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25.2.07

In Brief

LinksHere is your regular Sunday dosage of interesting items, from Blogville and beyond:

  • Lisa Hirsch's writing was masculine enough to fool the Gender Genie, a text-checking algorithm that tries to predict the gender of a writer based only on a written sample. When given recent Ionarts samples by Jens, Mark, and me, it correctly identified us all as men. The lists of cue words it assigns to male and female is interesting. [Iron Tongue of Midnight]

  • A. C. Douglas relays the reports that Wagner's granddaughter Katharina will get her chance to direct an opera at Bayreuth this summer, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. I dimly recall reading rumors that Katharina was being considered as a possible successor to Wolfgang Wagner to head the Festival. [Sounds and Fury]

  • The Joyce Hatto thing gets weirder and weirder, as more recordings in her catalogue turn out to be frauds. It's revealing extra-musical factors in the way that people, including critics, listen to and critique music. Alex Ross notes the following: "one piano expert is quoted as saying that Minoru Nojima's Liszt playing is 'too clinical' and expressing a preference for Hatto — not aware that he's discussing the same performance!" [The Rest Is Noise]

  • The Hatto thing reminds me of a publishing story that made the rounds of the litblogs this time last year, which I never mentioned but should have. Waggish book editors at the Sunday Times in London sent out typescript submissions from fake aspiring authors to 20 major publishing companies and literary agents for consideration. The typescripts were actually opening chapters from V. S. Naipaul's In a Free State and Stanley Middleton's Holiday, both of which won the Booker Prize in the 1970s. Not only did none of the recipients recognize either book as something already published, all but one reply was a rejection letter. [The Times]

  • France, sometimes in conjunction with other European countries, hosts all kinds of free cultural events. The latest one is a very good idea, the Journées européennes de l'opéra (European Opera Days), under the stewardship of Natalie Dessay. Last weekend, people were invited into opera theaters to meet singers and others who work in them, to see how operas are produced. Laurent Hénart, president of the Réunion des opéras de France, gave an interesting interview with Jean-Louis Validire about it. [Le Figaro]

  • Jacques Rivette's new film, Ne touchez pas la hache, was in competition at the Berlin Film Festival. It is an adaptation of Balzac's La Duchesse de Langeais, starring Jeanne Balibar and Guillaume Depardieu. Rivette, who was the subject of a film festival at the National Gallery of Art this month, is 78 years old. [International Herald Tribune]

  • La Cieca takes down Bernard Holland for lackluster opera reviews: "Even though Holland was supposed to review actual live performances of these two operas (the latter a world premiere), he didn't quite get around to writing anything you might call a 'critique'." Not to be missed. [Parterre Box]

  • "Although she rejected strict serialism ('It didn't correspond to my needs'), the experience was pivotal. 'I found more clearly my direction,' she says. 'In addition to what I learned, I learned many things I did not want to do'." Matthew Guerrieri on Kaija Saariaho. [Boston Globe]

  • The LapDawg. Clearly, I need one of these things for my laptop. [Boing Boing]

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