All posts by Zhloar

LA Opera Keeps Details of Placido Domingo Inquiry to Itself

The Los Angeles Opera declined Friday to release any details of its promised investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against opera legend Placido Domingo, the company’s longtime general director, including whether it has begun.Also Friday, the union that represents opera singers said it plans a meeting in Los Angeles next week to address its members’ concerns ahead of the LA company’s season opener Sept. 14.Len Egert, the executive director of the American Guild of Musical Artists, told The Associated Press that the union has been receiving its own reports from members since an AP story earlier this week detailing accusations against the 78-year-old singing star.Hours after the AP story was released Tuesday detailing the allegations, the LA Opera announced it would engage outside counsel to investigate the “concerning allegations.”An open secretThree of the nine women who accused the singer of harassment and abuse of power described encounters they said took place while working with Domingo at the LA organization. The nine women and dozens of others interviewed said Domingo’s behavior was an open secret in the industry and that he pursued younger women with impunity.LA Opera would not disclose who would be conducting the investigation, how it would be carried out, when it would start or its expected duration.A spokeswoman for the company said Friday LA Opera will share details when they have information and that there was currently nothing to add beyond the statement released Tuesday.LA Opera Domingo is widely credited with raising the profile of LA Opera, where he served as an artistic consultant from 1984 to 2000, artistic director from 2000 to 2003 and, finally, general director from 2003 until now. His current contract runs through the 2021-22 season.In its initial statement, LA Opera said Domingo “has been a dynamic creative force in the life of LA Opera” but that it is committed to ensuring that its employees and artists “be treated respectfully and feel safe and secure.”Domingo did not respond to detailed questions from the AP about specific incidents. But he issued a statement calling the allegations “deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate,” adding “I believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual.”Global discussionThe allegations in the AP story sparked a global discussion among opera singers on social media forums about the culture of sexual misconduct in the classical music world and the belief that opera companies have long been aware of bad behavior and tolerated it, particularly when the accused are people in positions of power.Aside from LA Opera, the other women quoted in the story recounted incidents they said took place at other venues, including Washington Opera and the Metropolitan Opera in New York, ranging from 1988 into the mid-2000s.Some of the women told the AP that Domingo used his power at the LA company and elsewhere to try to pressure them into sexual relationships, with several saying that he dangled jobs and then sometimes punished them professionally if they refused his advances.Some performances canceled The Philadelphia Orchestra and San Francisco Opera announced they would cancel upcoming performances featuring the star. The Metropolitan Opera said it would await the results of LA Opera’s investigation “before making any final decisions about Mr. Domingo’s future at the Met,” where he is scheduled to appear next month.The American Guild of Musical Artists issued a statement calling for wider investigations across the opera world.“AGMA became aware of serious allegations of sexual harassment made by multiple women against Placido Domingo. We have contacted our employers to demand investigations into these allegations,” said the statement issued earlier this week.Since then, “through our confidential reporting system we have been receiving reports from members,” Egert said Friday. “We are providing timely, confidential advice and guidance to these artists.” He did not elaborate.Egert said that AGMA will be “closely monitoring the internal LA Opera investigation” and has scheduled a membership meeting in Los Angeles early next week, before the start of rehearsals, to address any member concerns on questions. The LA Opera 2019-2020 season starts Sept. 14 with “La Boheme.”Asked if the union was aware of Domingo’s alleged behavior previously, he said, “AGMA did not receive complaints from its members prior to the recent news reports.”

‘Easy Rider’ Star Peter Fonda Dies at 79 

LOS ANGELES – Peter Fonda, the son of a Hollywood legend who became a movie star in his own right, both writing and starring in counterculture classics like Easy Rider, died Friday at his Los Angeles home, his family said. He was 79. The official cause of death was respiratory failure due to lung cancer. Henry Fonda’s only son carved his own path with his nonconformist tendencies and earned an Oscar nomination for co-writing Easy Rider. He never won an Oscar but was nominated for best actor in Ulee’s Gold. The family said this was one of the saddest moments of their lives and asked for privacy. 

Latino Actors, Writers Pen ‘Letter of Solidarity’ Amid Fears

Actresses America Ferrera and Eva Longoria are leading a group of more than 150 writers, artists and leaders who have written a public “letter of solidarity” to U.S. Latinos after the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, and an immigration raid in Mississippi. 
 
The letter, published Friday in The New York Times and in a handful of Spanish-language newspapers, says the signers stand with U.S. Latinos who may feel “terrified, heartbroken and defeated by the barrage of attacks,” citing the shooting in El Paso, which targeted Hispanics, and another shooting in Gilroy, California. The two attacks killed nearly two dozen Latinos. 
 
