Tag Archives: opera

Judging a Book By Its Cover

Opening my emails from blogging friends has taken on some of the qualities of Christmas morning.  They all purport to come from Lenore Diane so the excitement builds as each surprise package is opened.

Today I opened one that came from my blogging friend Val at Arty Old Bird.  She talked about accepting that one might be different to others and coming to terms with it..  Do go over to read her blog post.  I am sure you will find it interesting/illuminating.

About two-thirds of the way into the post she directed us to Israel who sings Somewhere Over the Rainbow with such feeling that it brings tears to the eyes.  Most of us have heard this version of the song and loved it.  And yes he does look different to most of us.

And then there was this – Jonathon and Charlotte .  This odd looking couple competing in Britain’s Got Talent earlier this year.  Just look at Jonathon; at the time of the audition  he was 17 years old and Charlotte was 16.   As you can imagine Simon Cowell et al dismissed him but that was before he started singing.

Look at the faces of the judges and the audience and then look them as Jonathon starts to sing.  Who would have thought this young man had such a voice.  And how many would have dismissed him because of his size and the way he looks?

We are all guilty of judging a book by its cover and in doing so how much do we miss.  We know that first impressions are important but …  We may miss out on a great friendship because of judging somebody by the way he/she looks.

This couple totally wowed the audience and the judges.  Simon Cowell has now signed them to a GBP 1million contract and admits he was wrong in his first impressions of this duo.

As a footnote do you believe that this couple with those voices, were beaten in the final by a performing dog?  What were the British people thinking.

Related post –    Seeing is Believing or Is It?

More Opera

As I have said before, here in New Zealand we have a world class opera company.  We have world famous opera singers joining the company for specific performances – Rigoletto currently being performed in Wellington has three singers from around the world and an Australian Director.  These people are brought in to encourage and educate our resident singers.

Upcoming talent is nurtured by the Opera company and from time to time we are delighted to be invited to listen to some of this talent.  Last night was one such time.

It was a bitterly cold Wellington evening with a strong southerly wind blowing so we were very pleased to get inside the theatre.  The evening started with drinks and nibbles (always in new Zealand) and then we were entertained by 12 Emerging Artists.

Music covered arias from Handel, Rossini, Gounod, Mozart, Puccini, Guestavino, Massenet, Britten, Monteverdi, Offenbach and of course Verdi with Bella figlia dell’amore from Rigoletto.

We were told that this is the first time that a counter tenor had been included in the Emerging Artists programme.  Have you heard a contralto tenor sing?  This is the first time I had heard one and it was quite beautiful and if you excuse the expression, I was filled with awe that such a very small man – he was about 5ft 6″ tall – could produce such a wonderful sound.  It was amazing.  He sang Puebilito, my pueblo from Guastavino.  I can only repeat – amazing.  I couldn’t find a recording of a male alone singing this but here is a beautiful duet.

There was a little lighthearted injection when two of the male singers sang We’re public guardians from Offenbach’s Genevieve de Brabant.  This complete with all the appropriate actions was greeted with laughter and applause.  Please click here for a great version of this duet.  It was a fund raising evening and look like lots of fun.

A few weeks ago I wrote about seeing Manon in an Opera at the Met production and last night we heard one of these young singers performing as Manon. She sang Gavotte.  This is from the time when Manon is the toast of Paris and is flaunting herself around town.

So a most enjoyable evening once again.  And now I am looking forward to seeing Rigoletto on Thursday evening.  Please watch this space.

Bouquet of roses

For the organiser of such a lovely evening.

Thanks and an Opera

Thanks

First I would like to celebrate a milestone and say thanks to my loyal followers.  Today I reached the heady total of 150 yes, one hundred and fifty followers.

“I can no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks.”
William Shakespeare

For many of the blogs I follow this is a small number but when I first started on this blogging journey some 14 months ago I wasn’t sure that I would gain even one follower.  So I am overwhelmed by this total.
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I have written before on my love of opera.  Recently I wrote about Manon at The Met and other operas I have seen in that series.

Here in New Zealand we have a very professional  world class opera company.  The company (NBR New Zealand Opera) puts on two or three performances each year, with singers brought in from around the world to support and encourage our own ‘home grown’ talent.

