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Split personality. Liking the arts, especially opera, and hockey and Los Toros. I know, I know THAT one is non pc currently. But I can't help it saw some in Spain and got hooked, but good. But on the other hand right now opera and hockey are in the forefront!

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bizet's Carmen at HGO

So, you say, you know CARMEN!
As I know CARMEN? I have seen and heard the Carmens of, among others, Agnes Baltsa (yes..that long ago-see clip ), sexy Julia Migenes (in the famous filmed version at Ronda with a young (and sexy, too) Domingo), leopard clad Denyce Graves,  more classical Beatrice Uriah Monzon, and others. The sole exception is Beyonces attempt as Carmen most recently.
As I much younger opera lover I really liked Carmen. And as I (I confess) like las Corridas a las cinco de las tardes, especially. There is something in los toros, that I also find in Operas and Hockey! The excitement, the music, the individual feats of action, the unrealistic drama.......sorry, I digress!
Aging, gracefully I hope, Carmen became just another popular opera whilst appreciating the rarer gems. And so I went to HGO's Dress rehearsal of CARMEN with pleasant anticipation because several in the cast were 'old' acquaintances, singers from past operas, and studio.
And guess, what...I was captivated again by this Carmen. Ana Maria Martinez simply IS Carmen. With flair, with grace, defiance, come-hither, and repulse. She dances really well, looks ravishing, acts impressively all the while singing sultrily or scathingly.  Using her astonishing voice superbly. One can readily believe all men are at her feet in adulation. Martinez is HOT!
Her Don Jose is Brandon Jovanovich and HE matches her in HOTness ;-) with a clear tenor, flexible and expressive; he, too acts very well.
Ryan McKinny is an energetic acrobatic Escamillo, his voice IMO is a bit too husky for the part. But he acquits himself with pundonor como una famosa espada ought. Natalya Romaniv's Micaela is played and sung quite prettily as it ought to be; she is, after all, goodness personified.
Of the other members in order of appearance:
Morales is Samuel Schultz, a newcomer, he does it well, in this somewhat easily overlooked, cameo, role.
Robert Gleadow returns as Zuniga and sounds suitably officerlike.
Uliana Alexyuk sings Frasquita sweetly with a clear sound,
Carolyn Sproule is Mercedes, who matches Uliana in sound.
As Dancaire, Reginald Smith, Jr., powerfully overshadows his comrade in arms, Remendado, sung by John McVeigh. I recall well McVeigh's somewhat distinct tenor from his time here, and in productions heard on the radio. Here he sounds lost beside the big voiced Smith.
What makes this production so exciting and DIFFERENT were the dancers.
On the, primarily, spare set (by David Rockwell)  and unusually lit brighter than I have seen (by Donald Holder),
the solo dancer, as el toro, was Rasta Thomas. AND HE WAS EXCELLENT!
The costumes (by Julie Weiss) for the dancers outshone the others with the exception of Martinez's which seemed painted on in a most pleasing (or should that be teasing way?)
The children's chorus (directed by Karen Reeves) sing and act prettily, and the HGO Chorus, as we have come to expect, sing well as usual under the direction of Chorus Master Richard Bado. 
Rob Ashford as Director and Choreographer essays several innovative ideas which makes this production better than many I have seen in the past.
HGO orchester is energetically, at times too (lol) energetically requiring the drinking of lots of water, conducted by, a very youthful, Rory Macdonald.
Looks like the whole cast and creative team is YOUNG.
And that, chers readers, gives me hope for the survival of opera into the future. Young singers, young creative teams..  and - hopefully - young audiences. All is not lost on planet Opera, methinks.

Monday, April 21, 2014

On Running, and other ruminations.

I am running. Left leg up right leg up - running. 
Mindlessly running. Left leg right leg.  
Aimlessly running. Left leg right leg - endlessly running.

And then I wake
Do I have  legs, still? 

Slowly I sit up and look.
They are here. 
And do ache as IF I had been really running - 
endlessly running. aimlessly running, mindlessly running.

In the sallow light that creeps through the slats, they are  pale, achingly blue. 
**********************************************************

Two Cats.
There are two cats I visited recently.

Lalloo of the velvet fur - an elegant older gentleman. 
Calmly looking a the world 



 Hazer with the silky stripes and hints of russet -  younger sleeker.
Loves to chew..on toes, shoes, and watch out -  maybe fingers.
Hazer (not Hazen as in a certain Hockeyplayer) is still young and energetic. 
Plays with a glittery blue 'thing' . 
Or with a long string batting at it, and CHEWING it!

