Although he didn't hide his paintings in a valley in the mountains of Colorado, Clyfford Still was for all intents and purposes the John Galt of America's art world. 
    Unlike Ayn Rand's character, Still didn't seek to subvert the government. He just kept to himself, rarely selling paintings, and even deciding which work a customer could buy.
 The words of his contemporary, who created Galt in "Atlas Shrugged," would have 
suited him well.
    Still rarely was interviewed, and kept his thoughts to himself. But the way he acted was almost a mirror-image of John Galt.



    SARDINA BAY, South Africa _ To fathom playwright Athol Fugard, look beyond apartheid. Go back to his origins in the South African thirstland called the Karoo, where hardy things like aloe lilies thrive.
    Fugard once said: "That's space. That's silence. The eye of God. Unblinking."
    In the plays of Fugard, words are as rare as raindrops in his beloved semi-desert. Some critics rank him among the best stage authors writing in English and he is South Africa's only playwright with an international reputation. 
    Interviewed at his home near Port Elizabeth, the Mozart lover said, "In exactly the same way that the Karoo is a very, very spare landscape, I, myself, in the course of the 14 or 15 plays that I've written, have become sparer and sparer...."

    DENVER -- Architect Daniel Libeskind has upstaged the Rockies with his new wing of the Denver Art Museum, as jagged as the nearby peaks that inspired it.New condominiums facing the museum sold faster than units with mountain views, something developer George Thorn had never seen in his 35 years in the business. The homes were built as part of the museum project and some are almost close enough to reach out and touch.


    WOODY CREEK, Colo. _ Could it be that Hunter S. Thompson of gonzo journalism fame is mellowing like a fine bourbon from his native Kentucky?
   There's an elk liver marinating among the clutter of bottles atop his refrigerator, but no Wild Turkey.
   "I gave it up. It's vicious." 
   What of the legendary stories of his drug use, many of them products of his best-selling books?
   "That's a curse," said the 56-year-old writer. Yet he still passed a joint.
   Sadly, he can't stand aging and later committed suicide. His friend, Johnny Depp, helped arrange for his ashes to shot into the air by a rocket.



    VAIL, Colo.-- Even Don Quixote didn't try tilting at windmills in the dark.  Denver artist Patrick Marold has installed 2,700 mini-windmills along a Vail mountainside, each powering lights inside tubes the windmills are perched on - creating a tableau dependent on the stirrings of the breeze.
"If there is a statement in my art it is that I try to completely release it. Nature takes control," Marold said, his hands covered with cuts from gouging holes in the mountainside for the past week. The project took three months. "My hands are off now. I just let it happen."





KLOOF, South Africa _ Alan Paton, who at 78 might be called the critic emeritus of apartheid, has just finished his first novel in 28 years and says it pulls no punches in relating the deep racial divisions in South Africa.

This is the man whose "Cry the Beloved Country" is a classic, with the lead part played by Sidney Poitier in 1951. The book was first used for a Broadway musical by Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson, "Lost in the Stars."

Explaining the long gap between novels, the author of the South African classic, Cry the Beloved Country, said in an interview: "I had become very impatient of novels. I didn't even like to read them."

But poring over the proofs of his latest work, his bushy white eyebrows furrowed in concentration, Paton clearly was proud of the new work, "Ah But Your Land is Beautiful."

"I follow an Indian family and a white Afrikaner and an African family," he said. "It's a pretty thorough account of what South Africa was like from 1952 to 1958 and doesn't pull any punches."

DENVER- There's hardly an issue in the Iraq War that doesn't come up in "Rendition," a play written by Ryan Kelly, a former Black Hawk pilot in Iraq. And there are just as many voices.
Torture is Kelly's overriding theme, and it is taken to an extreme with an ending not unlike Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus." Kelly, a former Army captain who served as a company commander in Iraq, admits he doesn't know what he would do if he had to choose between torturing a captive or losing a loved one.



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   SUN CITY, South Africa _ Frank Sinatra did something he rarely does.
   He got together with a group of reporters for a rehearsal land then offered a glimpse into his private life.
    Wearing a baseball cap and sitting on the steps of an auditorium stage at this gambling casino, the 65-year-old crooner chatted amiably with reporters who halfway expected him to bite their heads off.
    Asked if he had an immediate concernings troubling him, ol' blue eyes said, "No. I'm pleased. We've got a couple of grandchildren and I'm hoping for a couple more. I think my life is quite marvelous. I have good friends, good musicians. People seem to be appreciative of what doing in my work. And I don't think I could ask for any one damn thing more."


