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Met cancels Calixto Bieito's 'Forza del Destino' production

Needing to trim its $300 million budget, the Metropolitan Opera canceled next year's production of Verdi's "La Forza del Destino," which was to have been the debut of provocative Spanish director Calixto Bieito.

Met General Manager Peter Gelb said the decision was made several months ago and will save about $1 million. He wanted to make the announcement ahead of the release of next season's schedule.

"It's obviously something that I'm not happy to be doing," he said Friday. While the budget is balanced, he said it "needs to come down given the state of earned revenue."

Gelb said it would not have been workable to attempt to raise more money for this specific production. "There's a limited number of people who give us large donations," he said. "We have to have credibility with our donors that we're taking responsible actions."

The production, first seen at the English National Opera in November 2015, was to have been the company debut of Bieito, whose work is known for its liberal nudity and unusual settings, such as having men sitting on toilets reading newspapers in the opening of a 2000 staging of Verdi's "Un Ballo in Machera (A Masked Ball)" in Barcelona, Spain.

While Gelb hopes to bring Bieito to the Met in the future, nothing is scheduled. The Met said Friday that "Forza" has been postponed indefinitely and will be replaced by four concerts of Verdi's Requiem led by music director emeritus James Levine, running from Nov. 24 to Dec. 2.

Bieito becomes the second high-profile European director removed from the Met schedule. Norweigen Stefan Herheim's production of Wagner's "Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg (The Mastersingers of Nuremberg)," first seen at the 2013 Salzburg Festival, was dropped from the Met's 2019-20 schedule last summer because of difficulties adapting it to the Met's narrower stage.

"It's an unhappy coincidence," Gelb said.

The Met, according to Gelb, is in discussions to have Tony Award-winning director Ivo van Hove stage multiple productions at the house and has plans to engage Australian director Barrie Kosky.

"We're certainly still interested in pushing the theatrical envelope," Gelb said.

The Met's previous "Forza" staging, by Giancarlo Del Monaco in 1996, was last seen in 2006 and no longer exists.

The Verdi Requiem will include mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk, tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko and bass Ferruccio Furlanetto, who were to have been in "Forza," and soprano Krassimira Stoyanova, who takes the place of Sondra Radvanovsky.

Inaugural concert to feature Toby Keith, Jennifer Holliday

Donald Trump's inaugural welcome concert next week will feature country star Toby Keith, singer Jennifer Holliday and actor Jon Voight, organizers announced Friday.

The names add some celebrity flavor to an inaugural lineup that so far has been noticeably short on star power, with organizers insisting that Trump himself is the celebrity in chief for this inaugural.

Also performing at Thursday's "Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration:" southern rockers 3 Doors Down, The Piano Guys, Lee Greenwood, DJ RaviDrums and The Frontmen of Country, featuring Tim Rushlow, Larry Stewart and Richie McDonald.

"We're going to do something incredible," Trump said in a tweeted video promoting the concert. "That's going to be really fantastic."

Trump himself also will speak at the concert at the Lincoln Memorial, which organizers said "will serve as a tribute to one of our greatest attributes, the peaceful transition of partisan power."

Several prominent entertainers have declined to perform at the Trump inaugural, citing disagreement with the president-elect's agenda and style.

Holliday, who supported Hillary Clinton in the election, cast her decision to participate not as a political statement but as a way to welcome the American people to an event that should be about unifying the country. She said she has sung for both Republican and Democratic presidents, and that may be why Trump's team reached out to her, joking that they couldn't get an "A-lister, so they went to the bottom of the list."

"I didn't see it as singing for Trump; I saw it as singing for the people on the mall," she said in an interview.

Holliday, best known for her Tony-winning role in "Dreamgirls" on Broadway, faced an immediate and angry backlash to her decision from critics urging a boycott of her music, calling her an "Uncle Tom," saying her career was over and even suggesting she take her own life.

"It just really made my heart drop to my feet," Holliday said. "How could I have this much hate spewing at me, and I haven't even done anything? I guess it's not like those old days when political views were your own and you had freedom of speech. ... We live in a different time now and a decision to go and do something for America is not so clear-cut anymore."

The celebrity wattage for Trump's inaugural festivities doesn't rival that of Barack Obama's inaugurations, which attracted top names including Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Alicia Keys, Kelly Clarkson, Eva Longoria and Jennifer Hudson, among others. But Trump has insisted that's how he wants it, saying the swearing-in festivities should be about the people not the elites.

Greenwood, whose signature song is "God Bless the U.S.A.," has performed for past GOP presidential inaugurals. Voight has been a vocal Trump supporter.