A huge immigration raid of Mississippi poultry plants this month that rounded up 680 mostly Latino workers, leaving behind crying children searching for their detained parents, also has unnerved some Hispanics.”We have been smeared by political rhetoric and murdered in violent hate crimes. We have been separated from our families and have watched our children caged,” the letter said. “But, we will not be broken. We will not be silenced.”‘Indignities and cruelty’The letter says such “indignities and cruelty” won’t diminish the contributions Latinos have made to the U.S., and it urged Hispanics to keep standing up to bigotry.FILE – Actress Eva Longoria, right, is interviewed by Mariana Atencio of Univision on the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 6, 2012.Signing the letter were some of the most important Latino figures in entertainment, art, literature and activism, including novelist Sandra Cisneros, Academy Award-winning actress Rita Moreno, civil rights leader Dolores Huerta, singer-actress Jennifer Lopez and Tony Award-winning composer Lin-Manuel Miranda.The violence has some Hispanics looking over their shoulders, avoiding speaking Spanish in public, and seeking out escape routes amid fears they could be next. 
 
The shootings and the raid come against a backdrop of racist episodes that include then-candidate Donald Trump referring to Mexican immigrants as “rapists”; Trump, as president, referring to migrants coming to the U.S. as “an invasion”; and viral videos of white people chastising Hispanics for speaking Spanish in public.Longoria told The Associated Press that she and Ferrera got the idea for the letter after they talked and found out they were both depressed and sad after the El Paso shooting.”Once we started talking to other people, we found out others were feeling the same way,” Longoria said. “Instead of us all suffering alone we wanted to unite and tell our community that is going through all of this … we are with you and we will fight for you.”‘Soul-crushing’Longoria said the letter is not meant to take political sides but to reach out to Americans regardless of party to say Latinos are hurting.Ferrera told the AP that Latinos have been subjected to a number of racist attacks recently, but the El Paso shooting and the Mississippi raid were “just soul-crushing” for some. 
 
“We wanted to do something to let people know we aren’t growing to lie down and take it,” Ferrera said. “We are going to stand up and fight.” 
 
Monica Ramirez, a civil rights lawyer and activist who helped organize the letter, called it a “letter of love” and hopes it changes some hearts. 
 
“We also wanted to make sure that people understand that our community is powerful and we have many allies,” Ramirez said. “We don’t want other groups to be targeted.”

Scary Teen Stories, a Gold Mine for Studios, Streaming Companies

Scary folk tales and urban legends have always captivated people’s imaginations, especially those of the young. Now, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” a collection of short stories for children by author Alvin Schwartz and illustrator Stephen Gammell has been adapted by Oscar-winning producer Guillermo Del Toro and director André Øvredal. During its opening weekend, the movie grossed more than $20 million, proving again that teen horror flicks are a lucrative genre. Penelope Poulou has more.

Sister: Earnhardt Jr ‘Safe’ After Plane Crash in Tennessee

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is “safe” and in a hospital for evaluation after his plane crashed in east Tennessee, the NASCAR television analyst and retired driver’s sister tweeted.Earnhardt’s sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, tweeted that the driver’s wife, Amy, and 15-month-old daughter, Isla, also were on the plane along with two pilots.”Everyone is safe and has been taken to the hospital for further evaluation,” she tweeted. “We will have no further information at this time.”Federal Aviation Administration officials said a Cessna Citation rolled off the end of a runway and caught fire after landing at Elizabethton Municipal Airport at 3:40 p.m. Thursday. FAA officials said the preliminary indication is that two pilots and three passengers were aboard. FILE – Dale Earnhardt Jr. talks to reporters during NASCAR auto racing pre-race activities at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., July 6, 2018.The National Transportation Safety Board tweeted that it’s sending two representatives to Elizabethton to begin investigating the crash.Carter County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Thomas Gray confirmed Earnhardt was aboard but said he wasn’t one of the pilots. 
 
Earnhardt retired as a full-time driver in 2017 and has been working as an analyst for NBC. He is part of the scheduled broadcast team for Saturday night’s Cup Series event in Bristol, Tennessee.Deadly crashesThis incident comes 26 years after former driver and 1992 Cup champion Alan Kulwicki died in a plane crash while on his way to the spring race at Bristol from a promotional appearance in Knoxville, Tennessee. That crash at Tri-City Regional Airport in Blountville, Tennessee, killed a total of four people.Earnhardt was part of Rick Hendrick’s racing team in 2011 when Hendrick broke a rib and a collarbone while on a small jet that lost its brakes and crash landed in an airport at Key West, Florida. Hendrick’s son, brother and twin nieces were among 10 people killed in a 2004 crash of a plane traveling to a race in Virginia.Previous injuriesThis isn’t the first fiery crash for Earnhardt. He still has a burn scar on his neck from a crash at Sonoma in 2004 during warmups for an American Le Mans Series race that left him with second-degree burns. 
 
Earnhardt has a history of concussions that plagued him over his final years as a driver. 
 
He won NASCAR’s most popular driver award a record 15 times with 26 career Cup victories. 

