Friday, November 25, 2011

R.I.P. Dupree

Today was a sad day at our house. It was inevitable, of course. I read somewhere that when we get a pet, we know that we will outlive it, but we continue to fall in love with our animals and go through the pain of loss eventually, over and over.
Dupree had been failing for some time. He could not process his food, but was hungry all the time. He was incontinent, which was not pleasant, for us and for him, since he was a fastidious groomer. Since he was not able to process food, he was so thin you could feel all his bones. Lately, he had been getting up into my lap, and staring right into my eyes as if telling me he was not happy. So this morning, John took him to the vet to release him from his misery. It was just too sad, but necessary.
John buried him in one of his favorite spots by the side of the house.
It's strange, but I keep thinking I hear him at the front door, or feel him jumping on the footrest of my throne.
He's had a good life, has been much loved, but will be much missed. He was a little over 17 years old, and until this past summer had remained a kitten. He used to climb up a tall fir tree on the corner of the house to get on the roof in order to walk over to the edge to meow over John's window to get his attention in the middle of the night. He would then climb down the lattice-like support of the porch roof  like a monkey.
He liked to walk with his tail held high, like a plume over his back. He was a lovely cat and knew it. A fine purrer. Spoiled, too.
We told Dupree stories at dinner tonight and toasted his memory with wine and cranberry juice - separately, of course.
He was a very good cat.
You can read a poem I wrote about him here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lotsa Stuff

Good grief, Charlie Brown! Where has November gone? Right now I have a house full of company, most welcome, since they are all related to me by birth. This is the first time I have had all four adult children  home at the same time for Thanksgiving in over ten years. Having long meals, talking, laughing, arguing on occasion and generally  having a good time. I believe some singing is in order this evening. I shall probably retire early, since I had to get up early this morning to go to the retina guy, who is trying to retard the progress of macular degeneration. He is very sorry that I had to give up driving. Not his fault, I told him.
Well, before all of this I had a busy couple of weeks, music-wise and movie-wise. First of all, there was the live in HD Met production of "Siegfried," starring the wonderful Texan, Jay Hunter Morris. My ear for German is not that good , so I don't know if he sounded like a Texas German, or a German Texan. I only know that he has a terrific voice and looked great, all blond and tall and all. Even though it was six hours long, it went by in a flash. German mythology is about as wacky as most cultural mythology, with dragons and dwarfs and incestuous breeding and all  and Wagner was a virulent anti -Semitic  jerk, but he certainly could write some gorgeous music."Gotterdamerung" is coming up in February, with the same cast, so I think I'll catch that one, too, and watch the end of the gods.
Then Kent State theater department put on "A Chorus Line," a splendid production, with superb dancing and mostly good singing. There is a tendency these days for young women to speak in Munckhin like tones. Not sure where this is coming from, but when a desperate dancer is trying to sound dramatic, as the cast of this musical is wont to do , the voices sound too much like Donald Duck's girl friend, all up in the throat ans all. I think the theater department should start a required course in voice, not singing, but speaking, so that they will sound like adults. I can't imagine how Lady Macbeth would sound in that un-dulcet timbre, but it may be the coming thing. Other than that, it was a really fine show.
Sally and I went to see "The Way," because I have loved Martin Sheen since he was my shadow president during the long, dread days of the Bush administration. "The Way" is a lovely film about the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage taken by people in Northern Spain. The scenery is breathtaking and the performances are fine and funny, too. You can even enjoy it whilst being a pagan such as I am. There are no explosions, not too much religion, no F-words or sex scenes, which are getting downright tiresome these days. There';s not much to have sex with in this movie anyway, except maybe with a few rocks. I enjoyed it very much and highly recommend it.
Then there was " J. Edgar." a very dark, literally, movie with a miscast Leonardo DiCaprio, a tall, skinny guy wrapped in a fat suit to play a short, stocky J. Edgar Hoover. It was interesting, and cleverly arranged to make him look like a hero, except at the end when you learned that he lied a  lot about his exploits. I did enjoy it, but wondered why the casting was what is was, considering that there are plenty of short guys who could have done it. like Matt Damon.
Last Saturday was another RD opera, this time "Satygraaha," about Gandhi in South Africa,which was by Phillipp Glass, who could put a hard-core insomniac into a coma-like snooze. However, it was very
interesting, especially the staging, which involved enormous puppets made of old newspaper (ya hadda be there) and a bright blue Krishna, who looked very much like Tiny Time, the late falsetto singer.  The libretto was in Sanskrit, based on theBaghava Gita,which I really must read some day in the distant future. It was worth seeing, and I did wake myself up with a very short kind of a snort, the beginning of a snore. I dont'; think anyone heard it, being sound asleep for the most part. But I an glad that I saw it. Richard Croft, who played Gandhi, had the most beautiful voice, even though he sang a lot of repetitive lines - a factor in the general drowsiness which resulted. It was a very rueful performance for all.
I just finished "The Paris Wife," which I enjoyed immensely. It was about Hemingway's first wife, Hadley (a fictionalized account),  and it was very fine and true and brave. And Heningway was a bit of a s--t. What else is new?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Time Travel, Sorta

This past weekend was one of those in which all sorts of things are going on one after the other. I spent it gong from 12th century Sicily to 18th century Seville to 16th century London. Two operas and one movie later the only thing that's tired is my seat.
On Friday I went up to Cleveland with friends to see an opera put on by a small, but excellent opera company of a rarely performed work by a Polish composer who shall remain nameless. This opera company used to be headquartered here in town while the star was getting her the university. She is an amazingly wonderful bel canto soprano who is a joy to listen to. While they were here, they did a series of bel canto operas, by Donizetti, Bellini and others. They used the university as well as local churches in which to perform. I was really looking forward to hearing her again, even though the opera was one I'd never heard of. It begins in Sicily, travels to the mysterious East and ends up in ancient Greece. I think. It was sung in Polish, but there were projected subtitles, which I couldn't read, but never mind. It was written in the twenties and is the kind of formless music with lots of declamatory singing and no arias. The beautiful voice was mainly used in a kind o vocalise, hard to hear over the full orchestra and a chorus of loud male voices. They staged the opera in a large pseudo-Gothic church with terrible acoustics. Everything about the performance e was excellent, professionally done, great voices, etc., except that the music was just pretty bad, or not my cup of vodka. There was one character, called "The Shepherd," a young blond man, dressed all in white, with a lovely tenor voice, who minced around in a badly choreographed sort of dance, who was just unwatchable. He was supposed to represent Spirit, I think.I expressed to my companions, that I thought I knew why this work was so rarely performed, and they agreed. And both of them are musicians and know a lot more than I do about this sort of thing. We left before the third act. I hear that this opera is a classic in Poland. Okay.
The next day I went to see a real opera, one of those in HD form the Met. It was "Don Giovanni" and both of the male leads, Leporello and Don Giovanni were hunks with gorgeous voices. I noticed that Giovanni really got into his character, taking advantage of being a lech by vigorously feeling up the women he was seducing. They were supposed to be virtuous Spanish maiden, - well except for one, who was doing her best to get him to seduce her again and all. One of my favorite singers, Ramon Vargas, played Don Ottavio, and got to sing a couple of fine arias. He played one of the seducees boy friends, whom she didn't find too exciting compared with the hot seducer. The final scene, where the Comnmendatore sends Don Giovanni to hell was full of flames and smoke, but the women didn't get to see it, but heard about it later and were sad and all. No more feeling up time for them.
Monday, Sally and I went to see "Anonymous," which is all about how Shakespeare didn't write all those sonnets and plays because he was a right idjit. The actor who played him apparently viewed him as a Will Ferrell kind of guy, because that's how he portrayed him. We also learn that the Virgin Queen was not virginal, and dropped bastard babies all over the country, leaving them to be brought up by noble families, never learning of their royal heritage. All in all, this movie has its own story about that era, which makes for a fun movie. Great acting, costumes, sets, et cetera. When I took a Shakespeare course a few years ago, the professor, Kelly Gentoff, a Shakespeare scholar said at the beginning of the class: "Shakespeare wrote it all; nobody else wrote the sonnets and the plays." I wonder what Kelly would think of this movie. I think he wouldn't bother to see it in the first place.
On this Saturday, a friend and I are going to see the six hour "Siegfried." Renee Fleming interviewed the tenor Jay Hunter Morris, who is playing Siggy. It was hilarious. Morris is from Paris, Texas, has a great Heldentenor voice, but talks like the sausage guy Jimmy Dean. He claims to be right thrilled to be kissin' Debra Voigt. I reckonn we'll tote us some vittles for the two intermissions.