Those set to perform at Trump's Jan. 20 swearing-in ceremony include singer Jackie Evancho, the Radio City Rockettes and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Evancho, who has caught some criticism for agreeing to perform at the inaugural, said she hoped her performance will "bring people together."

"I hope to just kind of make everyone forget about rivals and politics for a second and just think about America and the pretty song that I'm singing," Evancho said in an interview to air Sunday on "CBS This Morning."

The 16-year-old singer rejected the idea she was tacitly accepting Trump's agenda or intolerance for LGBT rights by agreeing to perform. Her sister, Juliet Evancho, was born Jacob and is transgender.

Juliet Evancho told CBS that her sister was "singing for our country and it's an honor for her to be singing in front of so many people."

"I feel that's really where I look at it," Juliet said. "And that's where I'm going to leave it right now."

Singer Paul Anka, meanwhile, told TMZ he'd been in talks with the Trump team about singing "My Way" for the new president at an inaugural ball, with lyrics tailored to Trump, but that he had to scrap the plan because of family commitments. Anka, 75, said "My Way" was Trump's favorite song.

Thursday's "welcome celebration" is a free concert that also will feature fireworks and military bands. It will be available for live broadcast.

Prior to that concert, a separate "Voices of the People" program at the Lincoln Memorial will feature groups from around the country that applied to take part in the inauguration, such as high school bands, Cub Scouts, local choirs and pipe and drum groups.

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Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/nbenac

Loretta Lynn, Shania Twain, Jason Aldean get museum exhibits

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will feature exhibits on Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean, Loretta Lynn and Shania Twain in 2017.

The museum announced Friday their slate of exhibitions for the new year, which also includes a new exhibition called American Currents, focusing on music from 2016.

The exhibit on Aldean, who was named Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year, will open in May, while the exhibit on Canadian-born star Twain will open in June. Hall of Fame member Lynn, whose hits include "Coal Miner's Daughter" and "Fist City," will be featured in an extensive exhibit opening in August. And finally in November, an exhibit on the intertwined careers of country music star couple Hill and McGraw will open.

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Online: www.countrymusichalloffame.org.

Broadway's biggest stars to sing on Inauguration Day, in NYC

Some of Broadway's biggest stars — including Chita Rivera, Kelli O'Hara, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Betty Buckley, Jessie Mueller and Billy Porter — will be spending Inauguration Day at a concert in New York City that raises money for human rights organizations.

"Concert for America: Stand Up, Sing Out! " will be held at The Town Hall in Manhattan on Jan. 20. It's intended to be the first in a series of monthly benefit concerts and will be streamed live on Facebook.

Others slated to perform include Sharon Gless, Andrea Martin, Bebe Neuwirth, Rosie O'Donnell, Rosie Perez, Lillias White, Judy Gold, Caroline Rhea, Stephanie Mills and Charles Busch. The concert is the brainchild of Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley, who also organized the Broadway For Orlando fundraising concert.

Mueller, currently starring in "Waitress," will reach back to her Tony Award-winning role as Carole King to sing "Beautiful" and hopes its message of love and tolerance resonates.

"Hate comes from a lack of love, so we can't fight it with more of its own toxicity, we have to fill it with love," she said. "There are really big things at stake. Things we can't save or solidify or safeguard alone. We have to think bigger, we have to ask for help, we have to reach out to one another and band together. I hope this concert can be an example of that."

Proceeds will benefit groups that protect civil rights, women's health and environmental protection, including Planned Parenthood, Southern Poverty Law Center, National Immigration Law Center and the Sierra Club Foundation. Tickets range from $25 to $50.

Porter, who won a Tony in "Kinky Boots," plans to sing his version of the Richard Rodgers' classic "Edelweiss." It's a song on his upcoming CD that will be released on Inauguration Day.

"Edelweiss is a flower that blooms in the worst of conditions," he said. "It's a song of hope, of peace, a healing prayer for a country in time of crisis. We need it now more than ever."

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Online: http://www.concert4america2017.org/

2 members of R&B band Tower of Power hit by train, injured

Two members of Tower of Power, a group that has been an R&B institution for nearly 50 years, were hit by a train as they walked across tracks before a performance in their hometown of Oakland, but both survived, their publicist said.

Calling it an "unfortunate accident," publicist Jeremy Westby said in a statement that drummer David Garibaldi and bass player Marc van Wageningen are "responsive and being treated at a local hospital."

Garibaldi has been with the group since 1970. Van Wageningen is substituting as bass player.

