I was looking for my little stash of those tiny bulbs you have on old fashioned strings of Christmas lights, you know what I mean – and instead I found, of all things, the ticket of my first Don Carlo. Continue reading
I’ve had for years No Tenors Allowed, this lovely CD of opera duets for bass and baritone, with Thomas Hampson and Samuel Ramey singing a variety of pieces, from comic to dramatic to downright tragic – and clearly having great fun with the whole thing.
I love it to bits – but then again, not only Hampson and Ramey are two of my favourite opera singers ever, but I have always had a soft spot for bass and baritone voices – and characters. Continue reading
Once upon a time, I went all the way to Jesi with my mentor, to see a seldom-produced opera based off Victor Hugo’s Ruy Blas.
It was my first real two-day opera trip, and I was very excited. I was green enough at the game to blissfully ignore that usually, if an opera sinks into oblivion, there are good reasons… Filippo Marchetti’s Ruy Blas had enjoyed a certain success back in its day (and I’m speaking of 1869), and then was forgotten and never resurrected, until that time when the small and courageous Teatro Pergolesi decided on a revival.
So all the way we went, a tad adventurously, and attended the resurrection of Ruy Blas – together with no more than other twenty opera-lovers… I’d say the experience was rather unremarkable, and indeed it was, music-wise, but as staging goes… well. Continue reading
For some reason, The Hessian Renegades put me in mind of William Shakespeare Burton’s The Wounded Cavalier.
Burton, who bore the names he bore because of the Bard, was an English painter in the XIXth Century, and the Wounded Cavalier is perhaps his most famous work. My friend Marina shakes her head and sniggers whenever either author or painting are mentioned – by me, usually – because, she says, how can I like such an ugly painting?
Actually, it had its fans, back in the day – Ruskin being an especially vocal one. “Masterly”, he called it… Yes, well. I won’t be the one to deny that, whatever Ruskin had to say, TWC is a stagey affair, both stiff and sentimental… Continue reading
Some stories you don’t quite know how to take – especially when they begin to crop up in reference to different circumstances. One such story is that of the bouncing Tosca, that goes more or less like this: I don’t think I’m spoiling anything if I say that, at the end of the third Act, Tosca escapes conviction and unhappiness by the drastic means of jumping off the ramparts of Castel Sant’Angelo… Continue reading
Magda Olivero died last Monday at 104. She was a wonderful soprano – though not of the usually acclaimed torrential sort. She had a very distinctive voice, flawless technique, and an infinite capacity for refined, intense, detailed, deep interpretation. She wasn’t over-demonstrative, she wasn’t sentimental in her singing, she recorded sparingly, and she had an amazing longevity, when you consider that she sang in public for little less than seventy years.
She also was a delightful person, witty, intelligent, and sharp as a tack. I only met her once, well in her nineties, but she was something of a household name, being my mentor’s operatic idol and good friend.
And in memory of her intelligent artistry, I like to remember her here.
Here you can read a lovely article about Magda, by Deceptive Cadence‘s Tom Huizenga.
Well, not exactly, perhaps – but still.
I was working hard, the other day, on this opera libretto – or trying to. Actually, to say that I was frowning at the computer screen, and crossing out five words for every three I wrote, would be a more accurate description. It didn’t help that my neck and head were giving me grief, but let us not mince matters: the fact is, I felt more than a little stuck.
So, after a torturous couple of hours of this, the thought of the papers I had to mail flashed through my mind, very much like a glimpse of salvation. By then I was desperate enough that I would have clutched at anything, but a deadline was involved, and I really, really had to go.
Of course, as I might have expected, it was salvation of the most dubious kind: at the Post Office, I found myself at the tail end of the longest, slowest queue on record. I could only stand in line, fume to myself, wish I had brought something to read, and fume some more…
And then it happened.
I was busy devising inventive names for the giggling, chatty, messy, oh-so-slow clerk, when the first line popped up in my mind. And then another. And then another… Dig for a notebook (I always, but always have one with me), dig for a pen, scribble, scribble, scribble… For the next twenty minutes I happily counted syllables and jotted down line after line, and by the time it was my turn at the counter, I had a complete scene and a good chunk of the next one – far from perfect, of course, but still more and better than I had managed in two hours at home.
So, it would seem it is true. And yes, I know it is, but it always takes me by surprise: a little walk, a notebook at hand, something to take one’s mind from what doesn’t work – and may be a little fury – will go a long way towards unsticking what is stuck.
Will I remember it next time?