27 August 2008

Have you seen one lately?

Amidst the freaky darkness of the tall pines of Maine (and sharing a beautiful lake with one Stephen King!), one lake cabin reverberated with the sound of her fierce voice. SWEETHEARTS, THIS IS WHAT A DEMOCRAT LOOKS LIKE. None of that post-partisan transcendent kumbaya let's hold hands and compromise they are people too BS crap. What I admire in this diva is the fight in her. It's still there.

I'm returning to my vacation. I'll be back next week.

15 August 2008


This is my world famous ragu alla bolognese simmering in the slow drone of summer. It takes 10 hours to make. It's one of the best things in my life.

[This is mostly Marcella Hazan's recipe, with some variation.]

1. In 3 tbsp. of olive oil, fry 1/4 lb. of chopped pancetta.
2. Melt in 8 tbsp. of butter, and stir in 1 cup of chopped onion. Cook till transluscent.
3. Add 1 and 2/3 cup each of finely chopped carrots and celery, and cook for a few minutes.
4. Add 1 lb. each of ground chuck and ground pork.
5. When the meat is no longer red, add 2 1/2 cups whole milk. On low-medium heat, allow the liquid to simmer down till much of the milk is evaporated. Stir frequently. (This may take an hour.) Add 1/3 tsp. of ground nutmeg.
6. Add 2 1/2 cups of dry white wine or a full-bodied red wine, or a combination of whatever you have handy. As with the milk, simmer slowly till mostly evaporated. (Another hour.)
7. Add 1 large can (28 oz.) of peeled whole plum tomatoes. Once the simmer commences, bring the heat down to low (really, really low).
8. During about 4-5 hours of the l-a-z-i-e-s-t simmer, stir the sauce frequently, while gradually adding salt (to taste). Best done while drinking a robust to-your-face chianti.
9. You just made enough sauce to feed your apartment building. Therefore, make an obscene amount of your favorite pasta, and invite every low-carbing friend. Leftover sauce freezes well.

13 August 2008

Been watching Michael Phelps and other hot Olympians on TV every night, haven't eaten out in a week, what to do with the unspent money?

Give to Democrat Jared Polis's campaign for US Congress.

Jared Polis CO-02 won a hard-fought 3-way primary last night against two worthy Democratic opponents. Blue America has been enthusiastic about his potential as a progressive leader for a long time and we are excited to endorse him on the night of his victory. Jared will be the first openly gay man to ever win a seat in Congress as a freshman.
Support ActBlue.

[via Digby]

12 August 2008

To keep from going totally insane, I just kept muttering to myself "at least I won't be on that August 17 riff raff line"

Yeah yeah, I was on the Götterdämmerung line too. I was the one behind the lady who said "Oh, ever since 9/11 or 9/21 or whenever that was ..." and in front of another who said "I go to anything Faust. Is the Damnation of Faust about Faust? I hope so."

Anyway, after five hours in line, I discovered, upon examining my hoard, that I unknowingly gave the Met more than $50 total for some "facility fee." At an average of two to three visits per performance (depending on length of opera, prior libation, and any necessary *ahem* "equipment" change), that amounts to about 50 cents a pee. (At that rate, moist towelettes ought to be provided.)

Meanwhile, the only way to pass the time for someone who left his iPod at home was to chat with line mates who liked to say "SONnamBYOOlah" and think that Dessay is like the best comedic actress they've seen on stage. I laugh at Dessay too, I told one.

After Jessye Norman's historic Met telecast "Du bist der Lenz" was shown on the flat screen TV by the box office, one queen remarked that Jessye was out of breath the entire time and that her delivery was choppy and lacked refinement. I wanted to smack the fag.

I'm hating opera fans this week. (Meanwhile, I'm loving the Olympic men's synchronized diving boys. It's a bit wrong and very illegal, I know.)

08 August 2008

Let the Games Begin: Sieglinde's Met 2008-09 Season Preview

With about a week to go before Met single tickets go on sale to the general riff raff, Sieglinde has to get serious about her opera schedule. Poverty is really annoying, but thankfully, the cheap seats remain cheap this year, at $15 (or 2 euros, give or take), so it won't be that cataclysmic. Let's see now: 50 tickets is ... what? 750? Shit.

