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!


Sunday, January 19, 2014

A splendid weekend, with Hockey, in San Antonio

The weather could not have been better [made up for the be-fogged and be-rained one earlier ;-)], but sadly the Rampage lost to the Rochester Americans 3-2. BTW I really like those read-white-blue jerseys, but I do like the Rampage warm up jersey more-muy caliente
!!!Of course, it was not a BAD game, but a loss is a loss for Rampage fans of which there were over 6,000, although there seemed to be more.
Noisy ones, at that!
The first period started, as did the one the last game we saw, with an early goal by Rochester by -of all people - Johan Larsson- Second Star of the game
Crabb shadows Gillies
with Colton Gillies ( both ex Aeros) and Irwin in just a hair over 2 minutes into the period. On a power play, yet, thanks to Megan.
Rob Madore
Rob Madore standing as tall as 5'10 (176 pds) can be Third Star of the game
Nathan Lieuwen
was in goal for Rampage,  Michael Houser was recalled to be backup, due to Markstrom's injury (?)  earlier.

Nathan Lieuwen for Rochester at 6'5 (186 pds) played Goliath to Madore's David (lol). Since Rampage played (to quote seat mates) like 'girls hockey' (they did root for Rochester - I may add!) the scene in front of Madore frequently was like this:
Madore did acquit himself rather well stopping 34 of 37 SOGs throughout the 3 periods.
Rampage managed one goal on the 2. A power play goal by Janik, Gilroy and Martindale
Janik Goal in 2.period
and 1 in the 3. by Howden with Shaw.
Both teams had 2 penalties each, and a power play goal each. Penalty kill was adequate.
Called up by Rampage, Wade Megan played quite aggressively,  perhaps too aggressively. Megan sitting for hooking allowed the first PP goal for Rochester.
Especially in 1. and 2. there was some sloppy passing and stupid mistakes by Rampage players. Although they picked up some speed and managed to shoot 3 more SOGs (8) then in the 1. (5).
Only in the third did they seem to have found their rhythm with 15 sogs. And every time I looked Kilroy (oops) GILROY # 97
"was here" defending (he also did a get an assist).

But it just wasn't enough to carry the evening.
Rochester out shot and out scored them - albeit just by one, a, PP goal by Tardif (First star of the game), Adam and - again - Larsson.
Lieuwen had a few close calls,
Close call-but no goal
but managed to  stop all but the 2 of 28.

Two more ex-Aeros were present, Drew Bagnall
Bagnall-Nr.4 the C
sporting the C was on the ice seemingly all the time.
Hackett still Nr. 30
 And Hackett as BUG skated during warm ups and later to help the team celebrate its win!
Hackett congratulates Team and Larsson!

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Passenger-a searing musical portrait of (in)humanity

This co-production of Bregenz, Warsaw, ENO, Madrid is currently being performed at HGO.  It is a new(ish) work, composed by Mieczyslaw Weinberg, libretto by Alexander Medvedev which David Pountney translated rather well into English. It is performed with surtitles.  But IMO they are rarely needed, since the enunciation of most singers is outstanding and 96% understandable. I was privileged to attend the final dress rehearsal, which went smoothly. Opening night is Saturday 1/18. I'll be out of town then so am publishing it this morning.

A brief description of its plot: Fifteen years after the end of the war, a German diplomatic couple (Walter and Liese) are on a liner for Brazil where he is to take up an embassy position. On the ship there, too, is a mysterious veiled woman. Liese seems to recognize her as one of the inmates in Auschwitz where Liese (aged 22) served as a camp guard.
Several acts are devoted to camp life.
Female prisoners from all over Europe are found there, each one reacting in her own way to the horrors around her. One apparently has gone mad, another teams up with a very young girl in lieu of her own daughter. Their nationalities are: Czech, Polish, Russian (a partisan), French and Tessalonikan. One is identified as Jewish, some others seem to be catholic, especially Bronka.
The heroine, Marta (that mysterious passenger), by chance, encounters her finance Tadeusz, who, we learn is involved in the camp underground and in touch with Katya, the Russian partisan.
The plot gets a bit thicker. Liese wants Marta to become her confidante vis-a-vis the other prisoners, and offers Marta and Tadeusz a chance to meet. Both are resolved not to give Liese any hold on them.
While these flashbacks to camp life take place, on an upper level we see Walter and Liese attempting to participate in ship's social life. Liese has told Walter now all about her camp life. And Walter, after an initial revulsion, has accepted it and excusing it now supports her.
But then the "Passenger" asks the band (on a 3.level) to play a waltz.
And Liese breaks down completely. It is the waltz the camp commandant has demanded Tadeusz play for him on the violin, which Tadeusz does not do, and so is sent to his death. As - it seemed - is Marta.
The opera ends with the 'modern' Marta's demand 'never forgive nor forget'!

