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A NEW month bequeaths a new year bequeaths a new decade and dare anyone hope maybe a new lease on life for the economy, which took its toll on the arts in 2009 as it did on everything else.
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The latest on the arts, coverage of live events, critical reviews, multimedia extravaganzas and much more. Join the discussion.Enlarge This Image > Greg Westby
At the Under the Radar Festival, beginning Wednesday, Dangerous Ground Productions offers a theatrical riff on John Cassavetes's 1970 movie, “Husbands.”Enlarge This Image > Sega Games
“Bayonetta” has a bespectacled witch as protagonist.Enlarge This Image > Chad Batka for The New York Times
Vampire Weekend, above at the All Points West Festival in Jersey City, gives three Manhattan performances this month on the occasion of its second CD.Enlarge This Image > Josh Haner/The New York Times
Elaine Stritch is returning to the Café Carlyle this month.
Critics and reporters for The New York Times have peered deeply into January and found cultural offerings that say encouraging things about the year ahead. A new production of Bizet’s “Carmen” can be seen in repertory at the Metropolitan Opera this month, and Pierre Boulez comes to Carnegie Hall to pick up the baton, not once but twice in January.
Almost all the known drawings of the Mannerist master Bronzino go on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Jan. 20, the museum’s first exhibition devoted to him. A new Anne Tyler novel arrives in bookstores, along with a biography of Warren Beatty and a much anticipated follow-up to the best seller “Eat, Pray, Love,” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Experimental theater colonizes Manhattan, at the Public Theater and other locations, in the form of the Under the Radar Festival, which opens on Wednesday. And on the same day you could watch Willem Dafoe play Elvis no not that one, but a “cured” vampire by that name in “Daybreakers,” the new thriller by Peter and Michael Spierig about the world toward the end of the next decade, 2019, when vampires outnumber humans on earth.
Or if you like your vampires with guitars, you could opt instead for Vampire Weekend which includes nobody even vaguely resembling a succubus when that highly praised hometown band returns home for three big shows in Manhattan.
UNDER THE RADAR FESTIVAL
January is always stock-taking time, and when the beginning of the year is also the beginning of a decade, you can expect wall-to-wall self-examination. But few exercises in introspection are likely to have the extroverted flair of the Under the Radar Festival, one of New York’s most venturesome (and international) gatherings of experimental-theater artists.
This year’s offerings, which run Wednesday through Jan. 17 at the Public Theater and other Manhattan performance spaces, dissect a multitude of subjects cultural, political, physical and cosmic, with a particular emphasis on very free-handed documentary and archival approaches. The avant-garde veterans Anne Bogart and Charles L. Mee are reassembling “American Document,” Martha Graham’s 1938 probing of this Puritan country’s past, while “Chautauqua!,” from the National Theater of the United States of America, takes its stylistic cues from the lecture circuit of the late 19th century.
Dangerous Ground Productions translates John Cassavetes’s “Husbands,” a milestone in improvisational film of the 1970s, into the language of theater. Andrew Dawson, a British director and performer, does his own solo (and technology-free) interpretation of a documentary on the Apollo 11 moon landing in “Space Panorama.” A Brecht classic learns to sing contemporary pop in “Versus In the Jungle of the Cities,” from the Nowy Teatr of Poland. And Richard Maxwell, New York’s leading auteur of the theater of disaffection, promises to drag video recordings into the third dimension with “Ads.”
Expect to cross into the fourth, fifth and other dimensions before the festival ends. BEN BRANTLEY
Under the Radar runs Wednesday to Jan. 17 at various Manhattan spaces; undertheradarfestival.com.
FROM THE FRINGE
The New Victory Theater begins the year with a show that’s definitely not just for kids, although it is actually performed by a troupe of 13 rambunctious adolescents. The admonitory title, “Once and for All We’re Gonna Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up and Listen,” belies the fundamental sweetness and obliqueness (and the shortness!) of the show, which was one of the standout productions at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe two summers ago.
A production of the Belgian Ontroerend Goed company, the show is a rowdy hour of horseplay that seems wholly spontaneous until the kids stop splashing around with paint and Silly String, troop offstage and then re-enter to start the whole process over again. Directed by Alexander Devriendt, “Once and for All” is a funny, novel and oddly moving evocation of the merry disorder of young consciousness. CHARLES ISHERWOOD
The show runs Thursday through Jan. 17 at the Duke on 42nd Street, 229 West 42nd Street, Clinton; NewVictory.org or (646) 223-3010.
