NPR Music News

Labor negotiations for New York's Metropolitan Opera took a surprising turn Saturday evening. Twelve of the opera's 16 unions faced the threat of a lockout at midnight Sunday, but negotiations were put on hold for a week while an outside analyst takes a look at the Met's finances.

When you exit Interstate 81 in southwestern Virginia and arrive in the small city of Bristol, you see what it looks like to age. The Art Deco Paramount Theater on State Street has not only the good bones, but also the healthy glow it did when it was built more than 80 years ago. Back then, this small southern city was an unavoidable stop for travelers.

Think opera plots are tough to follow? Try wading through the complicated drama playing out offstage at the Metropolitan Opera. At its most basic, it's the story of management and labor unions fighting over a supposedly dwindling pot of money.

This year, the Newport Jazz Festival is celebrating its 60th anniversary. For most of that time, its guiding force has been producer George Wein, who remembers all too well the first event in 1954.

It was pouring rain. Wein was being urged to call it off but refused. The audience stayed, broke out their umbrellas, and the musicians played. The scene was caught by a photographer.

"And that picture went out all over the world," Wein says, "of people sitting for five hours in the rain, listening to jazz."

Today, there's so much music being released that it can be hard to know what to check out, let alone buy. Mark Rye says that when he worked at a record label in the 1970s, the process was easier — in part because you could often guess what a record would sound like if you knew who released it.

"At that time, it was very much an identifier for the kind of music," he says. "So you would go into a record shop and you would look for what the new releases on certain labels were because those records were probably the kind of music that you would like."

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