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THE NEW ALASKA CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS in Anchorage opens Thursday with performances by comedian Jay Leno, vocalist Diane Schuur, and the Count Basie Orchestra. The three-theater complex, designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates of Los Angeles, includes art by Alaskan and other American artists and fabrics inspired by the state's plant life. The opening gala continues through Sunday, with performances by the Alaska Light Opera Theater, the Alaska Repertory Theater, and organist Bene Hammel. NEW GERMAN ART is the focus of dual exhibitions opening Friday at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art and the city's Museum of Fine Arts. ``BiNATIONALE: German Art of the Late '80s'' features the painting, sculpture, and photography of 27 artists. After its closing Jan. 29, the exhibition will be seen in Houston and Minneapolis. DAME GWYNETH JONES will sing Br"unnhilde May 2, 4, and 6 in the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Wagner's ``Ring of the Nibelung.'' This marks her first ``Ring'' cycle in New York and comes just after Philips Classics CD Video is due to release Bayreuth's complete Patrice Ch'ereau production featuring the soprano. Dame Gwyneth also sings in the Opera Company of Boston's production of ``Der Rosenkavalier'' April 13 and 16.

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