Young Jean Lee pounces on big themes in her plays Christianity (“Church”), African-Americans (“The Shipment”), Asians (“Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven”) with a provocative, unbalanced and satirical sensibility. It’s like looking through glasses with one cracked lens.
Ms. Lee’s latest piece, “Lear,” a commission she wrote and directed for Soho Rep, is described by the company as a collision between Shakespeare’s “King Lear” and Ms. Lee’s own ideas on mortality and family. With choreography by Dean Moss, this dance-inflected trek through dark territory puts the focus on the children of the aged King Lear and of Gloucester, and their indifference to their parents’ suffering. “Lear” sans Lear? It all sounds fantastical, askew and dramatic.
Another show of note this month is so downtown (or is it uptown?) it’s in Massachusetts. Elevator Repair Service’s “Gatz,” at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, is a six-hour book-reading-cum-theater piece based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby.”
The show, set in an office, opens with a man reading aloud Fitzgerald’s novel and he just keeps reading till the end as his co-workers bring Gatsby’s world to life. That may not sound enticing, but since its debut in 2006, critics have praised the production, which can be seen in two parts or on one day with a dinner break. Chris Jones, writing in The Chicago Tribune, called it “revolutionary.”
The New York-based Elevator Repair Service had been prevented from mounting “Gatz” in its hometown because producers of another show based on “The Great Gatsby” held the local performance rights. Now the Fitzgerald estate has given the go-ahead and there are plans for a New York production next season. Attention, marathon theatergoers: if you can’t wait until then, it might just be worth the trip. ERIK PIEPENBURG
“Lear” starts Thursday at Soho Rep, 46 Walker Street, near Broadway, TriBeCa; (212) 352-3101; sohorep .org. “Gatz” also starts Thursday at the American Repertory Theater, 64 Brattle Street, Cambridge, Mass.; (617) 547-8300; americanrepertorytheater.org.
In New York, the dance New Year starts on Jan. 5: new year because of new work. Pacific Northwest Ballet is at the Joyce Theater on Tuesday through Jan. 10 with a quadruple bill of pieces hitherto unseen in New York. Here the great point of interest is “Opus 111,” made by one of the few choreographers today capable of greatness, Twyla Tharp, to a Brahms string quintet. (Ms. Tharp made it for this Seattle company in 2008, a year in which she choreographed for three of America’s leading ballet troupes.) The company also presents the New York premieres of “3 Movements” by Benjamin Millepied, set to music by Steve Reich; “Für Alina” by Edwaard Liang; and “Mopey” by Marco Goecke.
Since at least the 1980s Pacific Northwest Ballet has been among the leading exponents of Balanchine choreography in the world; this program asserts it also as a vehicle for the new. This is the company’s first visit to New York City under its current artistic director, Peter Boal, who is well remembered here for his long career and superb dancing with New York City Ballet.
A week later (Jan. 12 to 17) brings to the same theater the Richard Alston Dance Company. Mr. Alston’s work has been seen intermittently in New York since 1982; this is his company’s third season at the Joyce. Mr. Alston has been the foremost maker of pure dances in Britain since the death of Frederick Ashton in 1988; in terms of their musicality and brilliance of footwork, his best works are among the finest by any choreographer alive.
This program shows his musical range: Stravinsky (“Movements From Petrushka”), Philip Glass (“Blow Over”) and Hoagy Carmichael (“Shuffle It Right”). I remember that when the Carmichael work was new at Sadler’s Wells Theater in London in 2008, in a program marking Mr. Alston’s 60th birthday, its wealth of dance wit changed my breathing as I watched. ALASTAIR MACAULAY
Both companies perform at the Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, at 19th Street, Chelsea; (212) 242-0800. Tickets: $10 to $59.
With the holiday feasts out of the way, the first few weeks of the new year are mystery-meat time as far as Hollywood is concerned. Of course processed food can be pretty tasty, and you shouldn’t be ashamed if you’re looking forward to “Daybreakers” (opening next Friday), with Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe in a world where vampires outnumber humans, or “The Book of Eli” (Jan. 15), with Denzel Washington in one of his periodic action-hero roles.
On the smaller and more serious, or darkly comic side, Matthew Broderick stars in Josh Goldin’s “Wonderful World” (already available on demand, and opening next Friday) as a misanthropic divorcé who begins to thaw when, through a series of unfortunate circumstances, a woman (Sanaa Lathan) moves into his apartment. “Fish Tank” (Jan. 15), by the British director Andrea Arnold (“Red Road”), involves a single parent, a child and a new adult in the house, which in this case is a grim British housing project; this film shared the jury prize last year at the Cannes Film Festival.