To help her plan on a budget, she lays out a list of 10+ things she's hoping to get tickets for this season. (You're welcome to use the list for your own season plans, clueless bitches.)

1. Karita Mattila's Salome. In this role, Mattila attains the summit of stimmkunst. (Take copious notes, Natalie.) The Salome is her greatest creation at the Met. We are joyous in its return. Will her pubes be shown in glorious HD? We shall *see*.

2. Katarina Dalayman's Isolde. Dalayman is Sieglinde's favorite up-and-coming Wagnerian soprano. Her mighty top notes radiate a la Rysanek, unpretty and defiant, but always true to the moment. She will burn both your eardrums. You will pee in your seat. (Maestro Daniel Barenboim's debut is a curiosity, but Sieglinde's not sure how much more he'll add to the evening's wattage.)

3. Christine Brewer's Brunnhilde. Brewer travels all over Earth as the world's stopgap dramatic soprano, yet she hardly stops by the Met to show off. Finally we get her, but only for one Ring cycle (the early bird special on Saturday matinee) and one extra Walküre. Why such limited exposure? Deborah Voigt's people must play real hardball, Sieglinde's telling you.

4. Renee Fleming's Really Huge Opening, which should (re)establish her supremacy in New York's opera constellation. After flirting with superficial sensations (Dessay and Netrebko, who else), the Gelb administration declares their allegience to the Beautiful Voice once and for all. Witness how the Met reverts back to the time-honored (a.k.a. Volpe) tradition of presenting a hodgepodge of tired opera scenes to open the season, after two seasons of Gelb incessantly preaching the virtues of opening with a new production of a complete work. Now it's a prima in the sole service of a diva, for a bejeweled audience into extravagant buffets of only the good stuff. Sieglinde, who has seen countless Fleming Manons and Violettas, is looking forward to the shimmering final scene of Capriccio.

5. Renee Fleming's Thaïs, yet another jewel in the crown. (Sieglinde's fan club membership would have been in serious jeopardy if she didn't list this one in the Top 5.)

6. Robangela (Robergela?), opera's own Brangelina, in La Rondine. Lurking behind Roberto Alagna is Giuseppe Filianoti, who makes us wet too. Angela Gheorghiu champions this Puccini like it's a real opera. Whatevs, she's entitled.

7. A promising new production of Il Trovatore, which will feature Sieglinde favorites Sondra Radvanovsky and the booming couple of Dolora Zajick and Luciana D'Intino sharing the Azucenas. If Salvatore Licitra and Dmitri Hvorostovsky try very hard not to suck, this may be the best ensemble this season.

8. Barbara Frittoli's Donna Anna, and barihunks Erwin Schrott (Netrebko's babee daddee) and Ildebrando D'Arcangelo as the horny duo of Don Giovanni and Leporello. Frittoli isn't singing on the evenings with the eye candy pair, so it's a two ticket minimum on this year's Don Giovanni. Barbara, you must know that you rock Sieglinde's nuts, so don't even think of cancelling on us.

9. Doctor Atomic, so we're not called heathens.

10. Runners up for 10th place, a list of semi-curiosities: Roberto Alagna doing Turiddu and Canio in the same evening; the Gheorghiu-Villazon tandem for Elisir; Mattila as Tatyana (ouch!); the scary Ewa Podles as La Cieca; Netrebko as Lucia (a major improvement to Dessay of last season); the return of Cristina Gallardo-Domas and Patricia Racette as Butterfly, both formidable interpretations; Mark Morris's brilliant Orfeo ed Euridice (and Stephanie Blythe's Amore, wow!); Felicity Palmer as the Countess in The Queen of Spades; Filianoti as the Duke of Mantua; Rusalka with Fleming and Blythe; Anja Harteros as Violetta; finally, Walküre attractions Waltraud Meier as Sieglinde with Johan Botha's first Siegmund at the Met and Placido Domingo's last Siegmund ever ever (but who knows, right?).

