Arts Books Building Computing Making Music


It’s weird. I’ve just spent the past two hours making myself a calendar. I was wondering how to design it and it just popped into my head that I have pictures from the early 2000s to now. Why don’t I use some of my own pictures on my calendar? And then find some quotes I like and put them over the picture. It’s a really simple idea, but I love it. I’m going to get a calendar that has motivational or inspirational quotes and I can look at pictures of things I’ve done which brings back those memories. Totally going to make me happy.

I had wanted to read a book tonight, but I finally got my bluetooth speaker working with my laptop. So I felt that I had to listen to music. I can’t really read when there’s music playing that I can sing along to, so I gave up reading pretty quickly. Then I was thinking that I need to start tracking that I’m eating vegetables, so I need a calendar. And making calendar on the computer is something I can easily do while listening to music. I don’t know why, but now that I don’t have a tv, I feel like I’m getting more and more good ideas for projects. Or maybe it’s just that I have the time to do them, since I’m not sitting in front of a tv. All I know is that I’m loving getting more and more ideas, so I hope they keep coming.

UPDATE: Just printed the calendar. I have a cheap printer and it says it prints on 13×19 paper, which technically it does. But on a few pages, everything was a little skewed. So I think it has a hard time handling paper that big. But it’s printed and hanging on my wall and I love it!


The Barber of Seville

I saw “The Barber of Seville” last night. It has, I think, one of the most recognizable openings of any opera that I’ve heard. It’s great to just watch all the people in front of me swaying along to the music. And I know, for sure, that I could not have been the only person picturing the Bugs Bunny cartoon as the music played. The guy playing Figaro, Nathan Gunn, was very good and, looking at the photo in the book, incredibly good looking. My seat is much too far away to be able to tell myself.

This was my last opera of the season, which is a little sad. But, I did finally decide to get tickets again next year. However, for a change, I did give up my lifetime seat (First Balcony, Row M, seat 8 ) to get a seat on the main floor. The price was the same, so I thought I’d give the main floor a try to see if perhaps, I’ll be close enough to see the performers a little better.

Arts Music

La Traviata

I had the absolute best time at the opera last night. I saw La Traviata with Renee Fleming singing the part of Violetta. She is AMAZING! And, the two seats in front of me were empty, so I didn’t have to keep moving around to see the stage. I could just sit back and enjoy it. The two seats behind me were empty for the first act, but then an older couple sat in them. I wouldn’t have cared, except that they had the annoying habit of making little comments to each other during the applause. While normally, this would have pissed me off to no end, I was so enjoying the singing and acting that I didn’t really mind it. The tenor who sang the lead (the character name is escaping me right now) was terrific as well. I hadn’t seen La Traviata before and I just loved it. It was a little long, ending around 10:30pm, but when it was over, I could have sat and listened even longer. It’s for shows like this that I continue to subscribe to the Lyric. Finally, a great show from this season.


Julius Caesar

Or, to sound a bit more snooty, I saw Giulio Cesare at Lyric Opera tonight. It’s a long one. Starts at 6:30 and ends who knows when. I only made it through two acts, but a small part of me wanted to stay for the third. I didn’t because I would have gotten home really late and I really didn’t love the opera. Sometimes you get great ones, sometimes good ones and sometimes bad ones. I’d put this one in the good category.

I want to start off by saying that one of my favorite operas, Alcina, was also by Handel. I saw that years ago and still remember some arias, what the set looked like and the basic story. I guess I had very high expectations for this one because of Alcina. Giulio Cesare is a very different beast. First off, there were no tenors. But there were three counter tenors. I am not a musician or opera expert. I had thought that a counter tenor was to a tenor like a mezzo soprano was to a soprano. The counter tenor would be a bit lower than a tenor. I was completely wrong. A counter tenor is higher than a tenor. I have to say that I’m not a big fan of counter tenors. Well, maybe I would be if there were just one or two, but having three and all the women being mezzo sopranos (being lower than a soprano), made everyone sound like they were singing the same notes. The range was provided by two bass baritones. It was just weird having no tenors and no sopranos.

The other part that I didn’t like was that it was described as a bollywood version of Giulio Cesare. This was an accurate description, based on the couple of bollywood movies that I’ve seen. And I’m not saying that bollywood is bad, I actually like the high energy dancing of bollywood. What bugged me was that this was set in Egypt, “Bollywood” is Indian. I guess the director was trying to just differentiate the West (Rome) with the East (Egypt). But the Indian feel just seemed out of place to me. That and parts of the set also didn’t fit. There was a scene with Cleopatra (who was great, by the way) where she was wearing a “flapper” outfit that seemed both out of place and out of time.

As to the singing, it was fantastic. All the singers were great, especially Cleopatra. She easily had the most fun with the role. Cordelia was good as well, but she seemed to spend the entire opera lying on the floor singing “woe is me”-type songs. The male singers were all good, I just have to say that I wasn’t crazy about the counter tenor voices. Oh and the mezzo who played Cordelia’s son Sextus, was really good as well.

The sets were very good as usual. They made a lot of changes to show the differences between Rome and Egypt. There also were a number of dancers and actors on stage, who did not sing. That made things a little more interesting. And was necessary, because some of the arias were really long. One strange thing was that it didn’t appear that the supertitles were telling all the story. In the few years that I’ve gone to the opera, usually the words show the first time they are sung and then when they’re repeated, the supertitles don’t show them. In act I, I actually thought that the supertitle screen was broken because they were showing so very few words. But that just seemed to be how it was in this opera. So, I did feel like I was missing part of the story.

Anyway, overall it was good. I’m glad I saw it and it gave me a different perspective on how an opera could go. It was also my introduction to counter tenors which was interesting. Will I see it again? Probably not. Am I glad I went? Definitely.

A side note is that I have to get different seats next year. The people around me were talking and moving around a lot. So, I think it’s time for me to try to get some better seats next year.


A Night at the Opera

I just returned from the first opera in my series for this year. It was La Boheme and I enjoyed it. Not the best opera I’ve ever seen, but good nonetheless. I’ve decided that great operas have three things going for them, great music/singing, a great story and great sets. This one only had great sets. They were truly beautiful. The story is dumb, boy meets girl, they fall in love, girl dies. Nothing too interesting there. The singers were good, but not great. I had a hard time hearing them, at times, over the orchestra. Great singers are always easily heard. Still, overall I enjoyed it. It’s not like I left early. Though, this one had two intermissions and as far as I can tell, they were to change the very elaborate set, which was very cool. The sequence was the first two acts, intermission, the third act, intermission, the fourth act. The third and fourth acts seemed really short to me, but that’s all they needed before changing sets. So that’s the way it goes.

The scripted bows bugged me as usual. I applauded when all the players came out at the end. I even stuck around and applauded when they came out (again) individually. After that, I was ready to go. The nice people sitting next to me sensed that and offered to let me out, which I gladly accepted. I really hate scripted bows. I guess you should just be thankful for whatever applause is given. This individual and repeat bows just seem like you’re begging the audience for more applause. I don’t mind applauding, but it seems like every single performance, people are giving standing ovations. How then, does one reward a performance that is truly, truly amazing? I guess I’m saving my standing ovations for something else.


Paul’s Show

My little brother is in a band and is currently putting on a show that lets a bunch of bands play short sets and some visual artists display their work as well. I went to the first night at The Empty Bottle and it was really good. I liked most of the bands more than I thought I would have. I’m going again tonight with some friends and may go on Saturday as well.

Here’s the website for it: A/V XPLO