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4/5. So I listened to clipping's Splendor and Misery experimental-hip-hop-space-opera album, which I had not heard of (because I live under a rock) before it was nominated for the Hugo.

TL;DR: It is awesome and you should listen to it (I listened to it on Spotify, but if you don't have spotify you can listen to it on YouTube, either the full album or tracks — 1-15 are the actual tracks, 16 is the full album, and 17 is a fanvid) and totally vote for it for the Hugo!

IT IS AWESOME. I mean, it's basically a Daveed Diggs tour-de-force showing him off in about twenty different ways (you know how fast he raps in "Guns and Ships" in Hamilton? I think he raps even faster here!), but also it's a space opera! and has all sorts of references to SF! and digs into questions about slavery and freedom and solitude and rhythm… It says something that the first thing I did after listening to it was… go back to the beginning and listen to it again.

From Sub Pop (clipping's label):

Splendor & Misery is an Afrofuturist, dystopian concept album that follows the sole survivor of a slave uprising on an interstellar cargo ship, and the onboard computer that falls in love with him. Thinking he is alone and lost in space, the character discovers music in the ship’s shuddering hull and chirping instrument panels. William and Jonathan’s tracks draw an imaginary sonic map of the ship’s decks, hallways, and quarters, while Daveed’s lyrics ride the rhythms produced by its engines and machinery. In a reversal of H.P. Lovecraft’s concept of cosmic insignificance, the character finds relief in learning that humanity is of no consequence to the vast, uncaring universe. It turns out, pulling the rug out from under anthropocentrism is only horrifying to those who thought they were the center of everything to begin with. Ultimately, the character decides to pilot his ship into the unknown—and possibly into oblivion—instead of continuing on to worlds whose systems of governance and economy have violently oppressed him.


It is elliptic and somewhat abstract and it's hard to piece together exactly what's going on (which may be a turnoff to some people, of course; for me it's kind of a draw). I have a couple of thoughts on this below.

Thoughts on the plot and specific tracks; spoilers, I guess )

I don't love it as much as Hamilton. Some of the reasons are my own proclivities: I really love the Broadway/hip-hop fusion of Hamilton and the way LMM plays with musical convention. The other thing is that there's a certain amount of emotional depth and range to Hamilton that is necessarily not present in S&M, given that there are only two characters, one of which is a computer. Diggs does a great job in infusing the computer with emotion over the course of the album (contrast "Baby Don't Sleep" with "The Breach") but it's still true that the range is basically [no-emotion anger], and that's pretty much it.

But! it is amazing and it totally, totally should get a Hugo.
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I have not forgotten I was going to post about Wicked, which I FINALLY saw in person (touring company) last time we went to see my sister C. (The year before we saw West Side Story, which was also fabulous, although the women were way better than the men and we didn't bother to spring for orchestra section.) We almost ended up not seeing it, because all of us had gotten deathly ill a couple of days before, but fortunately we had recovered enough by then that we were up to spending three hours out of the house without collapsing.

It was amazing. I'd "watched" it a while back, but it didn't compare at all to seeing it live. I think a lot of the spectacle needs the full canvas of a live theater, as well as the contrast between the extravagance of the stage and the darkness of the theater. The big group numbers were totally amazing visually in a way I hadn't appreciated before.

It helped that the Elphaba (Emily Koch) was quite excellent. I'm not sure she had the belting volume of some, but more importantly, she managed to emotionally sell us on all the twists and turns of Elphaba's character (some of which really honestly don't make a whole lot of sense). She played Elphaba as a bit of an awkward idealistic nerd, which a) really resonated with C. and me, ha; b) works really well as a way of differentiating her (not just by skin color) from the rest of the [school] cast, both in terms of showing her as divorced from them and in terms of emotionally explaining the continuing rift between her and them (and emotionally showing the consequences of the skin-color rift; it goes both ways); and c) is a good foundation for the emotional twists the character has to take. E.g., it makes sense that sometimes Elphaba's awkwardness and frustration with being awkward manifests as anger occasionally in the first act and more generally in the second act. And the idealism makes a lot more sense to me coupled with the awkward nerdiness; that sense of self-righteousness (sometimes justified, sometimes over-the-top) seems to be underscored by not ever fitting in socially-emotionally as well.

A lot of this, of course, is in the musical itself (I mean, Elphaba is supposed to be idealistic and angry, and the awkwardness is definitely strongly implied), but my previous Elphaba experiences, Katie Rose Clarke (the Elphaba I "watched") and Idina Menzel (clips of whom I've watched) both played Elphaba much more straight in terms of emotional character. Their versions of the character seemed to be much more normal and well-adjusted and hardly awkward at all early on, which made her forays into angry idealism later on make much less sense to me.

The Galinda was fine; she sang well (probably better than the Elphaba, actually), but she was not exceptional the way both C. and I thought the Elphaba was exceptional. Afterwards we went and watched a bunch of Menzel/Chenoweth Wicked Youtube videos, and we agreed that Chenoweth was exceptional (and Menzel was not).

