Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dialogues of the Carmelites

It will take a long time to get it out of my head. The sickening sound of the metallic clank that accompanies each chop of the guillotine as all the little nuns are beheaded at the end of Poulenc's gorgeous opera Dialogues of the Carmelites, that is. I went last night to see it performed (beautifully!) by Austin Lyric Opera. I could only afford a third balcony seat, but the acoustics were marvelous even there and I do have those mother-of-pear folding opera glasses.

The first time I was exposed to DotC it was twenty some-odd years ago on the radio -- probably one of those weekend broadcasts from the Met. I had been cleaning house and not paying very close attention until the middle of the third act and I still remember how the sound of the chops of the guillotine triggered actual dry heaves in me that first time. I find this work so incredibly powerful and I read it on so many levels.

There's, first, the primarily female cast; rare in opera. The men are the throw-aways in this one. There's the mothers and daughters motif, although they are nuns and spiritual sisters. I can put some feminist reads into it, and a would-be lesbian love-at-first-sight story. There are the existential issues of freedom and transcendence. To me, DotC is less about religion and more about fear, and about the fear of fear. I know those are probably not the things Polenc wanted me to ponder, but I'm a post-modernist and I can't help it.

And there's one of the greatest lines in opera: to paraphrase, "She got somebody else's death, as one might mistakenly be handed someone else's coat in the cloak room."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rocking that Missionary Look I said I would!

Love these Dutch wax African batiks. I got two skirts, one black, one turquoise, on ebay! I wear them with the Massai-inspired towering sandals and the ubiquitous leopard sweater of which I am so fond. This is a happy ensemble!

But I am still trying to get over that damned stye.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Everything's moving so fast.

It's dizzying, like being on a crazy carousel, as Jacques Brel sang. But it always happens like this in the spring semesters. Everyone waits until the very last moment to conduct business they were either in denial about, or procrastinated beginning. That goes for faculty members AND their students, by the way. Of necessity, this is the season for final recitals, exhibitions, defenses, presentations. And end-of-year banquets and ceremonies and receptions.

As a result, I don't have time to fully write about the many wonderful happenings lately. (B)Easter with Jimmie and Cindy and the little girls was marvelous. I went out to their place for brunch and enjoyed hiding Easter eggs for children to find, something I haven't done for many years. Jimmie made some nice photos of the day which you can see in a set on flickr if you click through from the image of my grand-beauties below.

Friday night's premiere of Queenie Pie, Duke Ellington's opera, was also marvelous. The young, vibrant African-American cast really delivered, and it was a memorable production. Unbelievably, the ninety-something year-old white woman whose notes are what made this staging possible attended the premiere. She had broken her hip a week ago, so none of us expected she'd be able to travel. But travel she did, and made her pre-performance appearance on stage wearing a colorful sequined gown she said Ellington bought for her years ago, with her red-dyed hair and six handsome young men in zoot suits escorting her in in her wheelchair. I loved Queenie Pie's plot about dueling beauticians -- rather Carmen-esque, and the magical Bali Hai island Queenie Pie sails to on a 1930's ocean liner like the Normandie. Hard to believe it hasn't been fully staged somewhere with all the trimmings -- wouldn't it probably do well in London? It needs the kind of production values that, say, Cole Porter's Anything Goes had; the orchestra was also on stage in that one when I saw the 2004 revival.

It enjoyed getting all dressed up to meet up there with friends and to go to the reception afterward to congratulate everyone involved in this ambitious production. I have to work on overcoming my shyness and getting out to do these kinds of things more often. I'm fine, once I'm there. I just don't know what to say to people when it comes to small talk, but it seems to get a little easier with each outing. Practice helps with overcoming the shyness, I'm finding.

Saturday night was my Grey Gardens viewing party. I got HBO just for the week and Alison kindly let me borrow her monstrous television for the evening. It was a potluck affair with cuisine inspired somehow by Grey Gardens, and bizarre couture was required. It was fun to be in a room full of Little Edies, and my photos later revealed an orb hovering over performance artist Jill Pangallo's head. I can only assume it was Little Edie giving us her blessing. The Barrymore/Lang Grey Gardens piece was all I expected and hoped for and I really enjoyed its visuals and insights. Great acting on the parts of the stars! Loved the very believable prosthetic aging effects, too, particularly Barrymore's arms. I haven't watched the Maysles' original documentary for a couple of years and now feel I need to add looking at it again to my already lengthy to-do list for the near future. The viewing party did cause me to have to undertake a major no-holds-barred housekeeping incident, so that was a good side effect. There is still more stuff from those boxes from Italy I need to deal with or find homes for hidden about. There are still materials for future steam-punking projects lurking in cabinets and closets.

Work will be hectic all this week and we've got construction-related activities going on to further complicate everything. Friday night it's Dialogues of the Carmelites. Whee!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Me as Little Edie, Buster as Raccoon my Grey Gardens viewing party last night. Click through to see the whole set, including the ectoplasmic orb!

Beaster at Jimmie's house

Originally uploaded by jimmie d. jewell

with my beauties, my little granddaughters. Click through to see the whole set.