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Live chat with News Music Critic Jeff Miers

Critics' Corner chat with Simon, Dabkowski at 1 p.m.

News Arts Editor Jeff Simon and News Arts Critic Colin Dabkowski answered your questions directly into the camera.

Join Jeff and Colin for a 1 p.m. live chat

Today at 1 p.m., join arts editor Jeff Simon and arts critic Colin Dabkowski (pinch-hitting this week for the very busy Jeff Miers) for a live video chat here on The Gusto Blog and on the main page of We'll be ready to answer your quetions about all things arts and entertainment -- and we hope you'll be ready to ask 'em. See you all in about 30 minutes.

--Colin Dabkowski

Mozart and Marie Antoinette


I cannot make up my mind whether or not to see the movie "Farewell, My Queen." It is about Marie Antoinette, the queen of France who went to the guillotine in the French Revolution.

Mark Sommer gave the movie a good review.

But I am afraid it will be sad. Sad images haunt me. I carry them around in my head. And it would be worse if it were unfair to Marie Antoinette, as movies generally are. From the impression I get from the preview, it seems full of myths. The veteran gossip columnist Liz Smith had something to say about that. I like what she wrote. Tell 'em, Liz!

I am watching the preview. The music that begins at 1:37 is the Mozart Requiem. Incidentally that piece is on the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's season next spring.

Wow, you can really tell when they stop the generic movie music and switch to the Mozart. Your heart lurches!

There is a little connection with Mozart and Marie Antoinette that most music nerds know, but other people do not. When Mozart was a boy wonder he performed at Schonbrunn, the royal palace of Austria. He went running across the polished floor and slipped and started to cry and a young princess, just a few years older than he was, ran over and picked him up and soothed him.

It was Marie Antoinette.

Wolfgang said, "You are so nice. When I grow up, I will marry you."

Too bad she did not marry him.

Her life would have been happier!

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

Opera-tunity knocks

TimkennedyTo our ears comes the welcome news that Buffalo Opera Unlimited has a new production in the works. It is Gounod's "Faust," and it will be performed at Buffalo State College's Rockwell Hall on 8 p.m. Sept. 21 and 2:30 p.m. Sept. 23.

Tim Kennedy, the head of Buffalo Opera Unlimited (pictured at left) would like to remind opera fans, and we are legion, that his company has been around for 27 years and although they do not have the resources for a production every year, they are alive and well.

It is understandable that a production a year would be tough to swing.

Someone once said, "Opera is the most expensive endeavor in the world, with the possible exception of war." Who was that who said that?

Whatever, Googling it, I found a list of quotes about opera including a great quote from Rochester-born soprano Renee Fleming.

Let me cut and paste:

"I think opera has gained a kind of glamorous appeal. It's a live performance that aligns all of the arts, and when it is represented in the media, in film in particular, it is presented as something that is really a special event, whether it's a great date or something that's just hugely romantic"

And one more zinger from Miss Fleming:

"Opera is really fun."

Ha, ha! Well said.

See you at "Faust"!

-- Mary Kunz Goldman



Liza with a Zzzzzzzz


It is a pity that Liza Minnelli canceled her appearance Thursday at the Niagara Fallsview Casino. For one thing, gosh darn it, I did an extensive and magnificent and insightful interview with her that now, alas, will never see the light of day. Unless Liza reschedules, which somehow I doubt she will do. I could be wrong! But the publicist was so vague.

He also would give no reason for her cancellation aside from "unforeseen circumstances."

My guess is that Liza needs a nap.

She did a few big shows recently. One was at the Hollywood Bowl. The Los Angeles Times reviewed the show and it seems it started late -- I wish the reviewer had written how late, but the delay was substantial enough so that people started carrying on.

The writer also gives the idea that Minnelli, 66, is not in the best shape. A preview interview she gave to the L.A. Times was short and kind of laconic. I do not blame the paper. I think I got a little more out of her, but I had to work at it. Not easy! (Hahaha... just because my interview is not running does not mean that I can't write about it.)

Shortly before the Hollywood Bowl appearance, Liza gave two raucous sold-out shows at the Ice Palace in Fire Island. Combing the New York Times' review, I read she sang only five songs, but the atmosphere was, shall we say, intense. Also, while she was in town, she made time to cavort at an extracurricular drag queen competition. (Warning: Link to grungy gossip site.)

Hey, you've got to have your priorities! But it might all be a bit much for a woman with two hip replacements and a knee replacement and, earlier this year, a broken ankle. Liza has a funny stock joke going these days about how she is equal parts Dorothy and the Tin Man.

I admire the heck out of Liza for being every bit the old-fashioned trouper. There are all kinds of stories floating around that corroborate that. (One just came in from a friend who phoned, and I wish I could tell it, but it involved cuss words, and this is, ahem, a family newspaper.)

Even a trouper, though, sometimes needs a rest. Until anyone can tell me otherwise, all I can figure is that Liza's unforeseen circumstances involve her living room couch.

The diva is on the divan.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

Live chat with Jeff Miers

Classic jazz clips from Cyrus and Deedles


It was fun talking with Cyrus Chestnut and Diane Schuur in anticipation of their performances at the Lewiston Jazz Festival this weekend. Cyrus Chestnut headlines the lineup tonight (Friday), and Schuur is the headliner on Saturday.

Up above is the clip of Cyrus Chestnut riffing on Edvard Grieg's "The Hall of the Mountain King." I get such a kick out of that. What he does is so simple, so casual, but so good. In the story I mentioned it reminds me of Thelonious Monk, a jazz pianist I love.

Here is an unusual video I love. It is of Chestnut paying tribute to Steve Jobs.


Watching this video I did not know where to begin to ask questions. I asked Cyrus Chestnut on the phone about it. He said it was at a TV studio in Ukraine. They just learned Steve Jobs had died and they asked him to say a few words about him. They put it something like, "You're American, can't you say something about Steve Jobs?" So you have Cyrus Chestnut getting up there with that deer-in-the-headlights look. You can tell he is relieved when he sits down at the piano.

These funny situations life hands you, you know?

Let's find a good performance by Diane Schuur.

Ah! Here she is at the Kennedy Center. It was the night she kissed Colin Powell! She talks about that in Gusto. See, other papers can be boring and ask jazz musicians about, I don't know, the chord progressions to "Giant Steps." But we here at The Buffalo News, we ask them about famous people they have kissed.


We really need a clip of Schuur at the piano.

How about this?


Hahahaa! Hit it, Deedles!

This should be quite the weekend.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman


Louis Grachos on Liz Larner's alien orb

Today, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery opens its exhibition "Decade: Contemporary Collecting 2002-2012," an important show that looks back at the past decade of collecting at the institution. Above, outgoing Albright-Knox Director Louis Grachos talks about a massive sculpture by Liz Larner which is now installed in the gallery's Clifton Hall space.

--Colin Dabkowski

Replay Critics' Corner chat with Simon, Miers

Sorry about last week. Combination of illness and systems failure kept critic's corner chat off the air last Wednesday (a thousand thanks to Mary Kunz Goldman for being so willing to fill in for me.) Jeff Miers and I are back in business this week though, ready for anything you want to throw at us--questions, comments, whatever. We'll be eager to hear from you at the stroke of 1 p.m. today.
Hope to see you there.

--Jeff Simon

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