Fiyero was also fine. I've seen some clips of rather wooden Fiyeros, and this one was pretty good. I hadn't realized how important dancing is for his character, and he was an excellent dancer.

The Wizard (Stuart Zagnit) was the surprising one; I'd always found his songs super boring (and they are), but the comic acting really sells those songs. I was impressed.

I had warned my sister beforehand that the plot is sort of… nonsensical. She turned to me after Act I and said, "It really seems to all be hanging together pretty well right now!" After Act II she said, "Well… you were right about the plot."
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Yup, I'm officially obsessed. The NPR streaming link is still up. It is also available to Amazon Prime members (free) and is on Spotify. It is possible to get a pdf of the official lyrics here.

Okay, now that I've had a chance to listen a second and third time, I… just want to talk about this ALL THE TIME. So! Things I Love About Hamilton:

There are a lot of things I love: cut for length of incoherent squee. And, I guess, mild spoilers for history. )

Ways in which Hamilton is currently annoying me:
-I have King George's da-da-da-da-da refrain in my head as an earworm now. And, I mean, Britpop as a genre is not really something I want to have in my head as an earworm.
-I have these meetings at work and I keep trying to force whatever anyone says into rap meter. BAH.

Also: Alexander Hamilton is TOTALLY the plebe immigrant good-looking Miles Vorkosigan. I mean, forward momentum was basically his life, can't you just see Miles doing basically every single thing Hamilton does, the fighting and the politics and the wrecking his life in his drive for forward momentum… Now I think Miles' voice will always be Miranda's voice in my head (although Miles looks nothing like Miranda, I guess). Also, now I kind of want someone to write Miles having the equivalent of the Reynolds scandal! (I guess Memory was… kind of… that, only with it transmuted to the mercenary army domain. And it turned out much better for Miles. It must be nice to have the author on your side :) )
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You guys, I've been listening to Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton cast recording basically nonstop today and it is AMAZING. I don't even understand how a hip-hop rap musical about Alexander Hamilton even got MADE, but it DID and I don't even known anything about either hip-hop or Hamilton and it is completely awesome and I have been tearing up a little over it (though maybe that is breastfeeding hormones), and I just went and reserved the Chernow biography from the library. (Miranda apparently read the Chernow biography on vacation and thought, wow, that would make a great hip-hop musical! AND THEN HE WROTE IT. How cool is that?!)

Link here, I suspect it's only good until Sept 25, when the recording becomes available. ETA: Link is still good. Also, Amazon Prime is streaming it free for Prime members.

I want to see this so badly!

ETA: CABINET DEBATES AS RAP BATTLES. GREATEST THING EVER.
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Things that have been happening at church(es):

-We walked into Lutheran church (late, as usual) and the handbells were playing "Hallelujah." That is, the Leonard Cohen song. ... What?! ...so apparently someone made up lyrics to it that were related to Jesus and crucifixion, that were printed in the bulletin, but... I just... what?? It was a really interesting arrangement, mind you. But... what?? I dunno, this just weirded me out. The Cohen Hallelujah is one of the most... secular (ETA: okay, fine, that's clearly not the right word)... songs I know, in the sense that it uses religious imagery to make its point about being areligious (unreligious?).... I don't like repurposing something so clearly counter to the point of its existing in the first place. (As opposed to repurposing tunes in general, which I would have to be a giant hypocrite to object to. Not that this has ever stopped me from objecting to things before! Okay, maybe it occasionally has.)

(I wonder who did the arrangement. I am betting that it was the church music guy. Because I also would think it was totally strange if they granted copyright permission to do this.)

-At LDS church: choir director, after rechecking and double rechecking that people were actually going to be around to sing in Sacrament meeting [service], realized right before church that he had another commitment and couldn't be around, and his wife subbed in for him at the last minute. I did not realize this (perhaps I should have), but her degree is in conducting. He is orders of magnitude better than our last conductor, but she is FABULOUS. I had not realized how much I missed singing under a REAL CONDUCTOR. I have resorted to CAPITAL LETTERS to show how much I enjoyed this.

(She's also gonna have to watch out. She's been flying under the radar -- if I didn't know how good she was, no one else did either, and now we all know :) )

-I got released from being chorister (after asking for same) after one month straight where E flipped out in Sacrament Meeting every week. (The flip-outs range from easily-contained-and-over-quickly to have-to-take-out-for-fifteen-minutes -- it could certainly be worse, but the thing is that they usually happen during the hymns! And I feel bad for having someone else deal with it.) I felt vaguely guilty, but less so when she had a fifteen-minute meltdown about five minutes after they announced my release.

-I may, however, pick up being unofficial choir pianist instead. Not quite sure what happened to the old one, but I've been doing it unofficially for, um, a month now. (The meltdowns don't usually happen during choir practice.)

