Saturday, October 29, 2016

Caturday Post: Tautologically Cute

Statements affirming the cuteness of the tautologically cute kitten are true (with apologies to Randall Munroe.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Gnawa Nights

In Morocco, at the end of the days of dance classes, we had evening entertainments after dinner.  2 of them featured a Gnawa group.  This is a style of music that is high energy, has lots of clapping, giant clacky cymbal things, drums, and an indescribably loud percussion instrument which is actually a car wheel placed on the head and hit rhythmically with metal sticks.









If you tip them and ask nicely they will let you play their indescribably loud head car-wheel thing!  

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Ruined Gardens of Chellah: Part 2

Part 1 here.

Moving on through Chellah we got to the Arab ruins part of it.  Here as every where there were lots of cats.  I wanted to take all of them home and turn them into spoiled first world cats.



Storks were nesting in the ruins.  I didn't see any storks alas, but I was fascinated by the nests.










This part of the ruins used to be a religious school.




Grave.












Necropolis.



There was an eel pond right by the necropolis.  According to the guide, who was difficult to understand so I transmit a garbled story, some queen buried in the Necropolis, tried to grab power for her children and either became an eel or died and then became an eel.  Either way there was power grabbing and an eel.  According to the guide, you can throw coins into the pool and make a wish.  According to the Lonely Planet, you can feed eggs to the eels to increase your fertility.





Saint tombs outside the mosque ruins.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Singing the Spiel with Mozart: Atlanta Opera gets Enlightenment Ideals with its Bedazzled Nipples

I first saw Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail in Utah in 2014.  I wrote about it here. The Atlanta Opera's production opened with much deja vu for me, as I thought to myself, self, that sparkly purple waistcoat of Belmonte's looks awfully familiar. As some flipping through programs informed me, the Atlanta Opera employed a certain Jacob Climer, teh exact same costume designer employed by the Utah Opera for their abduction.. He also, based on his website, did the costumes for an Abduction presented by the Des Moines Opera.  All pictures I could find were of the exact same costume.  I wonder if he has a licensing fee for the costumes or if he just gets paid multiple times to design the exact same thing. Fortunately, in Atlanta, whoever was styling the wigs had the skill to make Konstanze look like Marie Antroinette was morphing into Dolly Parton rather than like a poodle had died on her head.  Also, Pasha Selim took off his robe periodically to reveal bedazzled gold nipples.


Image from the Atlanta Opera's Facebook page
Like their colleagues in Utah, the Atlanta Opera company also subscribes to the unfortunate Amerian tradition of translating the spoken words of a singspiel from German into English.  I hate that.  It's jarring.

To my relief, after the costumes and the translation issues, the resemblance to the Utah production ended. The singing quality was much higher.  I could hear all the singing!  Always a good minimum requirement for a singer is to be audible.  Atlanta continued its delightful streak of casting surprisingly good sopranos with Sarah Coburn as Konstanze. She coloraturas!


This was her debut as Konstanze, and her "Maten Aller Arten" was powerful and lovely.  Also, her interpretation of the character was dignified and did not involve falling over weeping every other minute. The other standout in the cast was Kevin Burdette as Osmin.  Burdette was last seen singing the  Pirate King of Penzance.  There he was the brightspot outstaging his fellow singers, here he was a brightspot  lifting the cast around him rather than just outstripping them.  Belmonte and Pedrillo were stiffly attempting comedy and then Osmin entered with dancing and laughter and alcoholism, and suddenly everyone around him was more alive and engaged.  Someone cast this man in every Rossini opera ever written.  But please have him keep the comic mustachios.

Osmin unsuccessfully courts Blondchen

Blonde and Pedrillo were lovely provided they weren't on stage by themselves.  As long as they were with Osmin (which they mostly were) they were funny and engaging.  What should be a great moment, when Blondchen slaps Pedrillo for the sexist double standard of faithfulness, when he demands to know if she has managed to avoid sexual contact with men after being kidnapped and sold into slavery while making no promises of his own faithfulness she slaps him.  As she should. It wasn't that Pedrillo and Blondchen were boring, they just couldn't quite command the stage by themselves.  To be fair, Pasha Selim was probably far less interesting, I was just distracted by the gold nipples and didn't care. 

The set featured a gilt picture frame that separated the stage into two sections. For the actual abduction scene, the picture was covered by paper, which our escaping ladies had to cut through.  I quite enjoyed that.  For some scenes, a projection screen was in center stage back but this was used sparingly and in order to show the distant coast.  At the beginning, a projection told the story up till now (ladies kidnapped, Belmonte sailing around the coast of Turkey in pursuit) in the style of a silent film.  I am still unconvinced of the necessity of using video on an opera stage ever but this was a much less obtrusive and more theatrically well used projection than in any previous effort by the Atlanta Opera. 
Overall, there were no bad moments in this presentation, only some non-fabulous moments. The fact that Atlanta can present an opera with many fabulous moments in it is wonderful progress for this opera company.  I used to always describe their productions as adequate, but not fabulous, and now they just can't maintain fabulous through an entire production.  Progress!  Also lovely is that in this current prejudiced atmosphere in which we Americans are busy stigmatizing Muslims, ordering them off planes, discussing putting them in concentration camps, and sometimes vandalizing and burning down their places of worship, an American opera company is putting on Mozart's opera in which a Turkish ruler behaves with more honor than a Christian ruler.  It fits, I think, in the European tradition of telling tales about the honor of the Saracens in order to put Christian knights in their place, but it still works now.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sunlight Through Colored Glass


























The handled jug, gold bottle, and small sea green vase belonged to my Grandmama.  The cobalt blue is a replacement for a close match I gave it away as a sorry/replacement for a china vase that Scaramouche knocked down and broke.  The red was just because I love crimson:


千早ぶる
神代も聞かず
龍田川
からくれないに
水くくるとは
Chihayaburu
Kamiyo mo kikazu
Tatsuta-gawa
Kara kurenai ni
Mizu kukuru to wa
                                                                         -Ariwara no Narihira, Hyakunin Isshu, poem 17
roughly,

 Impassionate gods
Even in their time was it heard
Tatsuta river
 such crimson
water dyed