Art, life, and other scribblings.
Thoughts and prayers welcome as well.
Used to be poisonivywalloftext.blogspot.com but some people did not know how to behave on the blogosphere.
RIP Jessye Norman
Norman and Obama. Ah, a time when a president could do these things
The great American soprano Jessye Norman passed away yesterday. My own story about Jessye is small but here goes: after a very bad period in which I gained a lot of weight I took up running a few years ago and quickly learned that the miles went by quicker if I listened to beautiful music. Jessye's album of the Four Last Songs quickly became my favorite workout recording: at 40 minutes the album was perfect for my route, and Norman's lush gorgeous voice somehow made the miles and sweat easier. I listened to it over and over again on my workouts. I recently came down with a bad ankle sprain and have to stay off the ankle for awhile. When I'm able to work out again the first thing I'll do is put 4LL back on.
Meanwhile, here is a wonderful live video of her singing this:
Lifar and Danilova in the original Apollon Musagete The recent death of Alicia Alonso led me down the Youtube rabbit hole and I discovered, among other things, a Cuban version of Balanchine's seminal masterpiece Apollo . I am well aware of the various changes Balanchine made to Apollo in his lifetime from its premiere in 1927 to his death in 1983. The most drastic change was his last change -- he cut the birthing scene and the final ascent up the stairs to Mount Olympus.
Ah, remember when the Met audiences was mildly scandalized over Michael Mayer's Rat-Pack/Vegas Rigoletto ? I do. Bartlett Sher's Weimar Republic Rigoletto was supposed to right those wrongs. Instead, the new production makes absolute nonsense of the libretto. Nice double doors? Photo @ Ken Howard Victor Hugo's play is set in Francis I's court. Francesco Maria Piave's libretto had to move the action to Mantua. The Vegas Rigoletto did one thing right -- it made the Duke of Mantua's and Rigoletto's relationship very vivid. The Duke was the Dean Martin-esque playboy, Rigoletto was the Sammy Davis Jr.-esque sidekick. It made sense, in a way. Sher's Rigoletto transplants the opera to the Weimar Republic. From the moment the curtain rose, one was overwhelmed by Michael Yeargan's huge rotating set that gave us the opera's main locales -- the Duke's court, Rigoletto's house, and Sparafucile's inn. But you had no clue who the Duke of Mant
I went to see the new West Side Story film this afternoon. Overall, I thought it was a really beautiful film that in some ways improved upon the 1961 classic. Director Steven Spielberg and writer Tony Kushner managed to make a film that is both a homage to the original and a reimagining with a new script that tries to flesh out the characters more than Arthur Laurents' original book. For instance, in the remake, Tony has just gotten paroled after a year in prison for pummeling a rival gang member. This backstory makes Tony's violence at the climax of the musical more believable.Also, the Sharks and Maria/Anita/Bernardo speak Spanish to each other which makes more sense since they all just arrived from Puerto Rico.