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    Vladimir Menshov, Surprise Russian Oscar Winner, Dies at 81

    His “Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears” was named best foreign-language film in 1980, beating Truffaut and Kurosawa. U.S. critics demurred.Vladimir Menshov, a prolific Soviet actor and director whose film “Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears” won the Academy Award in 1980 for best foreign-language film, surprising the many American critics who had panned it, died on July 5 in a hospital in Moscow. He was 81.Mosfilm, the Russian film studio and production company, said the cause was complications of Covid-19.“Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears,” a soapy, melodramatic crowd-pleaser, attracted some 90 million moviegoers in the Soviet Union even after it had been broadcast on television, not long after it was released theatrically in 1980. Its theme song, “Alexandra,” written by Sergey Nikitin and Tatyana Nikitina, became one of the country’s most beloved pieces of movie music.Even so, when “Moscow,” only the second film Mr. Menshov had directed, won the Oscar, many moviegoers and critics were taken aback, given the competition that year. It was chosen over François Truffaut’s “The Last Metro” and Akira Kurosawa’s “The Shadow Warrior” as well as the Spanish director Jaime de Armiñán’s “The Nest” and the Hungarian director Istvan Szabo’s “Confidence.”“There was more condescending good will than aesthetic discrimination behind the Oscar voted to ‘Moscow,’” Gary Arnold of The Washington Post wrote when he reviewed the film, which was released in the United States after its Oscar victory.The film follows three girls quartered at a Moscow hotel for young women in the late 1950s as they hunt for male companionship, and then revisits them 20 years later. It starred Vera Alentova, the director’s wife and the mother of their daughter, Yuliya Menshova, a television personality. They both survive him, along with two grandchildren.From left, Aleksey Batalov, Vera Alentova and Natalya Vavilova in “Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears.”SputnikMr. Arnold noted that Mr. Menshov’s movie “revives a genre Hollywood has failed to sustain, reliable as it would seem: the chronicle of provincial girls, usually a trio, in pursuit of careers and/or mates in the big city” — a genre that ranged chronologically at the time from “Stage Door” (1938) to “Valley of the Dolls” (1967).Vincent Canby of The New York Times conceded that the film was “decently acted” but wrote that at two and a half hours, it “seems endless.”“There are suggestions of social satire from time to time,” Mr. Canby wrote, “but they are so mild they could surprise and interest only an extremely prudish, unreconstructed Stalinist.”While he considered it understandable that “Moscow” was one of the Soviet Union’s most successful films, Mr. Canby concluded, “One can also believe that portion of Mr. Menshov’s biography (contained in the program) that reports he failed his first three years at the Cinema Institute in Moscow and wasn’t much more successful as an acting student with the Moscow Art Theater.”He added tartly, “I assume we are told these things to underscore the lack of meaning in these early failures, which, however, appear to be summed up in his Oscar winner.”Vladimir Valentinovich Menshov was born on Sept. 17, 1939, to a Russian family in Baku (now in Azerbaijan). His father, Valentin, was an officer with the secret police. His mother, Antonina Aleksandrovna (Dubovskaya) Menshov, was a homemaker.As a teenager, Vladimir held blue-collar jobs as a machinist, a miner and a sailor before being admitted to the Moscow Art Theater School. After graduating from the school in 1965 and from the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography in 1970, he worked for the Mosfilm, Lenfilm and Odessa Film studios.He had more than 100 credits as an actor, including in the hit “Night Watch” (2004), and was also a screenwriter. He made his debut as a director in 1976 with the film “Practical Joke.” More

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    Carol Easton, Biographer of Arts Figures, Dies at 87

    Curious about creativity, she chronicled the lives of Agnes de Mille, Jacqueline du Pré, Samuel Goldwyn and Stan Kenton.Carol Easton, whose curiosity about creativity inspired her to write biographies of four prominent figures in the arts — Stan Kenton, Samuel Goldwyn, Jacqueline du Pré and Agnes de Mille — died on June 17 at her home in Venice, Calif. She was 87. More

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    Gil Wechsler, an Illuminating Fixture at the Met Opera, Dies at 79