"We are monitoring their situation directly with the hospital," band manager Tom Consolo said. "We will update everyone tomorrow but for tonight we ask that you send your prayers. "

Without identifying them, the Oakland Fire Department said that two pedestrians were hit by a passenger train at Jack London Square about 7:30 p.m. Thursday and taken to a hospital.

The accident was near Yoshi's, a jazz and R&B club where the group had been scheduled to play two shows Thursday night. Both were canceled.

It wasn't clear why the men were on the tracks, but pedestrians often need to cross them in the area with trains running across and in between streets, including right outside Yoshi's.

The Tower of Power, a band of about a dozen members, most of them horns, has been beloved members of the R&B and pop communities since forming in Oakland in 1968. The group and its rotating cast of musicians have recorded behind many far more famous names including Elton John, Otis Redding, Aerosmith and Santana.

They were also a national TV fixture in the 1980s with frequent appearances on "Late Night With David Letterman."

Tributes and well wishes were quickly emerging on Twitter, including one from pop star and drummer Sheila E., who tweeted "Pleez pray for my frenz."

2 members of R&B band Tower of Power hit by train, injured

Two members of Tower of Power, a group that has been an R&B institution for nearly 50 years, were hit by a train Thursday night as they walked across tracks before a performance in their hometown of Oakland, but both survived, their publicist said.

Calling it an "unfortunate accident," publicist Jeremy Westby said in a statement that drummer David Garibaldi and bass player Marc van Wageningen are "responsive and being treated at a local hospital."

Bandleader Emilio Castillo said in a statement Friday that he visited Garibaldi in the hospital Thursday night, but he couldn't see van Wageningen because he was in intensive care.

"Dave's head and face were pretty swollen and bruised but he was lucid and expected to recover," Castillo said. "Marc came through surgery well; his internal bleeding was stopped and they were waiting for him to stabilize in order to do further testing. The doctors were cautiously optimistic. We appreciate the responses and prayers from our former bandmates, friends, and fans and we all remain hopeful and in prayer."

Garibaldi has been with the group since 1970. Van Wageningen is substituting as bass player.

Without identifying them, the Oakland Fire Department said earlier that two pedestrians were hit by a passenger train at Jack London Square about 7:30 p.m. and taken to a hospital.

The accident was near Yoshi's, a jazz and R&B club where the group had been scheduled to play two shows Thursday night. Both were canceled.

It wasn't clear why the men were on the tracks, but pedestrians often need to cross them in the area with trains running across and in between streets, including right outside Yoshi's.

The Tower of Power, a band of about a dozen members, most of them horns, has been beloved members of the R&B and pop communities since forming in Oakland in 1968. The group and its rotating cast of musicians have recorded behind many far more famous names including Elton John, Otis Redding, Aerosmith and Santana.

They were also a national TV fixture in the 1980s with frequent appearances on "Late Night With David Letterman."

Tributes and well wishes were quickly emerging on Twitter, including one from pop star and drummer Sheila E., who tweeted "Pleez pray for my frenz."

Guitarist who avoided Buddy Holly plane crash dies at 85

Tommy Allsup, a guitarist best known for losing a coin toss that kept him off a plane that later crashed and killed rock 'n' roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "Big Bopper" Richardson, has died. He was 85.

Allsup, died Wednesday at a hospital in Springfield, Missouri, due to complications from a hernia operation, said his son Austin Allsup, a singer and musician, on Thursday. He had been hospitalized since early this month.

Tommy Allsup was part of Holly's band when the Lubbock, Texas, singer died in the Feb. 3, 1959, plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa.

Allsup flipped a coin to see who between him and Valens would get a seat on the plane and who would have to take the bus to the next stop on the tour.

Holly, Valens and Richardson died with 21-year-old pilot Roger Peterson when the plane crashed in the Iowa countryside in snowy conditions. The three rockers' deaths were immortalized in Don McLean's 1971 song "American Pie," and became known as "the day the music died."

Austin Allsup, of Fort Worth, said that his father took losing the coin toss as "a blessing" and that he was humbled to be connected to "such a monumental moment in music history."

"I know my dad has talked about that many times and knew that he was very lucky to be here. It could have been the other way around," Austin Allsup, 32, told The Associated Press in a phone interview Thursday.

In a 1987 interview with the AP, Tommy Allsup, who was born in Owasso, Oklahoma, recalled flipping the coin backstage after playing a concert.

"A couple of people were standing there," he said. "I flipped it. (Valens) called 'heads.' He got his stuff off the bus."

Another entertainer who was left off the plane was country music star Waylon Jennings, who was also playing with Holly's band at the time. Jennings died in 2002.

Austin Allsup, who last year competed in the singing competition television program "The Voice," said Valens' sister reached out to him after his father's death to offer her condolences.

"I told her in my message back, now my dad and Ritchie can finally finish the tour they started 58 years ago," he said.

After Holly's death, Tommy Allsup worked both as a guitarist and a record producer. He produced records for Willie Nelson and Asleep at the Wheel.

He was also inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.

Austin Allsup said his father still continued to perform as a musician and toured Europe last year.

"I know he was extremely proud of his family. ... I think he knew he was very blessed to live the life that he lived," Austin Allsup said.

Funeral services for Tommy Allsup will be held next Wednesday in Owasso, Oklahoma, his son said.

Country singer Tanya Tucker hospitalized after a fall

Tanya Tucker is postponing tour dates after fracturing a vertebra and injuring a rib during a fall while on tour.

A statement from her publicist says Tucker was also diagnosed with bronchitis while in a hospital in Texas. The statement says Tucker is receiving breathing treatments and physical therapy but will not need surgery.

The "Delta Dawn" singer rescheduled three tour dates in Kansas and Oklahoma. But Tucker, 58, said in a statement that she's "mad" the accident happened and will make it up to fans.

Tucker's hits include "Soon" and "Strong Enough to Bend."

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This story has been updated to correct the spelling of vertebra.

Willie Nelson wants Loretta Lynn to try pot again

Willie Nelson wants his friend Loretta Lynn, who recently revealed that she tried marijuana for the first time at the age of 84 for her glaucoma but didn't like it, to give pot a second chance.

"She's got a lot of guts," Nelson said during a recent interview with The Associated Press in Nashville, Tennessee. "She'll try anything. Maybe I should help her."

The 83-year-old outlaw country icon actually wants to help a lot of people give marijuana a try. He's attached his name to a line of legal marijuana being sold in Colorado and Washington called "Willie's Reserve," after decades of personally advocating for the legalization of marijuana.

The incoming administration under President-elect Donald Trump has some advocates fearful of a federal crackdown on the states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. Trump's nominee for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has said weed should not be legalized.

But the "Crazy" songwriter remains hopeful for his latest business venture under the new Trump administration.

"I think people would be smarter than that," Nelson said. "You look and see the benefits. You weigh them against the things that might possibly happen. I think marijuana is probably the safest medicine you can take. These new guys that are coming in there trying to shut it down, I don't think they will be successful. People will say, 'Hey wait a minute. Heroin, cocaine, OK. But it grows in the ground. It seems to be normal. Let it alone.'"

The singer-songwriter behind hits such as "On the Road Again" and "Always On My Mind" will have a new album out this spring called "God's Problem Child," with his longtime producer Buddy Cannon. The album features a song written by Cannon's 92-year-old mother and includes some of the last recordings by musician Leon Russell, who died in November.

Because Nelson maintains a rigorous touring schedule throughout the year, Nelson and Cannon co-write their songs via text messages.

"I can come up with a few lines, send them to him and he'll come up with another one," Nelson said. "The next thing you know, he'll go into the studio and put a melody to it and record it and then put his voice on there. Then when I get a chance, I put my voice on there and it seems to be working."

In the meantime, fans can hear a new song from Nelson in a film he's starring in called "Lost in London LIVE," directed by and also starring Nelson's friend, Woody Harrelson. The roughly two-hour film will be shot in multiple locations in London in a single take and will be live-streamed in real time to over 500 movie theaters in the United States on the evening of Jan. 19, the first time a film has been live-streamed to movie theaters as it's being shot.

Nelson said he'll be performing the song live during the film.

"He has some idea about doing it live," said Nelson. "That's pretty ballsy, I think."

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Online:

http://www.willienelson.com

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Follow Kristin M. Hall at twitter.com/kmhall

Little Big Town's Kimberly Schlapman adopts a baby girl

Little Big Town's Kimberly Schlapman has adopted a baby girl named Dolly.

The 47-year-old country singer posted a picture Thursday on Instagram of Dolly Grace, who joined the family after a successful domestic adoption, according to the group's publicist. Schlapman and her husband Stephen have another daughter, Daisy.

The Georgia-born Schlapman is one-fourth of the Grammy-winning vocal group, which also includes Karen Fairchild, Phillip Sweet and Jimi Westbrook. Little Big Town's hits include "Girl Crush" and "Pontoon."

Schlapman also hosts a cooking show on Great American Country network called "Simply Southern" and she recently released a cookbook.

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