Top Picks: Opera and ballet on the big screen, a PBS documentary on Detroit, and more

National Geographic reminds viewers that the history of World War II is a complex one, cellist Jan Vogler's new album is the next step for Yo-Yo Ma fans, and more top picks.

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Big-Screen Events

Hungry for an alternative to the big summer movies? Emerging Pictures and NCM Fathom Live may be your answer. Emerging Pictures launches its summer roster of opera and ballet with “Romeo and Juliet” (June 2) from the Bolshoi Ballet and “The Magic Flute,” reconceptualized by Kenneth Branagh (June 9). More events will follow, all presented in nearly 300 multiplexes, art houses, museums, and performing arts centers throughout the United States. Fathom offers up “First: The Story of the London 2012 Olympic Games” (May 30). Check out emergingpictures.com and fathomevents.com for more info and times.

Brilliant bow

Recommended: Culture and Science

If the popular Yo-Yo Ma turned you into a cello fan, broaden your palate with the brilliant cellist Jan Vogler. He has just released Bach’s The Cello Suites on Sony Classical on his 1707-10 Stradivarius “Ex Castelbarco/Fau” cello, which, he says, “is a font of new inspiration and new sounds.”

Broadway’s roots

Without the rich history of Jewish musical theater, there would be no Broadway musicals. In a delightful and well-documented two-disc set, Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy explores the roots of this treasured American art form in the Yiddish Theater of immigrant New York. The list of composers is illustrious: George Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, Kander and Ebb, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim. It’s a very tuneful history lesson from Athena on DVD.

Hope for Motown

Once the fastest-growing city in the world, Detroit has been in steady decline for decades. Detropia, an “Independent Lens” documentary on PBS, reveals the slow death – and hint of rebirth – going on in one of the nation’s most iconic cities. Even though industry and residents have fled, artists and the curious are part of a remnant that refuses to give up. It airs May 27.

They fought Hitler

National Geographic Channel reminds us once again that when it comes to understanding World War II, the surface has only just been scratched. The three-hour documentary Inside World War II (May 31, 7 p.m.) provides a visual timeline of this complex war, with personal, in-depth stories from veterans. It combines archival footage with more than 50 testimonies from American, British, German, and Soviet servicemen; a former member of the Hitler Youth; and Jewish and black Germans who endured persecution under Hitler’s reign.

Americana bliss

Some albums have the power to transport you to a summertime front porch sipping sweet tea. Ari & Mia, an Americana acoustic cello/fiddle duo out of Boston, do just that with their new album, Land on Shore. Mia’s feisty fiddle and banjo work and Ari’s rich cello playing melt deliciously into their sweet, playful vocal harmonies as they interweave deceptively sophisticated melodies that are inspired by Appalachia, folk, and a touch of jazz.

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