New York’s repertory cinemas have some worthy offerings, meanwhile, beginning with Film Forum’s exhaustive survey of work by the Japanese master Akira Kurosawa; it opens on Wednesday with his 1949 crime thriller “Stray Dog,” starring Toshiro Mifune as a young cop whose gun is stolen.
A Louis Malle “Sampler” of six films opens Friday at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center and includes the rarely seen 1963 drama “Le Feu Follet,” with Maurice Ronet as a recovering alcoholic trying to find peace of mind in Paris in the dark days after the Algerian war. And the New York Jewish Film Festival runs at various sites beginning Jan. 13. Its eclectic program of old and new films includes the New York premiere of “Mary and Max,” a claymation feature by the Australian animator Adam Elliot about an odd pair of pen pals: an 8-year-old Australian girl (voiced by Toni Collette) and a middle-aged New York Jew with Asperger’s syndrome (Philip Seymour Hoffman). MIKE HALE
Television starts the new year by going to the dogs: Friday night brings a new season of “DogTown” (National Geographic, 6 p.m.), which continues to document the rehabilitation of animals rescued from the property of the N.F.L. player Michael Vick. On Saturday Animal Planet begins new seasons of “Underdog to Wonderdog” (8 p.m.), in which strays are turned into adoptable pets, and “It’s Me or the Dog” (9 p.m.), which is pretty self-explanatory.
The 450th episode of “The Simpsons,” on Jan. 10 (Fox, 8 p.m.), features Anne Hathaway as the voice of Krusty the Clown’s new sidekick. It’s followed by “The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special: In 3D! On Ice!,” a tribute directed by the documentary maker Morgan Spurlock. If you prefer your comedy with live actors, that same Sunday night “Chuck” on NBC (9 p.m.) returns with a two-hour season premiere. (It moves to its regular slot the next night, at 8.) Also at 9 p.m. on Jan. 10: the fourth-season premiere of “Big Love” on HBO, with Bill Henrickson, played by Bill Paxton, preparing to open his Mormon-friendly casino. (If you don’t have DVR, watch “Chuck” and catch the “Big Love” rerun at 11:15 p.m.)
And before we leave Jan. 10: “Return to Cranford” (PBS, 9 p.m. on most stations) is a two-part sequel to the popular “Masterpiece Classic” mini-series “Cranford”; and “Brace for Impact: The Chesley B. Sullenberger Story” (TLC, 9 p.m.) brings Mr. Sullenberger back to New York to retrace the short flight of US Airways Flight 1549 on Jan. 15.
For the record, the ninth season of “American Idol” begins on Jan. 12 (Fox, 8 p.m.), the same night that TNT begins rebroadcasting “Southland” (10 p.m.), the Los Angeles police drama whose run was summarily cut short by NBC. TNT’s rescue of “Southland,” which will include six unseen episodes, is good news, but the best news of the new year comes next Friday at 8 p.m. from Ovation, which begins showing the hilarious 18-episode Canadian series “Slings and Arrows,” set at a floundering Shakespeare festival and starring, among others, a young Rachel McAdams. MIKE HALE
Traditionally, the video-game industry goes into several months of hibernation in the early part of each year after the crush of the previous holiday season. No more. The roster of big-budget games planned for the early months of 2010 is arguably stronger than 2009’s holiday roster. Here then, in tentative chronological order, are the top games scheduled to arrive in the next few months.
BAYONETTA. Publisher: Sega for PS3, Xbox 360. Release date: Tuesday. Sega’s big “holiday” title is actually scheduled for next week, with a bespectacled witch tearing up legions of bad guys.
MAG. Publisher: Sony for PS3. Release date: Jan. 26. Originally called Massive Action Game, MAG hopes to redefine online console gaming by introducing combat among 256 simultaneous players.
MASS EFFECT 2. Publisher: Electronic Arts for Windows, Xbox 360. Release date: Jan. 26. The developer BioWare returns to its science-fiction space opera with a sequel to my top game of 2007.
STAR TREK ONLINE. Publisher: Atari for Windows. Release date: Feb. 2. Star Trek Online is meant to be the first massively multiplayer online game set in the “Star Trek” universe, with thousands of players exploring the galaxy in their own ships.
