ON A NARROW ROAD in the Connecticut woods, where the ice lay thick as a Neanderthal skull, a long line of cars snaked toward the Foxwoods Resort Casino. Inside, the audience began filling the cavernous bingo hall, made over for the evening as a concert space at the country's most profitable gambling joint.
MICHAEL REID IS NOT a freak. But judging from the hoopla surrounding his first opera, the aptly named ""Different Fields,'' you might think so. In this crossover era, it should be no surprise if a Grammy-winning songwriter with a string of country hits (Bonnie Raitt's ""I Can't Make You Love Me,'' Wynonna's brand-new ""To Be Loved by You'') bolts from the stable to compose a classical piece.
The classical-record industry has developed a small but noble niche: pastiche. There's Joshua Rifkin's inspired "Baroque Beatles Book" (regrettably out of print) and the Hampton String Quartet's antidote to holiday goop, "What If Mozart Wrote 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas'." Now there's another smart and loving parody, "Heigh-Ho!
Fox took five years to make the latest "Die Hard," while Bruce Willis's image faltered. Now he's cleansed himself in the purifying waters of "Pulp Fiction" and "Nobody's Fool." One eleventh-hour ending was believed too soft, another thought too explosive after Oklahoma City.
It was just a little patch of grass, not even a park, in downtown Pasadena. But when Cecilia Bartoli reached the edge of it, she stopped, whisked off her shoes and began to run around. "Excuse me," said the mezzosoprano, who was in town to give a sold-out recital, "but it's very important for me to feel the ground under my feet." At 28, an age when most singers are barely past toddlerhood, she is the hottest Italian export since risotto.
During an early rehearsal of Philip Glass's "The Voyage" at the Metropolitan Opera, one orchestra member asked conductor Bruce Ferden how long the first act would run. " Forty-five minutes," the maestro replied. "Oh," said the musician. "So if we played it without repeats it would last five?" Commissioned for the quincentenary of Christopher Columbus's journey to the New World, "The Voyage" sailed into the Met right on schedule last week, exactly 500 years after the famous landing.
It used to be easy to hype each summer's novels. A TAN-FASTIC FUN-IN-THE-SUN FICTION FIESTA. Or, HAVE A BALL WITH THIS BEACH-BAG BOOK BONANZA. This year, as the ozone layer melts away like a TV addict's attention span, all we can responsibly say is: here are some new books which you must under no circumstances take outdoors for more than five minutes without a hat and sunblock.