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Bartoli returns to La Scala for 3-year Baroque project

Mezzosoprano Cecilia Bartoli is returning to Milan's famed La Scala opera house next year for a three-year Baroque music collaboration, the opera house announced Thursday.

The program is part of general manager Alexander Pereira's focus on bringing neglected Italian musical traditions back to La Scala's stage, this time leveraging on his long friendship with Bartoli and her love of Baroque music repertoire.

"Baroque music has been in a certain sense somewhat forgotten in Italy. We live in Baroque cities. We breathe Baroque in Italy. For this it is interesting to bring back to light compositions and authors of Baroque musical scores," Bartoli told The Associated Press.

She called Baroque music, composed from the 17th century through the first half of the 18th, Italy's "cultural treasure, our immense treasure."

"When we think of Verdi, when we think of Puccini, we shouldn't forget that these composers became what they were, thanks to those who came before them," Bartoli said. "It is true, Mozart was a genius. But he had a composer like Hayden who was a big inspiration for him."

The Baroque program begins in 2019 with Handel's "Giulio Cesare in Egitto," followed by his "Semele" in 2020 and "Ariodante" in 2021. Pereira said he wants to bring the three productions to other Italian opera houses, in particular the San Carlo theater in Naples, known for its Baroque tradition.

"The biggest Baroque musicians and composers have passed through Naples," Bartoli said, citing as examples Nicola Antonio Propora and Domenico Scarlatti.

To woo Bartoli, Pereira said he first set up a group of La Scala musicians with period instruments, something the pair had done for a similar project when he was director of the Zurich Opera House.

Bartoli sang several times at La Scala in the 1990s; her last appearance was in 2012, when she was booed by the upper balconies of the tiered theater.

She said her long absences were due mostly to scheduling difficulties and commitments elsewhere, and the fact that the La Scala repertoire until recently focused largely on the 1800s.

"I already had many commitments in Salzburg, Zurich, Vienna. To be able to speak of a multi-year project, it is clear it couldn't be done right away," she said. "From 2019 I found free time."

Spain issues arrest warrant for rapper convicted over lyrics

Authorities in Spain have issued an arrest warrant for a Spanish rapper sentenced to prison for lyrics that praised terror groups and insulted the royal family.

A prosecutor's statement says Jose Miguel Arenas Beltran, a 24-year-old rap singer and composer from Palma de Mallorca best known as Valtonyc, is being sought.

The statement Thursday said the rapper was supposed to turn himself in voluntarily to serve a two-year sentence. It said national and European arrest warrants have been issued in his name.

Courts ruled that he distributed songs online that praised terrorism, insulted Spanish royals and threatened a Spanish politician with violence.

In February, the Supreme Court rejected Beltran's argument that he was expressing his right to free speech and that rap songs aim to be provocative.

Scottoline has new publisher, writing book inspired by Roth

Lisa Scottoline, the best-selling crime writer, has a new publisher and is working on a different kind of book.

A book inspired in part by Philip Roth.

G.P. Putnam's Sons told The Associated Press on Thursday that it had reached a six-book deal with Scottoline, who previously published with St. Martin's Press. The deal includes her first historical fiction, a planned trilogy set in Italy during the fascist reign of Mussolini. The first novel in the series is called "Eternal," and Scottoline is citing Roth, who died Tuesday at age 85, as a reason for writing it. In the 1970s, she studied under Roth while attending the University of Pennsylvania, taking seminars on the "Literature of Desire" and the "Literature of the Holocaust."

"In both courses, we did a close, almost line-by-line, analysis of the books he chose for us, evidence of Roth's famous saying that he became an author because he 'liked sentences,'" she told the AP in a recent statement. "I myself became an author because of him, his seminar and his books, especially his survey of the harrowing first-person accounts of the Holocaust. Roth admired very much the books of Primo Levi, notably his 'Survival in Auschwitz,' which haunted me for decades to follow. I knew that someday I would write about the Holocaust in Italy and have been researching and studying it since then."

"I owe it to Philip Roth," she added. "I will mourn him always."

Financial terms for her book deal were not disclosed. With Putnam, Scottoline also plans three domestic thrillers "centered on strong female characters up against impossible odds." The first work, "Someone Knows," is scheduled for next spring. Scottoline, 62, is known for novels such as "After Anna" and "Final Appeal."

Rockwell work at center of controversy gets $8M at auction

One of the two Norman Rockwell paintings at the center of a Massachusetts museum's contentious decision to sell 40 works of art has been sold at auction for more than $8 million.

"Blacksmith's Boy — Heel and Toe," also known as "Shaftsbury Blacksmith Shop," was sold by Sotheby's in New York on Wednesday for $8.1 million, within the expected $7 million to $10 million range.

Rockwell gave the oil painting to the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield in 1966 as a gift when he was living in nearby Stockbridge.

The decision by the struggling museum to sell 40 works drew widespread condemnation and sparked legal challenges.

Under a deal, another Rockwell painting, "Shuffleton's Barbershop" was sold to the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles for an undisclosed price.

Ashton Kutcher made a surprise appearance on “Ellen” yesterday, and he dropped a bomb on her

Ashton Kutcher made a surprise appearance on  “Ellen” yesterday, and he dropped a bomb on her:  He and his investment partner donated $4 MILLION to the Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund.

That’s the charity that Portia de Rassi set up for Ellen as a birthday gift earlier this year.

Ashton said, “You’re always thinking about everyone else and we wanted to show you that people are thinking about you.”

'Survivor' final vote deadlocks, tiebreaker vote needed

History was made on the CBS reality series "Survivor."

For the first time in 36 seasons, the season finale ended in a deadlock, and a tiebreaker was needed to crown a champ.

