Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A sail around San Diego Bay

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Having sold an article that pays a bit more than usual, I decided to celebrate by buying a $17 Discovery Package ticket to the Maritime Museum that includes a short (45 minutes long) cruise along the middle part of the San Diego bay on the Pilot, the original 1914 boat that served as the harbor pilot that guide ships safely in and out of the bay and is now a part of this floating museum of historic ships... aside from getting to see all the historic ships and museum exhibits.

I haven't got a video camera, and so this is a slide show of many still photos instead. We had a guide along with us who pointed out various notable features along the waterfront and told us many amusing stories about them. It was a good tour even though the sky was rather hazy and cloudier than usual. We didn't run into any navy ship (aside from the speeding security patrol boats), but did catch the America, another historic replica that usually moors at the Marriott Hotel Marina, as she took off for a whale watching trip.

The music in the background is Arthur Rubinstein playing 'adagio' from Tchaikovsky's 1st piano concerto (in B-flat minor).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Birdihood by the Bay

The sea-loving pigeons of San Diego Bay having an infectiously romantic moment...

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Photos taken on the Embarcadero close to San Diego Maritime Museum. Music is 'Nocturne' from the film, La Califfa (music by Ennio Morricone).

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Still flying after all these years

Ever wonder what happen to world class gymnasts once they were done with their Olympics career?

Here is the great Sergei Kharikov (now Sergej Charkov), the 1988 Summer Olympic's gold medalist on Floor Exercise and Men's team championship (I think he also medaled in the Vault). I remember him even though I was still a grade school kid watching that Olympic. He was so rhythmic and smooth on the FX he would make most of today's girl gymnasts look like a bunch of disgraceful bumbling jumping beans (if you don't believe me, check this clip out)!

Now... he's a marvelously entertaining Vogelscheuche - Scarecrow - with an attitude. That's just the thing I miss about Gymnastics and Figure Skating since the last athletes that were trained during the USSR era had retired. They were so well trained and secure in their technique that they could go beyond just being technical in performance. They turned the whole thing into something of an art form.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Hey Susan Boyle -Stay the way you are ONLY if you want to

I admit that I'm not a fan of reality tv shows. Aside from 3 or 4 episodes of 'The Mole' many years ago, I've never been able to even watch an entire episode of any of the reality/talent-search shows I've tried over the years. Frankly, I don't find them all that interesting.

That said, I am very grateful to a friend who forwarded me a link to a youtube clip of the episode of Britain's Got Talent that is gathering millions of hits.

It, of course, is this show when frumpy and not-quite-young-anymore Susan Boyle walks confidently up on the stage, faces down a largely credulous audience, and delivers a piece of singing that blows everyone away.... against all odds. And, watching it, I am as inspired as everyone else and might just be more willing to give the reality talent-search tv shows more watching attempts for it.

Now, however, I'm hearing things said about this episode that I find rather bothering - especially since I've heard this sort of things before. Over and over again.

No, it isn't even the nitpicking by-the-minute updates on what Susan Boyle had done to herself since then. There are many more significant and newsworthy things I'd like to hear about than whether Susan Boyle had been corrupted by the instant fame because she had dyed her hair and bought a new leather jacket. It's the 'she should stay exactly as she is and refuse (or not be allowed) any make-over to make her look better' because 'her frumpiness is what we loved her for in the first place.'

To which, I say - Susan, darling, screw them! It's your life. Stay the way you are ONLY if that is what you want and what you are content with.... NOT because that's what society would like to condescendingly product-package you as now. It is just as unfair to expect young lasses to look like bulimic models to have a career in performance arts as it is to expect someone to remain homely against her will - all just so that some people can continue to project their own visions/wishes onto another person to force them to play a role (as an inspirational idol or whatever) that they hadn't sign up for in the first place.

Susan Boyle. You clearly stated that your dream is to be a professional singer. And you have proven that you have the voice and musicality for it. If you show up looking nice and singing well on the next round and are then criticized for being a human being who has a mind and wants about her own appearance rather than a permanently stunted sheep forever stuck in a box labeled 'the unattractive underdog' so that people can keep gratify their righteous selves by cheerfully pitying, then we'll find out just exactly what the 'Boyle Mania' is all about, now, won't we?

It won't take anything away from your singing ability.... It'll just weed out those who really cheer for you for your art and because they respect you as an individual from those who are just looking to have an 'underdog of the day' ad infinitum to cheer for simply because they want to keep being distracted away from having to turn that moral/ethical/whatever spotlight onto themselves for once.

Organically Orgonasova

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The elusive Slovak soprano Luba Orgonasova was caught singing the soprano part in the Verdi requiem at Music Festival Montreux in 1998. One of the best rendition of the Libera me section I've heard. She is accompanied by Paul Daniel & the Orchestre National de Lyon and the Choeur philharmonique de Prague.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Die Blumen aus dem Balboa Park: Musing On Observed Evolution

Hmmm... I see the bees had already been through here.

This little Costa's humming bird was a busy glutton when I found him. He was so bent on sucking all the nectar out of the entire bush that he couldn’t care less about intrusive me and my prying camera.

Watching the feeding frenzy, I found myself wondering about how some grade school biology teachers would tell their student about the adaptation of the bird’s beak and the shape of the flower petals. How they fit so well - in some cases - that a certain type of flowers can only be pollinated by a certain type of insects or birds. Biology teachers have to be so careful with how they phrase their explanation or they’ll end up implying purpose where none is really warranted.
Adaptation by natural selection is not a purposeful nor is it a directional event. You don’t have the ‘which comes first; the flower or its pollinator?’ deal here. Both species had to have evolved together since one can’t survive without the other. The flower of a certain shape can only survive to reproduce if there also happens to also exist a pollinator that can physically enable the spores and eggs to meet... and one that is particularly attracted to the flower's particular feature. If such a pollinator didn’t already exist when the first flower with this structure appeared, then the flower would have simply died out... as many flowers and trees and animals obviously had done (and that's why 'purpose' is not inferred. If the process is directional or guided for a purpose, then there wouldn't be 'extinct losers' littering the history of this planet. Life didn't evolved on a one-on-one progressive basis. Many different varieties evolved (and are still evolving), and only those that hadn't gone extinct remain).

The pollinators also benefit from the 'fit', of course, especially when the specific hummingbird's beak type enables it to get to a food source that the other sorts of hummingbirds that have different beak-shape can't physically utilize. Then he can monopolize the food source without having to engage in more competition from other hummingbird varieties. Now... the pollinators come with varieties of their own, of course, and there is competition inside the same species (refining the 'fit') that, over time leads to greater diversity with more variations of petal shape and beak shape being accommodated by each other.

That is, until some abrupt changes in environment come about and cause a drastic drop in the population of one or more of these organisms thriving in a symbiotic arrangement. This 'bottleneck effect' is a big cause of extinction. Some organisms may survive the change, but if there isn't enough survivors to keep producing offspring that can also survive the new environment, then... Adieu, mes amis.
Il faisait bien de vous connaître ...

And here I should probably give a shout out to those who love to dismiss the phenomenon of climate change/global warming as 'unimportant' or 'not worth worrying about since the earth won't get destroyed by it'. The really intelligent folks are worrying about it not because they think that the earth won't survive but because they realize that the sort of environment this climate change/global warming is leading to may not be one that OUR SPECIES can survive very well in. See the difference? And it doesn't comfort us any if we will be able to survive but the species that we eat for food will not - which also means that the survival of the species that our food source depend on for food is also of tremendous importance to us! Among other things....
Extinction... is a cold hard fact of life. That extinction occurs over and over again to reflect the change in environment and other 'stress factors' reinforces Darwin's theory. 'Survival of the fittest', be it a bit of a misnomer since a trait doesn't have to be the fittest to survive, it just has to be relatively harmless to the organisms' survival, is NOT a theory. It is an observed phenomenon of nature. A fact of life. The theory that Darwin came up with in order to explain that phenomenon is called 'Evolution by Natural Selection'. And what it says is simple - the diversity of life on earth came about because only the organisms that have the traits that enable (or at least fail to hinder) them to survive and reproduce (passing along those traits to the next generations) in the prevailing environment are spared from extinction. 'Swim or sink, you lot' is what nature says.

The theory hinges on there already being life (it does NOT say anything about how the first life came to be in the first place), a variety of it, for that matter. And it also depends on the traits being
capable of modifications (mutations), and that the modified traits can be transmitted from one generation to the next. If possessors of a certain trait aren’t competitive enough and lucky enough to keep surviving to reproduce (not to mention finding a niche like the hummingbirds and the flowers with long and narrow tube-like petals enjoy), they just go extinct. The process is non-directional, but it is by no mean random. It is regulated by the prevailing environment (so if someone tries to tell you that ‘evolution says that things happen at random’, you should immediately look out for flying bullshit and other superfluously inane stuff that surely are about to start splattering around you).
Had life on earth been 'intelligently designed', then there shouldn't be naturally occurred extinction now, should there be? Else, the term should have been modified into 'unintelligently designed'.... in order to fit in with what the evidence says.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Opera is for drama queens (and those who love them)

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Ah Ruggiero crudel, tu no mi amasti .... Cruel Ruggiero You don’t love me
Ah che fingesti ancor, e m'ingannasti ... Yet you pretended to, and deceived me
E pur ti adora ancor fido mio core........ And still my faithful heart adores you.
Ah Ruggiero crudel ah, traditore ....... O cruel Ruggiero You traitor

Del pallido Acheronte spiriti abitatori,.... You native spirits of livid Acheron,
e della notte ministri di vendetta,........ avenging ministers of the night,
cieche figlie crudeli, a me venite ........ blind, cruel daughters, come to me
Secondate i miei voti,..................... Back up my desire
perché Ruggiero amato................... to prevent my beloved Ruggiero
non fugga da me ingrato................ from his ungrateful escape.

Ma ohimé misera .................... But, alas Misery
e quale insolita tardanza?........... What strange tardiness is this?
eh non m'udite?....................... Hey Can’t you hear me?
Vi cerco, e vi ascondete?........... I seek you, but you hide?
Vi comando, e tacete?............... I command you, yet you’re mum?
Evvi inganno? evvi frode?.......... You would deceive me? Cheat me?
La mia verga fatal non ha possanza?... Has my dreaded wand lost its power?
Vinta, delusa Alcina, e che ti avanza?... Defeated, deceived Alcina. What do you have left?
This accompanied recitative (very uncommon for the time of the composition) should drive home to us just how dramatically adept Georg Friedrich Händel was as an opera composer. In this scene toward the end of the second act of Alcina, the sorceress is distressed over the news that Ruggiero, the knight that she had cast her love magic over to keep as her lover, has finally came to his senses and is planning on escaping from her isolated island with his betrothed Bradamante. Stirred into an emotional frenzy, Alcina takes out her magic wand and attempts to summon the evil spirits that she usually command to hex the two escapees... Alas, the shock of romantic rejection appears to have eroded her power.

Listen to the orchestra. Listen for what isn’t there when she calls for supernatural help. Sometimes... silence is the most compelling dramatic statement when it comes to music.
And if you are as blown away by the vocal acting of the Alcina in this clip as I am, run to the music store near you and buy the Archiv Produktion CD set of the opera starring Joyce DiDonato in the title role (with Maite Beaumont, Sonia Prina, and Karina Gauvin). It is the only recording of the opera done at Baroque pitch and with a mezzo-soprano Alcina. The rest of the cast range from fine to very good, though the studio recording is more like a strings of beautifully sung arias than a full performance of the opera even though all the cast members are very theatrically adept during the recitatives (I'm afraid maestro Alan Curtis insisted on ornamenting the music so much that most of the singers lose the ‘drama-oriented’ flare half-way into the arias and are transformed into just singing machine... They have all they can handle just to sing all the notes imposed on them).

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!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Directory of Reviews and Essays

As many of you know, I write reviews and articles at various websites. After a while it's getting a bit much to keep track of what I had written about, so I'm compiling the articles I've posted online as 'Smorg' here to make it easier for those searching for specific reviews. The directory is subjected to periodic updates, of course:

But, first off, the other two open websites (aside from Amazon) I post at are: Epinions.com and AssociatedContent.com
Also... I'm sdcmorg at Youtube.

Selected Samplers:
- Most positive reviews: Opera Scenes and Orchestral Songs (Astrid Varnay), La clemenza di Tito (Salzburg 2003)
- Most negative reviews: Ascanio in Alba (Salzburg 2006), James McMullen's Cry of the Panther
- Most popular for some weird reasons: Working In Nursing Homes During College, Musical Taste Ain't Universal: Bel Canto
- Wish they'd be more popular: Doing Science Means Never Taking Things For Granted, Evolving Thoughts While Visiting Balboa Park


INTERVIEWS:  
After Daybreak (classical-pop crossover trio)
Esther Barr (metalworks artist)
Ian Campbell (General Director & Music Director of San Diego Opera)
Arturo Chacon Cruz (operatic tenor)
Christy M Erb (ex-LPGA Tour player, personal trainer, writer)
Kurtz Frausun (composer/singer)
Courtly Noyse (San Diego based Renaissance Music Group)
Juliette Galstian (operatic mezzo-soprano)
Integr8ed Soul (folk band/cartoonists/crochet artists)
Christiane Karg (operatic soprano)
Helene Lindqvist (operatic soprano & co-founder of The Art Song Project)
Leon Natker (General Director - Lyric Opera San Diego)
Rebecca Nelsen (operatic soprano)
Eimear Noone (composer/conductor)
Rene Tornero (experimental rock guitarist)
Elizabeth Tryon (classical-pop crossover singer)


SCHEDULES
L'Ubica (Luba) Orgonasova, Vesselina Kasarova

MUSIC ESSAYS:

RANTS: 

OPERA RAMBLINGS:
A Few Words To Opera Newbies , Opera Listening Tips to Newbies, Commandments for the Operafans, Stylistic Opera Samplers for Newbies, 10 Beginners-Friendly Opera, Bel Canto Is NOT About Sounding Beautiful!, Seven Weepiest Opera Scenes, Seven Funniest Opera Scenes, Seven Sea-Loving Scenes from the Opera, Some Friendly Diva Opera Arias (the ladies), Some Friendly Divo Opera Arias (the gents), Some Friendly Operatic Duets, Some Friendly Operatic Ensembles, Tips In Opera Reviewing, 15 Favorite Opera Youtube Clips (2007), Newbies' Guide to German & French Opera, Newbies' Guide to Mozart & Bel Canto Opera, Newbies' Guide to Operetta, Smorgish Thoughts On Classical 'Cross-Over' Singers, My Favorite Opera, Opera Tunes You've Heard Before, Favorite Songs (Dec 2008), Some Operatic Music You Already Know!, My 5 Musical Heroes, Do Opera Stars Today Measure Up To Past Legends?, Favorite Sopranos: Part 1 (Stemme, Denoke, Harteros, Stoyanova), Favorite Sopranos: Part 2 (Hartelius, Naglestad, Antonacci, Gruberova), Seven Deadliest Dames of Opera, Operatic Style Samplers, Sexiest Female Opera Singers (2010), Sexiest Male Opera Singers (2010),
LIVE CLASSICAL MUSIC/OPERA REVIEWS: 
Donizetti's Dom Sébastian (OONY 2006), Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea (LA Opera 2006), Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro (San Diego Opera 2007), Donizetti's Maria Stuarda (SDO 2008), Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci (SDO 2008), Verdi's Aida (SDO 2008), Kellogg's 'Fiery Furnace' & Grieg's 'Peer Gynt' (San Diego Symphony 2008), Bizet's Les Pecheurs de Perle (SDO May2008), Puccini's Tosca (SDO Jan2009), Massenet's Don Quichotte/Don Quixote (SDO Feb2009), Verdi's Rigoletto (SDO Mar2009), Respighi's Le fontane di Roma, Mendelssohn's violin concerto in E minor & 'Italian' symphony (San Diego Symphony & Cory Cerovsek 2009), Britten's Peter Grimes (SDO Apr2009), Puccini's Madama Butterfly (SDO May2009), Summer Pops 1812 Extravaganza (SD Symphony 2009), All Shostakovich at the San Diego Symphony (SDSymphony with Julie Albers Oct 2009), Mozart's Requiem (SDSymphony & Master Chorale 2009), Beethoven's 9th Symphony (SDSymphony & Master Chorale 2009), Puccini's La Boheme at San Diego Opera (Jan2010), Bizet's Carmen (HD broadcast with Alagna & Garanca 2010), Strauss, Mozart & Debussy's La Mer (SDSymphony Feb2010),Verdi's Nabucco (SDO Feb2010), Kevin Cole & Marvin Hamlisch do Gershwin (SDSymphony Mar2010) Joshua Bell at San Diego Symphony (Mar2010), Gounod's Romeo et Juliette at San Diego Opera (Mar2010), SDMC: Cathedral Classics (Apr2010), Puccini's Turandot (SDO Feb2011), Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier (SDO 2011), Bizet's Carmen (SDO May2011).


CLASSICAL MUSIC PERFORMANCE/RECORDING REVIEWS (by composer): 
JS BACH: Cantatas 82 & 199 (Hunt-Lieberson), Matthäus-Passion (Harnoncourt 2001)
L van BEETHOVEN: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 7 (Ashkenazy/Philharmonia Orch),
V BELLINI: Beatrice di Tenda (Vienna 1992: Steinberg/ Gruberova, Morosow, Bernardini, Kasarova), I Capuleti e i Montecchi (R Abbado 1997: Kasarova, Mei, Vargas), I Capuleti e i Montecchi (Martina Franca Festival 2006: ), Norma (Munich 2006: Heider/ Gruberova, Shagidulin, Ganassi)
H BERLIOZ: La damnation de Faust (Salzburg 1999: Cambreling/ Groves, Kasarova, White), Les Troyens (Paris 2003)
G BIZET: Carmen (Verona 2003), Les Pecheurs de Perle (Live SDO 2008)
B BRITTEN: Peter Grimes (live SDO 2009)
F CHOPIN:
Chopin At The Opera (2010)
G DONIZETTI: Dom Sébastien (ROH 2005: Elder/ Filianotti, Kasarova, Keenlyside), Dom Sébastien (live performance- OONY 2006: Queler/ Korchak, Kasarova), La Favorite (Munich 2000: /Kasarova, Vargas), Lucia di Lammermoor (Mexico City 1952: /Callas), Linda di Chamounix (Zurich 1996:/ Gruberova), Maria Stuarda (SDO 2008: Mueller/ Jaho, Aldrich)
A DVORAK: Rusalka (ENO 1986)
W FORTNER: Bluthochzeit (Stuttgart 1964)
CW GLUCK: Iphigénie en Tauride (Zürich 2001:/Galstian, Van der Walt), Orphée et Eurydice (Munich 2005: Bolton/ Kasarova, Joshua, York) 
E HUMPERDINCK: Hansel und Gretel (LOSD 2009)
L JANÁČEK: Jenůfa (Munich 1971)
D KELLOGG: Fiery Furnace (live SDSymphony 2008)
EW KORNGOLD: Die tote Stadt (Strasbourg 2001)
R LEONCAVALLO: I Pagliacci (SD Opera 2008)
P MASCAGNI: Cavalleria Rusticana (SD Opera 2008), Cavalleria Rusticana (Munich 1954)
J MASSENET: Werther (V Jurowski 1998), Werther (Vienna 2005)
F MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY: Violin Concerto in E minor & Symphony #4 in A major 'Italian' (San Diego Symphony & Corey Cerovsek 2009)
C MONTEVERDI: L’incoronazione di Poppea (live performance- LAO 2006), Il ritorno d’Ulysse in patria (Zürich 2002)
WA MOZART: Apollo et Hyacinthus (Salzburg 2006), Ascanio in Alba (Salzburg 2006), Bastien und Bastienne/Der Schauspieldirektor (Salzburg 2006), La clemenza di Tito (Salzburg 2003), La clemenza di Tito (Zürich 2005), La clemenza di Tito (Munich 2006), La clemenza di Tito (JE Gardiner), Cosi fan tutte (Ponnelle film), Don Giovanni (Met 2000), Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Salzburg 1998), La finta giardiniera (Salzburg 2006), La finta semplice (Salzburg 2006), Idomeneo (Salzburg 2006), Idomeneo (Met 198-), Lucio Silla (Salzburg 2006), Mitridate (Salzburg 1997), Mitridate (Rousset), Le nozze di Figaro (live performance- SDO 2007), Die Zauberflöte (ROH 2001), Die Zauberflöte (Modena 2005), Die Zauberflöte (Zürich 1999), Rosetti & Mozart: Symphony in G-minor & Violin Concerto No. 5)
J OFFENBACH: La Belle Hélène (Zürich 1997), Orphée aux enfers (Lyon 1997)
G PAISIELLO: Nina (Zürich 1998)
R PORTMAN: The Little Prince (BBC 2003)
F POULENC: Les dialogues des Carmelites (Strasbourg 1999)
G PUCCINI: La fanciulla del west (Milan 1956), Manon Lescaut (Barcelona 1992), Madama Butterfly (SDO 2009), La Boheme (SDO 2010: Keltner/ Beczala, Dehn, Gandhi), Turandot (SDO 2011: Mueller/ Lindstrom, Ventre, Jaho),
H PURCELL: King Arthur (Salzburg 2004)
S RACHMANINOV: The Miserly Knight (Glyndebourne 2004)
JF RAMEAU: La Platée (Paris 2002)
O RESPIGHI: Le fontane di Roma (The Fountains of Rome) (San Diego Symphony 2009)
N RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Le coq d’or (Paris 2002), Sadko (St. Petersburg 1996)
FA ROSETTI: Rosetti & Mozart: Symphony in G minor & Violin Concert No.5
G ROSSINI: Il barbiere di Siviglia (Zurich 2001), Le cambiale di matrimonio (Schwetzingen 1989), La Cenerentola (Munich 2005), Ermione (Glyndebourne 1995), L'Italiana in Algeri (Met 1986), Maometto II (C Scimone 1983), Tancredi (R Abbado 1996), Tancredi (N Zedda), Tancredi (Schwetzingen 1992)
A SALIERI: Tarare (Schwetzingen 1988)
F SCHUBERT: Fierrabras (Zürich 2005)
DD SHOSTAKOVICH: Katerina Izmailova (M Shapiro film)
R STRAUSS: Elektra (Cologne 1953), Elektra (Götz Friedrich 1982 film), Der Rosenkavalier (Zurich 2004), Der Rosenkavalier (Solti 1988), Der Rosenkavalier (Vienna 1978: Dohnanyi)
H SUTER: Le laudi di San Francesco d'Assisi (Ligeti/1991)
TAN DUN: Tea: A Mirror of Soul
PI TCHAIKOVSKY: Pique Dame/Queen of Spade (Vienna 1992)
G VERDI: Aida (Live - SDO 2008), Ernani (Met 1982), Jerusalem (Genoa 2000), Nabucco (Met), Messa da Requiem (C Abbado 2001), Rigoletto (live - SDO 2009)
R WAGNER: Lohengrin (Met 1986), Great Wagnerian Scenes (Flagstad, Nilsson, Rysanek, S Björling), Tristan und Isolde (Orange 1973)
CM von WEBER: Oberon (Janowski 1996)
C ZELLER: Der Vogelhändler (Mörbisch 1998)
SOLO RECORDING REVIEWS (by artist’s last-name)
Antonacci, Anna Caterina: Era la notte
Bartoli, Cecilia: Rossini Recital
Borodina, Olga: Olga Borodina: Arias
Brightman, Sarah: Classics
Ciofi, Patrizia: Amor e gelosia
Cosmic Voices of Bulgaria: Le Mystere des voix bulgares
Dessay, Natalie:
Mozart Concert Arias
DiDonato, Joyce: Amor e gelosia
Fleming, Renée: By Request
Garanca, Elina: Mozart Opera & Concert Arias
Genaux, Vivica: Arias for Farinelli
Graham, Susan: Artist Portrait
Gruberova, Edita: Mozart Concert Arias (Harnoncourt), Lied-Duett (Kasarova), The Art of Coloratura
Hagner, Viviane & Nicole: Works for Violin & Piano: Beethoven, Saint-Saëns, Schubert
Horne, Marilyn: Marilyn Horne in Recital (Milan 1981)
Hunt-Lieberson, Lorraine: Bach Cantatas #82 & #199)
Kasarova, Vesselina: CDs: Suter: Le laudi di San Francesco (1991), French Song Cycles (1995), A Portrait (1996), Lied-Duett/Wir Schwestern zwei,
(with E Gruberova) (1996), Mozart Arias (1997), Rossini Arias & Duets (1999), German Lieder (2000), Love Entranced (French Opera Arias) (2002), Bulgarian Soul (2003), Stars of Salzburg (2003), The Magic of Kasarova (2004), Bel Canto Duets (With Vargas, Mei, Florez)(2005), Das Bayerische Staatsoper: 1997-2005 (2006), Belle Nuit (2008), Sento brillar (2008), Passionate Arias (2009). Full Opera CDs: Alcina (Munich 2005), Beatrice di Tenda (Vienna 1992), I Capuleti e i Montecchi, La Cenerentola (Munich 2005), La clemenza di Tito (Munich 2006), Dom Sébastien (ROH 2005), La Favorite (Munich 2000), Mitridate (Salzburg 1997), Oberon, Tancredi, Werther Opera DVDs: Il barbiere di Siviglia (Zürich 2001), La belle Hélène (Zürich 1997), Berlin Opera Night 2003, La clemenza di Tito (Salzburg 2003), La clemenza di Tito (Zürich 2005), La damnation de Faust (Salzburg 1999), Orphée et Eurydice (Munich 2005), Pique Dame/Queen of Spade (Vienna 1992), Il ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria (Zürich 2002), Der Rosenkavalier (Zürich 2004) ,Live Performance: Dom Sébastian at Carnegie Hall 2006
Kozena, Magdalena: French Arias
Potts, Paul: One Chance
Röschmann, Dorothea: Händel: Deutsche Arien
Roth, Linus: Rosetti & Mozart
Terfel, Bryn: Opera Arias
Varnay, Astrid: Opera Scenes and Orchestral Songs, Wagner, Beethoven, Verdi, Halevy
Various Artists: Das Bayerische Staatsoper: 1997-2005, Berlin Opera Night 2003, Great Wagnerian Scenes (Flagstad, Nilsson, Rysanek, S Björling)
BOOK REVIEWS: (by author's last-name)
Michael J ARLEN: Passage to Ararat
Anatoli BOUKREEV: Above the Clouds
Jean CRAIGHEAD-GEORGE: My Side of the Mountain
Richard P. FEYNMAN: The Meaning of It All
Hans HOTTER: Hans Hotter: Memoirs
Lotte LEHMANN: My Many Lives
Christa LUDWIG: In My Own Voice
James MARSHALL: Walkabout
James McMULLEN: Cry of the Panther
Leonard MLODINOW: Feynman's Rainbow
Birgit NILLSON: La Nilsson
Lisa RANDALL: Warped Passages
Georges RODENBACH: Bruges la Morte
Jeffrey TAYLOR: Siberian Dawn
Barbara TUCHMAN: The Guns of August
Astrid VARNAY: 55 Years in 5 Acts (Hab'mir's Gelobt)
Galina VISHNEVSKAYA: Galina

TRAVEL ARTICLES:  

MISC:
Bluestocking Books (Hillcrest, San Diego), Freak Factory (Mission Beach, San Diego), Golf On My Mind,