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!


Monday, January 28, 2013

The Eternal Womanizer

Don Giovanni strikes again at HGO.
It mostly does not make any difference how this opera is presented.  
Mozart's music continually lures and enchants.

Even if, as led by Trevor Pinnock, the orchestra started slow to build to almost Wagnerian sounds often drowning out some singers.
Even if, the set by Oberle, designed with longevity in mind (lol) is used again and again, with lots of simple, clean lines and in neutral colors, could be used for numerous operas, not only for Mozart's. Goeran Jaervefelt's  original directions were more or less faithfully executed by Harry Silverstein

Even if, as was the case, a smallish voiced singer however cute, did not do justice to the role.

Overall, the cast was led with stunning force by the Donna Anna of Rachel Willis Sorensen (in a video clip from Tannhaueser), a HGO Studio alumna,  whose patient lover Don Ottavio sung with precise enunciation and clarity by Joel Prieto (photo above by Felix Sanchez).
PhotoCredit Felix Sanchez HGO website

Equally exciting, and as promised (Showboat's Joe:!), was
the stentorian deep voice of Morris Robinson (right as her slain father, the Commendatore ,
And the resolute, and easily heard over the loudest orchestra, Leporello  by Kyle Ketelsen.

Veronika Dzhioeva as Donna Elvira sang creditably, but with somewhat less fervor than the Donna Elvira of the past, Ana Maria Martinez, although in looks they could be twins.

Malin Christensson, a pipingly voiced pretty little Zerlina was frequently inaudible over the crashing sounds of the orchestra, alas. What was heard though, did sound sweet.

Masetto, sung with a warm bass bariton by former HGO Studio alumnus Michael Sumuel, provided some comic relief.

IMO, the best chosen singer for the role of the dissipated womanizer Don Giovanni, was undoubtedly Viennese born Adrian Eroed  (right) who embodied the dissolute aristocrat perfectly.

Photo Credit Felix Sanchez HGO website

He looked it, he sounded it, he acted it well, very well. He made us sympathise with this man even as we despised him. But what can one do when a man sticks up for his life/belief in the face of going to hell, however misguided that is.

This image of  the Don has fascinated audiences, singers,
directors for centuries. We are appalled, and yet attracted to a scoundrel with panache! Aren't we?

And Mozart wrote music, that is so integral to this image. The Don has fewer soli than the rest and yet dominates.
As much as we like the idea of an adoring lover (Ottavio) in principal,  we perhaps feel he is a wimp opposite the forceful and (maybe a bit) homophobic Donna Anna.
The one we do feel sorriest for, is Donna Elvira  who stays optimistic till almost the end.  A woman  scorned but still infatuated.

The moralizing end is so ambiguous, that IMO, it should be left off!
Maybe it was written to warn us not to admire the DON with his evil {?}ways, too much!

Hmm, if that was the reason, it does not quite make it.
We still are on his side, nevertheless ;-)!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Shostakovich at U of H

It IS hard to decide what Moscow, Cheryomushki by Dimitri Shostakovitch IS, really. 
Is it a Russian Operetta, as quoted by the media?
A musical? A cabaret? 
Or just satirical theater with music?
To call it an opera is - perhaps, well intended, but not quite the thing,  IMO. It translated well onto the big screen as the clip shows:

Well, whatever it should be called, it was done enthusiastically by the young performers with various vocal strength and beauty at Moore's Opera House at the University of Houston.
Ceiling at Moore's Opera House: Photo U of H
The music seemed to me more resembling film scores, than operetta, although there were some touches of the classical waltzes and polkas.
The Latin Beat did have some presence as well, and even Russified Rock 'n Roll was not ignored. 
There could be heard a bit of Shostakovitch, but overall it just sounded to me like well composed and rousing film music. The small (12 Piece) Orchestra performed well under the sensitive direction of Jake Sustaita (with that name his family must have come from a former SS state -  just guessing).

Staging, as usual at U of H, rather innovative with varied projections, and unusual ideas, singers marching in and out of auditorium; or posed in a balcony box (this during the ballet interlude  - as if they themselves are just audience members).