RigolettoThe next performance is to be Verdi’s Rigoletto directed by Australian Lindy Hume who was last here in 2007 to direct Lucia di Lammermoor.  The NBR New Zealand Opera’s Director of Music, Wyn Davies, conducts a stellar cast, including Warwick Fyfe in the title role, Emma Pearson as his daughter Gilda and Rafael Rojas as the cynical womaniser, the Duke of Mantua.

The Supper Club

NBR NZ Opera’s The Supper Club

NZ Opera has a so -called Supper Club which is part of the NBR New Zealand Opera’s sponsorship programme.  This allows entry-level sponsorship of the opera at a level we can afford.  In return we get early notice of upcoming operas, tickets and invitations to special events at which we meet some of the singers from here and overseas.  Tonight was one such event.

Over wine and beautiful finger food, we got to meet all three principals of Rigoletto.  And as a special treat they all sang for us.

The Wellington function is always held in Logan Brown‘s a first class restaurant housed in an old bank building and the banking chamber is perfect for the acoustics required for opera.  There are never more than 30 invited guests and so it is quite an intimate occasion and as we are so very close to the performers, we get to see all the facial actions which we won’t see in the theatre.

The Opera performs in both Wellington and Auckland with each centre having its own chorus.  So the Director has the added challenge of getting two choruses working individually with the stars. There are to be only four performances in Wellington and the cast is busily rehearsing for the opening night which is to be May 19th.  I am really looking forward to this production and so watch this space!

Grand opera is the most powerful of stage appeals and that almost entirely through the beauty of music.

Manon at the Met

Metropolitan Opera House

Image via Wikipedia

This will have to be a short post because it is now 11.20pm and we have just returned from The Met.  Yes, the New York Metropolitan Opera House where we saw a performance of Manon with Anna Netrebko in the title role.  Again I have to admit that I didn’t fly over to New York for the performance but saw it as part of the Metropolitan Opera Series – The MetLive in HD – at our local bijoux cinema.

As I said in an earlier post it was almost as good as being there.  And we did get to see interviews with the stars and the stage being set during the intervals; so maybe it was even better than being there.

Fish risotto

Photo - Ian Wallace

Supper was served during the first interval.  My choice this time was a smoked fish risotto followed by coffee.  Because there is such a short interval supper is ordered before the performance and is served as one comes out.  Great service and good food.

So to the opera – do you know the story of Jules Massenet‘s  Manon?  It’s a simple tale of a country girl who has been sent to Paris to join a convent because her family think her too exuberant.  Her cousin is charged with meeting her and getting her to the convent.  However, while he is away with his friends, Manon meets Chevalier des Grieux and their attraction is immediate.

So they flee together and set up residence in a one room apartment.  But Manon is attracted to the good life and gives up her ‘true love’ to follow her dreams of riches and fun.

She becomes the toast of Paris and is kept by several wealthy men.  However, she learns that her ‘true love’ has never recovered from her betrayal and is going to take holy vows.  She tracks him down and entices him away from the religious life (after much fighting, soul searching and angst on his part) and they live the kind of life that Manon loves.

Click here for the synopsis that I just found on the web.

It was a very long night.  The performance started at 6.30pm, two short breaks of 20 minutes each and it finished at 11.05pm.  Good job I live 4 minutes away by car; luckily my friend brought her car.

Related articles

Just Another Day in Paradise
A Night At The Met

Just Another Day in Paradise

 

Firefox crashed and I hadn’t saved my post so I have to start again and perhaps yes, a glass of wine would help.  The air was a trifle blue with the words that I said.  Last week wordpress played up and now Firefox.  Oh woe is me!

Glass of red wine

Image via Wikipedia

So with glass beside me I shall start again.

I awoke this morning to the sound of rain.  Not heavy rain but the kind that soaks one through while doing absolutely nothing for the garden or the plants in tubs and pots.

Rain on leaves

Lotte took one look outside and decided it wasn’t for her.  She ran back inside and stood at the side of the bed asking for a lift up.  Well she has very tiny legs and the bed is quite high.

Lazy Lotte

Far too wet out there - I'm better off here!

So no little companion while I had breakfast and got ready to start my day.

I have told you before about Opera at the Met here in Brooklyn, Wellington.  Well today we were enchanted with Donizetti’s Anna Bolena starring  Anna Netrebko  in the title role.  This was really a tour de force.  It lasted 4 hours with only an 8 minute interval.  But what a privilege to see these fantastic artists.  Anna Netrebko was supported by Ekaterina Gubanova (Jane Seymour), Tamara Mumford (Mark Smeaton), Stephen Costello (Lord Percy) and Ildar Abdrazakov (Henry VIII).

