The Merry Widow’s Renee Fleming & Susan Stroman on Bringing B’way Flair to the Met

first_imgBroadway’s headed uptown! Well, up a few blocks, at least. Five-time Tony-winning director Susan Stroman is currently making her Metropolitan Opera debut with an effervescent mounting of Franz Lehár’s comic operetta The Merry Widow. The English adaptation, which opened on New Year’s Eve, stars Grammy-winning and Broadway-bound opera superstar Renée Fleming in the title role of Hanna. Joining her are fellow opera favorite Nathan Gunn and Great White Way darling Kelli O’Hara. Stroman and Fleming recently chatted with about bridging the gap between opera and musical theater, cross-genre dream productions and the showbiz sisterhood.Q: Susan, The Merry Widow marks your opera debut, and Renée, this is your first operetta. What was the biggest challenge while exploring this genre together?FLEMING: Well first, the dancing. Oh, those wonderful waltzing lessons from Susan. We’re highly rehearsed, which I needed. And secondly, dialogue at the Met. It’s an enormous challenge in a house that size to manage that much dialogue.STROMAN: It’s a huge space to conquer. Being in the opera world, the vocal and the music are the most important, so it’s making sure everyone is able to sing their high notes and that the staging is designed to support all the vocals.Q: Can you tell me more about the musical theater influences that you found in this piece?STROMAN: It’s very bubbly. Each of the three acts is infused with dance. For being 100 years old, it was really the beginning of a spark of musical comedy—of bringing different dance forms to opera.FLEMING: Opera tends to live in broad strokes and major themes: “I love you, I hate you, I’m going to kill you.” This has more of a Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn feel to it.Q: Renée, what was it like working with Susan, compared to traditional opera directors?FLEMING: She’s so organized! An operetta is very quick moving; there’s not the languor that one has with the more romantic operas. The precision required for those of us who also don’t naturally have these skills needed her ability to see what had to get done and make sure we had enough time.Q: Susan, does it come naturally to you to work with artists who might not be traditionally trained in theater?STROMAN: I often come across folks who are more versed into one talent than the other, so I’m very used to trying to recognize someone’s talents and then help to develop the others. But I’m very ready to change and adapt, because I’m always inspired by the performers standing in front of me.Q: I imagine you had a similar process with ballet dancers in Little Dancer. Will we be seeing it in New York after L.A.?STROMAN: Yes, hopefully for next season! Fingers crossed.FLEMING: I want to see it!Q: Renée, what’s going through your head as you prepare to make your Broadway debut in Living on Love?FLEMING: Performing the play in the summer [in Williamstown] gave me a flavor for what it would be like. It was fantastic to have that sense of the audience. We don’t have that luxury on a huge opera stage. Of course, the cast might not be the same, and the play will be rewritten to some degree.Q: Have you been getting advice from Broadway alums about what it’s like?FLEMING: I saw Patrick Stewart, Sigourney Weaver, and David Hyde Pierce on opening night of Merry Widow and asked them to tell me what it’s like to be in a [Broadway] run. It sounds like a form of hermitism. [In opera], we can’t really sing more than two, three times max, a week. We have to have that downtime because it’s so vocally athletic. I can’t imagine what Kelli [O’Hara] does. It’s mind-boggling to me to be in a musical for eight shows a week.Q: After Living on Love, what show would we have to produce to get you to stay on Broadway in a musical?FLEMING: I honestly can’t imagine singing on Broadway. I wouldn’t know how to change my voice to put it into a place that would allow me to sing every day. I couldn’t imagine trying to do the physical taxing piece of it. And then to talk to Kelli, and have her say the same thing about opera! We’re just trained in different ways.STROMAN: I think Renée would be great as Desiree in A Little Night Music. Oh, she would be incredible.Q: Susan, if Renée stays downtown and you stay uptown, are there any other operas on your to-do list to direct?STROMAN: It’d be lovely to do a La Traviata or Carmen, but a brand new opera would be the most exciting. I’d love to take a contemporary composer like Rachel Portman or Alexandre Desplat and work with them.Q: Renée, between working with Susan and Kathleen Marshall, and Susan, directing Renée and Kelli, how does it feel to collaborate with such prolific female artists?FLEMING: First of all, there aren’t enough women directing in opera. I think women bring a particularly collaborative approach.STROMAN: Whenever I do a show in the theater, I try to have female assistants and observers; it’s very important to me to open their eyes to what it’s like to mount these big productions. To be in a room with Renée and Kelli and exploring art, opera and theater—I think it is a kind of sisterhood.Catch Fleming in The Merry Widow through January 31. Stroman’s production returns in April with a new cast. View Commentslast_img read more