To my ears, admittedly more attuned to classic opera, only 4 singers/actors stood out among the myriads on stage (mostly in the chorus). 
DeMeo ringingly as Sergei,  Van Maanen sweetly and clearly as Lidochka, 
Berti impishly/waspishly as Vava (in Marilyn Monroe like wig) and Kincaide convincingly as her adoring old lover Drebednyov. 
Woodward as Masha, and Tucker as Sasha, also sang and acted well. 
Below a clip of the Bell song by Shasha and Masha.
Russell was a pipingly weak Lusya  (IMO); while Estrada as Baburov, battled hoarseness and short breath (maybe he had the flu)! 
Grimes as Boris, and Gallagher as Barabashkin, showed they could act and sing like minor Broadway stars!

The libretto (if I may call it that) was updated with 'modern' slang and 4 letter words, not too shockingly, I may add, just....well, somehow appropriate to the story! Which satirizes the dearth of living quarters in Russia at certain times. In times of tyranny satire does flourish underground! It takes a turn at the 'red' tape bureaucracy. And - let's not forget - that bribery also was (is) alive and well even in communist Russian. That 'It's not what you know but WHO you know' system also permeates daily life in Shostakovitch's Russia.  Can it be due to his own experiences under the influence of the 'famous' (;-) official 'RED' doctrine then prevailing in Russia in the 40'and into the 50's?

But one ought to be prepared for rather interminable dialogues between some lyrical, some catchy solos, duets and some excellently presented chorus pieces. Which gives one the sense of a piece, however amusing, that runs a bit 'too long'.
For ballet fans Shostakovitch in the time old Russian tradition interpolates a classical ballet with 4 dancers - a quite lovely little number.

Chers Readers have 2 more chances to see it. 
Sunday and Monday. 
It has 2 acts of 70 min. and  65 min. respectively. 
And enjoy the comedic aspects .... it is a fun piece and ought to be seen/heard at least once.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Catching up to SHOWBOAT

So we saw HGO's Showboat. A paean to the American Musical.
Photo by Felix Sanchez- Houston Grand Opera web site
Well done HGO.
Enthusiastically, really, very enthusiastically conducted by Patrick Summers.  Enticing all present-audience as well, to repeat Old Man River at the very end of curtain calls.

Better hurry to get your tickets, they are flying out the ticket windows! Really!

A cast, seemingly of 1.000 s.
On a brightly lit, colorfully painted stage cavorted several sets of lithe dancers (12 in all) in Gypsy like costumes and skimpier ones.
Against a background of gingerbread Mississippi side wheeler boat singers and actors did the score and the libretto honors.

Ladies first:
Sasha Cooke was a delightful high mezzo, Magnolia Hawks to the seemingly deeper (she is billed as soprano) shaded sounds of Melody (apropos name - real or ?) Moore as Julie LaVerne.
Marietta Simpson, a real mezzo,  queened it wonderfully as Queenie,all singing "Fish gotta Swim..".
Cheryl Parish, soprano, managed the harpyesque Parthy Ann Hawks without making her too much of a nag. Lauren Snouffer, soprano, surprised with her dancing agility and ability while singing heartily as Ellie May Chipley.
Minor supporting roles were taken on with various degrees of acting/singing talent by Frankie and Jacqueline Hickman,  Christina Keefe and - hold onto you hats, chers readers -  socialite par excellence Lynn Wyatt, looking very svelte and gentlewomanly, although she should have been miked. One could hardly hear her in the first 5 rows!

Now the men:
first off  'The Man of the hour(s)' lol... as JOE, football player turned basso profundo. Morris Robinson enchanted with his gravelly sung (he sounded like singing from the deepest catacombs of St Stephen's Cathedral in Wien) a most appreciative audience, female, and male :-).
Oh, my words, what a sound - it surely traveled up and down every female spine in the audience! Like sipping a  Rich Burgundy, so felt the sounds issued forth from this huge presence!
And here I thought the late William Warwick had this song locked up!
We shall hear and ENJOY equally thrillingly - I am sure - his interpretation of the Commendatore in Don Giovanni. Proof of his versatility (reminds me of Winton Marsalis' talents in Jazz  and Classical trumpet)...ponderous applause at the end for sure!

The debonair Gaylord Ravenal was Joseph Kaiser and was he ever... debonair as a singer, and his dance moves were not shabby either! No wonder Magnolia succumbs at first glance ;-)!

Houston's Tye Blue, voted 'Best Entertainer in Houston' for the last 3 years, proved it in his role as Frank Schultz, singing, acting and dancing!

Lara Teeter, as Cap'n Andy Hawks was hilarious; agilely kicking up his legs with the best of the dancers! Yes Sirree! He sure could swing and dance!

