Thursday, June 14, 2007
I still have tasks to do before the closing and I'm getting them lined up. Extra smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have to be installed. Since E, the new owner, wants to keep the ADT security system I have, they'll do the installation. I can put up the one extra carbon monoxide alarm myself. I'm also working on the complete clean-out of the basement (and making good progress) and storage attic. This morning I got all the rugs below room size rolled and tied and ready to go this Friday when I take another load up to New Hampshire and Fritz and I clear out the "garage" area of his barn to take the mover's load in July. I'm ending the morning purging files. For some reason I love saying that--purging files sounds to me like something dangerous done by a power-mad bureaucrat.
I tend to be a worrier. Things usually turn out fine, which I chalk up to the fact that I do worry and get going in advance on big jobs. Still, looking at 28 days left before I have to be completely cleaned out and ready to give the keys to E, I get little anxiety attacks. OK, sometimes I get scared shitless--there it is.
Last night was the big biennial Baroque opera production by the Boston Early Music Festival. They always do these things to a turn with excellent musical research and restoration, and strong production values. This year was "Psyche" by Jean-Baptiste Lully (originally Gianbattista Lulli before he moved to France), Louis XIV's major court composer. The plot, like most Baroque opera, comes from Greek mythology, this time the story of the nymph Psyche and her adventures falling in love with the god Eros, which infuriates his mother Venus, the whole situation being resolved when Jupiter makes Psyche an immortal so Venus won't have to endure seeing her son marrying down. This transformation is celebrated by a half hour of dance--the French were mad for ballet and their operas were always full of dance interludes and finales.
Lully, by the way, died youngish (age 55) and in one of those bizarre deaths French musicians seem to suffer (Charles Alkan was crushed to death by his own music library). Lully was conducting an orchestra which in those days was done not with the lightweight short baton we use today but with a big ceremonial Marshall's baton, a long pole with much decorarion and a big, heavy ornamental knob on top. He brought the baton down hard for a downbeat, crushed his right foot, and died from infections and gangrene shortly thereafter.
The Festival used to do these operas in completely historical recreations of Baroque scenery and it was a wonder to see. And expensive--really expensive. For the last couple of productions, their designers have been doing unit sets that hint at the general look and style of the 17th century stage sets while reserving their resources for truly gorgeous, finely detailed costumes and one or two special effects. As a set designer who has done his share of Baroque recreations (I designed the first two productions by the Early Music Festival, operas by Monteverdi and Mozart) I was a little disappointed by this shift, if only because the lightening-fast transformations and magnificent trompe l’oeil painting style called for are thrilling to see when done well. But in my role as arts administrator, I also know that budgetary responsibility is sometimes a big imperative.
This year the effects were gods and goddesses flying in, either just their bodies flying through the air, or descending in special cloud or sunburst “chariots” that always make a spectacular impression. Since the traffic between heaven and earth is so frequent in “Psyche”, the flying was the major attraction, was done superbly and got big audience response.
Tonight a couple of us (Steve from Chaos, Atari from Ready, Reset, Go) are getting together for dinner at someplace TBA. Tomorrow AM I pack up and head north. Our excavator began work this week, doing the final clearing of the house site. This morning, as I type this, Fritz, the excavator and the general contractor are meeting on the site to discuss details and scheduling. It feels very good finally to be under way.