Flora was the first ballad opera performed in North America, and one of the most popular opera’s of its time – the mid-1700s. Opera fans have long been eager to hear and see it performed, but a full scale revival faced a bit of a problem: only 18 pages of the opera’s music has survived. Recreating this piece in the style and scope faithful the original production would be a daunting task, but one Neely Bruce, professor of music, professor of American Studies, was excited to undertake.
The result of his work was premiered at the 2010 Spoleto Festival, in Charleston, S.C., and lauded by The New York Times. Spoleto runs from May 28-June 13 and is one of The United States’ largest annual arts festivals. Bruce said recreating Flora was “a big job” but one that was well worth the effort, saying the libretto had always been “extremely funny with a strong sense of language, and it’s quite salacious, with stock comedy situations — some of them very broad, almost slapstick.”
Dave Fisher, ’62, one of the five founding members of the folk group “The Highwaymen” died Friday, May 7. As a freshman, Fisher, who had sung in a doo-wop group in high school, joined with four other Wesleyan freshman – Bob Burnett ’62, Steve Butts ’62, Chan Daniels ’62 and Steve Trott ’62 – to form The Highwaymen. The group went on to become internationally successful in the 1960s, producing a #1 record as undergraduates in 1961. The Highwaymen saw a resurgence in their careers in the 1990s which continued up to the present, releasing their most recent CD, “The Cambridge Tapes,” to critical acclaim in 2009.
Elizabeth McAlister, associate professor of religion, associate professor of American studies, associate professor of African American studies,and Gina Ulysse, associate professor of anthropology, associate professor of African American studies, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, both focus on Haiti and components of Haitian culture in their studies. In response to the recent earthquake in the island nation, both have been offering insights to the situation.
McAlister comments in The New York Times forum on Haiti; a radio interview for Interfaith Voices; on NPR’s “All Things Considered” Vodou’s role in Haiti, especially in the wake of the earthquake; she also discussed religion’s role in Haiti for CNN and has an OpEd for the cable news network as well she has an explanation of the Haitian artist’s work featured on the cover of the January 25, 2010 issue of The New Yorker; a piece on Pat Robertson’s controversial comments on Haiti and “Satan” in Forbes, and discusses the impact of Voodoo on the culture in the wake of the disaster in The Washington Post.
Ulysse, who was born in Haiti, has this piece for The Huffington Post saying that Haiti will never be the same, and another for NPR that discusses the situation on the ground and what it will be like weeks from now when the national news cycle has moved on to other events.
In The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Jeanine Basinger, Chair and Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, contrasts the films and characters of Nancy Meyers with those of other writer-directors, including Frank Capra. “She makes it easy for the actors and the audience,” Basinger says. “They can slip into their parts and be happy, and we can slip into our seats and be happy.” Meyers is the writer-director of the new film “It’s Complicated.”
The New York Times reports that Karen Collins, chair and professor of mathematics, served as a judge in a national science and math competition that awarded $100,000 to high school students. Collins comments on the quality of the students and their entries here.
A grant-funded prison education program created by two Wesleyan graduate students, Molly Birnbaum ’09 and Russell Perkins ’09, while they were undergraduates, was profiled in The New York Times. Administered in Connecticut’s Cheshire Correctional Facility, the program provides Wesleyan-level courses for selected members of the prison’s population. The inmate-participants must meet rigorous entrance requirements.
Gary Yohe, Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, is quoted in a New York Times piece on Obama Administration’s assessment of costs versus benefits of climate change action – or inaction. Yohe is also quoted in a USA Today story saying that most economists recognize that humans are to blame for global warming and that inherent risks increase if it is not addressed.
Angus McCullough ’10, is one of seven finalists in a design competition that re-imagines the Grand Concourse in Bronx, N.Y. The competition, sponsored by the Bronx Museum of Arts and the Design Trust for Public Space, asked participants to envision a revitalization to the Concourse, which is more than 100 years old. McCullough’s design was noted in The New York Times as a concept that “touches on a critical urban subject: the intensifying battle between transparency and privacy in the public realm.” The finalists will be on exhibit in the Bronx Museum of the Arts until Jan. 3. A more extensive feature in the Wesleyan Connection on McCullough’s design can be found here.
Mary Jane Rubenstein, assistant professor of religion, assistant professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, discusses some of varying attitudes among Episcopalians regarding the Vatican’s recent offer to join the Roman Catholic Church. Episcopalian have been fractured by their church’s recent acceptance of women and gays into leadership positions, with some dioceses reacting by splitting off and forming the Anglican Church of North America.
“Emergency Response Studio” a mobile exhibit constructed in response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster in 2006 by Paul Villinski, reviewed recently by The New York Times, is on display outside the Ezra and Cecille Zilkha Gallery until Nov. 8. The exhibit began as a mobile studio that would allow Villinski to create art in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans. It became a de facto piece of performance art in itself as Villinski’s built an environmentally friendly mobile living space for the same price as the mobile emergency trailers FEMA provided, and with none of the toxic side effects.
Former major league baseball player and current Wesleyan Football receivers coach Rico Brogna hopes to be coaching at the professional level soon – in baseball. But he is drawing leadership lessons from Wesleyan’s head football coach Frank Hauser in that quest.