    Mr. Wechsler, the first resident lighting designer at the Met, created lighting designs that helped bring numerous operas to life.Gil Wechsler, who with innovative lighting designs helped bring to life more than 100 productions at the Metropolitan Opera, translating the visions of some of opera’s best-known directors while also contributing to a more modern look for the Met’s stagings, died on July 9 at a memory-care facility in Warrington, Pa. He was 79.His husband, the artist Douglas Sardo, said the cause was complications of dementia.Mr. Wechsler was the first resident lighting designer at the Met. He lit his inaugural show in 1977 and, over the next 20 years, made days dawn, rain fall and cities burn in 112 Met productions, 74 of them new.His career also took him to London, Paris and other international centers of opera and ballet. Wherever he was designing, he knew that audiences often didn’t take much notice of his contributions to a production — which was usually the point.“If lighting is good, you really shouldn’t notice it often,” he told Opera News in 1987. “In some operas, however, such as ‘Die Walküre,’ the lighting becomes the show. It should seem natural — it shouldn’t jar, but you should be moved by it.”Fabrizio Melano was among the many directors who appreciated Mr. Wechsler’s skills even though, as he noted, audiences often did not.“They sort of take the lighting for granted, and it’s something intangible,” Mr. Melano said in a phone interview. “You can see sets, you can see people moving, but lighting is an atmosphere. But sometimes the atmosphere is the most important thing, because so much depends upon it. And he was a master of atmosphere.”One of many examples of Mr. Wechsler’s handiwork was seen at the Met in Mr. Melano’s staging of Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande,” on which they collaborated in 1977. The set featured a number of scrims and screens, with treelike images projected onto them.“The illusion of moonlight coming through the trees is created by a patterned slide placed in front of one of the lamps,” The New York Times explained in a 1978 article on Mr. Wechsler and how he created his effects. “From the audience, the set looks remarkably like a three‐dimensional forest.”Joseph Volpe, a former general manager at the Met, said that Mr. Wechsler was an important part of an effort instituted by John Dexter, the Met’s director of productions from 1975 to 1981, to modernize the look of the company’s productions. Previously, lighting had usually been handled by the head electrician, and the approach was simply to illuminate the whole stage. Mr. Wechsler brought nuance and visual effects into play, including by using light to make a soloist stand out and the chorus fade into shadow.“The company had a nickname for Gil: Prince of Darkness,” Mr. Volpe said in a phone interview, “because Gil of course understood that it’s important that you don’t flood the whole stage with light.”Teresa Stratas as Mélisande and José Van Dam as Golaud in Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande,” presented in the Met’s 1977-78 season. “From the audience, the set looks remarkably like a three‐dimensional forest,” The New York Times wrote at the time in describing the impact of Mr. Wechsler’s work.Metropolitan Opera ArchivesGilbert Dale Wechsler was born on Feb. 5, 1942, in Brooklyn. His father, Arnold, was a stockbroker, and his mother, Miriam (Steinberg) Wechsler, volunteered at the Brooklyn Museum.When he was growing up his parents often sent him to summer camp in New Jersey, Mr. Sardo said in a phone interview, and working on camp productions is where young Gil first discovered his fascination with theater.He graduated from Midwood High School in Brooklyn and studied for three years at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., before realizing that a career in business or finance was not in his future. In 1964 he earned a