Lalloo looks on languidly: "Ah that youngster"

I leave becalmed - good bye till next time.
***********************************************************************

Am I In the mood... for something danceable? 
Hmmm...yes...listening to 
Swing, Jive and such and tapping toes. Fun! **************************************************************************

Loosing a friend, even only because her decision is made to go off Facebook, is hard to do.
I was always looking forward to her dispensing wisps of wisdom. 
Posting pictures dishes (some yummier that others even if I wouldn't eat them).
And sharing thoughts and wishful dreamings.
It is good to share one's dreams and hopeful wishes.
****************************************************************************

 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Decisions: U verse vs xfinity? Satellite or cable?

You know something, I really could care less.
Watching TV is not foremost on my agenda. So I left it up to Better Half and he is going for Uverse and WiFi enabled TV! More to study how to operate that.
Methinks I am being dragged willy-nilly into the electronic world. Do I really want to? I'd be perfectly happy watching how I do it now, those 10 hrs a week (a bit more if a LONG opera is being broadcast ;-), otherwise I do watch DVDs, read and listen to CDs.

And not Bluetooth either! These old ears are perfectly satisfied with those sounds, and looks ;-).
Books are, have been, and always will be THE thing for me.
Friends (?) urge me to get a kindle. So much easier when traveling.
But what do I do when I read so fast...oh, of course spend more on books in the clouds!
When cruising there are libraries with books in multiple languages and I had fun reading German, French (slow), Spanish (somewhat faster) and , of course, English ones.


As I prefer short flights one middling large tome will get me through 3-4 hrs of being a sardine-in-air! After arrival (at least in USA) I make a beeline to the nearest thrift shop to select a number depending on the length of stay. Usually there are good sales and so I never lack books. After reading I 'donate' them back to the thrift store or trade them for others. So why pay 14 -25 $ for kindle enabled book which I can read in 3-4 hrs, 


As an example about a year ago I bought the paperback version of a certain (tome) book for $ 0.66, then checked to see what Kindle would charge for it - it was at least $ 15.00, then. None of the advertised $ 0.99 (at that time) books were of the slightest interest to me.
But all those that did catch my eyes seemed to be around $ 15.00-20.00 (then). So, for that trip of 10 days - say I read one book a day at $ 0.99 or better yet $ 0.66 - I'd spent $ 9.99 or $ 6.99...which would get me on Kindle not even ONE desired book!


Sure I could load the kindle up with whatever numbers are possible, but then again..
what to do after.
Will Kindle take them back?
Trade them in for another?
Kind "Kindle readers" please do enlighten me!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Das Rheingold a la La Fura dels Baus-Final Dress Rehearsal

I came with an open mind and had no earthly (!) clue what to expect of another 'modern' 'regie' production. The use of huge projections has become routine, methinks, and in this case IT truly made the piece, no doubt about that: the ring of fire, the black hole=entry to Nibelheim in bowels of the earth, the machinery of mass production of golden eggs being fertilized to produce ever more slaves. Which appeared as hung carcasses tended to by black clad 'evil spirits' under the whip of Alberich. 
These 'enslaved' carcasses were performed by an aptly named 'corps de ballet' (lol), who also served as gold treasure and Valhallas' cage walls in the stunning finale.


Now to the story - in brief:  Three Rhinemaidens frolic in water tanks attempting synchronized swimming moves, while mocking and teasing a bemused Alberich. Who retaliated by stealing the gold which will give him unheard powers whilst taking away any chance for real love!
Wotan has hired two giants Fafner and Fasolt to build Valhalla as home for the gods in payment of Freia, his sister-in-law who tends the trees and fruits which keep the gods immortal.


When he renegs on this 'contract' the giants take Freia hostage until Wotan provides them with the gold of the Nibelungs. Of which the crafty Loge has informed him and urged him to get.

The clip is from the La Fura dels Baus production, just not with Stefan Margita as Loge.


Meanwhile the gods hang in their 'cherry pickers' gasping for air from oxygen masks until Wotan can return with the spoils from Nibelheim in the bowels of the earth.


Accompanied by crafty Loge whizzing around on electric wheels - red back lit - Loge is after all the God of Fire, Wotan descends into an abyss where machines whirr, slaves are hung like slaughterhouse carcasses, to meet up with Mime who was forced by Alberich to forge a helmet which is empowering the wearer to become invisible and/or shape change, and also a RING from the Rheingold. The whole idea of this slaughterhouse (those hooks reminding of the ones Anti Nazis were hung in June 1944 after the blundered assassination attempt by Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators ?) and concentration camp (using slaves to work work work);  the egg production and destruction (are they meant to herald the (misguided) attempt to clone the perfect.. what? Humans? Slaves)? That concept is to deep for me, but what was one to infer from all those images?