Now the cast requires some very strong performances by 9 female voices.
And HGO found them, voices with convincing acting prowess.
Michelle Breedt -above - (HGO debut) sings Liese with a flexible Mezzo and seemingly personal conviction in the world she inhabits on stage.
Melody Moore is Marta with strong and confident delivery.
Victoria Livengood - quite excellent as the madwoman.
Yvette, the French youngster, is sung with a clear high soprano by Uliana Alexyuk (HGOStudio).
Vlasta is sung by another HGOStudio member, Carolyn Sproule.
Krystyna is performed by Natalya Romaniw (Studio member).
Bronka, the older woman adopting the youngster Yvette is sung with moving expression by Kathryn Day.
Agnieszka Rehlis (debut) sings a few lines as the Jewish girl (is she the one from Tessalonika?).

Kelly Kaduce - above - (debut) whom I have seen and heard in  Anna Karenina, Tan Dun's Tea and as Margaret Garner, sings Katya with complete confidence and beautiful phrasing.. her solo, unaccompanied for the most part by orchestra, of the Babushka song is truly stunning!
Cheryl Parish (also seen in Show Boat at HGO) is the senior overseer who has just a few lines as well.
All other characters, in camp, and on ship, as well as in the, all MALE onlookers in modern dress (why they are there is still, IMO, a mystery, they do not really do much for the plot - perhaps they are to be us, the audience, but why only males?), are taken by chorus members with no solo lines, some are even silent.
As you can see, the females are dominant in this work.

Joseph Kaiser - above as Ravenal in HGO's Show Boat - Walter, is convincing and uses his suave voice well. 
Morgan Smith - debut (of Starbuck fame -Moby Dick seen by me in Dallas) sings Tadeusz with feeling. His orchestra double actually plays the violin.
James Maddalena has 2 cameo roles with a few lines, mostly just spoken.
Robert Pomakov as the first guard, and
Peixin Chen and Kevin Ray (both Studiomembers) as 2. and 3. guard acquit themselves quite honorably.
I am not sure who plays the Commandant, whose brief appearance in scene 5/act 2 is the cause for Tadeusz' death.

 I have searched for some videos.. and found this of another composition by Weinberg

Now to my personal impressions. Not being a musician, I cannot write about the difficulties which lie in the score. I have been told that some seems almost impossible. And yet the orchestra and the singers do it real justice.
It is above all a great theatrical drama with hugely excellent singing.
Maestro Summers knows the score and guides the team well.
Music: mostly accessible, sometimes overwhelming, sometimes very lyrical. IMO, it paints musical pictures of the horrors, but of beauty as well.
Staging and set are impressive, sadly I fear, people in balcony and high Grand Tier seats will not see the third level (orchestra) and maybe even part of the second level. The set is built very tall! Lighting is appropriate to action and scenery. A bit of stumbling around the camp ground makes the prisoners' exhaustion even more plausible.

Was I moved? Yes, to some extent I was, mostly due to the truly superb acting singers.

But having studied this period in history, and read as much as is available in English and German, I was somewhat disappointed. Or maybe, like so many of us, I have become desensitized to violence and horrors by what is thrown at us daily on television and the web. Perhaps.

Did I think the piece biased?  Not really.  The composer, IMO, tried his best to tell the story as seen from the standpoint of a younger Liese, whose experiences must be taken in context of the times.
Befehl ist Befehl - order is order!

And yet, nothing is ever just pure black and white.
But still, it should be seen as grave warning to humanity.  If it works in these days of increasing insensitivity to suffering, of spontaneous killings may they be government sanctioned, or acts by crazed (?) individuals, I simply do not know. And who really can?
Maybe...at least I hope it will open some eyes and hearts!

And here some comments, overheard on the way out:
"High drama but not really an opera".
"Would have liked it better as a ballet."
"How P.C. is that, before HGO is doing Wagner."
"I am surprised that it did not affect me as much."