theater degree at New York University, and in 1967 he received a master of fine arts degree at Yale.Upon graduating he found work as an assistant to the prominent set and lighting designer Jo Mielziner, and in 1968 he received his first Broadway credit, as lighting designer on the Charles Dyer play “Staircase.” He would have one more Broadway credit, in 1972, for Georges Feydeau’s “There’s One in Every Marriage.” Before coming to the Met, he also designed for the Stratford Festival in Ontario, the Harkness Ballet, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and other leading regional theaters and festivals.At the Met, Mr. Wechsler worked with Otto Schenk, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, David Hockney and many other leading directors and designers. Lighting for the Met is particularly challenging because — unlike on Broadway, for instance — the shows change on a weekly or even daily basis. One of Mr. Wechsler’s accomplishments, Mr. Sardo said, was to develop accurate records of the lighting schemes for each production, so that one show could be swapped for another more efficiently.“Before Gil was involved, there were no reference manuals as to how that should be done,” Mr. Sardo said. “Someone kinda remembered how the lighting was supposed to be.”In 1979, Mr. Volpe said, Mr. Wechsler further smoothed the changeovers by installing the Met’s first computerized light board.His work on a production began well before opening night or even the first rehearsal; for an opera, he would study an opera’s score and develop his own ideas of how each scene should look.“The lighting cues are always a function of the music,” he told The Times, “and in that sense, the score is the bible. The music will suggest a sunrise, or a gloomy day perhaps, as well as a feeling of continuity from scene to scene. As I follow the score, certain pictures will automatically occur to me.”But they were not necessarily the same pictures that occurred to the director or the scenic designer; once they all put their heads together, the compromising would begin. In the Opera News interview, he recalled a particular scene in “Turandot” that he and the director Franco Zeffirelli conceived very differently.A scene from “Turandot,” performed during the Met’s 1987-88 season, lit by Mr. Wechsler and directed by Franco Zeffirelli.Metropolitan Opera Archives“Puccini’s score doesn’t indicate when the scene is held,” he explained, “except to mention that lanterns are placed around the stage. That clue meant ‘night’ to me, but Franco sees it another way” — he wanted the scene staged in daylight.Mr. Wechsler also found compromises with the set and costume designers, and with the performers. There was, for instance, the issue of fire.“Fire is difficult, because you obviously can’t have a full stage fire, even though quite a few operas call for them,” he told The Times. “We create fire with smoke, steam and projections. The more smoke and steam we can use, the better it will look. Unfortunately, the more smoke we use, the less happy the singers are.”The Prince of Darkness didn’t use shade only to hide the chorus; in the case of some of the Met’s older productions, he used it to keep the wear and tear on the sets from being visible. That could be difficult, though.“When the score calls for a bright, sunny day, we can’t make it too bright, or you’ll see where the paint is flaking,” he said. “And we can’t make it so dark that it doesn’t look like daytime anymore.”Mr. Wechsler, who lived in Upper Black Eddy, Pa., oversaw his final Met production, Verdi’s “La Forza del Destino,” in 1996. He and Mr. Sardo, whose relationship began in 1980, married in 2017. In addition to Mr. Sardo, Mr. Wechsler is survived by a brother, Norman.Mr. Wechsler’s lighting designs were still in use by the Met for a number of productions before performances were halted by the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020. More