Rutherford Cravens had the double roles of Sheriff and Maitre D',
while David Matranga appeared double cast as Steve Baker and Max.
Patrick Harvey, Andrew J. Love and Steven  Hale acted and sang as  Jake, Pete/Emcee and Backwoodsman, respectively.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

To stay or not to stay...

that is NO longer the question, methinks, when it comes to the future at the TC of the Houston Aeros. Aeros there may be, just not Houston Aeros.

Now to the, at this time still Houston Aeros, they have lost again. To the Wolves last night!
They have players who seem to be indifferent, bored (?) or  worse, incompetent (?) to achieve anything on ice.
From another loss to The Chicago Wolves-this one here in Houston 2011.

The persistent rumors that have been making the rounds for months now, are grounded in reality.  The TC and Les will not renew the Aeros/Wild lease after this season, because he cannot use the TC for more profitable rock concerts, or so the rumors fly! 

Now, I might have a solution to the Les dilemma: Maybe he ought to bring in Justin Bieber to play with the Aeros.. that ought to fill the TC to the rafters and even have an overflow outside which could ONLY be satisfied by big screens set up. He could surely also charge a pretty penny for those standing room only tickets en plein aire ;-)!

For more on the situation (not the Bieber idea) read The Chronicle on line, or the T3I post recently.

Begs the question:
Do the players already know their future will NOT be in Houston?
And has that an impact on their playing?
It ought not.

Because, while the Aeros may be gone, the game of hockey will continue.
As is shown by the fans' reaction to the  resumption of NHL games.
Which does surprise me a bit after  reading all those fed-up fans' comments during the lock out!
Well, maybe not too much.
After all - or so it seems to me -  sports are really more dominant in people's lives than the arts.
Which are being relegated to the back burners almost everywhere.

As is so much else.
This 'old' me does feel the loss of a broader experience by the youth of today is lamentable.
It limits them so!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Global what?

Good Bye Icebergs
"Big Thaw" In Alaska.

"Big 'Freeze" in California.

"Big Floods"

"Big Quakes" 

"Big Volcano Eruptions Due"
Extract from predictions published on June 11th 2008…… “There will be steady (at first) rise in Global weather phenomena such as heat- waves, hurricanes, gales, storms, heavy-snow fall (especially around 2013) torrential rain and floods up to 2012/2013 and possibly beyond.”
Even "Winter" in January - really in January (lol) - in Europe!
Unexpected (duh, really?) Snowfall in the City (Wien)

The media is having a heyday hyping up 'events by Mother Nature'.
Maybe because 'events by people' have become such blahblah news!
So after the financial cliff, we are facing the debt abyss!

So what else is new and scary?

I dread to open the the newspapers.
I dread to turn on TV for its lagging (often) soundbites!
Even NBR is repeating what one can read that morning in WSJ -
that is IF one CAN read!

The dawn of a new age! 
Or the dusk of an old one?

You decide!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Thirteenth strikes again.. Aeros loose in OT to Checkers

Even if it was not a Friday, the 13th seems an unlucky number for the Aeros.

 Alas, no Birthday Present of a win for Chilly who had invited friends to celebrate and entertain the  few 3,000 loyal fans who kept sneaking away to check on the Texans game ;-)!

Friends of Chilly's
To my big surprise the First Period saw heavy action, fast and furious skating and lots of slipping, sliding and pile ups in front and into nets :-D!
And some heavy crashing into boards ... a WILD game!
Foucault tried often

Despite that appearance, the Checkers were off to a slow start with just 8 sogs but 1 goal by Dalpe, Shugg and Beca, while Aeros managed to toss 10 on Muse all of which he stopped.

In the second period penalties multiplied  5 for Checkers who skated aggressively. They revved up their attack on Hackett to 14 but no goal. Aeros had progressively fewer sogs for the rest of the game.
Genoway on offense?
Genoway on defense
Glove Catch by Muse
Genoway takes on Sutter

Fredheim in action-no he did NOT trip Rutherford
Another pile up-save by Muse

Hackett lets puck go after save
One of the PP allowed Foucault, Phillips and Cuma the only goal for Aeros in the 2nd.
In the 3rd a visible slowing occurred; neither team scored. And so we went to OT.

What seemed to me happened at the very end of the period, or even just into the 2nd intermission was a huge fight. Mara and Sutter, which almost escalated - but did not - into confrontation between the two goalies, as well. 5 minutes to each Fighter plus a game misconduct-leaving the bench for Mara - and so HE was out for the rest of the game. I am sure Mills did not intend that when he hired Mara!

