Jason Aldean’s “Try It in a Small Town” charted at number two

In May, country superstar Jason Aldean released a single called “Try That in a Small Town,” with lyrics that paint contemporary urban life as a landscape of crime and mayhem: “Sucker punching somebody on the sidewalk / Karjak old lady at a red light.” “You think you’re tough,” Aldean sings. Well, try that in a … Read more

A re-imagining of ‘Madame Butterfly’ with Asian makers at the helm

The auditorium lights dimmed, and the cast and crew of Cincinnati’s new opera production of Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly” anxiously took their places. For months, the team, made up largely of Asian and Asian American artists, worked to reimagine classical opera, transforming its stereotype of women and Japanese culture. They’ve updated the look of the opera … Read more

How Indigo Girls Bring Barbie Closer to Beauty

In Greta Gerwig’s Barbieland, where every day is the best day ever, pop stars like Lizzo, Dua Lipa, and Charli XCX deliver a bouncy soundtrack as the living dolls go about their cheerful, carefree lives. That is, until Margot Robbie’s “stereotypical” Barbie pointed to a record scratcher with a rare and shocking existential query: “Have … Read more

At the Wagner Festival, new technology reveals a leadership rift

American director Jay Ship was looking at a bank of screens inside the Bayreuth Festival Theater one afternoon. he was training on New production of Wagner’s “Parsifal” which opened the Bayreuth Festival on Wednesday, and as performers circled a large metal platform on stage, screens projected 3D flowers floating in empty space – psychedelic animations … Read more

Meeting with Sean Cassidy, my first crush

I was approaching the George Washington Bridge when my friend Lynn shot out a text message in Shaun Squad’s group chat: “Get ready, party people!” My heart sank as the message streamed through the car speakers in a robotic female voice. I dictated again: “Oh my God, Lynn, you better not be about to send … Read more

Tony Bennett’s commitment to civil rights

In explaining the roots of his commitment to civil rights, Tony Bennett often told a story from his army days, when he brought a black soldier as his guest to Thanksgiving dinner, prompting an angry rebuke and demotion. It was 1945, three years before the end of apartheid in the US military, and Bennett, who … Read more

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga: How the unlikely pair rose together

It remains one of the most impressive reversals I’ve ever seen of a musician pulling off live–and at the age of 88, no less. In 2015, during the third of four sold-out shows at Radio City Music Hall, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga were sharing a bill, promoting their chart-topping and generational 2014 duet album, … Read more