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    Rick Laird, Bassist at the Forefront of Fusion, Dies at 80

    He played with jazz greats and helped make music history with the Mahavishnu Orchestra. But he gave it up in his 40s to become a photographer.Rick Laird, a bassist who played a central role in the jazz-rock fusion boom as a founding member of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, then retired from music to pursue a career in photography, died on July 4 in New City, N.Y. He was 80.His daughter, Sophie Rose Laird, said the cause was lung cancer.The guitarist John McLaughlin called Mr. Laird in 1971 with an invitation to join a group he was forming with the goal of uniting the jazz-rock aesthetic — which Mr. McLaughlin had helped establish as a member of Miles Davis and Tony Williams’s earliest electric bands — with Indian classical music and European experimentalism.The new ensemble, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, which also featured the drummer Billy Cobham, the keyboardist Jan Hammer and the violinist Jerry Goodman, became one of the most popular instrumental bands of its time. It released a pair of studio albums now regarded as classics for Columbia Records, “The Inner Mounting Flame” (1971) and “Birds of Fire” (1973), and one live album, “Between Nothingness & Eternity” (1973).Mr. Laird had already begun to prove himself in the jazz world as a promising upright bassist, but with Mahavishnu he switched to playing electric exclusively. The group ranged from simmering interplay over odd time signatures to thrashing, high-altitude improvisation. It was all dependent on Mr. Laird’s steady hand, and on his knack for balancing power with restraint.“Someone had to say one” — that is, make clear where each measure began — “and that was me,” Mr. Laird said in a 1999 interview with Bass Player magazine.On the day of Mr. Laird’s death, Mr. Cobham posted a tribute on Facebook calling him “the most dependable person in that band.” Mr. Laird, he said, “played what was necessary to keep the rest of us from going off our musical rails.”“He was my rock,” Mr. Cobham added, “and allowed me to play and explore musical regions that I would not have been able to navigate without him having my back!”All of Mr. McLaughlin’s bandmates left Mahavishnu in the mid-1970s amid disagreements over money, creative control and the role of religion in the group. (Mr. McLaughlin was a devoted follower of the spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy and wanted the band to express his teachings directly.) He would continue the band for years, using different lineups.Mr. Laird spent the rest of the decade as a bassist-for-hire with some of the most esteemed names in jazz, touring the United States and the world with the saxophonists Joe Henderson and Stan Getz, among others. In the late 1970s he spent a brief stint in a band led by the keyboardist Chick Corea.Mr. Laird released one album of his own, “Soft Focus,” recorded in 1976, which featured Mr. Henderson.But in 1982, fearing that a musician’s lifestyle would prove unstable as he grew older, Mr. Laird embraced his other passion: photography. He had bought cameras and equipment on a tour of Japan and started doing photo shoots for fellow musicians. He soon made taking pictures his full-time job, shooting portraits for law firms and doing stock photography for agencies.But he also composed and recorded frequently throughout his retirement, although these projects have not been officially released.In addition to his daughter, Mr. Laird is survived by his sister, Tanya Laird; his brother, David; and his partner, Jane Meryll. His two marriages ended in divorce.Mr. Laird in 1967. He had begun to prove himself in the jazz world as a promising upright bassist before joining Mahavishnu and switching to electric.via Sophie LairdRichard Quentin Laird was born in Dublin on Feb. 5, 1941. His father, William Desmond Laird, a building contractor, was Protestant, and his mother, Margaret Muriel (Le Gear) Laird, a homemaker, was Roman Catholic; although neither parent was particularly religious, their families weren’t on speaking terms. Eventually, the couple split up.At 16, Rick was sent to live on a sheep farm in New Zealand. Hoping to pursue a career in music, he eventually moved to Sydney, Australia, where he gained a reputation on the jazz scene before moving to London.There he became the house bassist at Ronnie Scott’s, a top jazz club that often hosted musicians on international tours, and met some of the world’s most famous jazz talent. He played with the likes of the guitarist Wes Montgomery and the trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, and engagements with the saxophonists Sonny Rollins and Ben Webster led to albums with them.It was a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston that first took Mr. Laird to the United States, in 1966. He moved to Los Angeles without graduating and joined the drummer Buddy Rich’s band for a year before relocating to New York. In the early 2000s, he moved to New City, just north of New York City, where he lived until his death. He died in a hospice facility.In an interview for Guitar Player magazine in 1980, Mr. Laird reflected on a career as a side musician.“If you play a supportive role, instead of soloing constantly, the chances of becoming well known by the average audience are very slim,” he said. “The more I’ve refined my skills, the less I get noticed.“It’s a paradox, but I don’t mind. I don’t think I need my ego stroked like that.” More

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    Graham Vick, Director Who Opened Opera’s Doors, Dies at 67