Loge, gets Alberich to show those powers and when he is changed into a small toad - to  great laughter from the audience BTW, he is, naturally, captured, forced to hand over all the gold (in the form of the corps de ballet wriggling forms lit up with golden colors) and, finally as Wotan chops off his finger, THE RING.


Erda rises from the earth to warn Wotan and persuades him to turn over the ring on top of all that gold. The Giants return Freia and the curse starts by Fafner killing Fasolt. Rejuvenated Donner causes thunderstorms, Froh a rainbow bridge, and the gods move into Valhalla to be encircled by the (still ) hanging but moving ballets de corps bodies in lieu of a protective wall.


Musically, the cast and orchestra, under the gifted baton of Patrick Summers, sang and played well. Kudos to all for a uninterrupted 2 and half hours of Wagnerian sounds. I was very pleased by Tenor Iain Paterson's Wotan, Kristinn Sigmundson's Fasolt and Meredith Arwady's Erda.
Stefan Margita's Loge surpassed my expectancy with a clear ringing tenor with evil and sarcastic shadings, when appropriate. Alberich, sund by Christopher Purves started slow but ended with a powerful interpretation of fury!
Tenor Chad Shelton's Froh seemed a bit pressed vocally but the reason for that became clear at curtain, he was on crutches due to a foot injury. Of course, towering above the stage in his 'cherry picker' it was not noticeable ;-)!
Ryan McKinny's warm deep voice, while beautiful modulated and enunciated, lacked a bit of the expected Wagnerian heft. Maybe he was conserving his voice for the 'real' performances, as may have done Jamie Barton, the Fricka.
Melody Moore's Freia sounded scratchy at times, allergies?  Or maybe it was the weird cone headpiece she and Erda wore. Hers in white, Erda's black!
The 3 Rheinmaiden did a very good job singing after immersions whilst holding breath. But they had obvious fun splashing REAL water!!! Oh, yes, it was real water. Catherine Martin's mezzo voiced Wellgunde, Andrea Carroll's Woglinde and Renee Tatum's Flosshilde  matched up very nicely.
Rodell Rosel's Mime was at times inaudible, his whispers to Wotan caused by allergies? saving voice? or ? Otherwise he did a creditable job.
Andrea Silvistrelli's growly voiced Fafner, was not as growly as he has sounded in the past in other roles at HGO. Could it be that his Italian larynx (lol) had trouble wrapping itself around German syllables?  Well, whatever.
Both giants in their 'leggo inspired monster towers with Hampelmann like legs and arms ending in pincer claws' certainly seemed threatening enough. And yet the whole hit me (at least) with an  "oh gee, another techie effort to please the 'young audiences weaned on such from the film industry"? but it may have worked  judging from the enthusiastic applause and hollerings of a - mostly- YOUNGER audience with the true blue "older" opera fans sprinkled here and there.
Overall I liked it and would recommend it.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Lake Erie Monsters (LEM) vs Rampage 5-3


    Houser seemed to prefer staying on his knees more often that 2 days before vs Bulldogs. Sadly this last game of the season (for us) was another loss for the Rampage (BTW Monday night Florida Panthers, the parent NHL team for the Rampage, also lost). And that was not all, on arrival we were bombarded with posters "T-Bone is missing, never fear friends, he was unearthed in time for T-shirt shooting, which he did infinitely better than the team ;-); and last period animating...sadly, the team did not rally.
. LEM's goalie Sami Aittokallio, kept 28 shots away from his net, out of  31.


It looked to me, and Better Half, like a comedy of errors, this game. Lots of falling star(?)skaters;  dropped sticks without cause; a - whoopee :-)- fight between newbie Turgeon and LEM's Desbiens (a familiar name, eh?); players mistaking ice for grass and playing soccer with the puck; one Rampage skater playing 'giddyap' on a LEM's back, yes, he was riding high ;-)! Pucks lost or shot to where no 'teammate' hovered.
Bedlam in the 2. period.  Where was Ortmeyer, you ask? He was a scratch!


Penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct (helmet were ripped off) combined with fighting. And LEM made good on 3 PP of 5 by Sgrabossa, Eliot and Stollery, with Schumacher and Hishon getting the other 2. Rampage managed one PP goal by Gilroy, the other two were by Crabb and Gomes. Despite the standing tough here, Aittokallio stopped that puck, as he did 28 of 31. Houser faced 34 and saved 29, here is one that he did stop, with the rebound cleared away by McFadden... and so it went. Pleasing was the drive along carpets of bluebonnets and other 'wild' flowers, as well as some blooms on the nature trail which winds around the Wild Oak Ranch property. So good bye Rampage, ATT Center and WOR.. for another year!

Hamilton 4 Rampage 3 with pics

Well, well, well, Houser racing Leblanc to the front his net. Will he make it?

