NPR News

A week after Christmas, many Americans are no doubt trying to figure out how to use the high-tech gadgets they got as gifts. This can be especially challenging for seniors. But a number of programs across the country are finding just the right experts to help usher older adults into the digital age.

For Pamela Norr, of Bend, Ore., the light bulb went off as she, yet again, was trying to help her own elder parents with a tech problem. To whom did she turn?

"My teenage kids," she says.

Apple's iPhones may seem more cool, but the Google-backed Android phones are much more popular in the United States. In 2011, Android's U.S. market share was 53 percent, compared with 29 percent for the iPhone, according to the research group NPD.

High in the Andes Mountains, Peruvians have been lining up to see a collection of antiquities that have finally returned home. The objects from the Inca site of Machu Picchu spent the past 100 years at Yale University in Connecticut, where they were at the center of a long-running international custody battle.

Now, the university is giving back thousands of ceramics, jewelry and human bones from the Peabody Museum in New Haven to the International Center for the Study of Machu Picchu and Inca Culture.

There's an unfamiliar trend emerging in America's troubled housing market: Big banks are volunteering to lose money — hundreds of millions of dollars for themselves and investors — in order to save homes at risk of foreclosure. And they're doing it in record numbers.

In 30 percent of private loan modifications last year, banks were doing a principal write-down — that is, hacking away at the amount owed, as far down as the current market value. They're doing it so borrowers can actually afford payments. Two years ago, that 30 percent was just 2 percent.

Today's show features live performances from some of our favorite World Cafe artists, straight from our 20th-anniversary celebration concerts.

Storms And Salvation: 'The Flying Dutchman'

Nov 8, 2011

Love him or hate him, Richard Wagner has a reputation as the composer of immense, four-hour-plus dramas rooted in confusing stories and drawn from obscure mythology.

When William Bolcom's opera A View from the Bridge premiered in Chicago in 1999, one critic described it as "Brooklyn verismo," invoking the emotive style popularized by Italian composers such as Puccini. And that pretty much hits the nail on the head.

It's a story that would seem excessive for even the most lurid of "real life" dramas, or blood-soaked slasher movies. But it's always been right at home in the opera house — Richard Strauss' intense, one-act opera, Elektra.

It's easy to wonder whether actual events in the lives of great composers are directly reflected in their music. Sometimes people even argue about it. But in the case of personal tragedies early in Giuseppe Verdi's life, the case seems like a slam dunk.

When we think of opera's biggest stars and greatest hits, we tend to think of solo arias. But that overlooks another operatic goldmine: duets.

Over the years, there have been plenty of classic duet collaborations, resulting in legendary recordings and performances. Mirella Freni and Luciano Pavarotti come to mind, singing the "Cherry Duet" from Mascagni's L'Amico Fritz. Going back a little further, there's Jussi Bjorling and Robert Merrill with "Au fond du temple saint," the famous duet from Bizet's The Pearl Fishers.

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