This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.
In February of the New Year, the British will prepare a major celebration. It's not another Royal wedding. It's the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, marking the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne. It's an exceptionally long reign; only one other British monarch has reigned as long, her Royal Majesty Queen Victoria.
Tonight, New York's Metropolitan Opera will premiere a new piece with music that's hundreds of years old. It's called "The Enchanted Island" and it features arias by several Baroque composers, including Handel and Vivaldi, and mashes up the plots from two Shakespeare plays. And, oh yes, it stars Placido Domingo as the sea god Neptune. Jeff Lunden has still more.
Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown — perhaps that's why the queen often appears in such an impressive array of hats. Throughout history, the hat has signified a variety of things, from a crown to a team baseball cap.
A dazzling traveling exhibition celebrates centuries of hats. Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones began at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2009 and is now at the Bard Graduate Center in New York City through April 2012.
Credit Tamara Art Heritage / Museum Masters International NYC
Tamara de Lempicka's La Belle Rafaela, painted in 1927, inspired Ellis Avery's novel The Last Nude. The art deco painter met Rafaela while on a walk in a Paris park. Rafaela became her model and her lover.
Credit Matthew Powell / Riverhead Books
Ellis Avery is a creative writing professor at Columbia University, and the author of The Teahouse Fire and The Smoke Week: September 11-21, 2001.
You've probably seen the paintings — women, often nude, always glamorous, the epitome of Jazz Age elegance in Paris in the 1920s, done with a particular cubist, finished fashion. The art deco painter is Tamara de Lempicka, and she's the subject of a new novel by Ellis Avery.
The Last Nude imagines a hidden affair behind one of de Lempicka's most critically acclaimed works. The novel explores the relationship between the painter and Rafaela, the model featured in several of de Lempicka's works from 1920s Paris.