Somewhere in there is Muse, Fredheim hugs  Pistilli ;-)!
Mara and Sutter, Muse faces Hackett - lineman arm keeps them apart ?
Rau speeds by fallen Bellemore ;-)

Red Sweaters after Zucker !
Genoway seemed just about everywhere, on defense, on offense, taking on Sutter in a little "Hey you" broken up soonest by officials. McMillan skated like the devil was after him...and twisted and turned rapidly where needed.
Phillips, long locks flying, gave a lot. Larssen tried, as did others. Fredheim had long carry of the puck only to pass it to the wrong stick ;-)!
Cuma had a few good moments but overall was ineffective.
The Goal by Nash in OT-fuzzy pic due to shock ;-)! by photo taker :-)!
Zucker appeared to have become the whipping boy for the opponents, many times he was hemmed in by red sweaters.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Monsters behave like it and beat Aeros 3-2

A sad state of affairs on the ice at the tonight!
And in front of respectable crowd of  over 9,000...
That was a rebound and no gaol!

Larsson tries again

Kuemper saves

That bundle is Aittokallio ;-)! and he did MAKE THE SAVE!

Where is Tony Hrcak when you need a steadying seasoned Veteran to inspire the youngsters?
Mara certainly did not seem quite THE thing.
Of course, it was only his second appearance so maybe I need to cut him some slack.

The other newcomer, Reed (#15), seemed to be in the spot more often than not and did push a puck away from the net. Kuemper did stop 29 sogs of 32, but Aittokallio faced 28 and stopped 26.

Somehow, the guys seemed disoriented, albeit skating furiously and passing passably-at times.
Too many times the action took place in the Aeros zone! So better get the puck out of there, guys!

Yes, Zucker and Larsson nicely made the two goals on a PP out of 6.

I must say Larsson has grit!
He was escorted to the bench seemingly injured, but soon was back on the ice and SCORED the 2nd goal.

What more can one write about this game without sounding repetitive.
A replay from last evening when Hackett ate the loss. Now it was Kuemper who choked.

Is it catching?
Kendo between Fredheim and  G Walker?
Geoff Walker pats Fredheim on helmet! :-) after the Kendo move!

Kuemper saves this one ..

After the Zucker Goal.. Pock of Austria looks on while Aittokallio can't believe it!

A Doyenne of delightful fiction - Georgette Heyer

Elated that one of my favorite authors is getting for her contribution to literature which is well written, amusing, well researched and very entertaining, as this shows.

Her novels have given  me many hours of joy.
The historical novels more so than her crime fiction.
And even her factual writing was enlightening.

It always pleased me that here is a writer who can entertain and hold her readers' attention without resorting to 'blood and guts' and 'raunchy sex scenes'.
The wit of her writings is finely crafted, well posed and - ultimately - truly and wisely funny without the need for slapstick. 
And I have read almost all !

And have re-read those which have been re-issued lately.
For awhile they were not readily available at the Public Libraries, but thankfully, they have resurfaced. Perhaps, following the huge success of Downton Abbey!

Royal Pavilion in Brighton
So you just might want to delve into Georgette Heyer's novels of the Regency aristocracy in Ye Old England !
Have at it!
Here is more about her!

Well, of course if you were weaned on the  almost illiterate - however sellable- romances of Barbara Cartland,  Georgette Heyer may be tooo literate for you :-)!

One has to have a goodly sense of humor to truly appreciate her finer lines of dialogue and so much more!
And no, this is not the snob in me talking.
I really enjoy well written, with a soupcon  or even a large dollop of humor, pieces!
Of all eras!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Rampage celebrate Epiphany with 5-2 win over Peoria

Yes, sirree.
Brendon Nash  (Nr. 42) is totally oblivious to T-Bone's animating the crowd, which was respectable but not overwhelming
No, he IS not related to Enrico Caruso lol!

Despite a so-so first period when both teams seem to test their skates on the ice at the-for once - not quite as freezing ATT center in San Antonio, the next two periods went better with the third rather' caliente'. :-)
 About 5,000 fans attended and seemed a bit subdued at first but with the help of T-Bone....

 Allen in goal for Peoria seemed to have problems with his 'garters' ;-) lol. Maybe that's why he let in 4 goal all together - the 5. goal was an empty netter-so he can't be blamed for that as well ;-).
 Jake Allen checking "garters" ;-)!