Milkweed Pests

first_imgWith the fall migration underway for monarch butterflies through November, gardeners should soon start seeing the colorful creatures on their travels south. It’s also time to be on the lookout for pests of common milkweed (Ascelpias tuberosa), the most popular milkweed plant grown in Georgia butterfly gardens.The larval plant of the monarch butterfly is grown by gardeners across the state to assist in monarch conservation, but milkweed can also attract insects that are less welcome.The oleander aphid, Aphis nerii Boyer de Fonscolombe, uses piercing-sucking mouthparts to suck the juices out of the plant. Often called milkweed aphid, this pest can be a problem for young milkweed plants — older plants are more equipped to handle the damage.If aphids are damaging the milkweed in your garden, simply use a wet paper towel to remove them. Wipe the insects off the plant and smash them inside the paper towel. You can also use sticky tape or packing tape to pull the aphids off of the plant. Smash the aphids by folding the tape onto itself.Luckily, pollinator gardens attract other beneficial insects, like parasitic wasps, that can assist in aphid control. Another pest to look out for is the large milkweed bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus). This insect is easy to identify with its dark orange and black coloration. Many gardeners choose to leave this insect alone, as it is part of the ecosystem. Unfortunately, milkweed bugs interrupt seed production by attacking the seed pods. If producing viable seed is important to you, you can remove these insects simply by picking them off the plant and dropping them into a cup of soapy water.It is important to remember that any insecticide that you use will also affect the wonderful pollinators that you work hard to conserve. The monarch migration is coming in a few weeks, so watch for pests, reap the rewards of the hard work of butterfly gardening and enjoy the show.To follow the monarch migration and to report your butterfly sightings, visit Journey North at For many years, this organization has tabulated the reports of citizen-scientists and is a great resource for school groups. Monarch Watch, accessible at, provides online information about these insects and their habitat needs. Contact your local University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office for more information about butterfly gardening and habitat building by visiting read more

Macron set to warn France virus lockdown must go on

first_imgPresident Emmanuel Macron is on Monday expected to warn France its lockdown to combat the coronavirus must go on for several more weeks at least, while also outlining how the country will recover from the crisis.At just after 8:00 pm (1800 GMT), Macron will give his third prime-time televised address to the nation on the epidemic from the Elysee palace. In his last, he announced the nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of the virus from March 17.This speech will come after the first indications of a tentative easing of the crisis in France and that the lockdown is starting to have an effect, with the epidemic starting to plateau, albeit at a high level. France on Sunday reported a lower number of COVID-19 fatalities over the last 24 hours, with 315 deaths in hospital over the last day, compared with 345 the previous day.Its total toll from the coronavirus epidemic, including those who have died in nursing homes, now stands at 14,393, the health ministry said.And for the fourth consecutive day in a row, the number of patients in intensive care fell with 35 fewer patients, making a total of 6,845 people needing such treatment.But officials have warned that the situation remains serious — especially in the Ile-de-France region around Paris — with no rapid return to normal in sight. Topics :center_img May lockdown? Macron will be looking to steer a careful line between warning France that an early relaxation of the lockdown could be disastrous, while reassuring people that the government has a plan to get the country back to normal.The lockdown has confined the French to their homes for almost a month, with only brief trips allowed outside for shopping and other essential errands.Sources said Macron would announce that the lockdown must be extended beyond its current April 15 expiration date until well into May.The Journal du Dimanche newspaper reported that the restrictions could continue until the end of May, with schools only reopening with the new academic year in September. A source close to Macron told AFP that he should speak in terms of a date during May for the end of the lockdown, but after the May 8-10 holiday weekend.The date should be “long enough away so everyone understands the effort that still needs to be made but sufficiently close to sketch out how France will look afterwards”.He is not expected to issue rulings on specific questions, such as whether the wearing of masks in public should become generalized, or on tracing and testing.The source added that so far there had been no decision on keeping schools closed until September.last_img read more