Anne Boleyn

Picture via Wikipedia

We all know the story of Anne Boleyn and her marriage to and betrayal by Henry VIII so I wont belabour it here.  But look at this short video and see for yourself the mastery of these artists.

We also were privileged to see interviews with the stars and also with Marco Armiliato the conductor and with world-famous costume designer and former director of theater design at Shakespeare’s Globe theater, Jenny Tiramani.

A delightful way to spend four hours (10-2pm) on a wet Wednesday.

Then it was back to a normal day.  A quick lunch and then I helped my real estate friend set up a couple of apartments for photography.

“I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.”

And I think that this day deserves my rainbow.

Rainbow

My rainbow

A visit to the Doctor

“Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died”
Erma Bombeck, 1927-1996

After a disturbed night of coughing, tossing and turning I give in.  As I have been urged to,  I call the doctor’s office to make an appointment.

I turn up at the appointed time, 11.45 am and am told to take a seat.  I am in a  house in the village converted to a health centre.  It is an old house, well old by our standards, with polished wood floors, a central passage and doors leading off both sides.

I take a seat and for the next 45 minutes, I sit idly thumbing through an out of date magazine and looking at the others waiting.  There is an older couple, he with a walking cane and she obviously taking care of him.  They seem to know the only other person in the room, a woman probably mid-thirties.  She doesn’t seem to be waiting to see a doctor and indeed, when the man’s name is called she tells the couple she will wait until they come out.

Meantime, staff come and go; people come and go.  The receptionist leaves for lunch and her place is taken by a nurse.  She is the one who removed the stitches after I tried to cut off my thumb.  That’s another story for another time.

A staff member (because she was wearing a name tag) appears in the waiting room and walks over to the young woman and they enter into a discussion as to who should pick up the girls from school and take them to practice.  It’s agreed that the staff member will pick them up and they will all meet later after practice.

A couple of young girls arrive and only one stays.  It is spring here but not warm although they don’t notice that they are barely dressed for the weather.   The one who stays is called into the doctor’s consulting room and still I wait.

A mother and her young child come out of a consulting room; have a brief conversation with the nurse/receptionist and after saying they will be back tomorrow, leave.

A child is crying in one of the consulting rooms, a young man comes out with his arm bandaged and the elderly couple appear.  They meet up with the young woman who has waited for them, and all leave together.

If I had been feeling better I would have played my usual waiting game.  When waiting in airports, grocery checkout lines or waiting for friends, I make up stories about the people I am watching.  People-watching is one of my favourite games.  But this is an opportunity missed today.

And at last it is my turn.  A charming young man appears.  Well he certainly doesn’t look old enough to be a doctor and leads me through to his consulting room.  Because I have been sitting in his waiting room for 45 minutes loudly coughing and choking, he doesn’t have to ask why I am there.  He proceeds to tell me that it is the flu.  How can that be I ask when I had the flu injection at the beginning of the winter.  This is a strain that they knew nothing about,  It is rife and resistant to the shot I had earlier.  Great.

He is only just getting over this flu himself.  He tells me the cough will last for about 3 weeks.  How long have I had it – one week?  OK, then I should expect it to be around for another two.

We talk about the operas that I saw last week.  A double billing by the NZ Opera Company and billed Cav &Pag (Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci).  A truly magnificent show during which I managed not to cough too often and too loudly.  And then he told me about WOW (the World of Wearable Arts show) that he had seen last week.  Only then, does he decide to take my temperature, listen to my lungs etc etc.

He writes me a prescription for a steroid, an antibiotic and some linctus to ease the throat and help the cough.  Then I am out of there.  45 minutes waiting and 15 minutes consultation.

But I know why the wait was so long.  He is really a charming young man and he likes to talk with his patients and get to know them.  His comment to me was that looking at my file he saw that I didn’t go to the doctor often.  And over the past three years had been twice with broken bones.  Can’t fool that nice guy.

Then off to the pharmacy where I had another 20 minutes wait.  I just couldn’t wait to get back home.  I was exhausted after my morning doing nothing.

I started with Erma Bombeck and will finish this post with a quote that bears no relation to the theme of this post.  Put it down to a hard day achieving nothing.

“Give a girl the correct footwear and she can conquer the world”
Bette Midler

Red Shoes

If only I was still able to wear those heels!