Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Met opera broadcasts

I'm very grateful to the Metropolitan Opera for these live broadcasts, since I could never afford a ticket to actual performances at Lincoln Center.

  I have seen two of these broadcasts over the last two weeks of two very different operas.  Let me mention at the start that the singing is superb in both.  No complaints there.  The orchestra, which was conducted on both occasions by James Levine, is one of the best there is.

  The two productions I saw could not be more different otherwise.  Norma, by Bellini, was unrelieved gloom.  Much care was taken to build authentic sets depicting the lifestyle of the Druids.  A great deal of money was spent building a realistic set, with the result that the entire opera looked like a black and white television show from the fifties.  Ralph Kramden would not have appeared out of place on this set, nor would I Love Lucy.  The only thing different was the lack of jokes.  Ayatollah Khomeini stated that there is no fun in Islam, and apparently there was not much fun in Druidic Gael.  

  The Druids worshipped Nature.   Apparently, if this depiction is accurate, they dressed in burlap.  Both men and women wore droopy burlap robes tied carelessly around the waist with something or other that might have been a vine.  Norma,the high priestess, however, had other problems.  Her lover, and father of her two children, was no longer interested in her, having transferred his affections to her second in command.  Then on top of that, the Romans were threatening the tribe.
 
  After much gloom and doom, the lovers were defeated by those pesky Romans but reunited in their love.  They agreed to be burned alive on a pyre together, which is as close to  a happy ending as it ever gets in Druidland.

  On the other hand, the Magic Flute sparkled.  Stars twinkled, fireworks went off, dancers danced.  The costumes were lavish and colorful.  The players had a wonderful time, and so did the audience.  All were excellent. Markus Werba as Papageno was a delightful clown, and the rest of the cast were uniformly excellent.  Especially notable was Golda Schultz--not the Golda who payed mah jong with your grandma, but a young, vivacious black woman from South Africa who played Pamina.




Thursday, October 05, 2017

Does the mayor of San Juan speak Spanish?

I watched her interview and read the comments, which found it incredible that she could have found a shop which would print a T-shirt for her on an island that has no electricity.  That didn;t bother me.  I remember having to print silk screen items on a huge hand-cranked machine.

  What seemed out of kilter to me did not enter my consciousness until later.  (I've never claimed to be a fast thinker.)  Why in the world did she have her anguish printed on a T-shirt in the English language?  If I were crying for immediate help I would do it in my native tongue, which is English.  In my desperation I probably would not even remember the word ayuda, or aidez moi or even aiuto, or if I could I would not remember how to pronounce it.  No, help is the mot juste in this case.

  When I visited Puerto Rico seven or eight years ago, the people spoke Spanish.  Have they all gone to Berlitz since then?  Unlikely.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Myzled

I admit I was mysled (Debbie Wasserman Schulz and I know what this means) by the brouhaha about the kneeling of Football players during the national anthem.  (That would be the Star Spangled Banner, in case you've been living in a lead-lined cave.)

  Apparently the American public cares deeply what millionaire football players do prior to game time.  It has been suggested that there is no reason to play the song before a game.  It's not in the Constitution, is it? Does it cost anyone money? But that does not matter.  What's important is what is usual and customary, which has been honored for such a long time that it seems a necessary part of the game.

  I'm not interested in football myself.  Or in any activity which involves a ball.  I remember my complete astonishment and indignation when someone threw a ball at me for the first time
 in volleyball.  I was very nearsighted and almost fell over when the ball hit me. That was my introduction to ball sports, and it confirmed my suspicion that the universe was not designed for me.  Annoying, but there it is.

   








 


 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Cheap thrills

The people of this nation like to take an idea and run with it.  There's lots of comment, resentment  and nastiness on all sides, then the whole thing is completely forgotten.  It changes nothing.  As if it never had been.

The football players who protested the national anthem is an example of this.  What could be easier than to go down on one knee--unless you have arthritis--for the duration of a song.  Real easy virtue signaling.  Almost costfree and doesn't take much time either.  And how satisfying the response! You get people all riled up; it's wonderful fun.

Nothing makes a permanent impression on the American mind.  Scandals come and go, they disappear as though they had never occured.  Remember Russia interfering with our last election?  Me neither.  Hillary's e-mail scandal?  It's as dead as Betsy Ross.  Vallerie Plame?  Don't be ridiculous.

So you might as well get down on one knee to protest the national anthem.  Next season  it will be forgotten, replaced by unisex bathrooms or nutritious school lunches.

Friday, September 08, 2017

I'm reading a new book how.  It's one I read as a student but I don't recall it very well--Daniel Deronda.  I love it.

  I don't mind long books.  In fact I like them.  My favorite books are Middlemarch and Anna Karenina.  Once you become immersed in a book. you are transported to a new world where Melania's shoes are of no consequence.  Or Trump wishing the Harvey survivors to have a good time.

  One of my Facebook "friends" wondered whether Trump will pay for damages if his Florida property is destroyed by the hurricane.  Why wouldn't he have insurance, even as you and I do?  The comment dripped with motiveless malignancy.  Why so much vitriol?  Did Trump steal something from you personally?

  It will be 2020 before you know it.  If Trump is not re-elected, who will you take it out on?

Friday, September 01, 2017

The art business

I have relatives in the wine business, and it has been a revelation to me to discover how difficult a business it is.

  I thought you planted grapes, harvested them, made the wine, bottled it, and a truck backed up to your loading dock to deliver the wine to eagerly waiting customers.  I thought, in short, that after making the wine your work was done.  You might want to pour yourself a glass and sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

  Wrong!  wrong, wrong , wrong!  It is at this point that your troubles begin. You have to stir up interest in the bloody wine and persuade customers  to actually buy the stuff.  That's the hard part.

  I find the same problems in the art business.  I have exhibited in juried shows and actually have won prizes and received accolades from those who should know.

  I still find myself with quite a bit of inventory.  My walls are full.  My children and friends already have some of my artwork.  A couple of people have actually bought paintings almost by happenstance

  So now what?

Monday, August 28, 2017

Sleepless nights

I appear to have lost the ability to go to sleep.  It's like losing a key; I have no idea where it is.  I rack my brain but can't find it. 

  I go to bed, but sleep does not happen.  I feel like Macbeth, or is it Lady Macbeth,  but without the guilty conscience.  On some occasions, I do finally nod off, waking in the morning to find I have migrated to some hitherto unvisited part of the bed with sheets and blankets tangled around me.  But lately, even this has eluded me.

  So I lie there, trying to think of something, anything, to divert my mind and coax it to release me.

  Sometimes I get up and have breakfast and then sneak back to bed.  This sometimes fools my sub  conscious for a time, not always. Or I move to another bed.  I open the window.  I close the window.  I turn on the ceiling fan; it get too cold; I turn it off.  I turn on the electric blanket.  Then I turn it off again. I go downstairs, lie on the couch, and turn on the television.  My feet get cold.  Alternatively, I feel hot all over.  Neither condition lasts.

  I am wide awake, and alert enough to do my income tax.  But I don't want to do my income tax.  I want to sleep.  I want to knit  up the ragged sleave of care.