Starting in 1976, Mrs. Hart spent 20 years heading the state arts council, managing to secure funding for an array of cultural institutions even during years of fiscal drought.
In 2005, she told American Heritage magazine she had used the opera "Rigoletto" to overcome harsh criticism of funding provocative, sometimes religiously offensive artists such as Andres Serrano and Robert Mapplethorpe.
At a legislative hearing in Albany, she said, politicians "were raking me over the coals. I was sitting down in the well, and they were all up there on their big seats. I had to say what I had done, and finally I said, 'Now you all go to the opera.' There was a lot of digging into people's ribs with that.
"And I said, 'There's an opera that is done all over the world every day, sometimes twice a day, matinee and evening, and it's called 'Rigoletto.' And it's all about rape and murder,' and I threw in incest for good measure. I thought that wouldn't hurt. And so the hearing was over."
Thursday, April 19, 2007
I remember Kitty from her days on the quiz show "To Tell the Truth" ... if only more people would do that today!
Kitty Carlisle Hart, 96, was an actress and singer who appeared with the Marx Brothers in the movie classic "A Night at the Opera." She was also a staunch supporter of the arts, and served as chairwoman of the New York State Council on the Arts.
Thank you Kitty.