Hamming Up Bulgakov

Orlando Figes

Ovation

It’s not hard to see why Mikhail Bulgakov’s books are so often dramatized. He was himself a dramatist, and adapted his own novel The White Guard (1925) for the stage. His prose is highly visual, full of humorous incidents, theatrical in atmosphere, and frequently surreal—all qualities that lend it to the stage and screen. But not all his books were written in that vein. A new television series starring Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe shows that Bulgakov is becoming better known, but not necessarily through his own words.

A Magician in Pigment

Ingrid D. Rowland

State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

“Titian was a painter of astonishing versatility, a master of landscape, of portraiture, of sacred painting, historical painting, mythology, a magician who could turn a dab of pigment into a flame, a pleat, a thunderbolt, a twinkle in the eye, a Cupid’s wing,” Ingrid Rowland writes in the November 7, 2013 issue of The New York Review. Here she presents a selection of Titian’s paintings with commentary.

Listening to Elliott Carter

Tim Page

Jacques M. Chenet/Corbis

It is now just a year since the death of the composer Elliott Carter and his absence still seems a little unreal. He lived a very long life—he died thirty-six days before his one hundred and fourth birthday—and he remained active up to the end, creating some of the warmest, most direct and intimate music of his career in his final years. Such longevity in itself is astounding: think of long-lived composers like Giuseppe Verdi, Richard Strauss, and Jean Sibelius, and then consider that all of them were either dead or retired at the point when Carter was embarking on his first and only opera, What’s Next?, at the age of eighty-eight, with another fifteen years of work yet ahead of him.

Sean O’Casey’s Women

Sam Sacks

James Higgins

Director Charlotte Moore’s new production of Juno and the Paycock in the snug Irish Repertory Theatre negotiates the play’s difficult balance between farce and pathos with mixed success. The men are a motley assortment of loudmouths and knaves. Ciaran O’Reilly plays Boyle as a garrulous mixture of Falstaff and Ralph Kramden, while John Keating vividly brings out Joxer’s rodentine hypocrisy. Ed Malone is the pitiable son, Johnny, who lost an arm in the war for independence and mutters hollow bromides about principle, and James Russell is the foppish theosophist Charlie Bentham.

They Changed Opera

Tim Page

Copyright © Beth Bergman 1967, 2013

That the New York City Opera had kept going for seventy years was more than a little amazing. It had been a star-crossed organization for years, beset by strikes, warehouse fires, financial woes and the devastation of the early years of AIDS. Fortunately, throughout the years, there were always enough extraordinary young artists for the Opera to champion—Beverly Sills, Samuel Ramey, Placido Domingo, Renee Fleming, Carol Vaness, Sherrill Milnes, Frederica von Stade and David Daniels, to mention only some of the most famous. But it is the “habit” of the New York City Opera that I will miss the most. By that I mean its sheer presence in town, night after night, as it was from the 1940s through the 1990s and afterward.

Sketches from Guantanamo

Janet Hamlin

Fantagraphics

Guantanamo tribunals differed from the other court drawings I’ve done. For instance, there were faces I was not allowed to draw, and each drawing could not leave the courtroom until a Pentagon official reviewed it. He would examine the art, occasionally have me erase some of the details, then sign and stamp the art once approved. Then I carried the sketches back, uploaded them to the media pool with descriptions, grabbed lunch, and got back for the afternoon session, going through three levels of security every time we entered or left the court area, always with an escort. Time is precious.

Sun Ra: A True Birthday

Seth Colter Walls

Guy Le Querrec/Magnum Photos

The prospect of getting to know Sun Ra’s massive, erratically organized oeuvre may seem discouraging. But giving up on the ability to know everything doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to total ignorance, either. That realization is a part of what is so welcome about Jazz at Lincoln Center’s embrace of the Sun Ra Arkestra this month.

Beyond the Camps: Images of the Syrian Exodus

Hugh Eakin and Alisa Roth

Alisa Roth

In sheer numbers alone, the scale of Syria’s humanitarian crisis is difficult to grasp: a third of the country’s 22.5 million people have abandoned their homes; 10 percent have fled the country, including more than one million children. The crisis has also been hard to understand because the Syrians who have fled are dispersed in hundreds of villages, towns, and cities across the region. These photographs, taken during reporting this summer in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq, show some of the many different situations in which the refugees now find themselves.

Dancing Kafka

Laura Marsh

Tristan Kenton

Edward Watson’s performance as Gregor Samsa in The Metamorphosis shows how thin the line between the beautiful and the grotesque can be in ballet. Watson, a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet, has danced the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, Rudolf in Mayerling and next year will dance Romeo in MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet. In this adaptation of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis by Arthur Pita, Watson evokes the nightmarish experience Kafka describes—of a man who wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a giant insect—through the vocabulary of ballet. Here you can see his leg turned out at the hip and his foot arched. But what he is doing with his toes makes the whole posture hideous. They wriggle like a millipede’s legs, as though beyond his control, and Watson looks at them in horror.

Marville’s Vanished Paris

Luc Sante

Joy of Giving Something, Inc.
Charles Marville is best known for his government commission to photograph the neighborhoods of Paris slated for demolition during Baron Haussmann’s reconfiguration of the city between 1853 and 1870. His technical mastery of the medium was such that he made cloud studies of the sky over the Invalides fifty years before clouds featured much in photography, since they tended not to cooperate with the long exposure times. But as rich and fascinating as are those aspects of his work, it is still the documentation of old Paris that secures his place in the highest rank of photographic achievement.