Author: Ken Roman

Letter from London: Art

PAINTING THE MODERN GARDEN: MONET TO MATISSE: This was the hot show in London – big lines, timed tickets, but it was too much of a good thing. The best part was Monet’s “Waterlilies” reunited in a triptych from three …Read More

Letter from London: Theater

“Hangmen” may be coming to New York, and it’s worth putting on your list. By Martin McDonagh (“The Pillowman,” “The Cripple of Inishmaan,” “In Bruges”), his latest is London’s biggest hit. It’s a message play (against capital punishment), but the …Read More


The revived NY City Opera got airborne this week after protracted legal negotiations. The creative result – in a perfect Rose Hall (at Jazz at Lincoln Center) – was satisfying. It’s not the Met, but then few admire the Met’s …Read More

Ricky Jay and Matthias Buchinger

Attention, Ricky Jay fans! The great conjurer is also a great collector of magic-related artifacts. His passion is on display at the Metropolitan Museum: a show of a polymath he admires – an 18th century German named Matthias Buchinger. Buchinger …Read More

The Pearl Fishers

The first production of “The Pearl Fishers” at the Met in 100 years opens with the pearl fishers, diving from the top of the proscenium arch almost to stage/ocean bottom. They are amazingly graceful. Tenor Matthew Polenzani and baritone Mariusz …Read More


  It’s not perfect, but it is brilliant, powerful, entertaining…and important. If you are ambivalent about guns, Spike Lee sends a message you will not forget. A modern retelling of Aristophanes “Lysistrata” anti-war satire set in the South Side of …Read More


Readers may remember Russell Shorto’s excellent earlier book, “The Island at the Center of the World,” about how New York City was so different from the other colonies because it was originally settled by the Dutch, who brought their notable tolerance …Read More

An Irrational Man

Woody Allen has come out with a new film almost every year for 50 years. As astonishing output. As die-hard Woody fans, we’ve seen almost all of them. This latest is not his best, but it is always fun to …Read More

Dark Universe

When the wonderful new Rose Planetarium opened at the Museum of Natural History, the film in the dramatic space theatre was a clear, compelling tour of the universe. The current film, “Dark Universe” shoots over the head of the average …Read More

Hamlet…via NT Live

We saw the National Theatre “Hamlet” last eve via NT Live. That is, we saw the first half – left at the interval. All the Benedict Cumberbatch groupies were there, but he’s no Mark Rylance (as in “Richard III.”) Modern …Read More

In the Heart of the Sea

We saw a preview … in 3D … of the Ron Howard production of Nat Philbrick’s wonderful tale of the sinking of the whaleship Essex – the event on which Moby Dick was based. In this film, the whale doesn’t …Read More

Lulu Live in HD

We made it through half of “Lulu” yesterday — at a Live in HD theatre. Marlis Petersen is unbelievable — better than the great reviews. The William Kentridge production is brilliant. The story is fascinating — worthy of opera. The …Read More

Polo Bar

Our well-connected friend got us a reservation at 8:30. Later than we would have liked, but we were told the reservation desk gets 6,000 calls a day! Cut that by whatever you want. We arrived on time, traversing a lively …Read More


Engrossing … but not as great as the ecstatic reviews. Good picture of what it’s like inside a newsroom. Same kind of story as “All the President’s Men” but perhaps less of a thriller. Mark Ruffalo is an engaging puppy …Read More


“Wilson” by A. Scott Berg, author of a great biography of the legendary publisher Max Perkins. All I knew about Wilson was his going down in defeat over his proposal for a League of Nations. In fact, he was our …Read More


Right from the start, you know you’re in good hands with the first deliberate beats of a stylized Greek folk dance. The Kander and Ebb edge is on display in the opening number, “Life is … what you do when …Read More

A View from the Bridge

We went to this HD broadcast from London in the mistaken impression it was a National Theatre production. It was a Young Vic production, broadcast by National Theatre Live. The other reason was that it has been many years since …Read More

Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci

Let’s please stop picking on Peter Gelb. Music aficionados may disagree, but the audience loved the new David McVicar productions of “Cavalleria Rusticana” and “Pagliacci” at the Met. Our music-knowledgeable seatmates gave an enthusiastic thumbs up as we left. The …Read More