-Taught a lesson on Why LDS Women Are Awesome, without anyone exploding, yay. I wasn't exactly expecting anyone to explode, but it's a bit of a minefield of a lesson. Why, for example, don't we get a lesson about Why LDS Men Are Awesome?
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4/5 - The Royal Opera version from 2013. I really wanted to see this one because, well, Keenlyside, and the conceit sounded interesting. Then I read a whole bunch of lukewarm reviews, so I delayed buying it sight unseen (which I might otherwise have done). Well, someone finally put it up on youtube (first part here) and now I am gonna have to buy it, because I thought it was completely fabulous (with one exception I will talk about). (No subtitles on this one either, sorry! I watched it with a browser tab open to the libretto in English.)

The conceit is that Keenlyside and Stoyanova are way too old to play the teenager versions of Onegin and Tatiana, so they have dancers that double as the younger selves (while Keenlyside and Stoyanova, of course, sing all the lines). It changes the whole thrust of the opera -- what is a fairly straightforward driving sequence of events in the original becomes instead a retrospective of regret. I think it would be a terrible first exposure to this opera (for which I'd absolutely recommend the Met version with Fleming and Hvorotovsky), but as a second one (which it was for me, or okay maybe the fourth or so) it's fabulous, it really brings out the themes of loss and regret from the very beginning; I find it a really interesting alternate interpretation.

Pavol Breslik as Lensky is very different from Ramon Vargas' Met Lensky (whom I also love), and I really love Breslik's way-too-sure-of-himself over-passionate bad-poet vibe, especially the parts where his aria to Olga is performed from a bit of paper where he's written it down, and where it turns out he's written the poem for Tatiana's birthday and mouths the poem while it's being sung, hee! I absolutely adore what Elena Maximova and the direction has done with Olga... I think the predominant interpretation (certainly the one the Met used) is that Olga is a shallow flirt, but here she gets depths -- certain lines in the libretto are brought out with the distinct implications that she's been a bit stampeded into this engagement by everyone's expectations, that she's not always comfortable with Lensky's suffocating attentions... I just fell in love with her character, after not liking her much in the Met version.

There are so many little interpretive bits that I loved. Stoyanova and her double (Vigdis Hentze Olsen) embracing in a rare moment of acknowledging each other as Stoyanova sings of how she is all alone. Keenlyside, when his declaration of love is met by Stoyanova showing him her past letter, recoiling in horror. LOVE IT. I also felt that the cinematography was excellent and really pointed up a lot of the interpretive choices that were being made.

I actually liked Breslik remaining on stage after the duel, as I felt it really underlined that the duel is at the heart of the opera -- although I can see why others thought it ham-handed. And it's true that I started worrying halfway through the last act that he must get really bored. Hopefully he could maybe take a nap or something?

I spent the entire time watching this squeeing quietly to myself about how much I loved it (except, okay, the Polonaise was a little... obvious?...I could have done without it), and then the ending happened and I started giggling, which was not the intention. I have problems with the ending in general, as I feel like Tchaikovsky really overdid the romanticism to begin with, but bringing in Prince Gremin to hear Onegin and Tatiana sing at top impassioned volume about their love for each other... just... didn't work. Especially the bit where Tatiana sees him but... keeps... singing, and at the same time Onegin doesn't apparently see him at all (which is somewhat OOC, for one thing). It just didn't work. I know why they did it -- to end with the tragic tableau of all three of them despairing -- and that was pretty cool actually -- but the leadup to it didn't work at all. It almost works if I pretend that Gremin is Tatiana's hallucination/construct, which in a production all about memory constructs and the past impinging on the present is less weird than it might seem at first glance. But yeah... the staging of the conclusion in the Met version was way better.

And, okay, Keenlyside and Stoyanova are brilliant singers and actors, but I must admit that I didn't get any chemistry between them at *all* (a lot of *emotion* between them, which was awesome, but no sexual chemistry). I mean, I could see that being part of the point...that anything that could have been between them was destroyed by what happened... but I think I was spoiled by the super chemistry between Fleming and Hvorotovsky in this regard. And I often find Keenlyside very *likeable*, as I did here, which isn't, uh, how I think I'm supposed to feel about Onegin. (It's something about his physical presence, I think. When I just listen to the audio, his Onegin is superb. But... I didn't get that vibe from his Don Giovanni. So in conclusion: I just don't know.)

Also now I'm annoyed because I can't find either my Met DVD or either of my copies of the Pushkin. It's like someone who was completely obsessed with Eugene Onegin carried them off somewhere to keep them secret and safe! Unfortunately... there's only one person in my house who fills that description...
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This Holy Week was less taxing time-wise than previous Holy Weeks I've done with the Catholic church I sing at. Due to the current admin of the church, we didn't sing Maundy Thursday or Good Friday, although we had rehearsal Thursday night anyway. And they've made the Holy Saturday service rather shorter than it was the first year I sang with these guys (2 1/4 hrs instead of 3).

But the choir is much weaker than it was when I started with them several years ago, and the soprano-soloist DK was absent for Holy Saturday, the combination of which meant that I felt much more anxious about the whole thing than I did the other years I've done this, even though there was less music and more practice time. I did get to sing all the first soprano descants solo because DK wasn't there, which I enjoyed, except for the one song where the second sopranos failed utterly and I couldn't help them because I was singing the descant solo. (The nascent choir-director soul in me goes into conniptions when something goes wrong and I cannot help.)

