The Arts

Detectives, with Subtitles

There are three places among the many I love in Europe that serve as home to three of my life’s greatest heroes. And since I can’t visit the places right this minute, I’m trying to spend as much time as I can with those heroes – who are all, as it turns out, fictional detectives.…

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WNO: A Delilah Is Born

Decades before the old Hollywood studio system discovered that Biblical epics could make a lot of money, the opera composers of 19th century Europe discovered the same thing. Toss together a few robes with swords, sandals and gold headbands, and you had the makings of a barn burner. And there were simply more stories in…

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Leguizamo’s Latin History

The National Theater in the nation’s capital is located on Pennsylvania Avenue – as is Donald Trump’s White House. Still, during John Leguizamo’s three Washington performances of Latin History for Morons, there the similarity ends. Far more than an attack on Trump’s benighted “Build the Wall” immigration policies, however, Leguizamo’s play fresh from a Tony-nominated…

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The Venice of Our Dreams

The first time I saw Venice and walked across its flooded Piazza San Marco on makeshift wooden scaffolding was in the icy winter of 1974. The sea the Venetians ruled for centuries had triumphed the night before, a seemingly eternal curse that sounds benign by its official name “high water” – acqua alta – but…

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‘Amadeus’ for the Ages

The late British playwright Peter Shaffer was blessed with two of the most unlikely gifts: creating dazzling intellectual puzzles with more than one satisfying solution, and turning out scripts that delighted multitudes, became hit films and made him a wealthy man. His two best-known works for the stage, Equus and Amadeus, were renowned for the…

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A ‘Thriller’ with a Message

Terry McAuliffe’s just-released short book on the deadly Charlottesville, Va., white nationalist rally in August 2017 is a gripping, moment-by-moment “police procedural” bookended by a political autobiography and a prescription for a brighter future. The three parts don’t always fit together perfectly, but their heart (and clearly McAuliffe’s) is so much in the right place…

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Daniel Silva’s ‘New Girl’

Though a new thriller in Daniel Silva’s remarkable Gabriel Allon series has become a calendar entry for his many fans worldwide each summer, I’ve never thought of these books as “summer reads.” By cliché, if not always in fact, summer reads equal mindless escape, serving up thrills, chills, exotic settings, danger, car chases, shootouts, romance…

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Thoroughly Modern Antiquity

If you knew a dozen respected contemporary artists in Cairo, Alexandria and Luxor – arguably the three most important places for encountering Egypt’s antiquities – and you wanted to help them make a splash in the States, what would you do? If you were Moushera Maaraba, you might ask them to ditch their canvases and…

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Wolf Trap’s Dynamic Duo

Going to an opera at The Barns in northern Virginia certainly is different. It’s different from seeing any opera, or even the same opera, in one of those glittering 19th century palaces that grace Paris, Milan and even Odessa on the Black Sea. And it’s different from seeing any opera, or even the same opera,…

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Arena Stage’s ‘Jubilee’

Though he has staged plays, musicals and even operas around the world, Tazewell Thompson is especially embraced around his DC homebase as a consummate showman. He’s one of those gifted people who intuitively knows an audience’s wishes and grants them in abundance, making them glad they bought a ticket. Thompson’s latest “written and directed by”…

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