DANTE’S INFERNO. Publisher: E.A. for PS3, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360. Release date: Feb. 9. You’re Dante. You’re in hell. Nuff said.
BIOSHOCK 2. Publisher: 2K Games for PS3, Windows, Xbox 360. Release date: Feb. 9. A return to Rapture, the underwater city in the first game.
HEAVY RAIN. Publisher: Sony for PS3. Release date: Feb. 16. A noir-style thriller set on the trail of a modern-day serial killer.
FINAL FANTASY XIII. Publisher: Square Enix for PS3, Xbox 360. Release date: March 9. The latest installment in one of the most beloved role-playing series.
GOD OF WAR III. Publisher: Sony for PS3. Release date: March. The first high-definition installment of an action-series favorite, set within the Greek mythos. SETH SCHIESEL
This month, pinups for brainy girls of different generations will show off new material, getting an early jump on this year’s heartthrob race among thoughtful young women.
Of the Jonas Brothers, Nick is most likely to animate a young bookworm. The band’s primary songwriter, he’s serious to the point of somberness, and while his moaning vocal tone has none of the flamboyance of his brother Joe, it’s far thicker with meaning. He’s been smuggling record-nerd influences into his main group but can now give them full rein on his side project, Nick Jonas & the Administration, with band members who’ve played with Prince, among others. The group, which is releasing its first album, “Who I Am” (Hollywood), next month, is making its New York debut with a pair of shows at the Beacon Theater, where serious musicians play.
Later this month the boys of Vampire Weekend, idols for a crowd that abhors the very idea, will release their second album, “Contra” (XL), which they’ll celebrate with a troika of shows the United Palace Theater, followed by Webster Hall, then closing out with the most intimate of the three, the Bowery Ballroom. (What, no Market Hotel? Brooklyn is sad.)
Let’s face it: Vampire Weekend is a boy band for 20-somethings with poorly paid jobs in art galleries, a strong interest in local food, and Jonathan Lethem novels in their purses (or tote bags). They would have liked Nick had he come around a decade ago, and then dropped him as soon as they got to high school. They love the disheveled postprep clothes, and the sneaky global winks in the arrangements, a remembrance of semesters-abroad past (or at least ones they wish they’d had). They might not be screaming per se at these shows, but the swooning here won’t be that different from that at the Beacon: a fan is a fan is a fan.
In both cases all shows are sold out, though there’s probably a path to bliss to be found with the aid of a reseller and, probably, Mommy or Daddy’s credit card. JON CARAMANICA
Nick Jonas & the Administration play on Thursday and next Friday at the Beacon Theater, 2124 Broadway, at West 74th Street, Upper West Side (beacontheatre.com). Vampire Weekend plays on Jan. 17 at the United Palace Theater, 4140 Broadway, at 175th Street, Washington Heights (theunitedpalace.com); Jan. 18 at Webster Hall, 125 East 11th Street, East Village (websterhall.com); and Jan. 19 at the Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street, Lower East Side (boweryballroom.com). All shows are sold out.
I will also be curious to check out two tenors who appear in revivals at the Met this month: Salvatore Licitra and José Cura. Both appeared on the opera scene, and at the Met, amid great promise and excitement. Neither has fulfilled his potential, as of yet.
Mr. Licitra’s abundant talent was clear on the night he made a last-minute Met debut in 2002, taking over for an ailing Luciano Pavarotti as Cavaradossi in Puccini’s “Tosca.” In subsequent years his singing lost luster and grew coarser.
After reports spread that he was undisciplined, Mr. Licitra apparently buckled down and worked harder. He was at the Met as Luigi in Puccini’s “Tabarro” in December. But he took over that role midrun and I did not hear him. On Monday he makes the first of six appearances as Calaf in Puccini’s “Turandot,” a good opportunity to see how he is faring.
In the 10 years since his Met debut, Mr. Cura has sung just 19 times at the house, most recently in April in the popular “Cav/Pag” double bill. A vocally husky and dramatically intense tenor, Mr. Cura has been an erratic singer. He has a revealing assignment beginning on Jan. 11, when he sings the title role of Verdi’s “Stiffelio” (the first of six performances). Conducting will be the artist for whom this 1993 production was created: the tenor Plácido Domingo.
