Andrea Bocelli talks Las Vegas, Celine Dion and the importance of opera

We sing the masterpiece of art that is inside us (the mirror, for a believer as I am, of the wonder of creation), we celebrate the beauty that we can grow and live every day.” — Andrea Bocelli

Great interview with Andrea Bocelli by Robin Leach in the Las Vegas Sun News:
Q+A: Andrea Bocelli talks Las Vegas, touring, Celine Dion and the importance of opera [Las Vegas Sun News; Dec. 2, 2013].

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George W. Bush, the Renaissance Man

George W. Bush, the man who told Jay Leno that he named his cat Bob, “So I can remember how to spell it when I get older,” has been very busy.

Between rounds of golf, organizing and riding in 100K mountain bike rides with America’s wounded warriors, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston Texas, and personally refurbishing health clinics in Africa, through the Bush Center’s partnership with Pink Ribbon/Red Ribbon, whose mission is to screen women, in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, for cervical and breast cancer, the 43rd President of the United States has also become an accomplished portrait painter.

President Bush charged his painting instructor, Gail Norfleet, with a task. “There’s a Rembrandt trapped in this body. Your job is to find it.”

While a guest on the The Tonight Show on Tuesday, November 19, 2013, President Bush presented a portrait he had painted of Jay Leno to the late night television host.

Jay Leno portrait

Jay Leno portrait by President George W. Bush

President Bush has plans to paint portraits of 19 foreign presidents and prime ministers with whom he worked during his tenure at the White House. He has already provided the artwork for a Christmas ornament, which may be purchased through the Bush Center web site.

Bush Center Ornament

Bush Center Ornament

See also:
As Bush Settles Into Dallas, Golf Tees and Family Time Now Trump Politics [New York Times; Nov 2, 2013]

George Bush Shows Off Painting Hobby, Shares Jay Leno Portrait [US Weekly; Nov 20, 2013]

George W. Bush Presidential Center

A Hope Worth Remembering

I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.” — Bob Hope

Born Leslie Townes Hope in Eltham, England on May 29, 1903, Bob Hope emigrated to the United States with his family when he was four years old. He died July 27, 2003, in Los Angeles, California, at age 100.

Mr. Hope’s entertainment career spanned vaudeville, radio, film, television and live performances. A comedian, actor, singer and dancer, Mr. Hope was also a humanitarian. For 50 years, he went on the road to entertain American troops, wherever they were stationed. In 1997, he became the only person in history to be designated an “honorary veteran,” for his dedication to the U.S. Armed Forces.

The video clip below is an episode of a Dean Martin Celebrity Roast of Bob Hope, featuring Don Rickles. It was broadcast on October 31, 1974. Among the guests seated at the dias were Bob Hope, Jack Benny, John Wayne, James Stewart, Ginger Rogers, Howard Cosell, Phyllis Diller, Flip Wilson, Rich Little, Milton Berle, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Governor Ronald Reagan, Reverend Billy Graham, General Omar Bradley, Astronaut Neil Armstrong, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, President Gerald Ford, and Mr. Hope’s wife Dolores.

Madonna’s Second Date in Israel

Madonna will resume her international Sweet & Sticky Tour in London on the 4th of July. The tour will end in Israel. After the September 1, 2009, concert in Tel Aviv quickly sold out, a second performance date was added for September 2, 2009. It has been 16 years since the pop diva last performed in Israel, although she has been a visitor to the country a couple of times since then.

While in Israel, Madonna plans to go to the Wailing Wall with her children, including her newly adopted Malawi daughter Mercy, age 3 or 4, and adopted Malawi son David Banda, 3.

The Israeli tabloid Yedioth Ahronoth reports that Madonna’s friend Justin Timberlake will be joining her in Israel. The two share an enthusiasm for Kabbalah. Mr. Timberlake has been studying the esoteric Jewish mysticism at the London Center with Madonna.

There have been no announced plans that Mr. Timberlake will perform on the Sweet & Sticky Tour, but it is rumored that there may be some onstage surprises.

Hollywood Walk of Fame 2010

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce released the names of the 28 celebrities who will be honored with a pink terrazzo five-pointed star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2010, the Walk’s 50th anniversary.

The 2010 Hollywood Walk of Fame recipients are:

  • Motion Pictures:
    James Cameron, Russell Crowe, John Cusack, Colin Firth, Gale Anne Hurd, Alan Menken, Randy Newman, Adam Sandler, Emma Thompson and Mark Wahlberg
  • Television:
    Chris Berman, Jon Cryer, Peter Graves, Jimmy Kimmel, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Bill Maher, and Sam Waterston
  • Recording:
    Bryan Adams, The Funk Brothers, Alan Jackson, Chaka Khan, Van Morrison, Marco Antonio Solis, Ringo Starr, ZZ Top and posthumously Roy Orbison
  • Live Performance/Theatre:
    Andrea Bocelli and Cirque Du Soleil/Guy Laliberte

Andrea Bocelli & Gianluca Ginoble

He is being called “the new Andrea Bocelli,” and if you watch a couple of the performance videos on YouTube of 14-year old singing prodigy Gianluca Ginoble performing in Ti Lascio Una Canzone, you will know why.

The video below shows Andrea Bocelli addressing a very surprised and emotional Gianluca Ginoble. If, like mine, your understanding of Italian is very limited, you can still appreciate the moment.

See Also:
The New Italian Trio, Leaving Us a Song [Art2u: Art Right; June 19, 2009]

Flatpack: An IKEA Opera

The opera “Flatpack” sets Swedish furniture names to song while it poses the musical question, “What is domestic harmony?” It “explores issues encountered in everyday modern life and how our consumer decisions and domestic interaction with others are indicators of more profound life choices and personalities.” Performed live by Mammoth Music Theater at IKEA Wembley for four nights (June 2, 3, 9 and 10, 2009), it features four singers accompanied by a cello, piano, accordion and percussion, with a cast of actors and dancers dressed in traditional IKEA yellow and blue.

“Flatback” was composed by Tom Lane. The IKEA Wembley production was directed by Rebecca Lea.

See Also:
Ikea’s In-store Opera Shows Drama of Home Assembly [Advertising Age; June 4, 2009]