Today not only DK was there, but Director's son came and sang tenor YAY. I cannot EXPRESS, except through CAPITAL LETTERS, how much better it was to have ACTUAL TENOR lines. Augh. And we had an "orchestra" of two violins, a cello, timpani, and two trumpets, and it was marvelous. (I should also remark here that DK wasn't present at rehearsal two weeks ago with the instruments, so I got to sing the big solo Benedictus with the strings in rehearsal (though she did it today), and it was THE MOST AWESOME THING EVER.) And DK and Director's son and Director and I sang a quartet, and the choir sang a Haydn mass. And we got to sit in the choir loft so we could actually hear one another sing! And we sang Cherubini and the Hallelujah Chorus and it was all actually really fun when I wasn't being anxious something would go horribly wrong because the choir was so weak. (Nothing did, today. It turns out that DK and Director's Son and Director and I together make a pretty good foundation for the rest of the choir.)

Also, I still totally love the Catholic church's pomp and theater of Holy Week. We don't do anything like this in my church (Easter is the only bit that we even acknowledge), which may be why I think it's so neat.

Alleluia!
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I am still alive, I promise! And the work crunch time is even over, but somehow my life still seems absurdly busy. I don't even know how all the other parents I know do this with multiple kids, I'm having enough trouble with one. (I have the bad feeling that it isn't actually possible: something gives.)

-invisible-ficathon has opened, so I keep trying to read things and comment, though erratically and randomly.

-Both church music programs I am doing are in times of flux, both of which are mostly vast improvements (K, this all happened pretty much right after I complained to you how much I was disliking both of them). My church got a new choir director who is one of two professional singers in the ward (the other is his wife), and we are doing Stainer's "God So Loved the World," which is... a piece that I actually enjoy, which is a huge change. I have been released from my calling as Music Coordinator (translation: do not have to deal with Christmas program drama directly anymore HOORAY). (I am now a Relief Society teacher, which I really enjoy, and may start posting about my lessons if anyone is interested. So far it's been The Plan of Salvation and Faith and Repentance.) Other church is undergoing reorganization in the fall and we may get to do polyphony again and sit in the choir loft, both of which would make me much happier.

-We are thinking about changing E's preschool for next year. I actually like many, many things about her current school, but even they agree that it might be just a little too out of her comfort zone and that she might like something a little more structured and academic. (Which is part of why I picked that preschool -- that it would be good for her to be exposed to a less structured, less academic preschool -- but oh well.)

-Her nanny/babysitter has gotten really sick really quickly; it is in fact quite frightening how quickly it all happened. One day she seemed totally fine, the next day she was assuredly not fine, and a couple of days later she was in the hospital. She is with her family, so that's good. I have no idea what the prognosis is like, but it sometimes sounds pretty bad. I just don't even know.

-To be selfish about the whole thing, I now have to figure out how to take care of E two more days a week. Fortunately her current preschool has been really accomodating (one of the things I really like about them).

-Apparently these days I'm dealing with stress by making a lot of chainmaille instead of doing the stuff I'm supposed to be doing.

-I'm reading Hild, which I love love love. More on that later, probably.
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...and I missed one by a day! Sorry [personal profile] ollipop! Anyway, the question was: my very first music teacher.

As usual, this will be meandering and only tangentially related to the question you actually asked :) This one seems to have turned into "things my parents did right." :)

My aunt, who was a music teacher (and whose four daughters all played a musical instrument, all quite well), gave me a violin for my third birthday. I started going to Suzuki lessons with Mrs. B not long after. I don't remember anything of those early lessons. It was quite frustrating for my mom, according to her. (And now that I have my own kid whom I am subjecting to the same thing, I see what she means, although there are certain circumstances in my case which make it a little less frustrating for me.)

Mrs. B and Mrs. R, whose house was filled with books. )
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[personal profile] skygiants asked me to talk about some music I enjoyed.

That... could be answered in many different ways. I considered talking about West Side Story, which I just saw two weeks ago with my sister and absolutely adored, or the Opera in English recordings which I keep mentioning but have never actually written up properly, or Frank Wildhorn (which skygiants has already written up better than I could ever do), or Loreena McKennitt (which I don't really have much to say about except that I love all her stuff). But I will talk about the three pieces of choral music I sang in my college choir that I love the most.

Bruckner, Barber, and Brahms. )
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So it turns out that the easiest way of motivating myself to do household chores / cleaning up, which I pretty much loathe, is to put on music really loudly in the background. And then [personal profile] scaramouche told me that they had not cut Max and the Baroness's song in the recent NBC production of the Sound of Music Live! and then J, when informed of the same, sent me a clip. I blame you both!

Because it turns out that I have FEELINGS about this production. They are both good and bad feelings, but mostly it just turns out that I love the Sound of Music very very much and that I would be willing to watch it and love it even if they cast Carrie Underwood as Maria. ...wait. Anyway, I loved it a lot. Because SOUND OF MUSIC. (hrrrrmph. It appears not to be available on NBC anymore, so I cannot link you.)

Cut for flailing about about everything. Short version: like everyone else, I loved the Abbess and Max and the Baroness. Unlike everyone else, I loved Captain von Trapp. Like everyone else, I didn't think Underwood was very good. )
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I may have gone a little overboard in listening/watching different versions. Note that these are very personal opinions… all you have to do is go on amazon to find people who strenuously disagree with me :)

Note that I do not know German, so cannot remark on that, and I mostly don't pay attention to the dialogue in recordings that contain it. I also have not generally talked about Papageno and not much about Pamina, for the simple reason that pretty much every recording I listened to had awesome singers for both.

First, I want to talk a little about the video recording I liked best, which is available on Youtube here with English subtitles. (I do not yet own this, but in the next Amazon run will buy it.)

BBC (2003): 4/5. Very solid singing and acting in this one. SIMON KEENLYSIDE, as usual, steals the show as Papageno. Dorothea Röschmann is a really great Pamina, very sweet, a very lovely singer, who is very believable in her whole arc; I really like her interpretation. Her acting during and after the Queen's big aria makes my heart break for her. I like Will Hartman very much; I think he believably acts his despair at having to repudiate Pamina, although his voice acting is not nearly as good as Röschmann's. Diana Damrau is a great Queen of the Night, her singing very natural and lovely while still nailing all the notes, although I sort of thought her costuming was a bit over-the-top (it reminded me of the Galadriel scene in the movie version of LOTR).

I liked the direction very much. And an interpretation I haven't seen in the other versions I watched: in the trial scenes where Tamino has to repudiate Pamina, it's awful for him. Really awful. To the extent that when the chorus comes in with a cheering aria after that, it's played more like a dirge, with him on his knees in despair. And when he then tells her to step back ("Zurück!"), it's a cry of despair, like his heart is being torn in two. Which, as far as I'm concerned, it should feel like for him. (In my fic/interpretation, I took this a little farther, where Tamino realizes he should not have repudiated her. I think this production definitely had this as a conscious subtext, though they didn't quite take the last step into making it more explicit.)

As far as I am concerned, this is the video Zauberflöte to get. Of the ones I've seen, I think this is my favorite so far. I don't own it yet, but I will in my next amazon order. The subtitles are not very accurate, as far as I can tell.

Now more than you ever wanted to know about the audio recordings. These are all available on Spotify (which is how I listened to them). Solti, Gardiner, Mackerras (Sung in English), Ostman, Abbado, Bohm, Klemperer )
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So AUGH finally it is yuletide reveals and I can Talk about The Magic Flute! (A more conventional reveal post, complete with my Flute backstory headcanon, is here, including treats in Dark is Rising, Wicked, and Mary Russell.) This Yuletide I went from liking this opera very much to being obsessed and utterly in love with this opera. I really think some of this is the most sublime stuff Mozart ever wrote (yes, okay, there's Figaro and the Exultate (the Tu coronis virgine AGH) and the Requiem,… fine, I'm being a little hyperbolic), some of the most meaningful. If I ever learn German, it well may be because of this opera, the same way that the Divine Comedy and Figaro, between them, got me to learn the small smattering of Italian that I know.

It's hard for me to know what to say about this opera to explain why I love it so. It's a very odd opera, really. It's a fairy tale, with a Prince and a Princess (or at least the daughter of a Queen), but one that doesn't really use, or subverts, fairy tale tropes: it starts out with a prince who flees from a dragon and faints, and a trio of women who kill the dragon, and it just goes on from there. It's highly symbolic and almost dreamy, but includes a bird-man who is very cheerfully down-to-earth. It turns into a Masonic initiation rite halfway through, but with the addition of a moving arc for the main female character that is combined with the initiation rite (a little more on that later). It defies categorization, even in the genres one thinks it is in, and that's part of what I love so much about it.

What I really love about it, I think, is that it's about the power of love, and mastering oneself, and the power of music. The music really is sublime, with new layers every time I listen to it. There were parts I listened to twenty times in a week, and I loved them more after the twentieth time than after the first. There were parts I had as earworms for days on end, and I didn't mind because they were such wonderful parts to have in my head. Mozart knew, I think. He knew that human beings were capable of great darkness, and he also knew they were capable of amazing love and forgiveness and redemption. It's all there in the music.

It is healing music. It is what I needed, to spend a month immersed in this opera. It was a Yuletide gift for me, to get this assignment.

