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Aretha Franklin part of the Top 5 Philadelphia Cultural Events of 2010

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Tea OperaOne of the advantages to the current economic downturn is that many cultural organizations were forced to really get creative and think outside the box this year. The result: innovative events, versatile programming and interesting collaborations. Here is Philly2Philly.com's Top 5 Culture Events from 2010 (in chronological order). 

1. Tea: A Mirror of Soul Revolutionizes Opera and Philadelphia was the first east coast city to present it! 
Tea: A Mirror of Soul held its US East Coast Premiere in February 2010 at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. Acclaimed composer Tan Dun, who won both Oscar and Grammy awards for his score to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, brings an Eastern flair to opera. His unique use of sound effects – from water splashing to paper crinkling – increases the dimensions a classical score can achieve. The onstage percussion becomes part of the drama of the opera, resonating above the pit orchestra and enhancing the libretto. This production of this opera in Philadelphia definitely opened many people up to contemporary opera; not to mention it increased the city's artistic reputation internationally.

The Opera Company of Philadelphia is now enjoying a successful program called Random Acts of Culture, which promotes impromptu opera singing in public places such as Macy's in Center City, funded by the Knight Foundation. 

National Constitution Center2. Ancient Rome and America Exhibition Looks at Ancient Rome through American Eyes at the National Constitution Center
A unique collaboration with Contemporanea Progetti of Florence, Italy and the Ministero per i Beni e Le Attività Culturali of Rome, Italy, this exhibition at the National Constitution Center is the real deal. Literally. Drawing comparisons from our two cultures, this exhibition puts side by side artifacts from American culture with those of ancient Rome. The most popular example is demonstrated through the placement of a helmet from the Philadelphia Eagles next to a gladiator helmet. A highly intuitive, fascinating exhibition, Ancient Rome was a real treat and a great international collaboration for Philadelphia. 

3. Touch Stingrays at the Adventure Aquarium's New Stingray Beach Club
The Adventure Aquarium is fun regardless of age, and this year its Stingray section got even better.  The Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ opened a new exhibit space where you can see, touch and feed sting rays! Stingray Beach Club is a huge exhibit space with a pool encased in a three foot retaining wall. Inside the pool live four types of stingrays: Southern Stingrays, Cownose Stingrays, Leopard Whiprays and Yellow Stingrays. The best part: get up the nerve to hold a piece of [dead] fish in your hand and feed one of these slippery creatures. Oh, and the enclosure is beautiful. 

Tek Lado4. Condoleezza Rice and Aretha Franklin Perform at the Mann Center 
I don't know about you, but I had to see it to believe it. In reality, they only did a couple of numbers together and Condi only performed a handful of numbers (come on, it's not easy sharing the stage with the Queen of Soul). But the Former Secretary of State did perform... and she was good. And, of course, Aretha brought down the house.  The event occurred at the Mann Center on July 27, 2010. The event raised $582,000 so that "The Mann Center’s Educational and Community Engagement Programming to continue to be an invaluable source of performing arts education for Philadelphia’s youth." 

5. Say Hola to 'Tek Lado,' a New Free Bilingual Culture Magazine in Philadelphia 
While many print publications are cutting back or closing down completely, one media source established its niche this year. Tek Lado, a bilingual publication for the tech-savvy generation, has made its debut in Philadelphia. A dream come true for geeks and gamers, the new pop culture magazine targets Hispanic and non-Hispanic techies. Based in Philly, the magazine features cultural articles covering everything from film reviews to gaming news to the coolest smartphone. Oh, and it's free! Pick one up from the red newspaper boxes on the streets.