About Me

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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!


Friday, April 30, 2010

Vocal Fireworks

At "Sin Fronteras" last night, Baritone Octavio Moreno let loose with his, some fiery and some lyrical, renditions of composers such as Roig ("Dulce quimera"),

Portillo ("Contigo en la distancia"), Dominguez ("Perfidia"), Lara ("Solamente una vez") and others. Watching the enthralled audience, I noticed rhythmic swaying to several of those Latin love songs, but then so many of these are soo danceable (cheek to cheek, naturally ;-).
Moreno also sang a Cole Porter favorite "Night and Day" with panache and, in homage to the USA, Lewis Allen's "The House I Live in". Topping the recital off with a couple encores much to the delight of the mixed audience of young and old(er) (LOL) admirers.
On the piano Stephen Hopkins accompanied the singer with sensitivity and a feel for Latin music. He also shone with 2 solo pieces, "Malaguena"

(Lecuona) and "Estrellita" (Ponce) creating magic on ivories and blacks :-). Latin composers at their best, beautifully rendered by two young rising stars.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

- all blocked up -

how does one overcome writer's or should that be thinker's block? Am having a hard time deciding what to post here?
Aw, what the heck...am putting in a few clips I enjoy.
First Dame Kiri de Kanawa and James Galway with the Mendelsson musical version of the Heinrich Heine poem, then Oskar Werner reading it in German..then on to more music to end a beautiful day, so enjoy all, I am

getting back to my next book of 'light' literature LOL.. Nelson DeMille's Night Fall.. no idea if I shall like it.. but it is certainly light fare ;-D!

So where do I start

to describe adequately XERXES by G. F. Handel as performed by HGO?
Exquisitely delightful, beautifully dainty...everything BUT the voices! There was nothing dainty about those, even the countertenor's.
The 4 'ladies of the night' sung superbly.
Susan Graham (a clear, wide ranged mezzo) easily believable in the trouserrole of Xerxes without a beard (lol), is placed opposite David Daniels (countertenor, with a beard) as Arsamenes, her brother, both with flowing locks, both enamored of Romilda, sung delightfully by Soprano Laura Claycomb who really does love Arsamenes. As her sister, Atalanta, also in love with Arsamenes, Opera Studio alumna Heidi Stober, delivered stunningly the woes of a girl shunned in love and so driven to scheming and plotting, only to end up with nothing.

Now, if that isn't confusing enough, there is also the foreign (naturally) Princess Amastris betrothed to Xerxes, who, travelling alone, dons the costume of a soldier. She is in love with Xerxes and deeply hurt to overhear him moaning about his love for Romilda. Amastris was sung gravelly voiced (was she a contralto or an alto or a deep mezzo - I could not tell) by HGO 'debuting' Sonia Prina.
you decide:
As Ariodates, general and father of Romilda and Atalanta, Philip Cutlip; and in the comic-relief role of Elviro, servant to Arsamenes, Adam Ciofari (HGO studio) were notable by rich bariton/bass sounds.

The set and scenery for this - admittedly - static opera was designed in cheerful bright colors, charmingly and well lit to deepen the moods, and enhance events (thunderstorms and deluge). It was a real treat for sore (speak older) eyes, to actually discern what was ON stage and around it! And no one died! And the lovers were happily united! An upbeat opera, eh!

The chorus, well rehearsed by chorus master Richard Bado, took on a role akin to a Greek chorus, but was mostly used - impressively , I think - as part of the stage set. They were dressed alike in grey, with grey wigs/caps, and faces. Like a sea of nondescript statues - an 'eminence gris' of the action - if you will. Plus a slew of 'servants' in frock coated livery moving about the wide open spaces dotted with sparse but well placed props.

The star singers (a truly well deserved term for this stupendous cast) were the only ones dressed brightly. Not, as one might have expected in Persian costumes, but in costumes akin to what may have been worn by men in Handel's times, the women's were harder to classify...maybe late 1800's?

This is an opera which showcases VOICES, which set off fireworks of sound and shadings in their da-capo arias. Each and every singer has multiple opportunities to shine brilliantly.
And they all did, to the utter delight of the audience, which sat spellbound through of 3 plus hours, only to remain clapping, seemingly, forever until, finally, the curtain was lowered allowing the cast to escape to their dressing rooms, unless the Maestro, Baroque specialist, William Lacey, needed them to run through some bits and pieces. Lacey conducted the orchestra, including several period musical instruments, such as 2 harpsichords and a theorbo, a lute like stringed instrument with long neck and more strings than normally seen on modern lutes or mandolins.
Now I don't have a recording of THIS production with THIS cast, alas...but here is a clip from the ENO production - the sets and scenery have traveled here, the singers are QUITE different

Monday, April 26, 2010

A voice soared above..

when I attended Gabriel Preisser's Master recital last evening at St. Philips'.

This may not sit well with everyone , but I am not fond of that space.
IMO, the vastness of this church space distorts the voices - this was not the first recital I attended there,, so I know whereof I speak ;-).

