21 June 2005


(back in a few)

Anchor up; red buoys on the left side; ice in the cooler; Chesapeake is a purple meadow of water; my shoulders touch the brown surface; why not here.

14 June 2005

Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta (ahem)

adventures in opera dating

Can someone help this Craigslisting Brooklynite out? He needs a date for the Samson et Dalila at sultry Prospect Park. Sieglinde thought the boy's ad was fine ... till he pulls out the old "Russian dramatic mezzo at the Met" card, which we all know screams "shut-in," "please, I wanna have your baby," or "stalker fan of Denyce Graves." But anyway, let's be real for a second, and look at your situation: (1) the species populating the the Met Grand Tier Promenade at intermission isn't really a promising gene pool, (2) queen can't live by bread and Renée alone, (3) each CD you buy is an hour closer to utter isolation, (4) thighmaster José Cura doesn't come to New York that often (but acknowledging that his videos are such gifts that keep on giving). So creampuff, clock's ticking, can't be too picky these days, girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, so there.

10 June 2005

Violetta's Grandmother

Luisa Miller

Jens F. Laurson at ionarts, in a review of a recent Luisa Miller performance at Washington Concert Opera notes: "The opera itself divides opera lovers. Verdi fans will certainly appreciate most of it (and there are glorious moments in it), but the seams of this cobbled-together opera are very noticeable. The drama isn't all too compelling, and there might, after all, be a reason why it is not terribly often performed. If the singing is as good as it was at the Washington Concert Opera, it might be compelling... if the singing were any less than that, I suspect all but the most ardent Verdinites in the audience would be terribly bored by and throughout the third act." The boredom may come at this point only because it takes so long to get to the third act. To me (admittedly a Verdinite-in-training), the music in the third act is reason enough to hang around. The lyric Luisa is the proto-Violetta, the dramatic push around her in Act III anticipating many of the jewels of La Traviata (in particular, the towering Violetta-Germont scene of Act II, and then some of Violetta's slow fade in Act III). I feel Luisa Miller suffers only from a lack of a master's edit, the kind eminent in the Traviata score. But the Verdian tears, hints of the quietness of "Dite alla giovine" and ghosts of "Parigi o cara" are already there (in the Miller-Luisa and Rodolfo-Luisa scenes respectively), brooding, tugging the same old heartstrings.

EDIT [5:01pm]: I didn't mean to be rude and highlight things in what is otherwise a fine, agreeable JFL review of the D.C. Luisa Miller. His post took me to my CD shelves in search of my many Luisas, dusty but patient ladies-in-waiting to my prima Violettas. I devote my Friday afternoon and evening to this neglected Verdi, ever the wanna-be member of the formidable Rigoletto-Trovatore-Traviata trio. Currently playing, Renata Scotto as Luisa (Met, 1979).

09 June 2005

Booing Etiquette

(Now, that's opera!)

Will Joe Volpe's last season as Met general manager and high emperor end with some gala curtain call fracas? (You bet Sieglinde's getting front row seats for this one.) From across the ocean, there's new development regarding the controversy over at the fiery cauldron of the English National Opera. Apparently, disgruntled house employees are enough to cause a major scene at curtain calls to shame an outgoing leader. The perp has now apologized. Well, Sieglinde's not saying she knows of similarly disgruntled rank-and-files at the Met, but let's just say that even John Paul II (soon to be Saint) had his boo'ers from within his own cult clergy. And we're not even speaking about private citizens with opinions. It shall be a wild gala (worthy of smuggling camcorders in, I tell you).

Opera boss boos colleague on stage [AP]
ENO chief follows up boos with apology [Guardian]

In other ENO news, guess what David Pountney, ENO elder, is referring to in this quote: "_____ (is/are) a celluloid condom inserted between the audience and the immediate gratification of understanding." (The English are so proper!) Is it:
(a) Mr. & Mrs. Smith (starring Savior of Africa Brad Pitt)
(b) The Fellowship of the Sith at Azkaban
(c) Trojan's new celluloid condoms (ultra-sensitive, now comes in petite-- a hit in London, apparently)
(d) Renée Fleming's new CD Haunted Heart (a.k.a. "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better")
(e) Deep Throat, the Sequel (starring Sieglinde Lovelace)

Get answer here. (And learn about bomb threats from director Graham Vick, known worldwide as premier expert on bombs.)

08 June 2005

That J.Lo Glow

Diva Case File #2

Which of these statements isn't a bonafide La Diva Renée Fleming utterance?