Well, best you see it yourself. 
I can guarantee the singing and acting is fantastic.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Saying Goodby is hard to do

This weekend  two people  I loved, admired and am happy to have known, left for a better place=heaven. (that is if one believes in heaven - and unless someone belies it, I do believe).

The first was one whom I loved like a sister even though she was ONLY a cousin, and a much older one, indeed.  When I was small, I called her auntie, because she was almost 20 years older than I, the oldest daughter of my father's older brother. Later as I matured (;-) we went to calling us by first name. She was THE one, who kept up a faithful correspondence (snail mail!) to keep me informed about the lives of my extended family in Wien! I shall miss her dreadfully. I am afraid, this red threat to my kin over there will snap, as I do not see any of her kids or grandkids or great grandkids taking up the slack to continue, snail mail (what's that?) and even email may not serve. SADLY.
I am so happy I was privileged to have seen her once more last spring on our 2 months stay in Europe. R.I.P. Lotte, dearest cousin!

The second - about whose passing I have just been told - was a person whom I admired much. He was a fighter for freedom during WWII, in Austria.
He wrote books, published others.
He nurtured thoughts that seemed impossible to attain in this world of 'selfies'. And more! Yes, he was opionated at times, but only because he cared so much! 
Fritz, it was a joy to have met you and experienced your passion for what IS right and what ought to done to change and better it!
Wien - Der √∂sterreichische Publizist und Verleger Fritz Molden ist am Samstag (11.01.) im Alter von 89 Jahren nach kurzer Krankheit gestorben. Das teilteThis is how I shall remember Fritz -  especially anytime I re-read his books (in German) and I will. 
This is how I want to remember Fritz, not like the photo in the Wikipedia article, even IF it is the latest.

For more details read this: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fritz_Molden

And in an other vein...the demise of blogs!
Seems several bloggers whose posts I have enjoyed reading over the years, have vanished from the blog scene. 
And I do wonder why? Have they, too, died? Or have they just lost interest. 
Perhaps they have  gone on to the next fad?  Which I am not au courant with!
Nor do I want to?
Or have the gone to Twitter? If they are, well,  OK for them. I will not tweet or read tweets. Tweets are simply not sufficient for my thirst for news! 
They are not on Facebook.
Well one, that I know, is! Others are not found .. and I have tried.
So farewell to you, too!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Countdown to action-the new vacation plans!

Where, have we gone wrong?
After reading several articles in today's WSJ I am asking myself, what ever happened to relaxing and resting when on 'vacations'?

Why did the first article never suggest just going somewhere
pleasant, take a good book (in whatever form one prefers) and just veg out?
Why is it that everyone seems to be bent on working harder at vacations than, perhaps, at one's job?
Is it the craze for being on the move?
Google search - photo
The need for constant faster speed?
Getting a rush? Moving, moving, moving!
Because staying still and using one's little grey cells just doesn't do it in the quest for 'living on the edge'?

Do we really have to proof that we are still alive by hiking strenuously up into the stratospheric heights of
Or spending 8 hours days digging into the past at excavations, then falling onto cots exhausted?
Roman ruins in Malaga-photo by artandhockey
These are just 2 examples the WSJ article suggests as THE ULTIMATE in vacations for couples and families.
Yes, of course, it is interesting. Of course, it would teach kids hands on history, or would it? IMO as a child I rather played in the rivers or lakes when on vacation, maybe hiked the woods to search out, and eat, wild berries.
And mushrooms, which we also dried in the crisp mountain air to take home for use in sauces during the year, rather tasty reminders of a lovely, relaxing and refreshing vacations. During which, we also took time to read a book or more lazing in the high mountain meadows while the sun shone and the bees "zummed" (maybe like this?)
 at Mesa Verde by artandhockey
around the myriads of wild flowers.
And usually we were able to get a jar of 'wild flower' honey from the farmers around us to take home, too. And milk still warm from the cow which, if left out for a while, turned into real buttery buttermilk, naturally! Of course, nothing was pasteurized, then.
So, I think, between hiking to get fresh milk, gathering berries and mushrooms, we did get enough exercise paired with periods of pure rest.

