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November 28, 2012 | By David Ng
A man has a casual affair with a woman and then dumps her. The woman, now with child, longs for his return but is coldly rebuffed. Humiliated and left with nothing to live for, she kills herself with a sharp blade to the throat. The story of Puccini's "Madame Butterfly" is a tragedy written in florid, grandiose letters. Change the setting from imperial Japan to 1980s New York, throw in some designer kitchen cutlery, and you get "Fatal Attraction," Adrian Lyne's Oscar-nominated tale of an adulterous fling gone horribly wrong.
November 19, 2012 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
Between 2004 and 2008, Los Angeles Opera was home to the most beautiful "Madame Butterfly" in America. But it was no doubt time to retire Robert Wilson's glowing, ascetic, stylized production, already 11 years old when it first arrived here from Paris and requiring enormous care to present properly. During that same period, San Francisco Opera mounted a more commonplace - and when it came to lighting and movement, sloppier - staging of Puccini's ever-present opera. This "Butterfly" has flown south.
November 17, 2012 | By James C. Taylor
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - But what he really wants to do is conduct … For the next three weeks Eric Owens is playing the supporting role of Sharpless in Los Angeles Opera's "Madame Butterfly," but at age 42, the Philadelphia-born singer has earned a leading position that few can claim: Right now Owens is the voice of the Metropolitan Opera. Literally, his deep bass-baritone is the voice-over on the Met's television commercials and promos this season, and figuratively, Owens is arguably the company's standout performer over the last two seasons.
November 9, 2012
Los Angeles reader Millicent Stoller wrote to our SoCal Garden Clinic saying she was trying to plant for monarch butterflies. Stoller said she was growing two milkweeds, but both had become inundated with aphids. "When I try to eliminate the bugs with a water spray or a soap-water spray, I end up destroying butterfly eggs," she wrote. "Is there another way?" For an answer, we turned to Barbara Eisenstein, research associate at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, founder and manager of a nature park stewardship program in South Pasadena and horticulture chairwoman for the San Gabriel Mountains Chapter of the California Native Plant Society.
November 4, 2012 | By Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times
Flight Behavior A novel Barbara Kingsolver Harper: 436 pp., $28.99 Strange things are happening in Appalachia. The natural world as we know it is coming to an end, overheated by human greed. "Global warming" is a dangerously loaded expression in the rural, Republican-loving, God-fearing Tennessee of Barbara Kingsolver's didactic and preachy new novel, "Flight Behavior. " The people of the fictional Feathertown have been taught by talk radio that it's a big-city scam concocted by Al Gore.
October 3, 2012 | By Karin Klein
With Proposition 37 -- to label genetically engineered food -- on the November ballot in California, there's obviously a raised level of debate about whether such food is truly safe for human consumption. The evidence doesn't indicate any harm, but a 2009 editorial in Scientific American complains that too much of the research is controlled by the companies that produce the bioengineered seed. Concerns have been raised about possible allergenicity; on the other hand, some genetically engineered food has been designed specifically to remove properties that cause allergic reactions.
August 3, 2012 | By Lisa Dillman
LONDON -- The long goodbye for Michael Phelps is turning into the golden goodbye. Phelps won his third gold medal of the London Olympics with an emphatic statement in the 100-meter butterfly, winning in 51.21 seconds. He was seventh at the turn and put on his trademark finish of power. "I didn't have a good finish, didn't have a good turn," he said. "But, you know what, I'm not going to nit-pick my races right now. I'm just happy to be able to defend that title. All of my 100 flys have have been within two-tenths of a second.
August 1, 2012 | By Lisa Dillman
LONDON -- World champion Jiao Liuyang of China consolidated her hold on the 200-meter butterfly Wednesday by winning the event at the Olympics, taking the gold in 2 minutes 4.06 seconds. American Kathleen Hersey had been considered a serious threat to win based on her impressive showing in the semifinals, in which she had the fastest qualifying time, but she finished fourth in 2:05.78. The event was highlighted by a slice of history. Spain's Mireia Belmonte won the silver, her country's first medal at these Games and said to be the first swimming medal ever won by a Spanish-born woman.
July 31, 2012 | By Lisa Dillman
LONDON -- It came down to the last stroke. And Michael Phelps came up just short, resulting in a shocking reversal of fortune. Chad le Clos, a 20-year-old from South Africa, touched the wall first in the 200-meter butterfly. Phelps' silver ties him with Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina for the most Olympic medals won by an individual, at 18. This ended Phelps' bid for three consecutive Olympic gold medals in his pet event, the one that put him on the map. The 200-butterfly got him to the Olympics for the first time in 2000, and Phelps had not lost the race at the Summer Games since placing fifth in Sydney.
July 30, 2012 | Lisa Dillman
 LONDON -- There would be none of this too-close-of-a-call-type thing for Michael Phelps in the men's 200-meter butterfly Monday night. Phelps won his semifinal heat in the event he has virtually owned for more than a decade. He had the fourth-fastest time, 1 minute 54.53 seconds, but was a mere 0.28 seconds behind leader Takeshi Matsuda of Japan, who won the other heat. American Tyler Clary, a first-time Olympian, recorded the fifth-fastest time, 1:54.93. Phelps is the two-time defending Olympic champion in the 200 butterfly and holds the world record in the event.
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