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In the news

Opera company founder Sarah Caldwell dies at 82

By wire services
Published March 25, 2006


Sarah Caldwell, hailed as the first lady of opera for her adventurous productions as longtime director of the Opera Company of Boston, died of heart failure. She was 82.

Ms. Caldwell died Thursday (March 23, 2006) at Maine Medical Center in Portland, said Jim Morgan, her longtime friend and colleague, and the former manager of the Opera Company of Boston.

In more than 30 years as founder-director of the Boston company, she staged and conducted some 100 operas, ranging from baroque to avant-garde.

In 1975, she became the first female conductor at New York's Metropolitan Opera. In a cover story, Time magazine hailed her as "the best opera director in the United States."

She was extremely hardworking, sometimes rehearsing round the clock. Besides choosing standard works such as Carmen and La Boheme, Ms. Caldwell made her artistic reputation by producing unusual operas, world premieres, American premieres and original or variant editions of familiar works.

"South Park' kills off Chef, draws big audience

Last week's spat that pitted South Park against Scientology and Isaac Hayes, with a rumored dollop of Tom Cruise stirred in, led Wednesday night to the animated series' highest-rated season premiere since 2002, a Comedy Central spokesman said.

An estimated 3.5-million viewers - including 2.3-million in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 age bracket - tuned in to watch the show unleash a new salvo against Scientology.

Hayes, a soul singer best known for composing the Oscar-winning theme to the movie Shaft, has voiced Chef since 1997. The outspoken Scientologist quit the show last week, saying he could no longer tolerate its religious "intolerance and bigotry."

Series creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker immediately blasted back, saying Hayes had no problems with the show skewering religion until it targeted his in a November episode that mocked Scientology and its celebrity followers, including Cruise.

A rerun of that episode, called "Trapped in the Closet," was then yanked off the air without notice last week, resulting in rumors that Cruise demanded that it be pulled. The actor's spokesman and denied it. Comedy Central said the episode was was canned so the show could air Chef-centric ones.

[Last modified March 25, 2006, 01:50:17]


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