me réveiller”
Werther (Massenet)
Jonas Kaufmann

Final Scene, Carmen (Bizet)
El?na Garan?a, Roberto Alagna

“So anch’io la virtù magica”
Don Pasquale (Donizetti)
Anna Netrebko

“How soft and sweet your magic tone”
The Magic Flute (Mozart)
Matthew Polenzani

“En proie à la tristesse”
Le Comte Ory (Rossini)
Diana Damrau

“Plebe! Patrizi!”
Simon Boccanegra (Verdi)
Plácido Domingo
with Adrianne Pieczonka, Marcello Giordani, James Morris

Final Scene, Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky)
Renée Fleming, Dmitri Hvorostovsky

“Largo al factotum”
Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini)
Peter Mattei

“Fin ch’han dal vino”
Don Giovanni (Mozart)
Mariusz Kwiecien

“D’amor sull’ali rosee”
Il Trovatore (Verdi)
Sondra Radvanovsky

“Mild und leise wie er lächelt”
Tristan und Isolde (Wagner)
Deborah Voigt

“Questa o quella”
Rigoletto (Verdi)
Piotr Beczala

“Un bel dì vedremo”
Madama Butterfly (Puccini)
Patricia Racette

Death Scene, Boris Godunov (Mussorgsky)
René Pape

“O soave fanciulla”
La Bohème (Puccini)
Kristine Opolais, Vittorio Grigolo

“Loge, hör!”
Die Walküre (Wagner)
Bryn Terfel

Encores! Great Performances at the Met is produced by THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET.  For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is series producer and David Horn is executive producer. Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, with additional funding by the National Endowment for the Arts. Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, Rosalind P. Walter, The Agnes Varis Trust, The Starr Foundation, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, and PBS. Visit Great Performances Online at www.pbs.org/gperf for additional information about this and other programs.

Acclaimed Soprano RENEE FLEMING and JOHAN BOTHA star in OTELLO, VERDI’s towering tragedy of jealousy and murder, on GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET Sunday, FEBRUARY 24 at 12 Noon on PBS

SEMYON BYCHKOV conducts the Shakespearean drama, which also features FALK STRUCKMANN as Iago and MICHAEL FABIANO as Cassio

 

Renée Fleming as Desdemona and Johan Botha in the title role of Verdi's "Otello."Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Renée Fleming as Desdemona and Johan Botha in the title role of Verdi’s “Otello.”
Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

RENEE FLEMING

RENEE FLEMING

VERDI‘s Shakespearean tragedy Otello starring JOHAN BOTHA in the title role and RENEE FLEMING as Otello’s innocent wife, Desdemona, airs on GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET Sunday, February 24 at 12 noon on PBS (check local listings). SEMYON BYCHKOV, who led an acclaimed run of performances featuring Botha and Fleming in the 2007-08 season, again conducts the opera, regarded by many critics as Verdi’s dramatic masterpiece. FALK STRUCKMANN takes the role of the villain Iago for the first time at The Metropolitan Opera, and rising tenor MICHAEL FABIANO, a winner of the Met’s 2007 NATIONAL COUNCIL AUDITIONS, makes his house role debut as Cassio. Otello will be seen in ELIJAH MOSHINSKY’s production, which premiered at the Met in 1994. Continue reading