Tuesday, March 29, 2011

White Shirt: The Resurrected I Capuleti in Munich

I'm out of town and am not online much, though I along with many other lovers of mezzo-soprano opera singers (AKA White Shirts) was quite anticipative about radio broadcast of the Bavarian State Opera's new production of Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi (The Capulets and the Montagues) that opened last Sunday. Much of the anticipation was caused by the prospect of Vesselina Kasarova resuming the splendidly dashing trouser role of Romeo for the first time in more than a decade. Alas, a misfortune of Shakespearean proportion struck when Frau Kasarova came down with the hideous illness of pneumonia just a couple of days before opening night and is definitely out of at least the first 4 scheduled performances. 
I Capuleti e i Montecchi poster (Photo: Das Bayerische Staatsoper)
 As disappointed as fans are at not getting to see her in this role that she has proven supremely smashing in, I'm sure Frau K herself is much more distraught than everyone else for many very good reasons (aside from the obviously hideous degree of discomfort that pneumonia is known to deliver, she hates to disappoint her fans, has a lung-dependent career to worry about and is suffering substantial loss of income in missing these performances). We can only hope that she is recovering well and will be able to resume normal health again soon. Those who wish to send Frau Kasarova a get well message can leave them at her Yahoo Group or at Anik LaChev's Mezzo Well Wishes page. 

Eri Nakamura (Giulietta) & Tara Erraught (Romeo) (Photo: Das Bayerische Staatsoper)

On the other side of the coin, a hearty congratulations to 24 Irish mezzo Tara Erraught who stepped in on short notice to replace Vesselina Kasarova and had a marvelous performance along side Eri Nakamura's extremely impressive Giulietta! It was a tall order to take over so pivotal a role from so locally beloved a performer and to deliver it so well. Brave to both Ms. Erraught and Ms. Nakamura, and may they keep up the good work and enjoy the experience in subsequent performances as well!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Around Town: Are You A Golf-a-holic?

I obscured the car's license plate on purpose. The original car has a clean plate.
 Whatever you do, don't challenge the owner of this golf-mobile to a long drive contest...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

To my fellow panicky American West Coasters

Panicking isn't a good quality, especially when it has the effect of depleting the supply of needed remedy for the people who actually need it... Quit making a run on those potassium iodide pills!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

An Eventful March... so far

Ay, the ides of March have come and they haven't gone... Or something like that. What a turbulent month March is proving to be on the other side of the Pacific Ocean!

No other folks are as prepared for the worst as the Japanese were, but there really is only so much you can do when Mother Nature throws a 9.0 earthquake towing a giant tsunami your way.... especially when 'your way' is home to a whole lot of nuclear power plants! I hope they'll manage to somehow cool those exploding nuclear reactors down and stop the radiation leak soon.... even though I wonder how that can happen.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ben Farone)
I've been following the news via CNN, BBC, Deutsche Welle, Al Jazeera English, and a few other channels, of course, and I really admire the Japanese for how they are handling themselves through out this crisis. Clean up efforts are immediately underway and the quake/tsunami victims seem quite bent on what need to be done rather than to just wail for help and feel sorry for themselves like many other folks would tend to do. Folks in wiped out area who no longer have basic supplies are even standing in line at stores and shelters, orderly waiting their turn. Yes, one would hope that people always behave like that in the face of such devastating crisis, but I distinctly remember many other episodes in very recent memory elsewhere where this did not happen. So there... kudos to the Japanese people and wishing them a speedy recovery!

For those of us who dislike being a helpless spectator to such a scale of misfortune, though, we can help by donating to legitimate relief organizations like these:

Text REDCROSS or 90999 to make $10 donation by text message. 

Global Giving (www.globalgiving.org): Text JAPAN or 50555 to donate $10

Salvation Army (donate.salvationarmyusa.org): Toll free: 800-SAL-ARMY, Text QUAKE or 80888 to donate $10 

Save the Children: Emergency Relief for Japan Quake (www.savethechildren.org/japanquake): Toll free: 800-728-3843, Text JAPAN or 20222 to donate.

World Vision (www.worldvision.org): Toll Free: 888-56-CHILD Text 4JAPAN to 20222 to donate $10

 On my front I just got back home from another 10 days working trip. I did manage to drop in at the San Diego Zoo the weekend before last and had a fun ride on the Skyfari...

It was really cool looking at the various zoo facilities and animals from overhead. The California Tower at the Museum of Man dominated the skyline, of course, and it was a bit surreal watching a few commercial planes flying by below the tower's spike on their way to Lindberg Field Airport.

And I got to spend more time with Coconut the English bulldog puppy. He naps a lot, and picks up tricks really quickly during training sessions. His face doesn't allow him to smile much, but he says plenty with his eyes (and the way he looks at you sideways... The dog has a diva-worthy attitude!). Girls go wild over him, I think mostly because of his kabuki-ish black natural eye-liner and his 'Oh yes, you love me!' operating motto. The brainy pooch saw me coming down the stair with my suitcase yesterday morning and proceeded to attack my shoelaces - he was determined to not let me put my shoes on (and then be able to leave)! 

Didn't get much writing done while I was gone, though I did get to interview Eimear Noone, the fascinating Irish composer/conductor who is hosting 'This Is Ireland' St Patrick's Day celebration at UCLA's Royce Hall this Thursday. 

Now... I'm taking the day off and hope to read a few more chapters of Azar Narfisi' Reading Lolita In Iran...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Love is in the air.... literally

I was wandering about in Hillcrest area of San Diego yesterday when I looked up at a strangely coherent batch of clouds....

Whoever 'Ken' is, he sure got a lot of love yesterday!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Dog Dream Afternoon

"Stars shining bright above you
Night breezes seem to whisper "i love you"
Birds singin’ in the sycamore trees
Dream a little dream of me..."
          ('Dream A Little Dream of Me' lyric by Gus Kahn)

When he isn't parading his cutest butt on planet Earth around, Coconut the English bulldog spends much of his down time dreaming up new moves to showcase on his daily walks.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

When the saner side of conservativism finally speaks up

Score one for pro-small (but effective) government conservatives!

Guest Announcement: 'This Is Ireland' at UCLA on St. Patrick's Day 2011


Celebrity Guest Performers Include Actor Pierce Brosnan, Actress Roma Downey, Lyric Soprano Celine Byrne, “X-Factor” Finalist Storm Lee, Paris Opera Baritone Sam McElroy with Music by Elmer Bernstein, Christopher Young, John Williams, U2

A Tribute to Thin Lizzy’s Gary Moore Will be Featured

Los Angeles…(February 22, 2011)…The Gala production of “This is Ireland,” the authentic Irish theatrical, musical experience, will take place on Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 8:00 PM at UCLA’s prestigious performing arts theater, Royce Hall, where music, performance and image will unite to celebrate the epic journey of the Emerald Isle. Promising to become an annual St Patrick’s Day event in Los Angeles, the magical evening will be a sensational multimedia expression of Irish music, culture and history led by Irish composer/conductor Eímear Noone (The Los Angeles Ballet, “StarCraft II,” The Dublin City Concert Orchestra, The Los Angeles Irish Film Festival) with special celebrity guest performers including actor Pierce Brosnan (“The Ghost Writer,” “Mamma Mia,” “Die Another Day”); award-winning lyric soprano Celine Byrne (2007 Maria Callas Grand Prix); actress/producer Roma Downey (“Touched by an Angel”), “X-Factor” finalist Storm Lee; pre-eminent harpist Gayle Levant (“Spider Man 3,” “The Bucket List”); former Paris Opera Baritone Sam McElroy and Irish actress and television host, Caroline Morahan. The full cast and musical performers will be finalized in the days leading up to the event.

The event’s prestigious list of Honorary Patrons include Roma Downey, award-winning actor Martin Sheen (“The West Wing,” “The Departed,” “Apocalypse Now”), Oscar®-nominated father/daughter team director Jim Sheridan (“In the Name of the Father,” “My Left Foot”) and director/writer Kirsten Sheridan (“August Rush,” “In America”), with additional Patrons to be announced.

“This is Ireland” is the vision of Galway native Noone and her husband, Craig Stuart Garfinkle, an award-winning music producer and Emmy-nominated composer.

“After Los Angeles’ annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade was cancelled last year, we decided to dedicate a fresh new event in celebration of Ireland's rich socio-cultural history,” states Noone.  “Not only do we want to share our favorite things about being Irish with our adopted city, but we also want to create a meaningful and exciting Irish experience to redefine St. Patrick’s Day. “ 

Eimear Noone, conductor/composer. Photo courtesy of Blizzard Games
Noone will answer the question, "What does it really mean to be Irish?" by taking the audience on a whistle-stop tour of Ireland's rich, poignant and at times humorously complex, socio-cultural history.  Pathos, tradition, tragedy and comedy will share the stage in this in-depth illustration of the colorful facets of the Irish psyche which will include: a 40-piece orchestra, a chorus, a core rock ensemble, Irish film clips, news reels, dance, excerpts from great literary works, letters from Irish American emigrants, special greetings from Ireland’s President Mary McAleese, and even a sword fight between the legendary Grace O’Malley “The Pirate Queen” and her ex-husband Domhnaill. 

With a mix of original and traditional composition, “This is Ireland” will feature Irish music ranging from folk songs (including songs from the Famine) to film scores and will include music by Oscar® and Grammy-winner John Williams (“Jaws,” “Star Wars,” “Schindler’s List,” “Harry Potter”), multi-Academy Award®-winner Elmer Bernstein and Ireland’s great 18th Century harper-composer O’Carolan. The program will also feature the bewitching tunes of Golden Globe-nominated film composer Christopher Young (“Swordfish,” “Spiderman 2,” “Drag me to Hell”), the nocturnes of 19th Century composer and concert pianist John Field, and music from Irish rock stars such as U2 and Thin Lizzy, with a special tribute to Gary Moore.

“This is Ireland” is written by Eímear Noone, Patrick Duffy, advisor and speechwriter to former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, and Dearbhail MacDonald, author and legal editor for the Irish Independent.  Producers are Eimear Noone, Craig Stuart Garfinkle, Patrick Duffy, Lisa McLaughlin-Strassman, Bernadette O’Neill, Dearbhail MacDonald and David Garfinkle.  Co-producers are Victoria Harris, Jan Kean and Deborah Kolar.  Honorary patrons include Roma Downey, Martin Sheen, Kirsten Sheridan and director Jim Sheridan.

This is Ireland”’s sponsors include Tourism Ireland and Kerrygold.

*  *  *

Event Details:
March 17, 2011 – 8:00 p.m. – UCLA’s Royce Hall

Ticket Purchase Details:
Individual tickets are $38/58/68/88 for the performance.  For additional information and tickets please see http://www.uclalive.org/ calendar/event_detail.asp?id= 114