Host Jeff Probst on Wednesday night revealed jurors on "Survivor: Ghost Island" in Fiji were deadlocked at five votes apiece for Wendell Holland and construction supervisor Domenick Abbate of Nesconset, New York.

It was up to the third member of the final three, Laurel Johnson, to break the tie.

Johnson cast her vote for Holland. The 33-year-old furniture builder from Philadelphia received the $1 million prize.

The NFL owners have approved a new policy about kneeling during national anthem

The NFL owners have approved a new policy which requires all players and team personnel to stand for the National Anthem if they’re on the field.  If they kneel, teams and individuals will be subject to a fine.  But players can stay in the locker room if they want to, without penalty.

It’s possible that fans could be impacted by the NFL’s focus on honoring the National Anthem.  49ers owner Jed York says they’re banning sales at concession stands during the Anthem, because it’s, quote, “not appropriate for [teams] to profit during that period.”


'The Chew' canceled: ABC kills foodie talk show amid Mario Batali allegations

ABC’s appetite for afternoon talk show “The Chew” is over after seven years.

Instead, a third hour of “Good Morning America” will air at 1 p.m. starting this fall. 

>> Mario Batali faces criminal investigation, NYPD officials say

“The Chew,” currently hosted by Carla Hall, Clinton Kelly and Michael Symon, replaced “All My Children” in 2011. Former co-host chef Mario Batali was fired late last year after several women alleged he sexually harassed them at his New York restaurants. Batali is now under criminal investigation by the New York Police Department.

>> Read more trending news 

The chat/food show’s ratings have fallen sharply this season to its lowest levels since its debut.

New episodes of “The Chew” will continue to air through the summer.

Details on who will host this third hour of “GMA” will be released later.

T.I. rails against Houston's restaurant after actresses' arrests from bathroom

Renewed criticism is emerging for Houston’s restaurant in Atlanta as three actresses say they were wrongfully arrested and attacked at the Peachtree Road restaurant after using the restroom.

>> T.I. arrest: Petition urges police to drop charges against rapper

The Atlanta Police Department is investigating whether an off-duty officer working security at the restaurant used excessive force, the agency told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday

Gerald Griggs, an attorney representing the women, said they asked for and were given permission to use the restroom. They were in the process of leaving when the officer escalated the situation, Griggs said.

>> Police report details events leading to T.I.’s arrest outside gated community

The incident is the latest in recent months to lead to accusations of mistreatment of black people at the restaurant chain. The allegations led to calls for a boycott, including from Atlanta rapper T.I., who eventually met with the company and announced that he approved of a plan to address the concerns.

“Absolutely unacceptable behavior!!!!,” he wrote Tuesday on Instagram, renewing his complaints about the chain.

The restaurant said in a statement that it is cooperating with Atlanta police on the investigation. The statement also said the women were asked multiple times to leave by employees because the restaurant was closed.

Griggs told the AJC that the women’s displeasure is with the restaurant as well as the off-duty officer. 

Brittany Lucio, Asia'h Epperson and Erica Walker, who described themselves as actresses, went to the restaurant on May 13, Mother’s Day, after attending an event nearby. 

What happened next is in dispute.

>> On Boy, 9, tries to save brother from carjacker at QuikTrip, cops say

The police report, which Griggs believes contains inaccuracies, said they went into the restroom at 10:26 p.m. and twice refused to leave before an employee asked Officer Jose Guzman to intervene. The restaurant closes at 10 p.m.

At 10:39 p.m., Guzman had a female employee open the door in case the women were using the toilet, the report said. He asked them to leave multiple times, but they ignored him.

The officer had a worker open the restaurant’s back door. Guzman said he grabbed Lucio’s wrist and said, “Let’s go,” but she told him not to touch her and still refused to leave.

Walker walked out of the restaurant.

>> LISTEN: 911 call released in rapper T.I.’s arrest

Guzman said Lucio punched him in the head. Once outside, he held Lucio and Walker to the ground while Epperson filmed with her phone before more police arrived and the women were arrested.

Griggs said the video and his clients’ statements don’t fit with the officer’s report.

First, the attorney emphasized, that despite the stated hours, the restaurant was not closed when the women arrived; it was a “full house.” 

They had been in the restroom 10 minutes or less when staff asked them to leave. The women said they would finish up in the restroom and leave.

“Next thing they know the police officer comes in,” Griggs said.

While the officer complained in the report of small lacerations on his face, Griggs said Lucio and Walker had markings on their bodies to prove they were attacked by the officer. 

The women were each charged with trespassing, and Lucio was also accused of obstruction. 

Griggs said he’s contacted the offices of the district attorney and solicitor to request that the charges be dismissed. He called for the officer to be placed on unpaid leave while the police department investigates the situation.

>> Read more trending news 

The police department said it will review “all aspects” of the incident.

“The Atlanta Police Department is aware of the excessive force accusations made by the arrestees and the Office of Professional Standards has opened an investigation into entire incident for appropriate action and whether proper procedures were followed, the agency said in a statement.

Griggs has been in touch with the legal team at Houston’s in hopes of setting up new meetings to discuss what he said appears to be a “climate” of racial mistreatment at the restaurant.

Historic theater closes due to roof damage

A century-old Vermont theater says it will cancel upcoming events due to roof damage.

The Rutland Herald reports the Paramount Theatre in Rutland announced Tuesday it will relocate two dance recitals due to the damage.

Theater officials declined to discuss the nature of the damage, but they say operations will resume after the dance recitals.

Programming Director Eric Mallette said last week a routine inspection found marks in the balcony that led to concerns about the roof. The theater canceled two events Saturday and Sunday.

The 105-year-old building was closed for 20 years before being reopened after an extensive renovation in 2000.

Mallette said last week this was the first time he could remember the theater closing over safety concerns.


Information from: Rutland Herald,

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