Woman in Gold

  We’re not objective.  Ellen and I live in an art deco apartment, and have a framed poster of the great Gustav Klimt painting from the Neue Gallery – where it hangs.  (Alas, Ronald Lauder got there first with $135 …Read More


OK, Placido Domingo is past his prime. And Angela Meade is more than a bit over her playing weight. But she sang the role of Elvira like an angel. The Ukranian bass Dmitry Belosselskiy as the Spanish grandee Silva and …Read More

Fish in the Dark

  Before Larry David had uttered one word, his fans were laughing and cheering. Often, he didn’t have to say anything –- just shrug his shoulders and fling open his arms to express frustration or some other emotion. We went …Read More

The Vienna Philharmonic

The first team was on the field at Carnegie Hall for the Vienna’s performances of Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 and Symphony No. 1 (sometimes called “Beethoven’s Tenth.”) An interesting program, with the later symphony first, then the towering First Symphony …Read More

The “Reimagined” New York Times Magazine

The “Reimagined” New York Times Magazine (below, in the image above). It finally came –- 218 pages, stuffed with ads. The crossword puzzle is still there, plus some easier puzzles as a “gateway” for readers.  The magazine opens with a …Read More

American Sniper

  Clint Eastwood films tend to raise issues that provoke conversation and thought. I’d put “Dirty Harry,” “Mystic River,” “Flags of our Fathers,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “Letters from Iwo Jima” and “Gran Torino” in that category. “American Sniper” does the …Read More

Lady Be Good

  The first joint creation of George and Ira Gershwin, how could it miss? It doesn’t! This City Center Encores production lovingly brings back the tunes and light-hearted spirit of another era. The year, 1924 — George was 26, Ira 28. You …Read More

Les Contes d’Hoffmann

I need more than five stars to rate this stylish Bartlett Sher production at the Met. It’s everything opera should be. The lyrical Offenbach score is blessed with a believable cast that acts (and sings) with style and wit –- …Read More

The Tryall Club

  We’re on our way back from Montego Bay, Jamaica, after ducking Storm Juno. Jamaica equals Guaranteed Sunshine. And The Tryall Club works for us — world-class golf (breath-taking views of the Caribbean, former site of the Johnny Walker Open), …Read More

America in Retreat

A short strong book by Bret Stephens, foreign policy columnist for The Wall St Journal. Strong in that he articulates a clear direction in a complex world. Stephens makes the point that the world needs a policeman to maintain world …Read More

Holiday Train Show

There are lots of model RR trains and a quarter-mile of track at the NY Botanical Garden’s celebrated show. But the real star is the ever-changing layout of 150 replicas of noted NY buildings and structures like the Empire State …Read More


  Start with the theatre! The retrofitted City 1, 2 and 3 on Third Ave at 60th Street has huge overstuffed seats with retractable foot rests that cradle you in comfort. A destination in itself. We went to “Wild” for …Read More

J.G. Melon

  Our perfect movie evening concludes with a hamburger at J.G. Melon’s, on Third Ave at 74th Street. Still THE BEST hamburger in New York. Also the best chili and the best cheesecake. You won’t be the youngest person there, …Read More

Flex Mussels

There is more than mussels, but that’s the main draw at Flex Mussels. Steamed mussels in broth, in a half-dozen different recipes. Cold water produces the sweetest seafood, and most everything here comes from Prince Edward Island. That includes some …Read More


The design museum of the Smithsonian, Cooper Hewitt, just reopened in the former Carnegie mansion on 5th Avenue and 91st Street after three years of a complete overhaul, and it’s one of the best new museums we’ve seen in years. …Read More

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

  Six hours and ten minutes (including two long intermissions) is enough time to run two full marathons and still catch most of Act III. Meistersinger is a bit of a marathon, if a glorious one. The Prelude by the …Read More

Peter Luger

We finally persuaded friends to join us on a rainy night for a pilgrimage to Williamsburg to worship at this shrine of great steak. It had been years since our last visit, and signs were reassuring. Very busy, but reservation …Read More