    The British director was no stranger to the prestige houses, but his calls to make opera more inclusive and available to everyone eventually found their moment.LONDON — Graham Vick, a British opera director who worked at prestigious houses like the Metropolitan Opera and La Scala while also seeking to broaden opera’s appeal by staging works in abandoned rock clubs and former factories and by bringing more diversity to casting, died on Saturday in London. He was 67.The cause was complications of Covid-19, the Birmingham Opera Company, which he founded, said in a news release.Mr. Vick spent much of the coronavirus pandemic in Crete, Greece, and returned to Britain in June to take part in rehearsals for a Birmingham Opera production of Wagner’s “Das Rhinegold,” Jonathan Groves, his agent, said in a telephone interview.Mr. Vick was artistic director at the company, which he saw as a vehicle to bring opera to everyone. His productions there, which were in English, often included amateur performers. And he insisted on keeping ticket prices low so that anyone could attend, and on hiring singers who reflected the ethnic diversity of Birmingham, Britain’s second largest city. His immersive production of Verdi’s “Otello” in 2009 featured Ronald Samm, the first Black tenor to sing the title role in a professional production in Britain.The company never held V.I.P. receptions because Mr. Vick believed that no audience member should be seen as above any other.Ronald Samm was the first Black tenor to sing the title role in “Otello” in a professional production in Britain.Peter Roy“You do not need to be educated to be touched, to be moved and excited by opera,” he said in a speech at the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards in 2016. “You only need to experience it directly at first hand, with nothing getting in the way.”Opera makers must “remove the barriers and make the connections that will release its power for everybody,” he added.Oliver Mears, the Royal Opera House’s director of opera, said in a statement that Mr. Vick had been “a true innovator in the way he integrated community work into our art form.”“Many people from hugely diverse backgrounds love opera — and first experienced it — through his work,” he said.Graham Vick was born on Dec. 30, 1953, in Birkenhead, near Liverpool. His father, Arnold, worked in a clothing store, while his mother Muriel (Hynes) Vick worked in the personnel department of a factory. His love of the stage bloomed at age 5 when he saw a production of “Peter Pan.”“It was a complete road-to-Damascus moment,” he told The Times of London in 2014. “Everything was there — the flight through the window into another world, a bigger world.”Opera gave him similar opportunities to “fly, soar, breathe and scream,” he said.Mr. Vick studied at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, intending to become a conductor. But he turned to directing and created his first production at 22. Two years later, he directed a production of Gustav Holst’s “Savitri” for Scottish Opera and soon became its director of productions.With Scottish Opera, he quickly showed his desire to bring opera to local communities. He led Opera-Go-Round, an initiative in which a small troupe traveled to remote parts of Scotland’s Highlands and islands, often performing with just piano accompaniment. He also brought opera singers to factories to perform during lunch breaks.Mr. Vick became director of productions at the Glyndebourne Festival in 1994. That same year he made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera with a raucous staging of Shostakovich’s “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk,” the first time the company performed the opera. He also directed Schoenberg’s “Moses und Aron” and “Il Trovatore” at the Met.Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times called Mr. Vick’s “Moses und Aron” “a starkly modern yet poignantly human staging.”Mr. Vick put on his first production at La Scala in Milan in 1996, directing Luciano Berio’s “Outis.” In 1999, after a multiyear renovation and expansion, he reopened London’s Royal Opera House with Verdi’s “Falstaff.”Mr. Vick with the cast of “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” at the Birmingham Opera in 2019.Adam FradgleySome of his productions received mixed or even harsh reviews. “Stalin was right,” Edward Rothstein wrote in The Times in reviewing “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” in 1994, calling Mr. Vick’s production “crude, primitive, vulgar,” just as Stalin had done with Shostakovich’s original. Just as often they were praised, however.Despite Mr. Vick’s success at traditional opera houses, he sometimes criticized them. “They’re huge, glamorous, fabulous, seductive institutions, but they’re also a dangerous black hole where great art can so easily become self-serving product,” he told the BBC in 2012.Mr. Vick’s work at the Birmingham Opera Company, which he founded in 1987, was celebrated in Britain for its bold vision. Its first production, another “Falstaff,” was staged inside a recreation center in the city; other productions took place in a burned-out ballroom above a shopping center and in an abandoned warehouse.Mr. Vick decided to use amateurs after rehearsing a Rossini opera in Pesaro, Italy, in the 1990s. It was so hot and airless one day, he recalled in a 2003 lecture, that he opened the theater’s doors to the street and was shocked to see a group of teenagers stop their soccer game and watch, transfixed.“To reach this kind of constituency in Birmingham, we decided to recruit members of the community into our work,” he said. People who bought tickets should see reflections of themselves onstage and in the production team, he added.Mr. Vick kept returning to Birmingham because, he said, it was only there, “in the glorious participation of audience and performers,” that he felt whole.The company was praised not only for its inclusivity. Its 2009 staging of “Otello” “gets you in the heart and the guts,” Rian Evans wrote in The Guardian. And Mark Swed, in The Los Angeles Times, called Mr. Vick’s production of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s “Mittwoch aus Licht” in 2012 “otherworldly.” (It included string players performing in helicopters and a camel, and was part of Britain’s 2012 Olympic Games celebrations.)“If opera is meant to change your perception of what is possible and worthwhile, to dream the impossible dream and all that, then this is clearly the spiritually uplifting way to do it,” Mr. Swed added.Mr. Vick, who died in a hospital, is survived by his partner, the choreographer Ron Howell, as well as an older brother, Hedley.In his speech at the Royal Philharmonic Society awards, Mr. Vick urged those in the opera world to “get out of our ghetto” and follow the Birmingham example in trying to reflect the community where a company is based.People need to “embrace the future and help build a world we want to live in,” he said, “not hide away fiddling while Rome burns.” More