google photo
Or when paddling downriver in our faltboats, first from the pier of the riversteamer we took up to Engelhartszell, then down to, and later from, the camping grounds back home! And even there .. there was plenty of activity: digging latrines, climbing up to the dismal ruin on the ridge high above the Danube which was, once upon a time, occupied by a Raubritter-Austrian robber baron old style ;-). You can see the steep climb quite well on this picture of the Schloegener Schlinge-below.  Mostly we bathed (yes, indeed) in the Danuberiver, walked to the farmers' to watch (help?) with the churning of butter (reward: a medium, very yellow, butter ball to take back to Vienna with us). Or 'supervised' the haying, milking. Going on hunts with the farmer - out on an early morning, climbing up and sitting perfectly still in the blind.
Schloegener Schlinge-google photo
And always enjoying lots of reading, for fun, not school, I must add!
The second article that caught my eye, was about a man who opened a REAL bookstore after he retired from a hectic business life! 
He really did, what a lot of us bookworms would love to do!
QM2 library by artandhockey
So, I salute him for living his dream! YOU DID IT!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Another MODERN Parsifal...BUT one that works - really!

all Photocredit to C. Barda
Sitting 5 hrs and 15 minutes (plus 2 15 min intermissions) through this intriguing take on OLD Richard's opus did require a strong gluteus maximus. And munchies from home.

Having seen a 'modern' version ala Robert Wilson at HGO some years ago, which did not impress me nor my fellow Parsifal goer today much, about which best said as little as possible (Kundry knoedelte her way in that one whilst mostly crawling around the floor..NOT), this one DID work very well.
As a matter of fact, I felt it clarified what Wagner tried to say about a wicked world which can be redeemed by a 'reiner Tor' pure fool. And another thing I liked about this presentation: limited backstage stuff during the pauses, which allows adequate time for stretching, moving about,  and visiting the facilities :-).
Sadly at the ROH (Royal Opera House) one could see champagne being sipped in the background, none available at ROT (River Oaks Theater)  ;-), for us water was it!

Although the lighting by Paul Pyant was basically dark except for the grail; and the design by Alison Chitty (seen her work at HGO in past years) a most unusual geometric (based on the cube) as well as drab costume colors, the feel was of cleanliness and clarity, IMO.

Sure, the flower maidens provided some bright color and glitz, as well as the chirping of  sweetly 'normal' female voices....the main attraction was for sure the singing of the principals.
And I found some of them well represented on YouTube, inserted below.

What a slew of strong male voices - singing in German which most did remarkably well, such as
Gerald Finley (of Dr. Atomic fame)-Amfortas; histrionically well done, voice ditto.
Rene Pape - Gurnemanz; IMO, he was THE best of those fabulous, stirring male voices; suave, sincere, easily understood, beautifully enunciated German (natural for him, I know..OK... OK) with the right shading in every instance!
Robert Lloyd - Titurel; as expected a still rich and sonorous sound -sadly just a short appearance-live that is, later he is seen dead :-)
Willard White -Klingsor; wow, a true sound, great stage presence..scary to say the least, as the evil Klingsor.
and Simon O'Neill- Parsifal, big stage presence, beautiful clarion type voice, a Heldentenor as one feels a Heldentenor ought to sound.

The strongest performance of all, IMO,came from Angela Denoke as Kundry, what power, expression, acting, artistry and looks...IT WAS the a-one icing on an already fabulous cake.
Directed by Stephen Langridge and conducted by Antonio Pappano who understood the Wagnerian notes, and there were a lot of them, amazingly well. The orchestra and chorus came up to expectations.

For more on ROH, and coming screenings worldwide visit www.rohuk.org/cinemas

I much recommend getting the DVD when available.. you will NOT REGRET it!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Richard Tucker Gala-seen on PBS 1/10

So, I was NOT there in Avery Fisher Hall that November 17, last year, to have enjoyed first hand the dazzling array of world class opera singers with their beautiful voices. Yes, indeed...over the decades I rarely missed any telecasts of this event.

Of course, there was a review the day after, which, I may add, I DID not read, until just now, when I posted this link.

With which I mostly agree.

Of course, I am a bit biased towards all former Houston Grand Opera Studio alumni (Greer Grimsley, Eric Owens, Joyce DiDonato), but having heard and admired ON STAGE at HGO several others (Fleming, Graham, Perez) as well, it sure felt like a glorious reunion for which I have waited so long (all of 3 months) to see telecast.
To select which singer made the deepest impression is darn hard. Yes, really!