(I could tell you about driving a rental car on the other side of the country with Pamina's voice ringing out: "Die Wahrheit! Sey sie auch Verbrechen!" Or the uncountable times I paused because I had to hear the end of the track that was playing and couldn't finish whatever I was doing until the track finished. Or the time I almost lost it hearing a particularly beautiful rendition of the random part "Drey Knäbchen, jung, schön, hold und weise…" Or the terrible church service at in-laws' church during which I kept myself from sobbing uncontrollably by forcing as much as I could remember of the "Hm! Hm! Hm! Hm!" quintet through my head…)

Random notes:

-The opera is full of terrible lines like "Without [a man] all women tend to step outside their own sphere of activity." And then I read the booklet to the Solti recording I own (more on that in a separate post, much more than you ever wanted), which pointed out that it's also a highly Masonic opera (I mean, I knew that too, I just wasn't paying attention to it), and so it's actually kind of cool that in this Masonic (read: totally male) context that Pamina gets to be in the climax of the opera and is admitted as an initiate. And very in keeping with the Da Ponte operas, the climaxes of which are about reconciliation and forgiveness, especially between the sexes. OH MOZART YOU SUBVERSIVE. I went from being mildly annoyed by the sexism to just utterly adoring Mozart. (Well, that, and it's really hard to hear "Tamino/Pamina mein, O welch ein Glück!" and have any annoyance at all.)

-I guess maybe it's because the first recordings I listened to made it clear that Sarastro and Pamina's father were two different people, but I never had that sense at all, and it was shocking to me that this is a common interpretation.

-I feel very strongly that there is a reason the Pamina-Tamino-Sarastro trio (Soll ich dich, Theurer! nicht mehr seh'n?) starts with Pamina against the combined Tamino-Sarastro and ends with Pamina/Tamino singing together against Sarastro. I am just saying!

-D (who is not particularly into opera, although I occasionally drag him to something he HAS to see) likes to refer to this opera as "that one where no one could be bothered to think up different names for the characters." I have to say that I have typed "Pamino" and "Tamina" a lot this month...

(Edited 1-2-14 to add in missing umlauts, thank you thistleingrey!)
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Okay, I have something to confess, which is that I enjoy talking about music drama. Because it is dramatic! (And because my life doesn't have that much of interpersonal drama otherwise, so I have to import it. Which I am perfectly fine with! I am not into interpersonal drama!)

But I am afraid that I'm leaving you guys with a terribly inaccurate portrayal of my ward, which basically had maybe three people generating all the drama, and honestly all three of those people are also really super nice as well, just with slightly different ideas. So let me tell you about all the nice things/people that happened to me this week alone, in planning this fireside:

1. The friend that I complained to about not having enough musical numbers for the fireside, who despite being super busy with family and work (he's a caterer, so this is his busy season) and family visiting, organized a quartet with another family by ONE HOUR LATER and all four of them have learned a completely new song for it

2. The woman who was at the root of much of the drama last year came to me and said that she wanted things to be good between us and that she was trying to work on not wanting to be in control of everything, and my gosh, this kind of thing never happens except in movies, you really have to be a big person to back out of a situation like that, I hope that I can be that gracious when I'm the one who needs to back out

3. The pianist with three kids, one of whom has ASD, who has cheerfully accepted everything I have piled on her (and I have piled a LOT on her)

4. The corporate chief administrative officer who has also cheerfully accepted all the piano assignments I have thrown at him, and I am pretty sure took off work for at least one rehearsal

5. The mom who is visiting our ward for only six months but nevertheless has cheerfully volunteered for everything, including running the Christmas party (a separate event in which I was not involved that happened last week, but let me assure you it was a LOT of work) and learning a random new song for the fireside, all this while having two kids under the age of 5 and being hugely pregnant with a third

6. The corporate CEO who when I asked him to perform at the fireside last week immediately was jazzed about singing a song with his kids

7. The mom who has four kids, the youngest being 1, and has a sister visiting, and who immediately accepted planning a trio and who also took dinner to the family that just had twins last night

8. The grandmother with the gorgeous voice whom I saw at rehearsal at 8:45pm one evening for one fireside number and whom I saw again the next morning at another rehearsal, for a different song, at 9am

9. The other people -- I have not talked about everyone in this post by a long shot -- who have been nothing but helpful and enthusiastic and interested and willing to pour their time and energy into making this thing happen

10. And, I mean, this is just one event I'm involved in, you know? There was also the Christmas party I referred to earlier, and the women's party, and the church service tomorrow, and all the other things that happen during the year, and all the music things, for that matter, and all the other families that need dinner taken to them or help with moving or emotional support or what have you. And there are always people willing to help, indeed, enthusiastic about helping. They humble me every time I think about them.

MY WARD, you guys. THEY ARE THE BEST.
cahn: (Default)
Number of Christmas music events for my church done so far: 1
Number of Christmas music events for my church yet to do: 3
Number of songs I am supposed to be performing in, not counting choir: 6
Number of these I might be able to get out of: 2
Probability I might be able to get out of them: 20%

Number of songs the Bishop told us he wanted at the Christmas service: 2
Number of songs we had planned on doing: 6
Number of times the choir director told me about her unrighteous desires to throttle him: 3
Number of extremely diplomatic emails I had to write: 2
Number of songs the Bishop's counselor insisted upon when he heard about what was going on: 5 (so, yay)
Number of times I have replanned the stupid special musical number because of being unsure as to how many songs we were doing: 4

