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Monster Mash: breaking arts news and headlines

October 6, 2008 |  9:16 am

Hairspray • "Hairspray," the Tony-winning Broadway musical based on the 1988 John Waters film, will close Jan. 18. Harvey Fierstein, who originated the role of Edna Turnblad, is scheduled to return to the production on Nov. 11. The show, which in 2007 was made into a feature film starring John Travolta, continues to play in London's West End. (Pictured, left: Fierstein performing in the Broadway production of "Hairspray.")

• Boston-area museums and arts institutions are preparing themselves for a dip in donations as a result of the continued global financial crisis. Organizations are reported to be making lists of potential cuts, enacting hiring freezes and shifting reserve funds. Mass MoCA, one of the state's largest arts institutions, is looking to cut $800,000 from its $6-million annual budget and has not ruled out layoffs. (Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly said Mass MoCA was one of the city's largest arts institutions; it should have said it is one of the state's largest institutions)

• New York City Opera has laid off 11 administrative staff members as a result of financial pressures and a mostly dark 2008-09 season. The opera is offering limited programming for the season while its home, the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center, is undergoing renovations.

• Placido Domingo performed a concert Saturday at the Mexican pyramids of Chichen Itza, singing a mariachi song as well as a duet in the Maya language. The concert, which drew nearly 6,000 people, was the subject of controversy in recent days after a complaint by the Archeology Council of the Institute of Anthropology and History citing the dangers that performing at an ancient site posed to conservation efforts.

• An Australian conductor and researcher claims that he can prove that several of J.S. Bach's compositions were written by his wife, Anna Magdalena. Martin Jarvis says he has used forensic analysis to examine various Bach scores, and concluded that Magdalena, who served as her husband's copyist, was the real author of numerous Bach compositions.

• A collection of tribal art from New Guinea has become the center of a vicious feud between the de Young Museum in San Francisco, the Friede family and Sotheby's. According to reports, members of the Friede family had planned to donate the 4,000-piece collection to the museum. But an internecine feud among the Friedes has led to a series of lawsuits in three states in which various family members, the museum and Sotheby's are laying claim to the collection.

• Sotheby's Hong Kong auction, one of the biggest in Asia, saw buyers shunning higher-priced works of art as the global credit crunch continues to manifest itself in the art world. Works by top names such as Zeng Fanzhi were among the 20% of lots that failed to sell.

• The University of North Florida is reportedly in the process of acquiring the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville. MoCA’s collection is valued at $10 million, and the museum has an endowment of approximately $600,000, but it has large debts and has struggled to attract visitors.

— David Ng

Photo credit: David Hobby / Baltimore Sun