Thursday, August 22, 2019

Jean-Philippe Rameau, Les Indes galantes (1735)

All I want in this world is to watch baroque operas.  And to have a non-evil government.  Well, I can achieve one of these goals.
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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

George Frideric Handel, Antonio Vivaldi, Jean-Philippe Rameau, André Campra, Henry Purcell, Jean-Féry Rebel, Jean-Marie Leclair, & Giovanni Battista Ferrandini, The Enchanted Island (2011)


Peter Gelb, the Met's general manager, had a vision, and that vision was to support baroque music by commissioning an opera consisting of a pastiche of different composers with an English-language libretto telling a new story...well, I don't know whose idea the story was, and calling it "new" would only be partially correct. I think we can most accurately describe it as a Shakespearean remix. It was devised by the man known as Jeremy Sams. Known and loved by all!
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Monday, August 12, 2019

George Frideric Handel, Deidamia (1741)


You can never have too much Handel. That's what I say. For whatever reason, baroque music has really been growing on me lately. My thirst is unquenchable!
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Friday, August 09, 2019

"Guns don't kill people, people do."


So the hoary bumper sticker slogan says. Shouldn't that be "guns don't kill people; people do?" Don't neglect the semi-colon!  Thing is, the sentiment isn't exactly wrong. But ask someone, okay, so in that case, what can we do about the problem? don't expect a response more cogent than MOAR GUNZ, or possibly a malignant cyst like mike huckabee burbling about the need for more Christian theocracy. It's not meant to start a debate; it's meant to shut it down.

So we have this individualist American cowboy mythos that will not die. And the NRA has capitalized on that by shrieking about how you need guns to protect yourself from the hordes of slavering invaders just outside your gate and getting the idea of ever-more-powerful firearms all mixed up in our ideas of masculinity in incredibly toxic ways (okay, it's hard to imagine a way that wouldn't be toxic), and mainstreaming violent rhetoric about cold dead hands and watering the tree of liberty. And then you have increasing atomization and isolation brought on by late capitalism making people feel like helpless failures. And on top of this you have a political party that makes up at least forty percent of the country constantly pounding on this vile, dehumanizing rhetoric about foreigners or immigrants or non-whites or anyone perceived as Other. But where does all the gun violence come from?!? This seems like a reeeeal case for Slylock Fox.

So, yeah. Starting with gun control is in a sense getting it backwards; we really just need to fix all the above stuff--after which, sensibly stringent regulation of firearms will just come naturally. I do think it's naive to imagine that we can effectively solve the problem by only addressing the symptoms and ignoring the underlying causes. But GOOD FUCKING LUCK with those causes. You can think in terms of long-term cultural trends, but in the here and now, I can't even begin to imagine how I would fix them. Even though meaningful gun control isn't politically tenable, it sure as hell seems more so than all that other stuff, so it only makes sense that that's what people would push for.

Point being, if gun enthusiasts would pitch in to help us destroy capitalism and fundamentally rework our cultural infrastructure, we wouldn't need to talk about taking their weapons. But since basically all of them unreflectively support these things, well, it is what it is.

Joseph Haydn, Il mondo della luna (1777)


So there's this astronomer, Ecclitico. He's friends of sorts with a clueless rich guy, Buonafede, who doesn't understand what the deal is with the moon; Ecclitico and his servants are easily able to trick him into thinking he's seeing little vignettes of people through his telescope. So that's cool, but there's a problem: he's in love with Buonafede's daughter Clarice, his friend Ernesto is in love with his other daughter Flaminia, and his other other friend is in love with his maidservant Lisetta, and Buonafede won't hear of it; he's smitten with Lisetta himself, and he wants his daughters to marry richer guys. So what to do? Well, the only solution is to trick Buounafede into thinking he's travelled to the oon and have him meet the Emperor of the Moon and teach him that lunar customs dictate that he should let these woman get married as they wish. Once he learns he's been tricked, he's mad, but then he forgives everyone, as you do in opera buffa, this being the absolute buffiest exemplar of the genre.
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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Opera Digest


So I've seen a fair few operas lately that I haven't written about, on account of being distracted by...stuff. When you get a backlog like this, you realize, man, I'm never going to get to these, am I? But I want to! So let's just do some brief capsule reviews.
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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Karol Szymanowski, Król Roger (1924)


You know what they say: you never forget your fourth Polish opera. They say that, right? Probably? It's also my first opera that starts with 'K,' which is a major milestone. You'd think there would be some starting with "king," but that speaks to the relative paucity of English-language opera. "Król" is Polish for "king," however.
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Friday, July 19, 2019

Donald Newlove, Blindfolded before the Firing Squad


"Writers without peanut butter are fucked." That's a line from this book that I just wanted to note.

Newlove has become a bit more well-known these days--noting, of course, that the phrase "relatively speaking" has never applied more--thanks to the Tough Poets republication of Sweet Adversity and, just this week, the first-ever publication of The Wolf Who Swallowed the Sun (which I look forward to reading soon). Still, at least some people were/are familiar with his other published works: principally, the novels The Painter Gabriel (1970), Eternal Life (1979), and Currane Trueheart (1986); the memoir Those Drinking Days (1989); and three books about writing, First Paragraphs (1993), Painted Paragraphs (1993), and Invented Voices (1994). Not bad, for an author more or less laboring in obscurity!  And that right there is the most comprehensive listing of his output you'll find on the internet.
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