Five key skills all successful fmcg buyers have

first_imgSource: The GrocerGreat buyers have an extensive knowledge of what’s on their competitor’s shelvesMarket awarenessSuccessful buyers have a genuine interest in their category and know exactly what’s going on in the market. They’ll read lots of trade magazines, know what their competitors are doing and have a good grasp on the effect their category decisions have on the wider market.They’re tasked with growing market share, so buyers for big retailers need to be aware of what’s happening within their category at the discounters and in the convenience market, too.There’s also the small matter of understanding what consumers want from a category and trying to anticipate their needs. Outside of market data, buyers also deal with spreadsheets for their promotional calendar, pricing, volume vs profit and forecasting, so strong excel skills are a must.And to top it off, all categories have a regular flow of NPD to be managed. Every new product will come with its own calendar of tasks to be completed.Sharp commercial acumenBuyers need to understand how to plan, manage and implement budgets. Not only should they be aware of their top line sales, but also their bottom line in the short and long term.They’re also joint business planning, considering the commercial outcomes for their retailer and suppliers – so a buyer has to have strong money management skills.Master negotiating skillsBuyers spend a lot of time sitting in front of suppliers. They need to be able to negotiate the best deals that work for both parties: that might mean convincing suppliers to provide marketing support, or asking them to shell out money for certain shelf space. It’s always a case of give and take, and a great buyer can use their influence to get the best outcome. Buyers who work in chilled categories also have to juggle the short shelf lives of productsThe ability to keep calm under pressureBuyers need to be incredibly fast decision makers. If their boss sets a target and there’s limited space on shelf, there’s no time for flapping. If the category is underperforming, buyers need to act quickly and make tough decisions to still make their KPIs.And on top of this, buyers working in chilled have to work even faster because of their products’ short shelf lives. Are you a buyer working in own-label?center_img Enter The Grocer’s Best of Own-Label Awards for free today and get the recognition you deserve. We’ll be crowning Best Own-Label Buyer, Best Own-Label Range and Best Own-Label Team among several other enviable titles. Check out the rest of the categories and enter for free here. They’re at the forefront of food and drink trends, they introduce exciting new flavour combinations that excite the masses and take part in endless tasting sessions. To the outside world it can look like buyers have one of the best jobs in the world. But, the reality is, there’s a lot more to the job than trying out new products.We spoke to Emilie Gregson from specialist fmcg recruitment agency Signature Career Management to find out the most important skills that all of the UK’s best fmcg buyers have in their arsenal.,Strong excel skills are important to keep track of promotional calendars and pricingStrong data and organisational skillsSomeone who can’t read and interpret data isn’t going to cut it as a buyer.Buyers can’t rely on suppliers to give them the market analysis they need to plan their category. Some suppliers might offer up unbiased reports, but others will only provide the figures they want a buyer to see. And buyers could be dealing with up to 50 different suppliers all telling them different things – it’s their job to cut through the noise and find the real story within the data. And startups won’t have any data at all.last_img read more

Dutch pensions regulator lists characteristics of best recovery plans

first_imgHowever, the watchdog also noted that recoveries were limited by falling interest rates and rising life expectancy.According to the DNB, equity markets fell by 80% between June 2007 and the end of 2008, while interest rates fell by 20% over the same period.“Over the last five years, the equity index has returned to the initial level, whereas interest rates have fallen further,” it said, adding that the funding index remained somewhere in between.The regulator explained that, using the typical investment mix and interest hedge in the Netherlands, changes in interest rates would have a roughly 50% impact on coverage ratios, whereas equity market changes would have a 40% impact. The DNB’s evaluation of the recovery plans confirmed that 30 pension funds had to apply rights cuts last April, in order to achieve the required funding of 105%.The most recent round of discounts hit 650,000 active participants, 405,000 pensioners and more than 1.2m deferred members in total, while the weighted average of the cuts was 0.84%, according to the supervisor.It said that one pension fund had used the option to limit last April’s discount to 7%, and that the scheme would apply an additional cut in future. Equity investments and hedges of the interest risk on liabilities have been the main drivers for Dutch pension funds’ recoveries since the onset of the financial crisis, according to pensions regulator De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB). Following an evaluation of more than 140 short-term recovery plans, the regulator concluded that schemes with a relative large equity allocation in addition to an interest hedge showed the strongest recoveries.In 2009, approximately three-quarters of Dutch pension funds had to submit a five-year recovery plan, mapping out how they aimed to achieve funding of at least 105% at the end of 2013.The DNB found that the average coverage ratio improved by 15 percentage points over the last five years and attributed the increase largely to the strength of equity markets.last_img read more

