Monday, April 20, 2009

The Third Week of April 2009...

April is a windy month and its third week just blew by me as if spring is in a hurry to catch the last bus out of town to clear the way for the onslaught of the impatient summer (our thermometer is doing some heavy duty mountain climbing at the moment. It's 88F/31C in Downtown at the moment and getting hotter).My replacement camera arrived last Thursday (I managed to break the previous one on that same spill that messed up my hands for a while) and I was compelled to spend $5 on the MTS 1 day bus/trolley/train pass and went on a Friday expedition around town. See, an Australian friend had sent me a bunch of cute koalas and kangaroo, and I thought I should show them what a scenic city San Diego is (and sending their mistress some cool photos while they're at it). There's Kanga above, visiting Mission Beach and its many sunbathers. And here is Aussie visiting the Old Light House at Point Loma in the Cabrillo National Monument preserve. The light house is no longer operational and is kept as a museum (it is perched at the top of the hill so that the boaters couldn't see its light when the area got foggy anyhow. There's a new light house closer to the waterfront now).

I also ran into a couple of Asian college professors who were in town attending a conference at the San Diego Convention Center. I think one was from China and the other from Vietnam... they were on their way to Sea World and we rode together on the trolley for part of the way. I told them about Ranch 99 Market, the big Asian grocery store up in Kearny Mesa.

It's a marvelous place with all sorts of interesting and delicious food. I still haven't developed the nose that can cope with the dreaded scent of durians, but the boba drinks are quite good... and the Chinese dumplings, too! I gave them the direction to the store (via bus and stuff), but don't know if they made it there after an afternoon with Shamu the orca at Seaworld, though. It's too bad the market isn't closer to downtown area.Saturday night was also the opening night of Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes at the San Diego Opera (click here to see my review of it). It really is not one of my favorite works... mostly because I don't much care for modern operas. The music was good, mind you. The 6 sea interludes that do much of the story-telling in the opera are bloody pictorial and psychologically convincing... I just tend to sit there and wonder why Britten couldn't do the same thing with the vocal part (what the heck is so deplorable about having a singable melody in opera anyhow? The sung play-ish speech isn't really anymore believeable or condusive to aiding the suspension of disbelief than the 'songs' of the operas of the earlier ages do for me).

The performance was a mostly good one, I think. Though much of the audience wasn't prepared for it (and I really saw a lot more dark hair in the auditorium than the usual sea of white heads, so perhaps most hadn't experienced a Britten opera before)... many didn't realize that the sea interlude sequences with the curtain down AREN'T intermission and were taken to chatter, questioning each other about what was going on with the opera (can you imagine that happening during the famous intermezzo in Cavalleria Rusticana? Yikes!)... and many left the show altogether after the first break.

I suppose I should have seen it coming... With the other works being performed this season all coming from the earlier Romantic Period, Grimes is an odd fish when it comes to compositional style. It really is more a sung play than an opera. Perhaps it would help the audience be more prepared on what to expect of the performance to give them pointers about what to listen for in the music (what each of the sea interludes describe) and how different Britten's vision of the main character is from the original character in Crabbe's The Borough than to go into some obscure and hardly relevant history about how Britten first stumbled onto the poem that the opera is based on while visiting San Diego.

I'm glad I finally got to see this opera live... and with Anthony Dean Griffey in the title role (Grimes is pretty much this singer's calling card). Though... somehow it just doesn't grab me. Maybe it'll have a better chance at that with a more interesting staging. But then San Diego's opera audience is notorious for its attachment to traditional staging rather than conceptual ones. In times like this (Orlando Opera has just joined the list as the latest opera company to have gone out of business due to lack of funding), the company has to take care to appeal to its main group of supporters, of course. I hope the local audience will give Grimes a try... I still don't care for the work, but the sea interludes are themselves worth paying $50 to go hear live (ticket price is lower for this opera than for Rigoletto and most likely for Madama Butterfly next month).

And... O, man, did I already complain about how hot it is today? We maxed out at 98F (36.7C) this afternoon! Ugggghhhhhhh!


berenice said...

hola dear Smorg!

you had a rather busy weekend indeed, and with these extreme temperatures, ach! and oh so good that you know many of the places I love in San Diego, like the 99 Ranch store, a little 'stinky' but whoaaa if one can find almost 'all' there, are you familiar with the Japanese stores of the area too? close to Balboa Avenue there's Mitsuwa, only Japanese products with rather good quality

and oh you took your little Australian friend to one of my favorite places in this lovely city, the Cabrillo Monument, I never get tired of going there, the moment I get a visitor, almost before they get a foot down the plane when I am already driving them there! Now I will have to catch up with your Opera recommendations, I do love classical music (studied classical piano for about 10 years) but my taste for Opera is not as developed... but in case I am interested, now I know where the place online to do it!

glad to meet you via France ;) heh heh

really enjoying your blog!

take care and don't melt! ;)

Smorg said...

Hola bella Berenice,
I didn't melt on Monday, actually, I just basically evaporated. ;o)

Man, that was nasty, wasn't it? I sneaked outside to try to get lunch and was so zapped by the intense heat (this concreted and paved city of ours really make a splendid baking oven) I lost my appetite after a few steps. :oP I still like the weather here, though... since I still remember the muggy heat of Missouri in summer. At least here I just bake without the danger of drowning in sweat as well.

Hey, thanks for the tips! I haven't been to Mitsuwa yet. Must go looking for it on my next noodly pilgrimage up to Kearny Mesa area (probably around May 2nd since I want to go up to Torrey Pines to watch some paragliding there as well).

Yup, I love Cabrillo Monument, too! Your visitors are probably very happy to get whisked off to see that sight right off the bat. That's a good way of convincing them that this is truly America's Finest City! :o) I was bummed that I got there too late last week to make it down to the tidepool, though. Will have to make a return trip soon.

I hope you'll give opera a try, too! ;o) I was an instrumental snob that avoided opera like I do a mad hen before (I play the piano and the clarinet)... until I got poached by this Bulgarian mezzo who showed up on Classic Arts Showcase one night singing a Rossini aria while messing around with filled test tubes. The gal so mesmerized me (it did somehow helped that I thought she looked weirdly like a drag queen.... until she opened her mouth, that was) that I became an instant convert and started channeling St. Paul (without the struck blind and mute bits, thankfully). ;o)

Anyhow! Thanks a bunch for stopping by. It's a great pleasure discovering you, your blog, and cats online, too! Hope you're enjoying the cooler weather now!

Smorg :o)