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    Esther Bejarano, 96, Dies; Auschwitz Survivor Fought Hate With Hip-Hop

    She played the accordion in the camp’s orchestra. Decades later, she spoke out against fascism and racism, using music as well as words.When Esther Bejarano was 18, she played accordion in the women’s orchestra at Auschwitz, which played marches as prisoners left the concentration camp for hard labor and upbeat music as train loads of Jews and others arrived.“They must have thought, ‘Where music is playing, things can’t be that bad,’” she told The New York Times in 2014, recalling how some detainees smiled and waved at the musicians. “They didn’t know where they were going. But we knew. We played with tears in our eyes.”Mrs. Bejarano died on Saturday at a hospital in Hamburg, Germany. She was 96. With her death, Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, a cellist, is believed to be the only member of the orchestra still alive.Mrs. Bejarano’s death was announced by the International Auschwitz Committee, which was founded by survivors of the death camp and to which she belonged, serving as a powerful voice against intolerance in her later years.She would also form a band with her children to sing antiwar and Jewish resistance songs and, in her 80s, joined a hip-hop group that spread an antifascist message.Being in an orchestra at a concentration camp was often an escape from forced labor, and possibly from death. For Mrs. Bejarano, playing music for her captors relieved her of having to carry heavy rocks and earned her decent medical treatment during two illnesses.Women deemed fit for work at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, in a photograph taken in May 1944.Vashem Archives/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesWhen Mrs. Bejarano learned that a women’s orchestra was being formed at the Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp, she approached its conductor, Zofia Czajkowska, a Polish music teacher.She played the piano, but there wasn’t one at the camp at the time. When Ms. Czajkowska asked if she could play the accordion, she said she could, although she never had. Yet she passed her audition, playing a German song, “Du hast Glück bei den Frauen, Bel Ami” (“You’re Lucky With Women, Bel Ami”).“At the time it was a very well-known hit,” Mrs. Bejarano said in an interview cited in “Auschwitz Studies No. 27,” published in 2014 by the Auschwitz Memorial State Museum. “I didn’t have any problems with my right hand, because I knew how to play the piano and immediately found the keyboard, but the bass is on the left, and only thanks to the fact that I have a good ear could I find the right tones. I managed.”Orchestras were formed in many concentration camps — to entertain the Nazis, but also to serve other purposes.“They were for the benefit of the administration and staff,” said Bret Werb, the musicologist and recorded sound curator at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. “They believed that quick march music would get the prisoners to march in time, and quickly, to hard labor.”Mrs. Bejarano, who arrived at Auschwitz in April 1943, performed at the camp for several months until being moved later that year to the Ravensbrück concentration camp in northern Germany. On a death march from the camp near the end of the war, she and several other prisoners escaped.She celebrated the Allied victory over the Nazis in a market square in Lubz, Germany. A picture of Hitler was set on fire by American soldiers. A G.I. handed her an accordion, which she played as soldiers and other camp survivors danced.“That was my liberation, an incredibly great liberation,” she told Der Spiegel last year. “The American and Russian soldiers embraced and shouted, ‘Hitler is dead.’”She found her way to a displaced persons camp at Bergen-Belsen, near a former concentration camp, where she learned that the Nazis had killed her parents in Riga, Latvia. Her sister Ruth, who had fled to Switzerland, was deported and sent to Auschwitz before Esther’s arrival.“That is so fateful,” Mrs. Bejarano told the British newspaper The Telegraph in an interview. “I came to Auschwitz in April 1943, and if she had lived, I would have met her there.”From Bergen-Belsen, Mrs. Bejarano hitchhiked to Frankfurt and took a train to Marseille, France, where in August 1945 she boarded a boat to what was then British Palestine and was reunited with her sister Tosca. Their brother, Gerhard, had immigrated to the United States some years earlier.Mrs. Bejarano in 2015, with Efim Kofman on accordion. She formed a band late in life to sing antiwar and Jewish resistance songs.Daniel Reinhardt/picture-alliance dpa, via Associated PressEsther Loewy was born on Dec. 15, 1924, in Saarlouis, in southwestern Germany, near the French border. Her father, Rudolf, was a teacher and cantor. He met her mother, Margarethe, in Berlin when they were teenagers; he was her piano teacher, and the two fell in love.Ms. Bejarano described her childhood as “lighthearted,” but that part of her life ended when she was sent at 16 to a Nazi work camp near Berlin, from which she would be sent to Auschwitz.After the war, she restarted her life in what would become Israel. She studied singing, joined a choir, gave music lessons and in 1950 married Nissim Bejarano, a truck driver, with whom she had two children, Joram, a son, and Edna, a daughter. In 1960, she returned to Germany, settling in Hamburg, and ran a laundry service with her husband.She is survived by her children, two grandsons and four great-grandchildren.She found it difficult to discuss the Holocaust with anyone until the 1970s, when she watched German police officers shield right-wing extremists against protesters. The incident turned her into an activist, and she joined the Association of the Persecutees of the Nazi Regime. She began to tell her story in schools, delivered protest speeches and sang with Coincidence, the band that she formed with her children in 1989.“I use music to act against fascism,” she told The Times. “Music is everything to me.”Around 2009, when she was in her 80s, Mrs. Bejarano’s musical career took an unexpected turn. She was asked to join Microphone Mafia, a German hip-hop group, with whom she continued to spread her message against fascism and intolerance to young audiences in Germany and abroad, from Istanbul to Vancouver.Onstage with the group’s Kutlu Yurtseven and Rossi Pennino, Mrs. Bejarano was an unusual figure: a tiny woman with a snow-white pixie haircut, singing in Yiddish, Hebrew and Italian.Hip-hop was not her preferred musical genre. She joked that she persuaded her bandmates to lower their volume and stop jumping around onstage so much. She believed that hip-hop’s influence on young people could help her counter a rise in intolerance.“Twelve years together and almost 900 concerts together, and all this thanks to your strength,” Microphone Mafia wrote on its website after Mrs. Bejarano’s death. “Your laughter, your courage, your determination, your loving manner, your understanding, your fighting heart.”Mrs. Bejarano, a recipient of Germany’s Order of Merit, issued a statement this year through the International Auschwitz Committee calling for Germany to declare May 8 a federal holiday to commemorate the end of World War II in Europe.“And if you are concerned about whether Germans should celebrate this day solemnly,” she wrote, “imagine: What would the world look like if the Nazis had won?” More