Hillingdon drops SSgA for LGIM on index-tracking mandate

first_imgThe London Borough of Hillingdon Pension Fund has hired Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) to oversee a £215m (€238m) index-tracking mandate.The local authority fund, which had £810m, hired LGIM to replace State Street Global Advisors, first appointed in late 2008.According to its most recent annual report, from March 2015, SSgA’s mandate for Hillingdon was worth £161m, equivalent to 20% of scheme assets.Philip Corthorne, chair of the fund’s pensions committee, cited a desire to cut management costs when describing the reasons for LGIM’s hire. “We have chosen LGIM because of its expertise in index-tracking fund management and its broad range of cost-effective pooled funds, which will enable us to take a step closer towards the government’s pooling agenda, with management and reporting of the mandate to eventually be carried out by the pool.”LGIM was among the first managers hired by the London CIV, the pooling vehicle for London’s local authority funds, and was set to manage a number of passive equity sub-funds.The manager is the largest single manager of local authority assets, overseeing £44bn, a figure significantly boosted after it won a £6.5bn passive mandate from seven pension funds in late 2015.last_img read more

Car hits center island; 1 killed

first_imgChiron Morales died of head and body injuries, a police report showed. His companion Police Staff Sergeant Elren Ismael survived the crash and was recuperating at the Ibajay District Hospital.    ILOILO City – A man was killed while a police officer was injured when the car they were riding crashed against the road’s center island in Barangay Poblacion, Nabas, Aklan. The victims were both residents of Barangay Laguinbanwa, Ibajay, Aklan.center_img According to the report, it was not immediately established what circumstance led to the accident that happened around 6:45 p.m. on Monday./PNlast_img

Cornelius E. Eckstein

first_imgFriends may visit with the family on Wednesday, January 20, 2016 from 4 to 8 p.m. at Cook Rosenberger Funeral Home, 107 Vine Street, Sunman. Rosary will begin at 3:15 p.m.  A Mass of Christian Burial, officiated by Father Francis Eckstein, is Thursday, January 21, at St. Nicholas Catholic Church at 10:00 a.m.  Burial will follow in the church cemetery with military honors provided by the Kenneth L Diver Post #337 American Legion. Memorial donations are requested to St. Nicholas School, Sunman Life Squad, or the Sunman Vol. Fire Department. To sign the online guestbook or to leave a personal condolence, please visit  The staff of Cook Rosenberger is honored to serve the family of Cornelius E. Eckstein. Cornelius E. Eckstein, of Sunman, was born in St. Nicholas, Indiana, on January 16, 1926, a son to Amand and Mary Federle Eckstein. He proudly served in the United States Navy aboard an LST 1110 during World War II.  He then attended New York Tech for 2 years, learning television repair in its infancy, and was a pioneer in the early introduction of television in the Sunman area.  Cornelius married Carol Jean Lattire on October 22, 1949 at St. Nicholas Catholic Church and she survives. He was an electrician and instrumentation specialist, and worked for Monsanto for 28 years.  Cornelius was an active member of St. Nicholas Church and the Kenneth L. Diver Post #337 Sunman American Legion.  His family remembers him as a man who loved working with his tools, making wine with his brother, Fr. Frank, and having his family together.  On Sunday, January 17, 2016, at the age of 90, Cornelius passed away, surrounded by his family, at Aspen Place Health Campus in Greensburg.center_img Those surviving who will cherish Cornelius’ memory include his wife of over 66 years, Carol Jean Eckstein; children, Greg (Carol) Eckstein of Sunman, Kathy (Terry) Johnson of Bright, Steve (Christy) Eckstein of Greensburg, Rodney (Sandy) Eckstein of St. Leon, Mark (Christy) Eckstein of Monrovia, Darrell (Cathy) Eckstein of Scottsdale, AZ, and Anita (Jack) Wallace of Greensburg; 20 grandchildren, 22 great grandchildren, and 7 great, great grandchildren. Also surviving are brothers, Edmund Eckstein of Sunman, Fr. Francis Eckstein of Milan, and Walter Eckstein of Morris; sisters, Verena Fette of New Alsace, Alice Wuestefeld of St. Leon, and Matilda Nordmeyer of Sharonville, OH.  Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by a brother, Albert Eckstein, and sister, Stella Doerflein.last_img read more