Number of songs we have for the Christmas evening event ("fireside"): 9
Number I would like: 10-12
Probability of ending up with either too many or too few songs: 70%
Number of songs we had before G. realized that I was in charge, not Other Dramatic Person: 6

Tempo of "O Come All Ye Faithful": 88-104
Tempo we actually sang it at last Sunday: 60
Number of people who have expressed general concern to me over the organist's tempo lately: >10

Number of Yuletide fics I had time to write: <~ 1
Number of Yuletide fics I have actually written: 2
Number of additional prompts I keep looking at longingly: >5
Frequency at which I have to tell myself NO: ~2x/day
Number of additional fragments I have ANYWAY: 2
Probability these will actually turn into fics: 50% for one, 10% for the other
Probability Yuletide writing may be how I deal with stress: 80%

Number of non-music, non-Yuletide, non-work related Christmas-ish tasks I have on my to-do list right now: 7
Rate at which tasks are added to this list: 3/day
Rate at which tasks get taken off this list: ~1.5/day
cahn: (Default)
Ahahahaha. So last year at my church there was Drama concerning the evening Christmas music, which happily was eventually resolved without my whole church hating me, yay.

This year, the factions concerning the evening Christmas program have decided not to make a fuss, which I was extremely happy about because it would make my life SO MUCH EASIER, you guys, which yay, because I have about five times more work at my job than I did last year at this time and I simply do not have TIME to babysit this year.

When will I learn? So, of course, yesterday the choir director and I received word that at the morning Christmas service, the choir has been asked to do only two songs. We usually do at least four, and the choir has been working on them for a month already, and I'd even scheduled in a couple more special musical numbers because we were worried four wasn't enough. Apparently there will be a half hour of speakers instead. The choir director is beside herself. I got to write a lot of emails yesterday saying various soothing and/or hopefully extremely diplomatic things to people. At least this is going to be resolved in the next week or so, so is unlikely to take up as much of my time as the stuff last year.

(I... have never ever been to a Christmas service, at any of the three denominations or countless different wards/congregations I have attended, that was not majority music. I must say that I think limiting the music like this is not a good idea. Even allowing for my strong pro-music bias.)
cahn: (Default)
The Pushkin verse-novel (4/5), the Tchaikovsky opera (4/5), the Met production of the opera (5/5), the Baden-Baden (1998) production of the opera (4/5)

My first introduction to Onegin was in college. One of my home teachers at the time (LDS term for "assigned male go-to/friend" — all active adult LDS are assigned as a "home teacher" (men) or "visiting teacher" (women) to others in the ward, and it is an AWESOME program which means you are guaranteed at least one or two instant friends, but this is not the post for it) was a dancer in a very highly-regarded ballet company, and he happened to mention that they were doing an absolutely amazing production of Onegin and that I should go see it. K was out of the country at the time, and I think I hadn't yet gotten to be friends with J, so I dragged my roommate.

She enjoyed it, but I was overwhelmed. It was the first professional ballet performance I'd ever been to, and it was wonderful. I don't remember anything specific about it now, but I remember that overwhelming thought of oh, oh, THIS is what dance is about, this is why people love it! I then went straight to K's bookshelf (which I was keeping at the time) and read her copy of Pushkin straight through. …I was underwhelmed, but it was nice enough, I guess.

Then I forgot all about it.

So, more than fifteen years later, I was browsing Simon Keenlyside clips on YouTube, as I do, and happened to notice he was in a production of Tchaikovsky's Onegin.

(It has not escaped me that I am sort of following the romantic line of the story. I tried a little to see if I could fit a duel in, but none of my friends are the dueling sort… And of course what with YouTube and Amazon and such, having an obsession is much friendlier now than it was back in the 90's.)

Cut for length. )

(I think this is the last of my August-ish queued posts. (Way behind on life; have I mentioned that?) This one I was saving because I was going to buy and watch the Keenlyside version first, but it's become clear that this is not happening for a very long time.)
cahn: (Default)
So as one does, I was listening to the recent Force Over Distance chapters, and got to the discussion here about the use of pitch arcs in speaking to designate a certain kind of seductive fascination, particularly in male characters. Think Robert Carlyle as Mr. Gold in OUAT... or Claudia Black in anything ...or Michael Crawford, in basically anything but in particular POTO. (Though the fact that he kind of tries to do it in everything -- I seriously think he doesn't know how to turn it off-- means that I can't listen to him try to do non-threatening characters. Like Jean Valjean *shudder*)

And then there's the Canadian recording of Phantom.

So on [personal profile] zopyrus's recommendation, I listened to the Canadian recording of POTO on Spotify, and despite my saying up and down that I wouldn't like any other recording because I imprinted on the London recording at a young age, I liked it a lot. I wasn't particularly taken by Canadian!Raoul (sorry, Steve Barton really did imprint me), but Rebecca Caine as Christine was lovely, and then the Phantom -- well, so, I listened not knowing who the Phantom was at first (thanks Spotify!), which was great, because now that I know it's a little creepy -- but anyway, it is a very, very different interpretation than Crawford's. Canadian!Phantom has a sort of disjointed, flat way of speaking/singing that brings forth a character who isn't used to socializing, isn't used to normal human discourse, writes self-insert Don Juan operas, is desperately in love with a girl way out of his league: is really a bit pathetic.