Ortmeyer and Mayer tete a tete-wonder what they chat about?
Major traffic jam in front of Mayer
ONE way to protect your goalie by bending to the ice? (#4)Drewisky invents new defense ;-)


Monday, March 31, 2014

Just a little hockey between Bulldogs and Rampage

Well, it was an entertaining game. Although the Rampage lost 3 to 4.

I guess the Bulldogs were just not too eager  (lol) because Ellis got a penalty for delay of game 2 minute into the 1. period. 

Rampage scored close to end of the 1. a goal by Crabb (photo to follow). Hamilton goal by Leblanc made them even in the 2.period. Then, during a penalty for Pateryn  Gilroy scored a power play goal for the Rampage and sent the crowds of over 6100 roaring its approval.
 Despite more penalties during all periods, the Bulldogs were unable to score.
The 2. period ended with 1:1 even.

Lee did score a shorthanded goal fro Rampage three minutes before the Paterkyn goal.
But the Rampage were not able to even the score.
Each team served ONLY 3 penalties, but only the Rampage made one power play, AND a shorthanded goal.
I spied Greg Zanon sporting an A.

I felt that both goalies Robert Mayer for Hamilton, and Michael Houser for the Rampage were quite evenly matched. Mayer 29 saves of 32, and Houser 22 of 26.  

However, twice Houser was out of place letting Hamilton score the 2 goals early in the third. Not sure, if the fact that Houser (Rampage) ended up 'butterflied in  his own net' which some eager beaver skaters pushed over him (lol), but he seemed less able to stop the 2 goals by Hamilton by Blunden, Tarnasky.  That fact also seemed to cause a bit of desperation playing by the Rampage but to no avail.
Houser did try manfully to stop that one which Pateryn scored in the 4th, within seconds of the end of game, giving the Bulldogs the win.

And more hockey on Tuesday, Lake Erie vs Rampage. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

THE PUPPY THAT CAME BACK AS A KITTEN

A story of reincarnation.
One morning the Nice lady of the house is adopted by a small grey haired feral fur ball that purrs when it (for the moment) comes near the Nice Lady (we'll call her NiLa).


NiLa rubs its belly and then, being that nice a Lady, she takes the little one into the house to give it milk.. All the while, the little one is very good at insinuating itself into the heart of NiLa by purring a mile a minute, snuggling up and - in general - behaving quite lovingly! And so, NiLa also falls in love with the sly one and names it Sloane.

Being a good human  NiLa takes Sloane to the Vet to be checked out, because feral critters could be sick with fleas, other pests, mange, or malnourished, although Sloane does look sleek and fluffy.

At the Vet Sloane is found to be a HE and, miraculously free from pests. But when the Vet recommends the usual shots Sloane hisses and growls. NiLa talks to Sloane explaining how important it is to have these shots. "They keep you healthy", she says, "and also protects others around you". Sloane cocks his little head attentively (can he really understand NiLa?). Then he jumps on the examining table and sits quietly raising his paw for one injection, then turning around for the others. No hissing. NiLa and the Vet praise Sloane and rub his belly, and between his ears.
The Vet discusses food and more with NiLa while Sloane jumps off and gambols over to a display of harnesses which he gravely inspects then paws down a tiny oneblue-extra-extra-small-diamante-velvet-harness-1242-p[ekm]1000x1000 ...and carries it over to the humans. "Gosh", NiLa says, "looks like he wants to go for a walk". "Yes, some cats can be trained to wear harness" answers the Vet, "And Sloane looks like he is ready". So NiLa buys the tiny harness in blue, because Sloane is a boy, after all.

NiLa and Sloane walk out. At the desk NiLa asks for the bill. The staff hands the slip to her. Sloane, all of a sudden, hops on the counter sniffing the bill, then growls big. He does not like the bill? Yes, that is it. He paws and shreds it. NiLa is embarrassed. Staff issues another one, for a bit less, but Sloane still does not like it. Meanwhile other patients in the waiting room growl, hiss, bark and whine with Sloane. Finally a bill is given which Sloane approves, paid by NiLa and the pair walk out.

Sloane behaves more and more like a puppy in harness, sniffing things, pawing at others. BUT when a big dog comes near NiLa, he goes haywire, growling and hissing with such force, even NiLa is alarmed.  AND the big dog backs off! Sloane protects his NiLa, doesn't he?
And so NiLa and Sloane lived happily, at least for the nine lives of a cat, ever after.

You know, dear ones, I really think that Sloane must have been a good bookkeeper, who came back as good dog, and finally was rewarded by being reborn as a cat.  Because they do say that 'dogs have owners, cats have servants'. Don't you?