    DENVER _ Five years after the Columbine High School massacre, a theater group is confronting the horror with a play that suggests what went through the minds of killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold once the shooting stopped.

    "It is by far the most challenging thing I have had to do," says actor Brian Lewis, a 27-year-old veteran of a dozen shows at Denver's LIDA Project who plays Harris. Mike Holzer, 24, portrays Klebold.

    "I could sense the discomfort of the audience when we came close to them," he says, referring to a scene in which the teens play a video game on the front edge of the stage. Audience members turned their eyes away from the actors. 

    Such lines as, "I don't feel any different. It wasn't enough," uttered by Lewis as Harris, did little to endear him to the audience.

    "Bingo Boyz Columbine" moves forward and backward through time and attempts to re-create what happened before Columbine, the day of the April 20, 1999, massacre, and afterward. The play's name was drawn from reports that the teenage killers said "bingo" as they killed.



Giacomo Puccini's Madame Butterfly emerged slowly from her cocoon to become one of the world's most beloved operas.

Despite many twists and turns, 123 years since the story was first told it is the most performed opera in the United States, according to Opera America.

The butterfly story debuted as a novel by Julian Viaud, a former French sailor who had visited Japan. He used the nom de plume Pierre Loti.

To get it performed at the Opéra Comique in Paris Puccini was forced to make significant changes in the libretto and music. Even Carmen, a French opera, had to make substantial changes to accommodate the bourgeois taste of Paris, said opera artistic director Roger Cantrell.

Great composers, including Mozart, were often pragmatic.

The resulting version, the fourth, was translated from French into Italian and has become the version most performed now, according to Julian Budden in Puccini: His Life and Works. It has been cut from three acts to two because of union costs. Puccini preferred two acts, according to Cantrel, whose mentor was taught by Cleofonte Campanili, the conducter of the first two Butterfly performances.

   CENTRAL CITY, Colo. _ At almost 8,500 feet in the Rockies, it can take a few breaths to walk up Central City's steep granite hills lined with Victorian homes,  souvenir shops _ and an opera house that has served 19th-Century gold miners as well as modern day visitors.

DENVER - When a show about John Denver was first pitched to Donovan Marley, artistic director of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, he passed. "I said that will be a whole bunch of ballads - how boring," Marley recalled recently in an interview.
Marley's award-winning theater was known for taking chances on shows such as the epic-like "Tantalus" or "The Laramie Project," about the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard in Wyoming.
Yet after listening to a demo CD of the show, Marley realized the arrangements by Jeff Waxman were nothing short of brilliant. They comment on each other ironically, Marley said. And that was how "Almost Heaven" came to life.

LOVELAND, Colo. _ For almost a century, Loveland was just a sweet little town built by farmers growing sugar beets. By the time the industry faded in the 1980s, farmers were replaced by artists, mostly sculptors.
There are some $6 million worth of sculptures in Loveland's parks, along its tree-lined streets, near its lakes and in front of its buildings.


CENTRAL CITY, Colo. _ Tissues are a must for “Gabriel’s Daughter,” anew opera about a freed slave who spent her life searching for the daughter sold at auction, but William Luce’s witty libretto also brings many laughs.
Henry Mollicone’s eclectic music helps establish the mood as the story swings from the ante bellum south to a wild Rocky Mountain mining town and back again in flashbacks, and there is at least one song, “Sweet Apple Wine an’ Dreams,” that could stand on its own.
Mollicone has served as music director and conductor throughout the San Francisco Bay area.
The opera, the third commissioned by the Central City Opera, like its two predecessors, “The Ballad of Baby Doe” and “The Face on the Bar Room Floor,” focuses on local history.
Clara Brown made a small fortune as a laundress in Central City during its mining boom in the 19th century and is recognized as one of Colorado’s founding pioneers.

Denver Regional Theatre Prospering

Awash in cash from a model culture tax and a booming economy, Denver's regional theater is winning praise for both the quality and quantity of its productions.

"I think around the country Denver stands very tall," says Roy A. Solymo, president of the American Theater Wing, which awarded the Denver Center Theater Company a Tony for best regional theater in 1998.

For Donovan Marley, artistic director of the Denver Theater, the best is yet to come: "We haven't even seen the cusp of our potential," he says. That could be in the works as rehearsals are under way for "Tantalus," a 15- hour series of plays on the Trojan War, the riskiest venture yet for the Denver company. It will be one of the longest shows ever staged in modern theater, with performances over three nights with dinner breaks. Weekend performances will be done in two days.