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Faust’s Old-Time Religion

It’s not for lack of hummable melodies that Charles Gounod’s opera Faust – based on Goethe’s two volumes, which themselves are based on the “Faust legend” that began circulating throughout Europe during the 16th century – is performed notably less than it used to be. We think it’s because the world view required to believe…

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Nights in Red Velvet

Red velvet cake is definitely a Southern creation, arguably even a Texas creation – unless you are one of those New Yorkers who associate it with the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, or a Canadian who thinks the recipe comes from Eaton’s department store. Seriously now. Doesn’t red velvet cake appear in every Southern cookbook, not to mention…

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WNO’S ‘Eugene Onegin’

Russian composer Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky and Russian poet Alexander Pushkin seem an unlikely pair of collaborators, not least because Pushkin died (in a duel with pistols, no less) three years before Tchaikovsky was born. Yet collaborate they have, and collaborate they do, in Washington National Opera’s first-rate production of Eugene Onegin that opened last night…

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‘Sacrificial’ Seafood

Each year on Ash Wednesday, across New Orleans and the rest of south Louisiana, Catholics (which culturally means everybody, no matter where they go to church, or don’t) start replacing the meat in their diets with seafood. Happily, across New Orleans and the rest of South Louisiana, all the seafood is Catholic too. We’re just…

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Soup for the Season

It’s been several decades now since an impromptu gathering of wandering young Americans decided to shop at the outdoor market in the town they were visiting in Turkey and fix dinner. And since not a single member of the group knew the first thing about cooking, we knew enough to make soup. Obviously, there are…

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Finding Our Own Neverland

There is the magic, and then there’s the magic trick. On the long road from playwright J.M. Barrie’s real life to numerous books and a play, from that play to big-budget movie, and from that movie to the Broadway stage, the musical called Finding Neverland has taken on plenty of both. That’s not to say…

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Uniquely British

George Bernard Shaw once quipped that America and England were two countries separated by a common language. At the time, he was talking about vocabulary, grammar, attitude and, of course, accent. But as we learned recently, his much-quoted wisdom applies to food as well. That’s one of the main takeaways from the happy news that…

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Ailey Dance Company’s 60th

If there is such a thing as “blood memory,” as the late choreographer and company founder Alvin Ailey seemed to think, then it would be an impressionistic thing in the extreme. It wouldn’t tell stories with developed characters. It wouldn’t complete thoughts with explicit meanings or messages. It would suggest and evoke, tease and evade.…

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The Delights of ABT’s ‘Harlequinade’

One of the final works of tsarist Russia’s golden boy Marius Petipa, Harlequinade is dance without a dark side – no lovers dying bestride a tomb, no curses from centuries past, no personalities split into white for good and black for evil. Indeed, it’s intriguing to ponder how many things that were feared within a…

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Trending Flavors from Africa

A couple weeks back, strolling through the mammoth Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, we realized we could see Africa from there. Well, not exactly see it, though the continent is even larger than our own. But we could definitely taste it. After the show, that seemed the main thing most “survivors” (any Fancy…

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