06 August 2008

Breaking (two days ago): Opera award given to "singer" who'd rather be something else

This year's recipients are: John Adams, Natalie Dessay, Renee Fleming, Marilyn Horne, and Sherrill Milnes. One of them would rather get a Tony, of course. I would rather Opera News give the award to [your diva's name here].

The list provides stark contrast: the other soprano awardee, Renee Fleming, custodian of the Beautiful Voice, does the "text" part of opera with true grace, measure, and restraint. That's how you do it, Natalie.

"I'll see you at the debates, bitches."

Midweek funny for the lunchbreak.

05 August 2008

Natalie Dessay, in her continued progress towards greater artistry, still doesn't know what opera is about

A month old, but we can't let this one pass. The overly dramatic Artist declares:

I got rid of my high notes. They were getting in the way. It is very easy for someone with high notes to impress, even if the rest is not very interesting. High notes are something that people seem to like - I never understood why. It's like being able to fly. OK, you can fly, so what? Yes, it's rather good but it's not enough. I want to give something else. When I had these high notes, I couldn’t pay attention to the text. I'm interested in the humanity of the characters and the interpretation. (When I'm standing opposite Juan Diego and he is doing nine high C's), I'm not impressed. Either you have the top or not. If you have it, it's not that difficult.
In recent years, Dessay's top notes have been shrieky and metallic, cold, effortful, and generally unpleasant to the ear. The disdain she has for top notes is therefore understandable. She tends to compensate with buffoonish histrionics, overacting the pieces of meaning she gleans from the (mostly bankrupt) text. She can't tolerate opera queens, don't you see! She has seething contempt for the singing part of opera, and she just can't be bothered by canto for bel's sake. So I shall match her disgust: I find her schtick bland and unimaginative.

She continues to provoke:
I want to make people forget we are singing. I don't want to them to come to hear beautiful voices, but to see a whole performance, of theatre with music.
The implication being that beautiful voices are somehow incompatible with "a whole performance, of theatre with music." But she's right about one thing: they ought not to come to her performances expecting to hear beautiful voices, because there won't be any of that beauty shit getting in the way of her art.

04 August 2008

Sieglinde Moulitsas? Boooo-ring

So to keep the content of this supposedly opera-centered blog sufficiently operatic, here are two links for your afternoon delight:

1. A boy and his Gilda Cruz-Romo. (A touching affair.)
2. Angela Gheorghiu's new website, mysteriously called Is that her phone number in Bucharest? The combination to her safe? Her vital stats in the metric system? The number of times she'll cancel in the next five years? Her favorite lotto numbers? (via Opera Chanteuse)

(So anyway, why the f* is Hillary not yet the VP candidate?)

Is it too early to be alarmed?

< rant> It's astounding that his "friends on the left" are reduced to writing open letters asking him to keep from veering too far to the right (as some perverted take on post-partisanship, which is bullshit to the core, to begin with). Anyway, Krugman this morning noticed what I've been puzzled by in the past few weeks:

Incidentally, it’s surprising that the lousy economy hasn’t yet had more impact on the campaign. Mr. McCain essentially proposes continuing the policies of a president whose approval rating on economics is only 20 percent. So why isn’t Mr. Obama further ahead in the polls?
Realclearpolitics.com has him only up 2.5 points, and on the losing side of the trend. WTF? Is this a rerun of 2000 and 2004? I'm getting sick of this shit.</rant>

01 August 2008

It's looking less and less like the America in our fantasies

Federal agents may take a traveler's laptop computer or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed.

Also, officials may share copies of the laptop's contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption or other reasons, according to the policies ... The policies state that officers may "detain" laptops "for a reasonable period of time" to "review and analyze information." This may take place "absent individualized suspicion."
So if they find, like, an excessive amount of live performances of Leyla Gencer (shit, was she Muslim?) or some *ahem* recent in-house recordings from the Met, is it consitutional for the government to delete all my files and then do a full cavity search? Will it be within my rights to ask for a cute border agent to do it, or at least for someone who's height-weight proportional and around my age or below? Or should I just expect to be pitied or laughed at for being queer about such stupid things, because we are at War, people, and we must protect America at any and all cost? These are my questions today.