Tag Archives: Puccini

A new Mulberry feature

Saturday finds me realizing this has been a week comprising mainly two things: work and opera.  In a first for me, I made two trips to Lincoln Center this week to enjoy complimentary tickets to the Metropolitan Opera.  I’ve come to the realization that if I don’t plan to live in New York City forever, I should take advantage of things the city offers, and one of those things is a world-class opera house.  And when the tickets are free–courtesy of my roommate Jordan–that much the better.

 Learning to enjoy the opera more has been a side-benefit of living in Manhattan.  Having strongly favored orchestral music in the past, playing in the pit in a few operas in college helped me to appreciate the genre a bit more, but it wasn’t until I moved here and made friends with several vocalists that the world began to open up to me.  That being said, I hope never to become that sort of freakish opera buff I overheard in Patelson’s the other week.  The kind that says things like, “Bartoli is to mezzo as Pavarotti is to tenor.  That woman is a machine, but a machine with feeling.”  Or, “The Zeffirelli production is creative, but it lacks the raw power and nuance of the staging I saw in the 70s.”

In between the opera, I’ve been working on the Labor and Delivery floor, placing epidurals for labor and doing anesthesia for cesarian sections.  This is my third call in a six-day period.  When I don’t get home before midnight from the opera, needless to say it’s been a tiring week.

The shows this week included Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and Verdi’s La Traviata.  Good, solid Italian opera.  Given that I have a few remarks for each, and given that I’d like to avoid a monstrously long post, I think I’ll post retroactively on each of those.

The new feature the title of this post alludes to is the tab at the top in which I offer a short review of the various cultural experiences I take in.  A bit indulgent and supercilious, I know, but the obsessive-compulsive part of me likes to make lists.

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Filed under Around town, Music

Madama Butterfly

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I got to attend this opera tonight with friends Adam, Sarah, and Wendy.  Adam and Sarah had tickets on the side of the Dress Circle (A little booth with a door and individual chairs), while my complimentary tickets were in the orchestra section.  We rotated seats during the intermissions, so we all got to enjoy the opera from different perspectives.

This was a wonderful performance by leading soprano Pat Racette.  I also especially liked the Consul Sharpless, played by an expressive Dwayne Croft, but the leading tenor was an understudy and not too memorable. The Anthony Minghella production was spare, modern, and at times exquisite.  This production opened the 2006-2007 season at the Met.  The film director created great effects with a wall of color at the back of the stage, a sloping ebony stage, brilliant costumes, and an expansive mirror hung at a 45-degree angle above the stage, cleverly allowing the opera-goer to simutaneously see the action from the front and above.

This is evidently the most-performed opera in America.  Why?  The American theme?  The music is vintage Puccini, but in my opinion the score doesn’t have nearly as many memorable arias as any Mozart opera or even some Puccini operas.

Butterfly’s son is three years old in the opera.  Often the part is played by a six-year old child, but Minghella opted to go with a bunraku puppet with three black-veiled operators.  Their skill was apparent, but the whole effect was a bit creepy and made it difficult to emotionally connect with the puppet, er, boy.

My last comment is that I was startled when I heard echoes of “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables in the humming chorus.  Certainly more than coincidental, this musical similarity plays a similar function in both shows.  But let’s be clear: Madama Butterfly was written first.

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Butterfly’s opening scene.   This dance was reflected magically in the mirror above the stage.

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The wedding party ascending at the back of the sloping stage.

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Filed under Around town, Music

September 23, 2008

On this September evening

I dip my pen into the black

molasses of an inkwell,

straighten the corners of my curling yellow parchment,

and slide my flickering candle of memory

an inch closer on the rough-hewn wooden table.

A drop of hot wax pleads with my thumb

for attention

while my thoughts drift with the cool breeze

that wanders through the open window,

becoming lost in the swirl of the distant pulse

of Latino music with the somewhat closer swells of

Puccini

and the faint silver clatter and crystalline laughter

from the Italian sidewalk cafe

across my little street.

 

Yes, on evenings such as these

I forget about the busy week ahead and

the busy day behind and

my phoenix of a to-do list.

I forget that I have no quill–

not even a fountain pen–

but a Dell

with cable internet.  No, instead

I prefer to remember the leafy archway, the

occasional loose cobble

as I walked on the local campus–

its agora unfolding before me–

and sat on the broad lamplit steps,

feeling neither warm

nor cool,

with a smattering of students reading,

talking quietly, and simply doing

nothing

as dusk slipped into night

on this nascent autumn day.

 

Setting down my pen and noticing

one thumb red from hot wax

the other smudged sable with words not yet written,

I hope to keep this glassy pond of a evening

somewhere not far, so that some day hence

as I dip my crusty loaf into a small dish of smooth ripe olive oil

at an outdoor cafe

or as I hear a tenor across the

alley while I cut a slippery mango in the kitchen,

I might remember the flickering of this stubby candle

and then

take a moment to sit down on the mossy bank and,

thumb still slightly aching,

look at the water with not even a

ripple.

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Filed under Blogging introspection, Poetry