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Top Picks: Randy Newman, President Nixon opera, Queen at 40, and more

Composer Randy Newman releases his second compilation album, 'Nixon in China' opera airs on PBS, the late Freddy Mercury's legacy, Queen, turns 40, and more recommendations.

Nixon in China on PBS


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A man and his piano

Grammy- and Oscar-winning film composer Randy Newman ("Toy Story" movies, "Ragtime," among many others) leads a double life. Many of us fans are crazy about Randy Newman the cabaret singer. As a gift to us and the world at large, Newman has recorded his sardonic, hilarious, and often moving repertoire in the studio, solo at the keys. "The Randy Newman Songbook Vol. 2," like Vol. 1, is the next best thing to seeing this unique artist and American treasure live. And, by all means, try to do that soon.

Philharmonic theater

Tuck into popcorn as you enjoy the final concert of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's 2010-11 in-theater season, brought to some 400 movie theaters nationwide June 5. John Lithgow will host the program with rising-star brothers Gautier and Renaud Capu├žon playing the Brahms Double Concerto with conductor Gustavo Dudamel at the helm. The show begins at 2 p.m. PDT/5 p.m. EDT. Check for theater listings.

Opera as history

Composer John Adams turned Richard Nixon's historic trip to China in 1972 into what has become classic modern opera with his "Nixon in China." On June 1, PBS airs a performance of the piece directed by Peter Sellars and conducted by the composer himself. Look for it under the "Great Performances at the Met" umbrella on your local PBS channel.


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