ARTS IN THE NEWS

Landmarks

Last month, the Russian State Committee for Television and Radio agreed to take down the Shabolovka radio tower. The tower, located in Moscow, has historically been known as the “Eiffel Tower of Russia.” The tower is a 50-story, conical structure made of latticework similar to the Eiffel Tower, but was designed to look like a collapsing telescope. It was designed by the engineer Vladimir Shukhov in 1922 and was commissioned by Lenin for the purpose of spreading the word of Communism via new radio technology and to represent the regime’s revolutionary ambition.

Musicals

“The Lion King” was recently announced to have been the top-grossing musical of 2013, finally taking the spot from “Wicked,” which had held the spot for years. The producers of “The Lion King,” Disney Theatrical Productions, have used a previously undisclosed computer algorithm to determine the highest price that a potential audience member might be willing to pay for a seat. Although most shows do raise prices during holiday weeks, which are particularly tourist heavy, only Disney has been able to calibrate its pricing algorithm to be tied to day-by-day ticket purchasing patterns, as has been done by companies in the airline and hotel industries.

Television

HBO has recently decided to air a documentary that will follow the life of a single mother making $9.84 an hour. Called “Paycheck to Paycheck,” the documentary series follows Katrina Gilbert, a 30-year-old from Chattanooga, Tenn., and her three children. She is separated from her husband and lives on the wages she earns as a nursing assistant at an extended-care center for the elderly. The show stands apart from HBO’s latest successes, including the drama “True Detective,” which just finished its first season, and the fiction “Game of Thrones,” which was just renewed for a fourth season.

Literature

The travel journals of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, a poet at the age of 94 who is one of the last surviving members of the Beat generation, will be published in September 2015. The poet  recently sold his travel journals to Liveright Publishing, a division of W.W. Norton. The journals will be published as “Writing Across the Landscape: Travel Journals (1950-2013).” The book will represent the author’s travel journals, notebooks and two of his out-of-print travel books, “The Mexican Night” (1970) and “Seven Days in Nicaragua Libre” (1984). The material, in addition to documenting Mr. Ferlinghetti’s relationship with other Beat writers, also documents his political passions. His travels took him to Mexico, Haiti and North Africa, as well as to Cuba during the Castro revolution, Soviet Russia for the 1968 Writers’ Congress and Nicaragua under the Sandinistas.

Opera

It is one of the most wrenching endings in opera: the lingering death of the title character in Massenet’s “Werther.” But it was an accidentally, and frustratingly, silent ending for opera fans who went to movie theaters across the country on Saturday afternoon to see the celebrated tenor Jonas Kaufmann perform the title role at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. A live high-definition simulcast broadcasted the event. A technical problem kept the majority of theaters silent for the last seven minutes, the Met said. Some angry operagoers took to Twitter to vent their frustrations. “Werther is dying a slow silent death!” one user said. Another lamented, “Missed quite possibly the most beautiful part of  Werther.” A third described the scene as “surreal,” and added, “People in movie theater try to listen along with radio simulcast on phones.” The Met said the trouble stemmed from its satellite. “The Metropolitan Opera regrets that due to a technical problem with the satellite carrying the audio feed, the sound in today’s transmission of ‘Werther’ was interrupted for the last seven minutes of the performance, which affected the majority of U.S. theaters,” the Met said in a statement. The Met posted the ending, with sound, on its website on Sunday, and said that the audio would be fixed for the encore presentation on Wednesday.

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