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review--one more time

2003-02-07 - 11:51 a.m.

A snowy day/ In DC town/ Had me lost/ And had me down/ Suddenly you were there/ And in snowy DC town the sun was shining everywhere!!!--to the tune of "Foggy Day in London-town"

Actually, the snow does not have me lost or down--I love snow!! We got over 6 inches, my deepest snow yet on the East Coast.

I realized I had forgotten my review of "A Rake's Progress" Sam Ramey--yummy yummy!! Dawn Upshaw--at her best. This is a really great recording of a very good opera. Many people claim Rake is derivative--and so it is. But is this necessarily a bad thing? There are definite moments of shining originality in the score, where it could be no one but Stravinsky. So what if he borrows a little heavily from Mozart? One could easily make the argument that these are musical allusions--in fact, if I knew a wee bit more about music theory and history I bet I could write a damn intersting paper connecting Ann Trulove with some of Mozart's heroines, such as Susanna.

As a side bonus, the lyrics are by Auden--and are excellent. So often English lyrics seem forced to me, as accustomed as I am to listening to opera in foreign languages. Menotti gets the lushness correct, but is often poetic to a ludicrous degree--"The hungry deer wanders weeping throught the woods"--I ask you!!! I've never seen a deer weep, as they are simply way too stupid. But Auden gets it right almost all the time here. (Of course, if you really want an opera in English with impeccable lyrics, go for Porgy and Bess).

So there is my review.

Looking forward to my first yoga class tomorrow morning--and the husband is taking it with me! The voice teacher is very pleased with the yoga, and has given her stamp of approval on the studio. The best thing about this is the location--a 5 minute walk from the apartment. So come tomorrow we'll see if my extremely unflexible body can handle the rigors of the yoga!!!

CAT UPDATE: lowered dose of Prednisone seems to be going well for her--although a few of her milder symptoms are returning. I am very hesistant to reduce the dosage again, but we'll consult with the vet. She's been a very sweet girl lately, and has definitely enjoyed watching the snow fall!!

1:19 PM

Another review. The country seems to be on the brink of war, so I'm putting in another plug for Vaughn Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem. Seriously, folks, you have to listen to this. Lyrics from Whitman and the Bible. The piece starts off with soprano and choir singing "Agnus Dei, dona nobis pacem"--"Lamb of God, give us peace." The choir then suddenly changes mood, crashing into the cacophony of war with "Beat, drums, beat! Blow, bugles, blow!" Other sections include "Dirge for Two Veterans" about a father and son buried together, and a brief piece about seeing the face of the enemy composed and still in death and recognizing the inherent humanity. But for me, the kicker is the closing number. You've been ravaged by the musical and literary interpretations of the hell of war, and then comes this gorgeous gorgeous baritone: "Oh man, greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be unto you. Be strong, yea be strong. The glory of the latter house shall be greater than the former, and in that place shall I bring peace." Then the choir interweaves various biblical verses, joining together in "Open to me the gates of righteousness and I shall go into them." Again the choir will come together for "Glory to God in the highest, peace on the earth, good will toward men. Good will toward men!" The last phrase is repeated, and then the soprano floats in above it all with a reprise of the Agnus Dei.

I sang the first and last pieces in a concert shortly after Sept. 11. It seemed to reflect what everyone was praying for--"good will toward men." Almost a year later I finally found a recording of the whole piece. I put on the last section in the car--and literally dissolved into sobs. This piece touches me more deeply than any I've ever heard. Go out and grab a copy. Listen. And listen many times.

 

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Die Entfuehrung
Die Entfuehrung aus dem Serail (The Abduction From
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