THE WRITE STUFF
Ah, the joys of beach books. A Diet to Die For (Pocket Books, $7.99) will also help you burn calories while solving crimes. Meet Jen Stevens, a hungry New York City event planner who’s 31 years old, 30 pounds overweight and flirting with disaster when it comes to sticking to her diet. Working for the food-centric Yummy Channel, it’s hard to resist temptation. But when there’s a crime for Jen to solve, it’s easy as pie . . .
Baker extraordinaire Bess Brantwood is one of the Yummy Channel’s brightest stars—and biggest divas. Despite the off-camera drama, Jen has to admit that Bess’s chocolate buttercream cupcakes drizzled with caramel are simply to die for—and kill for, as it turns out—when Bess’s body, like a baked good gone bad, is discovered. In a dumpster.
Who iced the cupcake queen? Jen is determined to find out. With the help of her BFFs—fab food-blogger Gabby and lively life coach Elizabeth—she starts sifting for clues. She’s got all the ingredients to solve the perfect crime, including one delectable detective, one divalicious diary, and enough industry rivals for a battle of the network stars. But is Jen prepared to risk her life as well as her waistline? No matter how you slice it, revenge is sweet. And loaded with carbs.
FOR THE RECORD
The Love and Terror Cult (ESP-Disk)
What’s worse than planning mass murder? Giving voice to Charles Manson. This CD was recorded thanks to “help” Manson received from some famous musicians who gave him use of their studios to produce this album, featuring vocal backup from the women of his murderous “family.” While in prison, he gave a fellow inmate him the album to release. Some considered Manson’s songs musically and historically significant, so the recording actually came to life, briefly, in 1974. It has since been reissued. But fret not: All royalties go to the son of one of the victims, who obtained a judgment against Manson. This one makes Tiny Tim sound good.
VIDEO QUICK PICKS
ArtHaus Musik has released two must-have for opera buffs.
Le Nozze di Figaro, Mozart’s timeless opera buffa, is one of the greatest of all operatic masterpieces. It is based on Beaumarchais’ comedy Le Nozze de Figaro and tells the tale of the servant Figaro, who is about to marry the maid Susanna. Count Almaviva, keeping an eye on Susanna himself, tries to prevent this marriage with the help of Bortolo, the doctor, but is continually thwarted. This classic 1973 production by legendary director Peter Hall, Director features a host of renowned opera singers lead by Kiri Te Kanawa as the Countess, arguably her finest role and certainly the role that made her an international superstar. Knut Skram’s charmaning and charismatic take on the character of Figaro complements Cotruba’s gentle Susanna, and also noteworthy is the outstanding Frederica von Stade, celebrated for her performance as Cherubino.
Rossini was 24 years old when in 1816 he wrote his 17th and most famous opera, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, in an astonishing three weeks. Michael Hampe’s humorous direction of his 1988 live-performance at the Schwetzinger Festspiele stands out with its high tempo that makes for a highly exuberant production. Ezio Firgerios’ appealing stage and Mauro Pagano’s colourful costumes heighten the comic effect. Gabriele Ferro’s direction strikes a beautiful balance between a vibrant orchestral performance and a superb choir. The irresistible Cecilia Bartoli leads a cast that includes Davod Kübler; Gino Quilico and Carlos Feller.