As cultural capital of Europe, Glasgow, Scotland, is ending its 1990 reign. For the occasion the reputedly dull, dingy and violent city on the Clyde River has transformed its image, entertaining 5 million visitors with 2,400 events that included a visit from Queen Elizabeth II and a concert by Luciano Pavarotti.
There's been a 120-day festival of Irish arts, a 12-day Jewish culture festival, a visit by more than 1,000 Japanese performers and artists, the World Highland Games. Moscow's Bolshoi Opera, visiting Britain for the first time, staged three operas.Glasgow has pulled itself up from its industrial slump of the 1970s and '80s when all but two of its 22 shipyards closed, shifting to services and retailing and pulling down much of its infamous Gorbals slums.
Glasgow is home to the Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Ballet, Scottish Opera, the innovative Citizens' Theater, The BBC's Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. It hosts annual festivals for jazz and folk musicians and street entertainers.
It has 17 museums, 25 art galleries, nine theaters and 42 musical organizations. The arts in Glasgow are an industry, doing business worth 204 million pounds ($334 million) a year, employing 8,000 people and another 6,000 indirectly.
- GUNTHER SCHNEIDER-SIEMSSEN has long been known as a lighting and set designer, notably for the late Herbert von Karajan, and for the Metropolitan Opera. He's done no less than seven designs for Wagner's Ring, including that telecast last June.
But he's also an expert stage director, which he proved with his recent staging of "Rusalka," a joint production by the Seattle Opera and Houston Grand Opera. The story is based on "The Little Mermaid" by Hans Christian Andersen, and Schneider-Siemssen executed slides to project for the background. He said his goal was always that "when the curtain opens, you don't only hear the music, you see the music."
- AMERICANS SELDOM have a chance to see the work of Robert Wilson, American composer and stage director, who works mostly in Europe.
In October the Lyric Opera of Chicago presented his production of Gluck's "Alceste," and in February 1991, the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass., will present his interpretation of Ibsen's "When We Dead Awaken."
These are his first productions in America since the Brooklyn Academy of Music presented "The Forest" in 1988.
Wilson, who is originally from central Texas, tackles the classics and opera in Europe ("The Magic Flute" and "Tristan" are coming up in Paris in 1991 and 1992; "Parsifal" in Hamburg in 1991; three Monteverdi operas at La Scala in Milan late in 1992; "Don Giovanni" in Berlin in 1991).
He is one of many Americans with creative talent who are working abroad (for example, the choreographer Mark Morris is in Brussels; William Forsythe, another choreographer, in Frankfurt; Peter Sellars, the director, all over Europe; Andrei Serban, was named artistic director of the Romanian National Theater, in England, Holland and Italy).
"I don't want to spend the rest of my life as an expatriate, but America is going through an extremely conservative tunnel now," Wilson said, "and it's difficult to do innovative work at home.
"Creativity is being repressed in America. The artistic energy was in New York in the '60s. Now it's in Europe, and the energy level in Germany is higher today than a year ago. The recent political events in Eastern Europe are vitalizing the country, and this vitality spills over into culture."
- VACLAV HAVEL, the playwright president of Czechoslovakia, memorably expressed the philosophy that has shaped his life.
"I am Czech. This was not my choice, it was fate. I've lived my whole life in this country. This is my language, this is my home. I live here like everyone else. I don't feel myself to be patriotic, because I don't feel that to be Czech is to be something more than French, or English, or European, or anybody else. God - I don't know why - wanted me to be a Czech. It was not my choice. But I accept it, and I try to do something for my country because I live here."
While some in the West look upon the playwright as simply an enemy of communism, Havel's philosophy is more complex than that. Essentially, he is against the suppression of freedom, either from the right or left. Six years ago, when he was finally released from jail, after serving more than four years for his involvement in the human rights movement, "Charter '77," which he co-founded in January of that year, he announced at the prison door: "I am neither a communist nor an anti-communist. I criticize my government not because it is communist but because it is a bad government . . . I simply take the side of truth against any lie, of sense against nonsense, justice against injustice."