Sunday, July 28, 2013


Back again after way too long!

It's been four months since my last post, a hiatus I never wanted to happen.  March and April were very heavy work months, with a major two-day Symposium that I gave on composer Giacomo Puccini at the Greenfield (MA) Community College -- my seventh consecutive year there, and they have invited me back again for an eighth next spring.  This was a very major preparation job as to research, writing and preparation of visual displays as well as musical examples for both days a week apart) of the program.

There were also two opera talks I gave in Boston: the first was a week before the Boston Lyric Opera's production of Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte, an opera whose sexual politics are as fresh and controversial today as they were when it premiered in Vienna in the late 18th century.  The second was before the production of Benjamin Britten's The Prodigal Son produced by Intermezzo, The New England Chamber Opera, for which I design all the scenery and, recently, have teamed up with Fritz to write librettos for commissioned operas.

The Prodigal Son is one of Britten's three "parables for church performance," the others being Curlew River, which we produced to very appreciative notices in 2006, and The Burning Fiery Furnace, which we may do in a year or two.  Above is a relatively accurate photo of the backdrop for Prodigal Son.  It was performed in the First Church in Cambridge with a very strong cast.  We also had the financial backing of a generous grant from the Britten-Pears Foundation.  We had big audiences and very good reviews.

So April dragged into May and now suddenly August is staring me in the face.  But I'm back and will be disciplining myself to do post at the very least twice and, i hope, three times a week.  Thank you to those of you who expressed concern, especially David Nice who fully lived up to his name, and a couple of you whose names I had never encountered in the comments but to whom I am grateful for writing to make sure I was OK.  

I was delighted to capture a picture of a woodpecker couple this spring in the nesting season.  We left the suet feeder up a bit longer than normal this year and think the returning birds appreciated having it as they got re-established in their summer territory.  Then Fritz bought me a hummingbird feeder for my birthday in June, so now we can watch them not only in the garden but also close up right outside our big living room windows.  Our cat loves watching them, too.

The weather has been bad this year.  Our first 90+ degree day was in March (!) and we have had three week-long or more heat waves in June and July with extreme amounts of rain and humidity.  The climate is changing here faster and faster; when we were planning the house in 2005 and 6, New Hampshire still had maybe one 90 degree day a year.  As to the rain, some of our perennials are failing from too much water, and I have been frustrated in not being able to do much more outside work than I have. 

I loved this picture when I came across it on the Web.  The scene is potentially heartbreaking as neither the little kitten, nor the firefighter who's trying to revive the mother cat with oxygen, has the slightest idea if she'll pull through.  And neither do we, because no comment accompanied the picture.

I was glad to see you 'back in the saddle"; I was about to write you off as another blogger who has dissipated into the ether. Dolly will never go away again, yes?
That's the idea, Michael. It was alarming in a way how easy it was to keep lapsing from the discipline of posting regularly. I even went through a mini-crisis of wondering if I had nothing much to say any more. But it's good to be back, very good.
And here I thought you went the way of Facebook.

Welcome back!
May I join my voice to the roundelay of hurrays. And thanks for showing your Curlew River design. That's a piece I long to see again, but I just missed all three church parables being done in Southwark Cathedral (time to find out whether less favourable first reactions to Burning Fiery Furnace and Prodigal Son were precipitate). Still, we're not doing badly...
Happy for the return of DesignerBlog. I was beginning to worry I might have to survive the Met season without your insightful reviews.
Not to worry, I am seeing all the new productions and two revivals, Norma and Die Frau Ohne Schatten. I'll also see Anna Nichole and Marriage of Figaro at New York City Opera.

hoorah! you have been sorely! missed! my dear old chap! lol!. where have you been! slaving away over a hot stove in preparation of a lovely roast pork! lol!.

Sometimes I'll go for long whiles without posting blogs. And I think global warming is messing up our weather. This summer has been all over the place here in California. Rain, heat waves, cold fronts, mild days....
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