Sr. Carol Royston, O.S.F.

first_imgSr. Carolyn Royston, age 71 of the Srs. of St. Francis in Oldenburg, died Friday, April 28, 2017 at St. Francis Hospital in Peoria, Illinois.  Born December 11, 1945 in Cincinnati, Ohio, she is the daughter of Angela (Nee: Early) and Thomas Royston.The sixth of seven children, she grew up in the St. Bernard area of Cincinnati attending St. Clement’s School and Our Lady of Angels High School where she became familiar with the Srs. of St. Francis.  She chose to join convent as one of her older sister had done before her.Passionate about education, she earned a B.A. from Marion University and an M.A. from Miami University in Ohio.  Her teaching career included schools in Indiana, Missouri, Ohio and Streator, Illinois, where she’s remained for over three decades. In Streator, she served as principal from 1979 – 2010 at St. Anthony’s.  She enjoyed Streator so much, she chose to stay and serve as Director of the Guardian Angel Outreach for Women at the parish as well as a member of the parish Care Team, visiting the homebound and those in hospitals and nursing homes until her untimely death.Sr. Carol challenged her students and was quick to accept a challenge herself.  She helped plan and raise funds for a million dollar addition to St. Anthony’s School which included a new cafeteria, gym and classrooms to accommodate the school’s increasing enrollment.  She shared her Franciscan heart with all those she met and although her death was unexpected, she entered heaven knowing she had been a good and faithful servant.She is survived by sisters Ann Kimes, Mary Maisel, both of Cincinnati, Maureen Wallace of Alexandria, Virginia and brother James Royston of Cincinnati.  In addition to her parents, she is also preceded in death by her sister Sr. Eileen Royston O.S.F. and brother Thomas Royston.A visitation and services will be held Wednesday evening, May 4th and Thursday May 5th in Streator.  Visitation at the Motherhouse in Oldenburg will be Monday, May 8th, from 1 – 3 p.m.  Funeral services will follow at 3 p.m., with burial in the convent cemetery.  Memorials may be made to the Srs. of St. Francis, P.O. Box 100, Oldenburg, Indiana, 47036 (  Weigel Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.last_img read more

Williams: I’ve changed my style

first_img “Being the captain permanently, I have worked on changing my style a little bit in terms of leadership,” Williams said during Swansea’s season review DVD Record Breakers: History Makers. “I’m not as aggressive and demanding of players when circumstances aren’t allowing them to do that. “It’s something I’ve worked on a lot with Ian Mitchell our sports psychologist this season. “I try to push the right buttons to get the best out of every player, and I feel like I know them well and look after them. “The gaffer can use me to get a certain message or idea across to the team and I relay it back to him with how they feel about it.” Swansea have already strengthened their squad this summer with the additions of Ghana striker Andre Ayew, France Under-21 full-back Franck Tabanou and Sweden goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt. Those signings have increased belief that Swansea can push on next season and qualify for Europe through a high league placing and Williams believes the players and staff at the Liberty Stadium should be proud of achieving a club-best finish and a record total of 56 points. “It means everything to me as captain,” Williams said. Wales captain Ashley Williams has revealed that working with Swansea’s club psychologist has improved his leadership skills. Williams was Garry Monk’s on-field leader as Swansea secured their best-ever Barclays Premier League finish of eighth last season and the 30-year-old also played a huge role as Group B leaders Wales closed in on qualifying for the European Championships in France next summer. Williams has now explained how his work with Swansea’s club psychologist Ian Mitchell has inspired him to become a better captain. ” When you finish your career no-one can take something like this away from you as it’s in the history books. “We set a target in pre-season of breaking the record, and we’ve done it in style. “That was a big thing for me because we didn’t scrape over the line – we played really good football and hadn’t been out of the top 10 all season.” Press Associationlast_img read more