BUT to me Joyce DiDonato, the current (2013) Award winner Isabel Leonard, both mezzi, but with a difference; and powerhouse soprano Angela Meade simply bowled me over! Could not help but yell BRAVA after each of their performances.
DiDonato with Tanti affetti, followed by Angela Meade with Tu al cui sguardo onnipossente and a sample by Isabel Leonard-enjoy them all:

Rereading the review, it seems to me that the telecast was a shortened by a few songs or was it? Because, cher readers I WAS there at 9 PM sharp, almost salivating in advance of the smorgasbrod of talent and sounds.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hockey pics, and more, from a wintery San Antonio

Is that the sun? And then the rains came


Raindrops like pearls

Water vapor on indoor/outdoor pool

Deserted beach  in the  rain

Even the bushes wept ;_)
Well, we made it back safely.. although being befogged for half the trip, then driving through down pour after down pour made for a nail biting 3 hours.

But the game was fun: posting a series...from the 3. period after starting goalie Ortio was replaced by Joey MacDonald....
he really tried his best..making 6 saves of 7 shots


and Three: That one did not go in!

Troy Ward, somewhat unhappy head coach

McFarland's goal  in 1. to even score

Joey Crabb goal in 3.

Trocheck hugs Crabb enthusiastically
Ortio-starter goalie, with Lafranchise
McDermit trips over Markstrom's stick
  and falls, Markstrom stays watchful :-)

Abbotsford's Granlund.. doesn't he look a bit like the Wild's?

Robak, Butler and Gilroy, were the 3 stars of the game and here late blooms for them:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

And the heat could not sustain it.

On a drizzly cold day at the ranch..
staying in.

Yesterday evening the Abbotsford Heat and the Rampage met in San Antonio, and we were there.
Within the first few minutes Mark Cundari of the Heat pushed the puck past a visibly surprised Jacob Markstrom. But that was it.

From then on the Rampage ramped it up and slapped home 5 goals, four on power plays by John McFarland, Joey Crabb and Colby Robak, Matt Gilroy, plus one unassisted goal by Bobby Butler.

Both teams basted a dozen or more 6 footers, with Ben Street at 6'7 straining ( lol) to catch up to (most likely his idol) Chara of the Bruins (6'9)! ;-)

Markstrom proved his worth after the initial unexpected one, and stopped 29 of the 30 the Heat threw at him, some saves we're rather spectacular. And so they very sparse audience (it was a Tuesday night after all AND colder than a witches....you know what) was rewarded by receiving a free chick filet coupon per person? AND we also caught the cow drop one in the second period. How lucky can we get, eh? Now we only have to buy fries and a drink in order to redeem one coupon for a chicken sandwich. Lunch for Better Half is assured, lol!

On the other hand the starting goalie for Abbotsford, Joni Ortio did not perform to his coach's, a former Aeros coach, Troy Ward, and was replaced in the third period by, visibly not quite ready, Joey MacDonald. Yes, he stretched a bit to try to warm up, but then the Rampage were at him almost continuously and still Gilroy managed to beat him with the fifth goal on another power play.

Over all an entertaining game, even if it seemed to us the skating was not quite as powerful and fast as in previous games, but who cares really, the home team won and the fans event away quite happy and warmed to their hearts by it! 

A good time was had.  And then it was back out in the cold .. as if inside the arena it had not been cold enough, as it usually is. Which made it strange that several players on both sides slid and slipped and fell.  And no, t'was not the fault of anyone. Two refs kept the game on pace and parceled out penalties seemingly unbiased. The penalty kill talent was most definetely on the Rampage side that night, letting the worst team beat the beast one. Before last night the heat stood at 23-11-1-1 versus the rampage with 12-20-0-3!  It seems that there were a lot less than the 3000plus the game report listed. Probably accounting all those seats that we're not occupied by season ticket holders! LoL.

Photos from the game will follow in the next day or so. I am note yet a costumed to using the iPad as camera at games....sure don't want it confiscated as "too large to be allowed " teehee,so only one rather dreary photo from the porch at the ranch....it IS cold and wet out there, warm and toasty inside. Just right for some reading and writing ! ;-).

And soon it will be time for Operas.  Stay "tuned".....cheers readers!