Thursday, July 23, 2009

Susan Graham = <3

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of my favorite mezzos. Her individuality, infectious personality, and incredible singing have inspired me and many others.

In tribute, I offer "Parto, parto" from La Clemenza di Tito, one of my favorite Susan Graham moments.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sadly, This is All True

You know you're a nerd when... and your friends/family play "guess that conductor" instead of charades. look at a shampoo bottle and say, "Hey! There's a comma missing!" look at the daily Google picture and you know what it's commemorating before you scroll over it. fall asleep with textbooks in your bed and you don't notice until halfway through the next day. quote Captain Kirk in real life and your brother laughs because he knows exactly what you're referring to AND he knows the name of the episode is that the quote is from. think of every purchase in terms of how many songs on ITunes that would be. know a random date that your teacher/professor asked for but didn't expect anyone to actually know and you can't remember how/why you know it. play charades and the choices are: movie, book, tv show, play, and opera. know the Dewey Decimal number of a specific subject. talk about famous people by their first names and everyone knows who you're talking about. can answer the questions on Jeopardy that the contestants don't know. know who Petra is and what their greatest hits were. have drawn out conversations about the meaning of Time and whether it actually exists or not. don't notice that you're randomly adding phrases in foreign languages into your everyday speech. have 43 books checked out and think nothing of it. squee over a New York Philharmonic concert (and think that the first-chair cellist is cute).'re 10 years old and your role models are Nancy Drew and an android named Data (Star Trek TNG). can read three different alphabets. know the date of every Mozart opera premiere but you can't successfully drive two miles without getting lost (in your home town where you've lived for over 10 years). correct a teacher's/professor's grammatical mistakes when you copy down their notes.'re 12 years old and you want to be an astronomical geologist when you grow up. visit three different libraries in the same day and think that it's normal. use opera singers' names in the place of profanities.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

When You Live With Me

My sister was allowed to get a Facebook account. So what's the first thing she writes as her status?

I guess that's what happens when you live with me.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Beautiful Day in NYC

NYC with Heather July 8 2009 015

My sister Heather and I had a fun little excursion into the City. We went in to see the doctor (I'm fit as a fiddle!) but we made a whole day of it. We didn't do anything of consequence, but that was the best part of all. We just walked and shopped and hung out in Central Park. I staged an impromptu photo-shoot of my lovely teenage sister. You can find the rest of the pictures here.

NYC with Heather July 8 2009 005

I love Columbus Circle -- it is so gorgeous! I love the fountains and the statues. One of my all-time favorite statues (the young boy with his arms out as though he's about to take flight) is in that square.

NYC with Heather July 8 2009 034

This is Heather's version of The Lion King.

NYC with Heather July 8 2009 030

Here's to a great day in NYC. If only there had been an opera playing...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Vittoria Tesi, a famous singer in the 18th century, refused to play pants roles because it was "harmful to her health." What does that even mean?

Maria Cere was considered so ugly that she was never allowed to take female roles. Therefore, she "specialized" in pants roles. What a compliment.

Metastasio's libretto "Achille in Sciro" tells the story of Achilles who's dressed as a woman until the end of the night where he throws off his trappings and reveals his true gender. However, the part of Achilles was played by a woman at the premiere. Strange, much?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

New York Phil: Russian Fest!

Bramwell Tovey led a smashing concert last night with the NY Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall. It was an all-Russian program: Tchaikovsky's Polonaise from Eugene Onegin and his Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for Piano and Orchestra, and three pieces from Khachaturian's Gayane (including the Sabre Dance!).

Tovey led the orchestra with his usual deftness. I love watching his left hand; he was always doing something or other. Oftentimes, I thought he was painting a picture up there. He was a brilliant standup comic. He had the audience laughing between every piece. My favorite line of the night was as he was introducing the Romeo and Juliet. He was quickly telling the story and he said,

"And then Romeo did what many of us dream of doing: he killed one of his wife's relations in a bloody sword duel."

He attempted to tell the ending of the story without using the words "poison" or "dagger" or "suicide" so he said,

"And they [Romeo and Juliet] were both lying there on the slab and...well, it's all rather gory."

He was fantastic.

The orchestra, of course, sounded simply exquisite. It was all music that even an uneducated musician would know at one point or another. The Polonaise was sufficiently bouncy and exciting-- a perfect opener. I was shocked by the perfection of the balance between the sections. And the celli-- they rocked the house on this one.

The Rachmaninoff came next with Vladimir Feltsman on piano. He had such a unique touch on the piano; it was much springier than most renditions of Rachmaninoff. I really enjoyed it. Feltsman was absolutely outstanding. He was just sitting there, having a gay old time like he was hanging laundry instead of playing an infinitely difficult piano piece. He did all 25 minutes of music from memory (of course!) and he didn't miss a thing. The Variation XVIII was absolutely otherworldly. I thought I would float away, it was so beautiful. I could listen to that forever.

The Khachaturian was great. The second movement, the lullaby, was gorgeous. I'd never heard that part of Gayane before. They played the Sabre Dance at the perfect tempo. I thoroughly enjoyed this selection.

The Romeo and Juliet is beyond words. That piece is amazing to begin with (it's definitely in my top ten all-time favorite symphonic works) and to hear it played live was just amazing. I keep using the word "amazing" because I'm not sure there's another word to describe it. The music swept me away and the story of Romeo and Juliet became something more than it had ever been before. I heard things last night that I'd never heard before, even though I've listened to that piece a hundred times. The opening was so pious; I could almost see the church. The sword duel was exciting and the love theme swept through the room with a passion that can only be born from live music. I heard Romeo's heartbeat ebb away. It was all truly fantastic--beyond words.

I love Tchaikovsky.