After his death, Bernstein’s genius lives

NEW YORK—The whirling images of Leonard Bernstein the showman have faded now, three years after he died, and what emerges is the genius whose achievements as composer, conductor and teacher make him the most important figure in American music of the past 50 years. While he lived, his dizzying dashes from conductor to composer to teacher to celebrity often overwhelmed his creations. The Broadway shows, symphonies, ballets and operas had to fight for space in the public’s mind with those cataclysmic concerts, at which most of the crowd talked about the jumps, jiggles and jitterbugs up on the podium.

LOS ANGELES—Tom and Jerry talk! Well, maybe it’s not quite like the 1930 sensation when Greta Garbo made her first talkie, ‘‘Anna Christie.’‘ But to cartoon aficionados it is a milestone of sorts. During most of their 1939-1957 careers as stars of MGM cartoon shorts, Tom and Jerry said nary a word. That has changed in ‘‘Tom and Jerry—The Movie,’‘ which is reaching theater screens this summer. The predatory cat and its elusive prey become absolute chatterers.

SANTA FE, N.M.—Singing opera was hardly a childhood dream for Yvonne Gonzales. She wanted to be a health worker of some sort—maybe even a dentist. Luck and promise have combined to land the 24-year-old lyric soprano where she is today: spending her second summer as one of 12 apprentices in the Metropolitan Opera’s Young Artist Development Program.

NEW ORLEANS—Draped in a pink feather boa with a roomy, glittering top hat, Michelle Shocked prances playfully around the stage to an old disco standard. Then she lets the audience in on ‘‘The Secret to Having a Good Time.’‘ It is, she says, ‘‘learning not to take yourself so seriously.’‘ But don’t be fooled. Offstage, the singer-songwriter is intense, passionate and deadly serious.

PHOENIX—When Deborah Laake was married, her Mormon husband pulled her through a bedsheet-like veil in a symbolic representation of the way he would later bring her into the afterlife. When she got a civil divorce nine months later, she learned it would last only until death, when she would rejoin her husband in eternal union. And when she wrote a best-selling book about these and other experiences as a budding feminist in a male-dominated religion, she was excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints.