Sunday, May 10, 2009

The first full week of May 2009

I spent a lot of time on various buses last week riding around town collecting photos and info on various tourist attractions. We San Diegans really have the best MTS bus drivers around! They all know the area and the various bus routes so well that they can unfailingly point me to the right connections to get to where I want to go the fastest. And no matter how bad the traffic gets or how crowded the bus is, they are exceedingly courteous and patient... even when a few riders aren't returning the favor.

One bus driver who was running route 30 from University Town Centre to Downtown via La Jolla and Mission Bay last week not only told me what the nearest stop to Children's Pool (I wanted to see the seals) would be, but also took the time to tell me exactly how to get there after I stepped off his bus. Another lovely lady driver leaned out of her bus one morning to ask me where I was trying to get to when she spotted me looking perplexedly at the routes map posted at a bus stop in downtown. It is really cool to see folks who take pride in what they do and do their job really well!

Aside from hanging around the famous Children's Pool (where the seals are), I also got to see a lot of the gorgeously eroded La Jolla Cove, walked along much of the San Diego - La Jolla Underwater Park and even found the famous Sunny Jim cave (albeit from the sea... I hitched a ride with a local boat, thanks very much. Those 144 steps don't look all that friendly to three-legged me). There are 7 sea caves in the area and this is the only one that is accessible from land (though, apparently there is a $4 fee for using the steps from the Cave Store). If you want to see more photos from these trips, I put them together into 3 slide show clips at Youtube:
- Torrey Pines State Reserve
- San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park walk
- Torrey Pines Gliderport

Saturday night saw a different sort of adventure, though. My old golfing buddy, Clark Renner (who now teaches at Rancho Carlsbad Country Club), agreed to go with me to the opening night of Puccini's Madama Butterfly at the San Diego Civic Theater in downtown. A spectacular performance featuring perhaps the first pick for the title role on anyone's wish list, Patricia Racette as Cio-Cio-San (Mme Butterfly).

She didn't look much like a 15 yrs old Japanese ingenue, but the way she inhabited the role had us all sold on the concept from start to finish. And, man, it is so good to get to hear such a powerful and dramatically adept voice still in such a good shape after so many years in this demanding repertoire. None of that overly wide or prominent vibrato that is a given in a Verdi or Puccini (or Wagner) soprano nowadays. When the curtain came down the audience erupted into a roaring cheer that was loud enough to wake the dead.

On another note, I thought it was pretty darn obnoxious how loudly the audience booed Carlo Ventris' Pinkerton when he came out for his bow. I think it was in jest (as in 'booing the cad Pinkerton' rather than booing the performance of him), but still... That isn't how it is done at opera houses. I hope someone at the SDO explained to Ventris that the boo was to be taken as a cheer and not as a disapproval (as it would be interpreted elsewhere in the sane world). :oP Honestly... San Diego opera audience is really a certifiably strange crowd!

Anyhow... I'm willing to bet that most are scrambling to try to get a ticket to see another performance now. This show really deserve to sell out its remaining performances of the run (May 12, 15, 17, 20). Ya' gotta give it to the San Diego Opera for continuing to put on high quality performances even in this tough an economy!


Georg said...

You are a real good commentor (or commentator?).

I liked your comment on Carlo Ventris performance. We'll never know what it meant.

Right now I am on YT for those three videos.


Smorg said...

Ciao Georgy!
Thanks a bunch for the positive assessment, bro. :o) That booing of Ventris was really totally unexpected. He sang well and I think his portrayal of Pinkerton was actually a lot more sympathetic than we usually see (he isn't really a heartless cad, just a thoughtless lad whose thoughtlessness has grave consequences).

So... I'm pretty sure that the boo was the equivalent of cheering in this instance, but a very unorthodox one that is very susceptible to misinterpretation by the artist. :oP It's like when the young American compliments you by saying how 'bad' you are, you know? (bad in that case actually means good).

I hope you enjoyed the slide shows! I think I'd love a walk around the woods of Central France better though. We do have great view of the ocean, but the land is so dry and tree-less (aside from those pines and low scrubs) that the monkey in me feel like it is missing something. ;o)

Thanks a bunch for stopping by!


Dominic said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. It looks like you live in a very nice part of the world too. My Mum really likes music, but I'm not sure what she thinks of opera. I will get her to check out your site. It looks very interesting!

Smorg said...

Hi Dominic,
Thanks for stopping by! Sorry I'm behind my emails and comments at the moment. :o( Moving slower with age, I am!

I hope your mom will find some operas to her liking. :o) It's a really big music genre... you're bound to run into something you like if you sample enough of it.

Hope Australia is having a good autumn!

Smorg :o)

Heather said...

Can't believe people booed at the opera! I mean you boo when the actor is terrible, not when an actor plays a character that you don't like. I mean every good show as an antagonist! The audience must have been a rowdy crowd.

I loved the photos on this post, especially the second set of three with the cave and the stairway.

Smorg said...

Me, neither, matie. I've been going to the opera for a while now and that was the first time I've ever heard that. Totally wacky!

Normally opera audience cheer for the really well played baddies... I don't know what is with the San Diego Opera audience this year. Perhaps we've had a higher percentage of newbies... Hopefully they had learned a more conventional (less prone to misinterpretation) way of expressing their pleasure since, tho.

Hope you'll get to visit La Jolla one day. :o) It is really beautiful! They're charging $4 to go down that staircase to the cave opening, but it's worth it (unless you are claustrophobic, then you shouldn't go down there at all... it's rather spooky). :o)

Thanks for stopping by!