And I am greatly anticipating the baritone Thomas Hampson’s performance in John Adams’s wrenching setting of Whitman’s “Wound-Dresser,” with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall from Jan. 14 to 16. This intriguing program also includes works by Haydn, Schubert and Berg. ANTHONY TOMMASINI
“Turandot” at the Metropolitan Opera with Salvatore Licitra, Monday, and Jan. 9, 13, 16, 20 and 23. “Stiffelio” at the Met with José Cura: six performances, Jan. 11, 14, 19, 23, 26 and 30; (212) 362-6000; metopera.org; $20 to $295. Thomas Hampson with the New York Philharmonic; Jan. 14 at 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 15 at 2 p.m.; Jan. 16 at 8 p.m.; (212) 721-6500; nyphil.org; $29 to $112.
Pierre Boulez is conducting two renowned orchestras at Carnegie Hall in close succession. In mid-January he shares the podium with Daniel Barenboim in a series with the Vienna Philharmonic, and he ends the month leading the Chicago Symphony.
With Vienna, on Jan. 16, he offers a program that includes two Schoenberg works the Chamber Symphony No. 2 and the Piano Concerto (with Mr. Barenboim as the soloist) as well as Webern’s Six Pieces and the Adagio from Mahler’s Symphony No. 10. Mr. Barenboim is leading the Beethoven “Pastoral” Symphony and works by Schoenberg and Wagner on Jan. 15, and Mr. Boulez’s “Notations I, II, III, IV and VII,” as well as Schoenberg’s Five Pieces for Orchestra and the Beethoven Fifth Symphony, on Jan. 17.
Bartok is the unifying element of Mr. Boulez’s pair of concerts with the Chicago Symphony. The drawing card of the first, on Jan. 30, is the terrifying minidrama “Bluebeard’s Castle,” with the mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung and the bass-baritone Falk Struckmann. (Works by Ravel and Marc-André Dalbavie are on the program as well.) The second program, on Jan. 31, looks hotter: Bartok’s Concerto for Two Pianos, Percussion and Orchestra, with the pianists Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich, is surrounded by Mr. Boulez’s “Livre Pour Cordes” and Stravinsky’s complete “Firebird.”
On a more intimate scale, the New York Guitar Festival offers its annual marathon at the 92nd Street Y, with afternoon and evening sessions and a dinner break in between, on Jan. 31. This year the starry roster including the guitarists Eliot Fisk, Paul Galbraith, David Leisner, Ana Vidovic, Gyan Riley and Jason Vieaux, and the lutenists Nigel North and Paul O’Dette focus on Bach. But a few of Bach’s contemporaries will be heard as well, and Mr. Riley will give the premiere of a suite, inspired by Bach and composed for the occasion. ALLAN KOZINN
All Carnegie Hall concerts are at 8 p.m.; (212) 247-7800; carnegiehall.org; tickets, $33.50 to $219 for the Vienna Philharmonic and $44 to $133 for the Chicago Symphony. The guitar marathon is at 2 and 7 p.m. at the 92nd Street Y, at Lexington Avenue; (212) 415-5500; 92y.org; each session, $25 to $48.
Anyone familiar with Elaine Stritch’s feisty renditions of “The Ladies Who Lunch” from “Company” and “Broadway Baby” from “Follies” knows that her approach to the music of Stephen Sondheim is a dramatic no-holds-barred wrestling match between the singer and the song, in which there is little doubt about the outcome. Her new show, “At Home at the Carlyle: Elaine Stritch Singin’ Sondheim ... One Song at a Time,” which opens at the Café Carlyle on Tuesday, is likely to be a draw, in which Ms. Stritch’s hard-as-nails, tough-broad personality with a cream-puff heart fuses with the material so completely that she owns it.
Ms. Stritch, in her fourth appearance at the Café Carlyle, will be performing an all-Sondheim program with six musicians, the songs orchestrated by Jonathan Tunick. Because Ms. Stritch, who will turn 85 on Feb. 2 (Mr. Sondheim turns 80 the next month), is a ferociously age-defiant theatrical force, “singin’ ” doesn’t fully evoke the savage, canny dramatic eviscerations one can expect in a show that may well be legendary after its run concludes on Jan. 30. Attendance doesn’t come cheap. There is a $125 music charge for all performances, and dinner is required. STEPHEN HOLDEN
Shows are Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:45 p.m.; dinner seatings are at 6, 6:30 and 7 p.m. Café Carlyle, 35 East 76th Street, Manhattan; (212) 744-1600, thecarlyle.com.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: January 7, 2010
A “Looking Ahead” report on Friday about the Under the Radar theater festival in
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: January 7, 2010
A “Looking Ahead” report on Friday about the Under the Radar theater festival in
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