Dick Wolf, creator of the popular TV series Law & Order, makes it look like he’s been writing novels his entire life with his debut thriller, The Intercept. The tight prose, great characters and the intense twists are all signs of a master at work.
Flight 903 inbound to Newark makes history when a flight attendant and five other passengers thwart an attempted hijacking. The plane lands, the hijacker is taken into custody, and the rescuers become instant celebrities. The job of uncovering the hijacker’s motives falls to Jeremy Fisk, an NYPD police detective assigned to the Intelligence Division of the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Investigating with his partner, they uncover evidence that the hijacker was meant to fail.
While his partner tries to protect the heroes of the flight on their tour of various media outlets, Jeremy tries to track down the real mastermind.
Wolf examines the obsession Americans have with instant celebrity and how that fame can both boost and hinder a person’s life. And he puts the reader directly into the minds of the police who work to keep citizens safe.
Readers will be clamoring for more adventures with Jeremy Fisk.
— Jeff Ayers
Two contemporary stagings of Puccini’s La Boheme from 2012 have been released on DVD: Stefan Herheim’s reimagining that opened in January at the Norwegian National Opera in Oslo, and Damiano Michieletto’s staging that premiered in July at the Salzburg Festival in Austria. Both are equally fascinating and frustrating.
Taking the 1963 sets by Heike Scheele, Herheim begins with Mimi’s death — usually the final moment. And she succumbs to cancer rather than consumption. Only after Mimi flatlines does the music begin, and the opera is a series of flashbacks in Rodolfo’s mind as he refuses to accept her death. His garret transforms into a hospital ward and back.
Mimi alternately appears somewhat healthful looking and bald from her treatments. Much of the chorus is also bald in the jarring Christmas Eve scene at the Cafe Momus, and the landlord Benoit, the toy salesman Parpignol, the drum major and Musetta’s friend, Alcindoro, all are haunting personifications of death. Marcello and Musetta sometimes morph into medical staff.
Much of the poetry is lost in the third act, intended to be set on the snowy outskirts of Paris, but here the surroundings divert to a hospital.
Jennifer Rowley (Musetta) gives the best portrayal, with Marita Solberg (Mimi), Diego Torre (Rodolfo) and Vasilij Ladjuk (Marcello) somewhat stiff, as if they were confined by the direction. Conductor Eivind Gullberg Jensen has difficulty establishing a flowing mood and pace.
La Boheme had never appeared at the Salzburg Festival until last summer’s contemporary staging, which featured Anna Netrebko (Mimi) and Piotr Beczala (Rodolfo), the Vienna Philharmonic and conductor Daniele Gatti.
Michieletto’s wackiest idea was to set the second act filled with Christmas Eve shoppers on what appears to be a Google map of Paris’ Latin Quarter. His best was to set the third act by a snow-filled highway off-ramp with a food truck, as sanitation workers went about their business and partygoers walked by.
Rodolfo is a filmmaker whose garret has a high glass wall that allows an unseen person to write “Mimi” in huge letters with a finger on the condensation. Mimi wears a black leather jacket, has a blue streak in her hair and tattoos. Parpignol is an acrobat in a superhero suit.
Netrebko’s plush soprano thrills, as does Beczala’s ringing tenor, and Nino Machaidze (Musetta) and Massimo Cavalletti (Marcello) combine for a top-level ensemble. Even those not thrilled by staging will be entertained by the singing.
— Ronald Blum