The kid's excitement matches that of his parents, :-)! when a fight broke out between  big guy Peluso (Nr.23 at 6'4 and 236 pds) and Rampage Selleck (Nr. 15) a mere  6'2 and 200 pds.. as I recall Selleck acquitted himself rather well ;-)!
And that was not the only fight rampageing Selleck got into that afternoon.

Anyway, Rampage first scorer was Quinton Howden, 2nd Justin Vaive (on PP), 3. Scott Timmins, and Jon Rheault  was culpable for numbers 4 and 5. 
Jacob Markstrom. at 6ft 6 and only 195 pds a real string bean, made some spectacular saves, as Peoria tried hard to get more goals into his net, after McRae scored within seconds of the Howden goal (I blinked and the deed was done!), and Nesbitt copied him with his goal (the 2. and last for Peoria) soon after Vaive scored for Rampage. Rheault scored twice and had 1 assist. Howden scored once but had two assists as well.
Rheault Nr. 1 *
 Phew.. that WAS close. spectacular save by Markstrom and not his only one during this game-puck circled in blue
Howden Goal.. yes, Allen it did go over the line
What was a bit - shall I say - annoying, were the frequent 'promotional times' out, which struck me as rather a lot.
But ... who can complain when it rains cows in parachutes and all fans walked away with a coupon for free a chicken sandwich by one of them.. Chik filet, naturally. After 4 or more goals by the Rampage Chick Filet is generous with a free sandwich with purchase of fries! Long live fried food!

A total of 9 penalties was called, twice  they were for fighting (bad boy Selleck) concurrently with other
misdeeds , but only Vaive turned a PP into a goal for Rampage.

A pleasant surprise, well, we DID know that Casey Wellman was a trade to the Panthers and would possibly skate in SA, but with the NHL lock out his appearance was a given... so here he is in a Rampage sweater: and again  as number 17!
Anyway, it was worth the trip to SA to watch  AND get 2 coupons.. which will surely be used the next time in San Antonio ..TeeHee.

Whilst this was going on in San Antonio, the home team, the Houston Aeros, battled the Texas Stars in Austin but lost in OT  3-4...On that game do, chers readers,  visit The Third Intermission for their lucid comments.

One thing: since it sure looks 100% that NHL will resume playing the rest of the season, many of the young talent skating for all AHL teams will be absent. What that may mean for Aeros, Rampage, Stars, etc .. I cannot predict except.. it will by interesting, perhaps a bit boring, but mostly interesting. As long as one keeps one's expectations in check!

Friday, January 4, 2013

A dismal First, Better Second, Average Third and Aeros still lost to Stars 2-1

Yes, the boring to bad First period - seemingly an Aeros speciality - has returned at this game tonight. Letting the Stars start out with 13 sogs, while OURs only managed a measly 5!!!!

Hackett on the Prowl
It was almost entirely due to Hackett (earning him 3rd *) stopping all but 2 sog's which the Stars threw at him, IMO, the team would have lost even more, because ..  just asking:
Where, really, was the defense, or better yet where was the offense?
Where was the power play by the Aeros who are listed up to this game as 5th in the division?
Genoway Goal
They did have 6 opportunities, but only Genoway with Zucker and Granlund scored in the Second ... and it was THE lonely goal tonight!

The power of  black pads threatening:-)!
Aeros DID skate up to better snuff (not perfect, but better) in the  2nd with 9 and even better - 12 during the 3rd - albeit to NO avail.
Nilstorp stopped all but the Genoway one and was named Nr. 1 *, Benn the number 2*.  Patrik Nemeth of the Stars-usually a more 'mild' player, caught the ref's eye with high-sticking... twice!

The victorious Three plus Vincour-Goal 2 Stars!
On the other hand ONLY 2 penalties were called on Aeros (Granlund for holding) and the second for Interference on McMillan; and yet the Stars (14th in pp!!) scored one PP by the Victorious Three: Alex Chiasson, Eakin, Smith, while Jordie Benn and Glennie put the Stars on the board in the First Period!

Several players kinda stuck out, in my eyes at least, tonight:
A Stars player skate keeps Larsson's stick away from the puck
Coyle, Phillips battle for the puck with Fortunus, Baldwin
for speed and super effort: Phillips and Palmieri;
for rather good passing and some good plays: Granlund, and - surprise - Couture!

Larsson gives his all -Phillips and others look for ?

Couture and Cuma in defense of the Net :-)!

for trying hard: Larsson, Zucker and  Petersen.
Hackett in fine fettle

Sceviour surrounded!