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Arts in the News: ‘Carmen’ Ending Takes a Stand Against Violence Against Women, A Very Saucy Opera and more…

“Carmen” Ending Takes a Stand Against Violence Against Women
The beloved Georges Bizet opera “Carmen” is well over a century old, its premiere having happened in 1875. This January, the Teatro del Maggio Musicale (“the Maggio”) in Florence is putting on a production of the opera with a more modern ending: in the latest version, written by Italian director Leo Muscato, titular character Carmen no longer dies at the hand of her rejected lover Don Jose. The head of the Maggio’s foundation, Cristiano Chiarot, explained the motivation behind the move, asking: “At a time when our society is having to confront the murder of women, how can we dare to applaud the killing of a woman?” Statistics show that one in three Italian women between the age of 16 and 70 experienced physical or sexual violence in 2014. 149 women were murdered in 2016, half as the result of intimate partner violence. Indeed the United Nations has said that violence against women remains “a significant problem in Italy.” A spokesperson for the Maggio explained the new “Carmen” takes a stand in a time when violence against women is rampant: “The theater must have an ethical and social function. It must transmit a message against the violence.” What a powerful alteration that will hopefully help raise awareness of the current plague of violence against women, both in Italy and internationally.

New App Helps You Find Doppelgänger in Famous Art
Doppelgangers are nothing new–people have always been fascinated by finding others who look like them. A new app is helping people find their doppelgangers in an unlikely place–historical artwork. The Google Arts and Culture app takes real human faces in photographs and finds their closest match in paintings. And many are reporting that the app is offering more than just empty promises; results that have been shared on social media so far are strikingly accurate. Those in regions of the world to which access to the app has not yet been expanded, like Australia, are even posting about hoping it will become available soon. Want to see some of the incredible matches or try your own luck at finding a doppelganger from paintings past? Read on <HERE>.

Trump Asks for Van Gogh; Offered Gold Toilet
The White House recently sent a request to the Guggenheim museum to borrow a painting by Vincent van Gogh for the President and First Lady’s private living quarters. The specific painting requested was “Landscape With Snow,” a 1888 painting by the famous artist depicting a man in a black hat walking along a path in Arles, Franec, with his dog. Guggenheim chief curator Nancy Spector replied in an email that was reportedly “polite but firm” that, unfortunately, the piece was unavailable, but offered another, available, piece. The curator’s alternative was “America,” a piece by contemporary artist Maurizio Cattelan that consists of an 18-karat, fully-functioning, solid gold toilet. The interactive piece has been described by critics as a pointed satire of the excessive wealth of the country. Spector wrote to the White House that the artist “would like to offer it to the White House for a long-term loan” and that “all the instructions for its installation and care” would be included. The White House apparently rejected the offer, as the piece is currently being exhibited in Bilbao, Spain, before it will return to New York.

A Very Saucy Opera
To kickoff the celebration of New Orleans’ 300th anniversary, the city is putting on a production of a 19th century comic opera whose themes include–among the more common ones of love and hate–hot sauce. “Tabasco: a Burlesque Opera” had been stuck in an attic for more than a century when conductor Paul Mauffray found a program from its 1894 tour in the archives of an opera company. He recalls his skepticism upon finding it: “At first I thought it couldn’t be Tabasco–that Tabasco hadn’t been around that long.” But lo and behold, the famed hot sauce actually appeared on the scene 26 before the opera was written–and McIlhenny Company, the makers of Tabasco, actually sponsored the opera’s original tour. They are also sponsoring this tour–having underwritten the now sold-out production. The plot involves a harem girl, a sultan obsessed with spicy food, and a drunk who impersonates a French chef. To learn more about the history and plot of this saucy opera, read on here. What a delightful way to celebrate New Orleans’ anniversary and a long-lost opera gem!

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