(a) Sleeping is a talent of mine. For the most part, it takes me less than a minute to fall asleep.
(b) I have my hair cut by Vartan Vartali and coloured by Michael Stinchcomb, who's a fan and travels all round the world looking after me. And twice a year I go clothes-shopping.
(c) I love cookbooks but I don't ever cook.
(d) Living close to Central Park is the best reason for owning a dog.
(e) I adore skin-care products and make-up but I'm very unfaithful. I'm a woman with a short attention span who needs constant stimulation.
(f) Opera singers tend to have a certain body type — it comes with the voice. So I don't eat carbohydrates or sugar. Lunch is salad or soup, my current craze.
(g) I live in a pre-war building with thick walls. So far, the neighbours haven't complained.

Find out the plain truth about diva skincare, food, and domestic life here: A Life in the Day, interview with Sue Fox, The Times.

07 June 2005

Revenge of the Sequels

Crossover narratives

Padme gives birth to twins, who eventually save the (far far away) world; Sieglinde and Siegmund are twins, who give birth to Siegfried, who almost saves the world (of the gods); Frodo's "twin" is Sam, while Harry Potter's "twin" is Hermione Granger, who's also his hetero-love interest; Arwen and Aragorn save the world and marry; Brünnhilde and Siegfried, engaged to be married, marry the Gibichung siblings instead; (will Harry marry Hermione?); Padme dies in childbirth, as does Sieglinde; Siegmund dies upon the spear of Hunding, under Wotan's direction, but Anakin survives amputation courtesy of Obi Wan's lightsaber; Siegfried, Harry Potter, and Frodo are orphaned early. Anakin, to rescue love, seeks absolute power; Alberich, spurned by love, seeks absolute power. Sauron seeks absolute power for the fun of it. Supreme Chancellor Palpatine is Dick Cheney, but Anakin is far cuter than G.W.; Leia has weird hair; Brünnhilde has the old helmet. Jabba the Hutt is probably John Bolton. Is General Grievous Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein? Saruman is Osama bin Laden; Guards at Abu Ghraib are Dementors are Nazgul. Yoda is Erda is Gandalf is Albus Dumbledore; Legolas is Obi Wan; Chewbacca is Gimli is Rubeus Hagrid; Bilbo is Alberich is Dobby is Gollum; and sexually, Frodo and Sam are to C-3PO and R2-D2 are to Harry and Ron. Question is, who's the top? No need to worry, Sieglinde's definitely getting to the bottom of this.

06 June 2005

Joni Mitchell unplugged

The Fleming paradox

Ever wonder how Renée Fleming's Violetta would sound like without the jazzy inflections and the swaying and sashaying around the notes? Hear her rendition of Joni Mitchell's River here (surprisingly less "jazzy" than her recent exposés on the Met stage). Ever the creative crooner/vocal magician, she transforms her silver-plated instrument yet again for a cross-over tour called Haunted Heart. This time, she does an impression of a jazz singer. The altered timbre of the voice is unrecognizable (muddy mezzo marmalade), but one can still detect the Fleming by the way each unit of sound is picked apart and micromanaged. I'm lost in the layered colors of the syllables. Words lose their integrity, phrases wilt into nothing more than a sequence of sculpted sound. If this were my first exposure to the song, I wouldn't be able to tell you what it's about. There is no pleasure here. (Let's thank NPR for the "caution." Sieglinde doesn't know about you, but she's parking her $17.98 elsewhere.)

03 June 2005

The Opera Queen Gene

Frontiers of parascience

The latest from Vienna.

In other news, scientists from Boca Raton, FL have discovered the opera queen gene, located upstream to (and slightly to the left of) the master sexual gene of fruit flies. When activated, the altered fruit fly "pursued a waiting virgin [megastore] female [impersonator employee]. It gently tapped the girl with its [ashen] leg, played her a song (using wings as instruments) [a bel canto cabaletta, researchers note] and, only then, dared to lick her [knees, to get a really good discount]- all part of standard [record collector] fruit fly seduction."

Mr. Bush, upon "learning" of these latest scientific discoveries, told reporters Friday: "First, we got JC-fearin', SUV-lovin', ESPN-watchin' middle America exposed to that word apo ... appa ... apaj ... apig ... [Terry Moran of ABC News interjects: 'Appoggiatura, Mr. President.']. Now these fruit bugs? What's next, a gay pope?"