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NEWS
NEW YORK TIMES
18 Feb 2015

New York Times The Metropolitan Opera said on Wednesday that it would redouble its efforts to attract new audiences to the opera next season with six new productions, a star-filled roster and new initiatives, including one that will offer half-priced tickets to children during the holidays and another to court young professionals with later curtain […]

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New York Times

The Metropolitan Opera said on Wednesday that it would redouble its efforts to attract new audiences to the opera next season with six new productions, a star-filled roster and new initiatives, including one that will offer half-priced tickets to children during the holidays and another to court young professionals with later curtain times, discounts and social events.

“The future of opera relies upon bringing new audiences in, as we all know,” Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, said in an interview. “Ultimately, no matter what the economics are, how daunting they are, or how successful we are in fund-raising, at the end of the day it’s all about having an audience.”

While the initiatives are aimed at newcomers, the season should offer plenty to interest regular operagoers. Nina Stemme, the acclaimed Swedish dramatic soprano whose New York appearances have been few and far between, will return to the Met next season to sing the title roles in a new production of Strauss’s “Elektra” and a revival of Puccini’s “Turandot.”

The star tenor Jonas Kaufmann and the soprano Kristine Opolais will perform in a new production of Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut” directed by Richard Eyre. James Levine, the Met’s music director, will conduct a new production of Berg’s “Lulu,” which he described in an interview as “an inspired work, from beginning to end.” The production will be staged by the South African artist William Kentridge, who did the Met’s innovative production of “The Nose.”

And, reprising a feat that Beverly Sills was famous for, Sondra Radvanovsky will sing all three queens in Donizetti’s so-called Tudor trilogy next season. She will sing the title roles in revivals of “Anna Bolena” and “Maria Stuarda” and then, when the Met brings “Roberto Devereux” to its stage for the first time in a new David McVicar production, she will perform the role of Elizabeth I, who, unlike the other two queens, manages to keep her head.

Two more new productions will round out the season: The Met will stage its first production of Bizet’s “Les Pêcheurs de Perles” (The Pearl Fishers) since 1916. It will be directed by Penny Woolcock; conducted by Gianandrea Noseda; and star Diana Damrau, Matthew Polenzani and Mariusz Kwiecien. (Mr. Gelb noted that the last tenor to sing the role Mr. Polenzani is singing was Enrico Caruso. “Hopefully there’s been enough time in between,” he said.)

And the Met will open its season with a new production of Verdi’s “Otello” directed by Bartlett Sher; conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin; and starring Sonya Yoncheva, who had several star-making turns this season, as Desdemona, and Aleksandrs Antonenko in the title role.

Some of the big moments of the season will be in revivals: Anna Netrebko, who made a splash this year in Verdi’s “Macbeth,” will sing Leonora in Verdi’s “Il Trovatore” for the first time at the Met. She will make her New York recital debut with a solo concert on Feb. 28, 2016.

 

The Met, which has been struggling financially and at the box office in recent seasons — it ran a $22 million deficit last year — announced a series of steps to court new audiences.

Children under 18 will be able to receive half-price tickets in any section of the house between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, when purchased with a full-priced ticket.

A new program called “Fridays Under Forty” will offer tickets on selected Friday nights to people under 40 for $60 and $100 and move the curtain time back to 8 p.m., from its usual 7:30 p.m., to accommodate young professionals who work long hours.

And the Met plans to build on its popular holiday presentations aimed at families by adding one for grown-ups. So in addition to reviving an abridged, English-language revival of Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” aimed at children, starring Isabel Leonard as Rosina, the Met will add one for adults: a streamlined revival of Johann Strauss’s “Die Fledermaus,” conducted, for his first time, by Mr. Levine.

The average ticket price will increase by 1 percent to $160, the Met said. Tickets will range in price from $25 to $480, with 36 percent of the roughly 900,000 tickets available next season for under $100, and more than half available for under $150.

Mr. Levine is to conduct five operas next season. In addition to “Lulu” and “Die Fledermaus,” he will conduct Verdi’s “Simon Boccanegra” with Plácido Domingo in the title role; Mozart’s “Die Entführung aus dem Serail”; and Wagner’s “Tannhäuser” starring Johan Botha, Peter Mattei, Eva-Maria Westbroek and Michelle DeYoung.

There are no contemporary works next season, but the Met, which has made a greater priority of new works in recent years, announced that it had commissioned a new opera by Nico Muhly, the composer of “Two Boys.” Mr. Muhly will write “Marnie,” based on the 1961 Winston Graham novel that was adapted for the screen by Alfred Hitchcock, and which is scheduled to come to the Met’s stage, in a production directed by Michael Mayer, in the 2019-20 season.

“It does everything that you want an opera to do, really,” Mr. Muhly said of the book. “It’s really, really dark.”

NEWS
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
08 Jan 2018

Photo credit of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Sam Ogden. Following a successful clinical trial involving Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the first chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy for adult cancers was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Oct. 18. The only facility in the northeast to be part of the clinical trial, Dana-Farber […]

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Photo credit of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Sam Ogden.

Following a successful clinical trial involving Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the first chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy for adult cancers was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Oct. 18. The only facility in the northeast to be part of the clinical trial, Dana-Farber is one of a few locations certified to offer this new therapy nationwide, and the only one in New England.

The drug, known as Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel), can now be used to treat adults with refractory aggressive B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The FDA ruling is based on the results of a nationwide trial in which 82 percent of patients responded to the treatment, with 54 percent of patients having a complete response to therapy. Thirty-six percent of patients remain in complete remission six months after treatment.

CAR T-cell therapy, like all forms of cancer immunotherapy, seeks to sharpen and strengthen the immune system’s inherent cancer-fighting powers. To convert normal T-cells into CAR T-cells, technicians first extract T-cells from a patient’s blood and genetically engineer them in a lab to produce proteins on their surface called chimeric antigen receptors, or CARs. The CARs serve a dual purpose: to enable the T-cells to latch onto specific tumor cell proteins called antigens, and to signal the T-cells to kill those tumor cells. The newly minted CAR T-cells grow in a lab until they number in the hundreds of millions, and are then infused into the patient. If successful, the CAR T-cells will continue to reproduce in the patient’s body, and serve as an effective fighting force against cancer cells.

“It is extremely rewarding to be able to offer a new therapy to patients who had virtually no other options just 12 to 24 months ago,” says Caron A. Jacobson, MD, medical director of the Immune Effector Cell Therapy program at Dana-Farber, who has been testing Yescarta in a clinical trial. “This therapy requires just a one-time infusion for patients, and the results are evident within one month. It is our goal as clinicians to help patients and improve their quality of life. Seeing these patients return to work, their families, and their livelihoods so quickly is an important reminder of how far we have come. It is also inspiration for the work we still need to do.”

The approval follows the FDA’s recent first-ever approval of CAR T-cell therapy for the treatment of some pediatric and young adult patients with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in August, which will also be offered at Dana-Farber.

Learn more about CAR T-cell therapy.