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    Charlie Robinson, Actor Best Known for ‘Night Court,’ Dies at 75

    Mr. Robinson became a fan favorite as Mac, a levelheaded clerk surrounded by oddballs, on the long-running NBC courtroom comedy.Charlie Robinson, the veteran actor whose best-known role was Mac, the good-natured and pragmatic court clerk, on the long-running NBC sitcom “Night Court,” died on Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 75.His family confirmed the death, at the Ronald Reagan U.C.L.A. Medical Center, in a statement. The family said that the cause was a heart attack and organ failure brought on by septic shock, and that Mr. Robinson also had adenocarcinoma, a cancer of the glandular cells.Mr. Robinson’s acting career spanned six decades and included roles in television and film and onstage. His first credited onscreen appearance was in Jack Nicholson’s directorial debut, “Drive, He Said,” in 1971.In 1984, he was cast in the role for which TV viewers would come to know him best: Macintosh Robinson, better known as Mac, on “Night Court,” then in its second season.“Night Court,” which aired on Thursdays at 9:30 p.m., after “Cheers,” was set in a Manhattan courtroom that played host to a parade of oddballs and misfits in the dead of night. It was built around Harry Anderson as Harry Stone, a quirky, kindhearted judge, but it was really an ensemble show.John Larroquette became the breakout star as Dan Fielding, a bawdy, lascivious prosecutor, but Mr. Robinson became a fan favorite as Mac, a levelheaded Vietnam veteran turned court clerk who favored cardigan sweaters, plaid shirts and knit neckties. He played the role for the rest of the show’s nine-season run and directed three episodes.Mr. Robinson was born in Houston on Nov. 9, 1945. He served in the Army and briefly attended the University of Houston before leaving to pursue an acting career.He attended the Studio 7 workshop at the Houston Music Theater in the late 1960s and also trained at the Alley Repertory Theater there before moving to Los Angeles, where his family said he studied at the Actors Studio, the Mark Tapper Forum and the Inner City Cultural Center. Mr. Robinson, right, with Wendell Pierce in the play “Some Old Black Man,” which was streamed online this year.Doug CoombeIn addition to “Night Court,” Mr. Robinson was seen on numerous TV shows, including “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Key and Peele,” “This Is Us,” “Malcolm & Eddie,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “How I Met Your Mother” and “NCIS.” Before joining the cast of “Night Court” he was a regular on “Buffalo Bill,” the Dabney Coleman sitcom that lasted only two seasons but developed a cult following. His film credits include “The Black Gestapo,” “Gray Lady Down” and “The House Bunny.”Mr. Robinson won the 2006 Ovation Award for best actor in a play for his performance as Troy Maxson in a production of August Wilson’s “Fences” at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. More