I sort of adore this interpretation. "Past the Point of No Return", for instance, is quite frankly incredibly fascinating to me for how different it is from Crawford's interpretation. Crawford, to me, is all about sweeping Christine off her feet, in an incredibly creepy and emotionally controlling way. Canadian!Phantom is -- well, yeah, he's still incredibly creepy and emotionally controlling, but in a much sadder and pathetic way, and in "No Return" I feel like it comes across much more as a "Hey, I finally get to star as Don Juan... and it's actually a little nervewracking."

But now it's very clear to me why a whole generation of fangirls has woobified the Phantom. Because Crawford's interpretation is very sexy, very darkly fascinating... And it's also wildly interesting to me that Crawford essentially does this by very controlled use of the way he varies both his pitch and his nasality in speech and singing; and Canadian!Phantom is able to achieve a very different effect by flattening that out quite a lot.

age meme

Apr. 24th, 2013 12:28 pm
cahn: (Default)
Age meme from [personal profile] thistleingrey. Comment if you would like an age.

When I was 16:

I lived in: Mostly, in something that used to be a hospital but was/is now the dormitory for a boarding magnet school that takes grades 11-12. (I was in grade 12 at the time as a result of a grade skip and a summer birthday.) On our monthly-ish visits home, I lived in a large house my parents had recently moved into. Oh, when I turned sixteen I was living with my grandparents for the summer because I had a job in the area. My step-grandmother didn’t poison me, and I think we both counted that as a win. (I’ve never inquired as to why they agreed to it in the first place; probably pressure from my step-aunt and husband, who got me the job and whom my grandparents actually liked.)

I drove: At school, we weren’t allowed to have cars, so nothing. When I went home, my mom forced me to drive; I think it was my cousin’s Camry that he used while he was at school in the States and which he bequeathed to my family when he went back home.

I was in a relationship with: Not, of course, including my family, the most important and intensive relationship I had at 16 was with K -- I’m sure I spent more time with her than with my family (though given the boarding nature of our school, and the inclusiveness of our group of friends, I suppose I spent a lot more time with a lot more people than with my family).

…oh, what, you mean romantic relationships? I had a short and ill-fated relationship with another boy at school; we seem to have mostly been attracted to each other because we were both smart, without any consideration of whether, y’know, our personalities meshed at all. I realized this well before he did (although he figured it out eventually; unfortunately, not before we broke up). Oh, and I was still 16, in fact, when I started my second real relationship with a boy that summer (we were both at a summer program -- in fact, also with the ex mentioned before, heh; it wasn’t awkward, though, because at the time he was dating another friend of mine). This was the first time I actually fell in love, which turned out to be two years of long-distance adolescent angst culminating in an unpleasant ending. (Oh, hey. Googling shows that both of them became professors in our shared discipline. Neat!)

I feared: I don’t remember particularly then. Probably cancer, or something happening to my family. I spent a lot of time worrying about stuff like that. I also worried about grades, depending on the class. I think I worried curiously little about college. I worried about looking stupid.

I worked at: School. College applications. Violin.

I wanted to be: I have written proof that on my college applications I said I wanted to be a doctor. I probably would have said, if I knew my parents weren’t around, that I wanted to be a professor.

Now:

I live in: A house, both smaller and costlier than my parents’, alas.

I drive: An Accord, usually.

I’m in a relationship: with D, for, eek, thirteen years, seven of them married. Though I suppose given that I used the time metric earlier: I spend far more time with E, our adorable three-year-old.

I fear: Something terrible happening to my family, particularly health-wise. I fear what might be a hidden strain of genetics in our family breaking through to my family or my sister’s family. I still fear looking stupid.

I work at: a lot of things, so that I probably don’t give any of them justice, because my attention span is approximately five minutes. In my day job, technical analysis, project management, and proposal writing, mostly. Parenting, some parts of which I am naturally good at and some of which I am naturally terrible at. Music stuff for church, which some weeks takes very little (non-church) time, some weeks takes more time, and occasional weeks has been known to consume all my time. Catholic choir section leading. I have one violin student, the son of friends, although he’s starting to get good enough that I’m worried he should really have a better teacher — I’ll probably talk to his parents about it soon. On the other hand, I’m much cheaper than anyone his parents could find otherwise (since I’m a friend, inexperienced in teaching, and bring E to play with their other kids), so. Writing, with extremely slow improvement and sometimes backtracking.

I want to be: oh, a lot of things. A hard worker. (Working on that one; some weeksmonths are better than others.) A better critical thinker, especially in terms of science. Better at ordinary socialization. To borrow from thistleingrey: I’d like to be more gracious. Also, I’d like to be a choir conductor. (I will be shocked if I’m not called to it at my church sometime in my life, probably when E is a little older.)

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