WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is warning of a growing “cost of inaction” on his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan. And the White House says the new administration is searching for “creative” ways to garner public support for a package that has gotten a cold shoulder from Senate Republicans. In the age of the coronavirus, it’s not a matter of jumping on a plane to travel the country and try to gin up a groundswell. And at a time of deep polarization, Biden may struggle to convince Republican voters of the urgency at this particular moment after Congress already has approved $4 trillion in aid, including $900 billion last month.
Broadway’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 Broadway.com 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 Comments
Black Stars captain Asamoah Gyan sustained an injury as he played in the Asian Champions League for his Shanaghai SIPG side on Wednesday.The former Al Ain and Sunderland forward started the game and played an hour as his team were handed a 2-1 away defeat against Melbourne Victory.Gyan was taken off on a stretcher in the Champions League game after complaining of a groin injury.Jai Inghan opened the scoring in the Champions League game after half an hour into the game with Wu Lei leveling the scores in the second half for Asamoah Gyan’s side.On Asamoah Gyan’s injury, the Shanghai SIPG coach said:“I don’t know [if it’s a bad injury], I honestly don’t know. I hope not. We will see tomorrow when we arrive in Shanghai how bad it is. Ghana coach Avram Grant will be hoping the injury eil not keep Gyan out for long as he prepares to name his squad for Ghana’s AFCON qualifier double header against Mozambique next month–Follow Joy Sports on Twitter: @JoySportsGH. Our hashtag is #JoySports–Follow Joy Sports on Twitter: @JoySportsGH. Our hashtag is #JoySports – See more at: http://www.myjoyonline.com/sports/2016/February-23rd/dr-nyaho-tamakloe-wants-massive-support-for-kenichi.php#sthash.nheGM1tu.dpuf