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    Paul Huntley, Hair Master of Broadway and Hollywood, Is Dead at 88

    The many famous heads he worked on included those of Elizabeth Taylor and Carol Channing. Some actors requested him in their contracts.Paul Huntley, the hair stylist and wig designer who gave Carol Channing her expansive bouffant in “Hello, Dolly!,” Alan Cumming his plastered curl in “Cabaret” and Sutton Foster her golden bob in “Anything Goes,” died on Friday in London. He was 88. His death was confirmed by a friend, Liz Carboni, who said he had been hospitalized for a lung infection.Mr. Huntley left New York for London, his native city, in February, and made clear in an interview with The New York Times that his work on “Diana: The Musical,” which is to begin performances on Broadway in November, would be his last. The pandemic, he said, had dried up opportunities, and his fractured hip was hurting.In a 60-year career, Mr. Huntley styled hair and created wigs for more than 200 shows, including “The Elephant Man,” “Chicago” and “Cats.” He was so respected that Betty Buckley, Jessica Lange and others had contracts specifying that he would do their hair.“He put wigs on my head for every show except ‘Les Miz’ in London. He was the master,” the actress Patti LuPone said. “When I put on a Paul Huntley wig, I never felt anything but my character.”The costume designer William Ivey Long called him “by far the premier hair designer on the planet, hands down.”Mr. Huntley tried a wig on Sutton Foster in 2002 for her role in “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” for which he sought to evoke New York City in 1922 with bangs, spit curls and finger waves.Sara Krulwich/The New York TimesMr. Huntley’s output was prodigious, and he typically worked on several shows at once. In 2014 alone, he turned out 48 wigs for “Bullets Over Broadway” and more than 60 wigs and facial pieces for the Shakespeare Theater Company’s two-part “Henry IV” in Washington.In 2002, when he designed the hair for the Broadway musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” he also worked on “Morning’s at Seven,” “Hairspray” and the Off Broadway comedy “Helen.”For the show “Diana” — a version of which, filmed without an audience during the pandemic, is scheduled to premiere on Netflix on Oct. 1 — he created four wigs for the actress Jeanna de Waal to portray how the style of the Princess of Wales changed over time, from mousy ingenuousness to windswept sophistication.Paul Huntley was born on July 2, 1933, in Greater London, one of five children of a military man and a homemaker. He was fascinated at an early age by his mother’s movie magazines. After leaving school, he tried to find an apprenticeship in the film industry, but the flooded post-World War II job market had no space for him, so he enrolled at an acting school in London.He ended up helping with hair design for school productions and in the 1950s, after two years of military service, became an apprentice at Wig Creations, a large London theatrical company. He went on to become the main designer, working with the likes of Vivien Leigh, Marlene Dietrich and Laurence Olivier.Mr. Huntley helped construct the signature braids worn by Elizabeth Taylor in the 1963 movie “Cleopatra.” Ms. Taylor introduced him to the director Mike Nichols, who a decade later enlisted Mr. Huntley to do hair for his Broadway production of “Uncle Vanya” at Circle in the Square. He eventually became the go-to designer for plays and musicals, including “The Real Thing,” “The Heidi Chronicles” and “Crazy for You.” More