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A Profile for Washington National Opera


LINDORO is a lot of fun,” says tenor Juan Diego Flórez. His role in L’Italiana in Algeri, in which he is making his Washington National Opera debut, is one of nine Rossini roles in his repertoire—roles that critics have called “hideously difficult,” and “notoriously strangulated.” Flórez is making Rossini positively hip, again, dazzling with halcyon high notes and precision coloratura, diamond-bright—and thrillingly robust. Says Flórez, “Lindoro is one of those Rossini roles that is like extreme sport. You have to be fit, vocally and physically. The first aria,” he says, searching a CD label, “is eight minutes long! With high D’s!” He says it in delighted amazement at the feat the composer has posed the intrepid tenor, the way a pole-vaulter trumpets his winning centimeter.

            In Madrid, Flórez is called “the Beckham of opera,” invoking both athletic agility and marquee quality. Los Angeleans queue up for Flórez as for red-carpet royalty. In his native Peru, he’s just The Tenor. “Even people who have never heard me know me,” says Flórez, “and they are proud for the country.”

A Profile for New York City Opera's Season Program


COMPOSER Rachel Portman has been Hollywood A-list ever since becoming the first female composer to win the Academy Award (Best Original Score,  Emma). . . .

Portman's sound signature is an opulent, melodic romanticism and lush orchestration, as in her score for Roman Polanski's Oliver, and such other titles as Cider House Rules (Oscar and Grammy nominations), Chocolat (Oscar and Golden Globe nominations) . . .

          Discovering a dearth of meaningful live theater for children, Portman, who has three daughters, determined to help remedy that herself. She settled upon The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's universally cherished story about a guileless boy who falls from space into the middle of the Sahara Desert. To orient herself to her task in the new medium, Portman turned not to the vast library of operatic literature but to the Moroccan desert, "to hear the sound of the sand."  The tiny caravan traveled atop camels, Portman now calls, "Very lovely . . . Actually most uncomfortable, and endless. Wretched, really . . ."

A profile for of the composer's collaboration with author Salmon Rushdie


NO ONE PUTS new wine into old wine skins, reads the Gospel of Mark, otherwise the wine will burst the skins and the wine is lost and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wine skins."

          With no less certainty and much the same authority, composer Charles Wuorinen holds forth on these and other aspects of art and culture: "There is an unfortunate general conception among a lot of people that art is elite. . .Thus it is our duty to expand and assert the value of higher culture in life without apology."

A profile of painter Marlene Dumas for ACC


WHEN SOUTH AFRICAN painter Marlene Dumas first conceded her penchant for the human form, at Capetown’s Michealis School of Fine Arts in the 1970’s, the figure in art was anything but hip. Abstract Expressionism dominated and Conceptualism was coming on. But Dumas had found her passion early and has followed it ever since. One Hundred Models and Endless Rejects (2001) invoked the symbiotic artist/model relationship—always a powerful alchemy of ambiguous intimacy, controlled voyeurism, and sexual tension . . .

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