Thursday, April 15, 2010

The second session of the Wagner Symposium went very well. I had brought only audio selections that I could control myself with me for the first one, and it went smoothly as silk. I had six video cues for the second one and as always, the technology caused problems -- even for the college's designated video person who had real trouble with the system. Still, the reaction was positive and there was immediate talk of my being part of next year's offerings, about which I'm very pleased.

My first thought is to propose a Symposium on French opera. I grew up with French and Italian in my home. All four of my grandparents were immigrants, my father's parents from Italy and France, my mother's from England. The grandparents were all involved with classical music and opera in some way -- my parents had no interest in either. So, the old saying about things skipping generations worked out in my case: I took to New York City's concert halls, theaters and opera houses like a duck to water as a boy and grew up to make my entire career in the performing arts and related skills.

French as a language and French opera aren't all that popular in the U.S. as they once were (and the Bush administration, of course, demonized the French to the point of idiocy). The operas and the music in them are wonderful, however, and are a subject I've not really touched in the previous four programs. I have two possible titles in mind: "Seductresses, Sinners and Saints: the Sensual World of French Opera" and "Beyond Carmen: the Seductive Art of French Opera". Either way I want the idea of seduction in there -- French opera is fueled by the sexy growl of the French mezzo-soprano.


The barn got a new roof this week. The storm with the 90mphwinds a month or so ago ripped a lot of shingles off the old roof and the place was leaking badly. I suggested Frits think about a metal roof this time for several reasons, not the least of which being that metal is cheaper. It can also look great; I've noticed that a lot of the older houses in the immediate area are getting metal roofs and the look seems just right.

We chose a brick red color and it was finished late this afternoon. A nice little side benefit is that our roofer cut several pieces of the left-over scrap into the sizes I need to roof the little firewood rack I'm building for us up at the house.


This is Starr in her "I'm ready for my tummy rub now, Mr. de Mille!" pose.

French opera? Hmmm...armerjaquino aka Jon Dryden Taylor and I have both been sounding off about Rufus's Prima Donna, aka Premiere Femme. Now there's a bad cod French libretto. Yet Rufe grew up speaking it in Quebec...
Aha! armerjacquino is jondrytay/Jon Dryden Taylor -- no wonder I've always liked his writing and had some appreciative exchanges back and forth with him.

What's interesting, and I know I will not have to sell this thought to you too vigorously, is how frequently Parterre hatchet jobs done in advance are dead wrong.

Item: George Steel would be the final disaster for New York City Opera, a small/academic theater man who knows nothing about opera, will be a tool of the corrupt Board, is an idiot for reviving Weisgall's Esther, has only been hired to sweep the floor and turn out the lights for the last time.
Reality: Steel produced a first season with no missteps at all, Esther had to add an extra performance, the Chris Alden Don Giovanni was one of the most stimulating and revelatory productions of the opera seen in NYC in decades, the three revivals got raves and are selling well, next season's plans are very exciting.

Item: Angela Gheorghiu is a small-voiced has-been, no proper technique, total flake.
Reality: Her assumption of Violetta this spring got raves from La Cieca him/herself in print and suddenly EVERYBODY loved Angela.

I don't think it's about love of opera there as much as it is about love of self for about 90% of them. Jon, and I hope I, can be found in the 10% who really are in it for the art form.

Always a pleasure to see your name on a comment, David!

Your Barn looks great with its red roof. You never see this in the UK and metal roofs are rare, specially coloured ones.
Bring some record of Régine Crespin as exemple of French Opera tradition with seduction
Excellent cat and a hot tin roof photos.
Nick UK -- they used to be considered utility building roofing and inexpensive roofing for rural housing. Now they're everywhere and becoming more and more popular.

Jérôme -- La Grande Régine would be featured in Les Troyens, La Perichole, probably in some Gluck and maybe in Carmen. I would be featuring either French singers or a few, like Victoria del los Angeles, who had assimilated the French style successfully.

Doug -- I can't reread that line without breaking out in laughter all over again!
Will - no, you don't have to tell me about the vicious queenery of Parterre. I still dip in because there are those like Jon, you and a couple of others who try to talk reason.

But how tiresome is the Reneeslapping. Shouldn't they be pleased that a work as strange as rich as Rossini's Armida gets done because of her? Not a bit of it.

And the lack of interest in anything beyond the Met, Centre of the Universe, is demonstrated by the relatively small reaction to AJ's review of Prima Donna. At least there were some sympathetic responses there.

All a shame, because JJ can certainly write. But boy, is he hung up over certain issues.
Love the metal roof and red such a striking color.
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