Arlo Guthrie Sings as Woodstock Fans Flock to Concert Site

Tie-dyed pilgrims and white-haired Woodstock festival veterans converged at the generation-defining site to celebrate its 50th anniversary, while Arlo Guthrie came back to sing — what else? — “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is hosting a series of events Thursday through Sunday at the bucolic 1969 concert site, 80 miles (130 kilometers) northwest of New York City.Guthrie, an original Woodstock performer, played an evening set atop the famous hill, but said he also wanted to play at least one song near where the 1969 stage was located. Picking up a guitar, he sang the Bob Dylan classic for a group of reporters gathered on the grass under the wilting afternoon sun.“It was a great time,” Guthrie told reporters, his long white hair flowing from a straw hat. “For me, the Woodstock festival was a celebratory end of an era. It was not the beginning of anything. It was the end of something, and it was an end of a very turbulent time that was also very wonderful.”People hold hands in a circle around a large, illuminated peace sign on the original site of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Fair in Bethel, N.Y., Aug. 15, 2019.No overcrowding, chaosAn estimated 400,000 people showed up for the original festival on upstate New York farmland Aug. 15-18, 1969.There won’t be overcrowding and chaos this time. Visitors need event tickets and travel passes to drive to the site through the weekend. But the site was buzzing by the afternoon, with people stopping by the on-site museum and the monument near the stage area.“This is like a pilgrimage. Coming back to the holy land,” said Glenn Radman, a 67-year-old New Milford, Connecticut, resident stopping by the monument with his friend.People enjoy a concert by Arlo Guthrie at a Woodstock 50th anniversary event in Bethel, N.Y., Aug. 15, 2019.Radman was at the festival 50 years ago, as was 75-year-old Roger Dennis, an Ithaca, New York, resident who was making his first visit since that famous weekend.“I was here 50 years ago right on this day, and it was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. And I just had to be back here,” Dennis said, standing by the monument.Dennis went to the concert with his brother and turned 26 years old that Sunday. His brother died years ago, which made the visit Thursday a bit melancholy.“But the memories the energies of this festival were just unbelievable,” he said. “And I feel that.”Access to the field is usually open, but Bethel Woods is setting restrictions this weekend to avoid a repeat of the chaos that engulfed the site in 1969.Arlo Guthrie talks during a concert at a Woodstock 50th anniversary event in Bethel, N.Y., Aug. 15, 2019. Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is hosting a series of events Thursday through Sunday at the bucolic 1969 concert site.Baby boomer crowdGuthrie’s evening performance drew a crowd heavy on baby boomers, many with psychedelic-print shirts. In contrast to the 1969 show, there were plenty of seats and well-stocked vendors selling food, wine and beer.Guthrie’s show was to precede a screening Thursday night of the Woodstock documentary at an amphitheater on the site.Bethel Woods is hosting a long weekend of events featuring separate shows by festival veterans like Carlos Santana and John Fogerty.Photographers like Henry Diltz are exhibiting their festival shots for the anniversary and other places are hosting musical performances, but this site holds a special place for many music fans.“Being here reminds me of what it’s like to feel differently,” said Helen Rothberg, “to live in a community, to feel joy.”

Gyllenhaal Attributes Conquering Fear to Oscar-Winning Doc

Few performances are as daunting as the one-person play.That’s why Jake Gyllenhaal had to find a way to conquer that fear when he took on the role of Abe in the second half of “Sea Wall/A Life.”“Before I did it, I was terrified,” Gyllenhaal said of “A Life,” after the play’s Broadway opening. Tom Sturridge stars in “Sea Wall,” the other half of the pair of one-act monologues.Gyllenhaal admits that nervousness extended to the rehearsal room. But then he found confidence in an unlikely place. The story of Alex Honnold’s 3,000-foot (914-meter) climb of the El Capitan rock formation at Yosemite National Park.
 
“I was sort of quaking in my boots thinking about it. Then I saw `Free Solo,’ that documentary about the free climber Alex Honnold that won the Academy Award. Amazing, amazing documentary, and I thought to myself, if he can do that without any rope I can do a monologue. And then that was it,” Gyllenhaal said.From then on, it was smooth sailing.
 
It was a little different for Sturridge.  “I feel like weirdly – like before I walk on stage I feel fear. But I feel safest on the stage,” Sturridge said.Both actors say the lack of an onstage partner to play off of can add to the stress; there isn’t a safety net if you blow a line. But Sturridge uses the audience.“Normally when you’re on stage you’re pretending to be in a room and pretending like you’re in Russia and 1920s and you’re pretending the audience don’t exist. But with this, I’m having a conversation with real people who are different every night. And if I blow a line, then we just change the conversation,” Sturridge said.“Sea Wall/A Life,” a pair of plays written by Nick Payne and Simon Stephens, respectively are tragic comedies that deal with love and loss.Gyllenhaal says the emotional value shifts with each audience.“It’s very emotional through all of it. But it changes every night. It’s different. Sometimes I’m telling the story, I’m just telling it. Sometimes things happen. Sometimes I hear someone in the audience have an emotional response. He was laughing or crying, and it makes me feel something,” he said.“Sea Wall/A Life” plays on Broadway at the Hudson Theater until Sept. 29.

Worth of a Girl: VOA Looks at Devastating Effects of Child Marriage

About 650 million girls worldwide were married before age 18. That is about 17% of the world’s female population, according to UNICEF. These marriages often keep girls from completing their education and can lead to devastating psychological and physical consequences. In a yearlong project, Voice of America met with child brides from Albania to Pakistan to Tanzania.Jesusemen Oni has more.