But that aside, rich sounding Baritone Gabriel Preisser delivered what he promised during many a performance at U of H Moores Opera House (Now, that is a space with great acoustics).
His program included a selection of German Lieder (C.P.E. Bach 1714-1788), French composer's Henri Duparc (1848-1933) rareties
an example here with Russian Baritone D. Hvorostosky (not the songs Preisser presented-but it will give you a feel for the music),
an excerpt from "I Pagliacci" (Leoncavallo 1857-1919) with soprano Amanda Kingston as Nedda, accompanied fittingly on the piano throughout by Katherine Ciscon and my favorite, "The Pilgrimage", a cantata, by Carlisle Floyd (1926- ) which he delivered with expressive sound and empathy, vocally and visually. And so apropriate for the space (church). These songs by Floyd are also rarely performed, I believe only one or two singers have attempted them and/or recorded some of them.
The titles are (to proof my point): Man that is born of a woman; Save me, o Lord..; O Lord, Thou hast searched me..; Praise the Lord, o my soul..; and For I am persuaded..;.This is a younger Samuel Ramey singing the aria 'Oh Lord, I beseech thee' by Olin Blitch in Floyd's opera 'Susanna', rather similar music to parts of "The Pilgrimage".

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Not yet lights out

A Little Night music over San Antonio ? ;-)
Senators out for the count, Leclair did not stop the last one SIGH!
Predators loose, too, despite the spur of a Ward shorthanded goal. SIGH!
BUT one happy thought: Texas Stars (Former 'Soft Spot' ;-)got 2 goals in as many games after his return from injuries) are going the next round vs. either Wolves or Admirals... t'will be decided on Monday.
And on the Wild front:
Jarod Palmer has been signed to a one year contract (predicted by a previous post).Will he skate here?
And Casey Wellman also receives firm contract. As did Nate Prosser.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Helmets and other flowers..

Helmets and wildflowers.. both colorful
Dry Comal Creek Vineyard

"Trumpets" for Sidney and Evgeni:-).
While away, spent lots of time looking at flowers
AND NHL Hockey on Versus; so I experimented with "point'n shoot" pics via TV screen..
cute but a bit fuzzy results, eh?
Boyle dejected!
Then he scores early the next game!


Budai in for Anderson?


Bruins vs Sabres

Ryan Miller

At Ottawa: Sens vs Pens

Elliot before, and after - on the 'bench' with hat
Leclaire to the rescue? Fight! Fight!
Leclair from the start and his incredible number of saves !
bouquet for Leclair
"Flower=Fleury" can't stop this!

Predators vs Blackhawks
Joel Ward got another -
shorthanded- goal for the Preds vs Blackhawks..
BEFORE THAT was the time the puck got lost under
the sweater of Niemi...
amusing kinda delay of game, what? He just didn't want to let loose of the puck...
Blackhawks won after all that, LOL

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Hills are alive...

with spring flowers in the hill country.
Nights are filled with Hockey on Versus alas, not in person, but hey, better than no hockey!For Aeros fans, EX-Aero Joel Ward got the first goal for the Preds in last nights game, which they won!
Just saw that the Wild also canned Tom Thompson.
More when we get back.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Like a volcano...

I could just explode! It really bugs me, that people continue inanely to blame someone or something for Mother Nature's wrath, as some have done following the recent
Iceland volcanic eruption.
Volcanoes have erupted from time immemorial such as in BCE
Thera (Santorini today with Crater) which Plato likened to the 'death of Altantis'.
Other deadly events: Krakatoa (today), which also influenced the climate as far away as Europe, bad or no harvests caused the death of many, months later.
Mt Pelee on Martiniquethe "tower of Pelee" after the eruption, and the most famous of all Mt Vesuvius which buried
Pompeii and Herculaneum
Pliny, the younger wrote two letters in which he described the event and the death of his Uncle Pliny, the Elder, who died while trying to save the populace by warships turned rescue boats.
This is an imagined painting of the Krakatoa eruption.
Thisis a photo of a real volcanic eruption,
and this is a painting by Diego Rivera.
Amazing, Mother Nature paints and artists copy her.
But to lay the blame on scientists (they should have predicted, they should have developed a way to prevent, to lessen the effects...) is inane, as inane as blaming G.W. Bush.
Yes, we have all the technologies to do so much! But when natural disasters strike, we humans are puny and helpless in the face of it, relying too much on technolgy. And so we strike out and blame - 'them'.
Mother Nature will continue to be angry..
volcanos will erupt (several are overdue), earthquakes will happen (California may be next), tornadoes will be spawned, hurricanes will devastate, tsunamis will rise, rains will flood, mud will slide and forests will burn, and sinkholes will continue to open, methane gas will explode, fires will devour and sickness will appear...and may have been prophesized by Michel Nostradamus
(1503-1566) or did he indeed :-)?
Book of his prophesies.
at U of TX Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas