Sunday, May 30, 2010

Renée Fleming is Everywhere!

A double-barreled Renée Fleming update, with two articles that focus on her upcoming CD Dark Hope. The first article, from The Times Online, focuses on the diva herself and her life, loves, and fans -- one of whom is the President.

Turning 50 last year was like crossing some sort of invisible line for the American soprano Renée Fleming. The opera superstar, who is known as “the people’s diva” and sang at President Obama’s inauguration — he is a huge fan — says: “It was an amazing shift, somehow, and I didn’t expect that to happen. It’s such a relief. Now I feel very young for my age! I think it’s much better to be a young old person than to be an old young person.”

The second article, from The New York Times, goes into detail about the new CD and discusses the role of crossover projects in the classical music world. About recording the CD itself:

As she has explained in interviews, the project was not her idea. Metallica’s managers, Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch, had long wanted to pair a classically trained singer with rock songwriters. After listening to some of the songs, she was intrigued enough to speak with the producer David Kahne. “David is so thoughtful and articulate that I become even more fascinated by the prospect of exploring a completely different use of my voice,” she writes in her liner notes.

They settled on 11 songs, chosen for their suitability for her voice, the meaning of the lyrics and overall qualities of mystery and elusiveness that reminded her of classical works she loves — songs like “Intervention” by Arcade Fire, “With Twilight as My Guide” by the Mars Volta, and a few older pieces, like Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” and, in a bold move, the Jefferson Airplane ballad “Today.”

Adapting her voice to rock took hard work. She and Mr. Kahne realized that it was best for her to sing in the range of her speaking voice, which is sometimes two octaves lower. Any idea that she would discard technique and just jam was quashed by Mr. Kahne, who, Ms. Fleming writes, enforced “stringent stylistic rules,” including a softening of diction and rhythm, less overt drama and no dropping of the ends of the phrases.

Of course, every great diva has her detractors.

Ms. Fleming, for all her success, has drawn tough criticism from a segment of opera buffs who find her singing mannered and fussy. “Dark Hope” will surely rile them further.

La Cieca, we're looking at you.

Needless to say, I can't wait to hear Renée's new CD.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bigots Continue to Hammer on Gay Kids

Because life for gay kids is such a bunch of roses and rainbows (ha) anyway, some states feel it's quite okay to make sure that sensitive young people know just what horrid sinners they are.

There are, however, several states that are mandated to refer to same-sex orientation and homosexuality as negative. Some of those states include Utah, South Carolina, Mississippi and Arizona. Oklahoma is required to "instruct students that engaging in homosexual activity or promiscuous activity is now known to be primarily responsible for contact with the AIDS virus."

The most conservative state in this regard, Alabama, is required to reference state laws that ban sodomy, must refer to same sex activity as a public health risk and must state homosexuality is not acceptable to the general public, according to SIECUS.

Although California lawmakers approved Harvey Milk Day, Save California and other organizations continue to boycott it.

Unbelievable. This just goes to show that the fight still continues. And someone needs to let Alabama know that Lawrence v. Texas struck down sodomy laws in the U.S. I think the first reader comment below the article pretty much sums up how I feel about the whole thing.

Harvey Milk's work is not yet over.

"States continue to mandate anti-LGBT curriculum in the classroom" (Edge Boston)


Adaptation or Fanfic? You Decide!

The article linked below references musicals, that's why.

Fascinating post from Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing on another post at LiveJournal about Pulitzer Prize-winning fanfic, or what the rest of the world calls "adaptations." I know Doctorow wants all creative work to be open for use by anyone; but seriously, Cory, if someone makes a movie out of your terrific novel Little Brother, wouldn't you want some kind of payment for it? Still, I've never thought of Sunday in the Park with George in quite this way before, and it's kinda cool:

* Stephen Sondheim's Sunday In the Park with George, which is half-original fic, half-RPF (real person fiction) based on the artist Georges Seurat, and winner of the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

Of course, as far as what we all agree is fanfic, I'd love it if someone took a whack at fanfic based on one of my stories.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Great Books Do Not Always Make Great Movies

Via Ta-Nehisi Coates, a post by one of his readers on books and adapting them into movies. Some great comments here. For the most part I always enjoy books more than the resulting movies, but there are some exceptions. Oh, yes; The Godfather; such an amazing film made from such a trashy potboiler of a book!

I got into a friendly argument about one of my least favorite clichés recently. It was this: the book is always better than the movie. First, always beware the use of "always"--it obviously only takes one counterexample (oh, there's this little movie called The Godfather) to prove the assertion wrong. Though the cliché is often stated this way, let's be charitable and relax the statement to something like "the book is usually better than the movie."

It's considerably more difficult to prove this wrong because there isn't, to my knowledge, a database of movies that are based on books that we could readily consult and then perhaps use some agreed-upon method--metacritic scores? Rotten Tomatoes scores?--to more-or-less prove the point objectively. But there are a number: The Godfather; most of the good Philip K. Dick adaptations (and there are several: Blade Runner, Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly, and perhaps the upcoming Adjustment Bureau will be good); The Talented Mr. Ripley is, I believe, better than the book it's based on...there are more examples, I'm sure.

Anybody want to share their own examples?

"Great Books Are Great at Being Books" (The Atlantic)


You're GAY?!? *Yawwwwwnn...*

Interesting article from the New York Times on celebrities coming out -- do such revelations matter as much today as they once did?

The relative indifference Americans have these days about high-profile people coming out appears rooted not only in progressively tolerant views of gay people but in the rather cynical supposition that stars wait to come out until they see a financial benefit, or have little to lose. Mr. Martin is past the prime of his career. Ms. Wright is promoting an album and a new book about her life as a closeted lesbian, and her revelation gives her exposure to a potential fan base outside traditional country audiences.

“With more and more gays and lesbians coming out in middle school and high school, it’s hard not to view coming out post-peak in your career or whenever as cowardly, if not opportunistic,” said Dan Savage, the gay author and editorial director of The Stranger, a Seattle newsweekly, where he writes an advice column called “Savage Love.”

“Now that I have my millions, now that it’s totally safe, now that I can scoop up a few more fans, I will come out,” Mr. Savage added. “Forgive me, but I have much more admiration for those kids coming out in middle school.”

I have to agree with what Dan Savage said. Still, in certain demographics such revelations may help straights understand gays better, especially the ones they find in their midst. I'm a little less harsh on the late coming-out stories of older people like Maurice Sendak and James Randi. I'm of a generation between them and the middle-schoolers coming out today, and I know how much the fear of revealing the truth about myself weighed on me more than I would like to remember just a few decades ago. When I was younger the celebrity revelations inspired me (some); today it's the kids daring to be themselves that bring tears to my eyes. There's still a long way to go, though...

"Coming Out: When Love Dares Speak, and Nobody Listens" (NY Times; and yes, I did fix that headline because the missing "s" was driving me batty!)


Saturday, May 22, 2010

"Bevo al Tuo Fresco Sorriso," from Puccini's La Rondine

This is quite simply one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard in my life, featuring the incomparable Renée Fleming and the marvelous (and terribly, terribly cute) Jonas Kaufmann. Crank it up, people!

"Bevo al Tuo Fresco Sorriso," from Puccini's La Rondine.


P.S. This is the concluding track on Renée Fleming's latest CD, Verismo. It's all about love!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"They Still Don't Get It" -- Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan has written more on gay issues than just about anyone, but I found this post by him (and the quote from it below) to be particularly interesting, especially in light of my own recent posts here about growing up gay.

This is what a gay person must go through to get to adulthood: he or she must figure out she's different at varying ages, but usually, clearly by mid-adolescence. The dating question looms, as does the marriage question. What do you do? Many gay kids pretend to be straight for a while (mercifully fewer than in the past); many come out and begin the difficult pursuit of love and intimacy and, in some states, marriage; others make a strategic decision to lie about themselves or to construct a public persona drained of any emotional or relationship content so they always avoid the question. At every stage of this evolution, the gay person is made deeply aware of his or her marginalized status as a citizen and as a human being. Few identities expose as much how the law can oppress, stigmatize and alienate.

This is what I hope someday gay kids won't have to go through: the fear, the loneliness, the choice to be accepted versus being who you really are. That day is coming; not fast enough, but it is coming.

"They Still Don't Get It"


Time Flies When You're Deconstructing Aphorisms

Gunny, who will definitely kill you if given the chance...

I like this article on misapprehending aphorisms. As our sources of information become more diverse, as newer generations chart different courses through life, do we lose the common understanding of sayings familiar to us older people? Like myths and legends and Mother Goose rhymes and Shakespeare, things that once connected us all with common points of reference -- do we still speak the same, common language of these things? Interesting, anyway.

Here's an amusing but trenchant bit from the book:

12. That which does not kill me makes me stronger
Freidrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

An advocate of the fledgling practice of philosophical counseling was once asked what advice he would give a parent whose children were refusing to do their bit to keep the home clean and tidy. He suggested that the parent remind the feckless youths of Nietzsche's maxim, 'That which does not kill me makes me stronger.'

One quick-witted and extremely rude reply a kid could give, if proffered this advice, is 'Why don't you just fuck off? After all, it won't kill you, so it will make you stronger.' Although the politeness of the response is questionable, its logic is impeccable.

Sometimes I'll read an aphorism and realize the writer has used it incorrectly, though sometimes I find out I had taken the saying wrong. The Nietzsche quote is one I always understood as it was meant: a personal challenge, not a fact of life. We know the sayings...and yet do we know them? Time will tell.

"Time Flies When You're Deconstructing Aphorisms"


"Whatever doesn't kill you simply makes you...stranger." -- The Joker

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

LGBT Kids Coming Out Earlier (Salt Lake Tribune)

An excellent article about kids coming out as LGBT. When I was young and discovering for myself that I was different, it was both an exhilarating and terrifying time – exhilarating to realize who I really was, and terrifying to be so alone. The joy I felt when I came to terms with being gay as a teen was soon overcome again by the terror, and both emotions played a hide-and-seek against me for many years. The joy has returned for good, but my anger at those who made me feel terror still remains. That anger is now directed at those who continue to spread hate for LGBT kids, which is one of the reasons why stories like this continue to fascinate me.

Jason Osmanski knew he had to tell his mom, but he didn't know how. He was 14 years old and had spent half his life sensing he was different. Now, he had the words for it. Wanting to break the news somewhere public, someplace safe, Jason tagged along with his mom on a shopping trip to Walmart. But he still couldn't say it. He took a pad of paper from the pharmacy counter and wrote, "Will you love me no matter what?" Carolyn Osmanski gave him a quizzical look but answered, "Of course." Jason scribbled another note, crumpled it, handed it to his mom and bolted to a nearby aisle. She looked down at the wrinkled paper: "I'm gay."

… After Jason passed his mother that crumpled note in Walmart, she found him shaking on the floor in the cosmetics aisle, beneath rows of mascara and eye shadow. Carolyn Osmanski lifted her son to his feet and gave him a hug.

She told him, "I love you no matter what."

That a newspaper in Salt Lake City published this is good news, but the endings are not always happy. Read the article for more details.

"LGBT kids coming out earlier"


"You have to give people hope." -- Harvey Milk

Why I Love Neil Gaiman

Mr. Gaiman was recently involved in a bit of a dustup over his speaking fee. How he explains what happened and tries to soothe some inappropriately ruffled feathers is another example of why I love this man. And this isn't even about his actual writing!

"Q. How can I get Neil Gaiman to make an appearance at my school/convention/event?

A. Contact Lisa Bransdorf at the Greater Talent Network. Tell her you want Neil to appear somewhere. Have her tell you how much it costs. Have her say it again in case you misheard it the first time. Tell her you could get Bill Clinton for that money. Have her tell you that you couldn't even get ten minutes of Bill Clinton for that money but it's true, he's not cheap.

On the other hand, I'm really busy, and I ought to be writing, so pricing appearances somewhere between ridiculously high and obscenely high helps to discourage most of the people who want me to come and talk to them. Which I could make a full time profession, if I didn't say 'no' a lot."

Plus, this is an interesting look at what us aspiring writers can look forward to when our respective ships come in. Someday. Maybe. At least, I hope so...

A Political Football in A Teacup


The Double Falsehood of Double Falsehood

Here's a terrific article about how that "newly discovered" play by Shakespeare is anything but. I don't think my dear Shakespeare authorship fans are going to like what Ron "Shakespeare Cop" Rosenbaum at Slate has to say about them.

Generally, though, debunking "authorship" obsessives isn't even worth the Shakespeare cop's time. Talk about shooting fish in a barrel. The question is also almost entirely irrelevant. The point is not who wrote Shakespeare (though I'm entirely convinced Shakespeare did) but what Shakespeare wrote, and what is falsely passed off as Shakespearean. The "someone else wrote Shakespeare" types (and those who waste time arguing with them) are sad and pathetic because, frankly, life is short and if one has to choose between rereading King Lear or Othello and arguing about who wrote them, then one's priorities are profoundly misaligned. Any amount of time spent on the latter is subtracted from the former, alas.

What is Shakespeare really about? This is what Shakespeare is really all about:

Of course this is not to say Shakespeare can't write boring or even bad lines. I recently moderated a panel at the Brooklyn Academy of Music featuring the cast of Sam Mendes' production of The Tempest. Because I was hosting the panel, I saw it twice, and it was interesting to see how even good actors couldn't make some of the leaden comedy and words work. It left me thinking again about what made Shakespeare Shakespeare. But then we'd come to one of those great passages in The Tempest: "Full fathom five thy father lies/ and of his bones are coral made" and "like the baseless fabric of this vision/ the cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,/ the solemn temples, the great globe itself./ Yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve/ and like this insubstantial pageant faded/ leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff/ as dreams are made of/ and our little life rounded with a sleep."

Lines like this send jolts of lightning through you.

No effing scheiss.

It's a great article with an air detective story to it as Rosenbaum pulls apart the horrible writing that is being passed off as genuine Shakespeare. Enjoy!

The Double Falsehood of Double Falsehood


"Keep it gay! Keep it gay! Keep it gay!"

The story of how outspoken sex columnist Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller adopted a kid has been turned into a musical!

Perhaps reality TV isn’t the right venue for teachable moments that could be easily misconstrued by Savage haters. Like the time 9-year-old DJ, who thought girls were icky, jumped to the conclusion that he must be gay, until Miller showed him a photo of himself, surrounded by girls, on his 10th birthday. “If you liked girls right now,” he said, “that would probably mean you’re gay.”

I love that quote. One of the first things that made me realize that I was different, when I was about seven or eight, was that I actually liked playing with girls.

The Kid Stays in the Picture


"Cruddy JD's" Sentenced to Perform Shakespeare!

Interesting article about a program in the Boston area where juvenile offenders are sentenced to put on a Shakespeare play.

Tonight, 13 actors will take the stage at Shakespeare & Company in “Henry V.’’ Nothing so unusual in that — except that these are teenagers, none older than 17, and they have been sentenced to perform this play.

The show is the culmination of a five-week intensive program called Shakespeare in the Courts, a nationally recognized initiative now celebrating its 10th year. Berkshire Juvenile Court Judge Judith Locke has sent these adjudicated offenders — found guilty of such adolescent crimes as fighting, drinking, stealing, and destroying property — not to lockup or conventional community service, but to four afternoons a week of acting exercises, rehearsal, and Shakespearean study.

Fascinating. Of course, I'm all for bringing young people and fine art together. This program has to have a some good effect on these kids, even if only a small one. The newfound sense of responsibility alone may make a huge difference in their lives. Plus, they may wind up loving Shakespeare!

Caught in the act: Juveniles sentenced to Shakespeare


Monday, May 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Harvey Milk!

This is an awesome video of kids, teachers. faculty, and parents at the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy in San Francisco wishing Harvey Milk a happy birthday! This sort of thing gives me hope for a better world in the future, a world like the one these people work for that is free of hate and bigotry. The terrible fact is that some people will be frightened of this video and what it represents: change and hope. Sometimes, when I can stop feeling angry at people like that, I feel an immense sadness that they may never know the sort of joy expressed in this video.

But for this week, let's put sadness aside. The man would have been eighty this year, and this video is a significant part of his legacy.



h/t Joe.My.God.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Furries Sing & Furries Dance!

Oooooo, looky! Furries singing and dancing in a music video! I've never heard of this band but I guess they like furries. Now if I can just find an opera production using furries. Don Giovanni as an anthrowolf? Tosca with Baron Scarpia as a weasel? Anything with Renée Fleming as a gorgeous vixen?

Speaking of vixens, let's not forget the one genuine furry opera, Leoš Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen!


P.S. I just found this page with some very cool furry art done for a production of The Cunning Little Vixen in New Zealand. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Some furry reax to the video here, including words from a couple of the fursuiters in the video! Yay!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Jonas Kaufmann!

I recently acquired Jonas Kauffman's CD, Romantic Arias. Oh, my... He sounds more Italian on that CD than most Italians do! Now I must get his German CD (Beethoven, Wagner, et al.) to see if he can pull that off too. He's done some great work at the Metropolitan Opera this past season, one of the main reasons why I bought the CD. And he's not too hard on the eyes either, is he?


P.S. Yes, that's him in the picture. I know, I know...

A Little Love for "Flight"

"Flight" is a lovely story, one of my favorites, that I'm still trying to place. It almost made the cut in the recent issue (Vol. 12/39, Spring/Summer 2010) of the Allegory Zine, a great compilation of stories. Here you can see that my story made Honorable Mention! The editor said he liked it very much, and I'm honored that I made it to the final round. *Sigh!* Maybe next time...


PICTURED: Lamar Valley at Sunset, Yellowstone Park, June 4, 2008; taken by yours truly. "Flight" is set in Wyoming, written well before I ever read any of Annie Proulx's magnificent writing. I was highly intimidated by encountering the work of the master chronicler of Wyoming life and vistas. I hope when "Flight" is published that it holds up well, at least a little bit...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Growing Up Gay

Your host, young and gay, circa 1978. The hat belonged to my sister. And yes, that is what you think it is on the shirt.

Not a bad article about how families deal with realizing their child is gay, from the the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal about gay kids, even though for a bit I though the writer was about to give far too much time and credence to the whack-jobs at the entirely bogus ACP. This line hit home:

In some cases, children who grow up believing that homosexuality isn't acceptable may try to deny and ignore their own feelings. "We call it going underground," says Dr. Perrin. "They live that way until they are 30 or 40 and say, 'I just can't do it anymore.' Or maybe some of them their whole life live in a pretend world of not feeling quite right but it's the best compromise they can make to feel accepted."

I know what that's like, especially growing up here in the Midwest, where suspicion and hatred of gays can still be pretty high. This article at The New York Times covers some of the same territory. Despite the way the world has changed over the past thirty years or so, the prejudice that young gays often encounter is sometimes overwhelming. If sometimes we seem a bit over-passionate in fighting for gay equality, much of it may have to do with our memories of what it was like to be young, gay, and very often alone.

Keep fighting for equality, and keep working to give these young gay kids hope. Harvey Milk showed us the way; we need to stick with the fight for as long as it takes.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Valery Gergiev: The Maestro of Petersburg

For my money, Valery Gergiev is the best living conductor, period. This video shows him performing Stravinsky's Firebird with the New York Philharmonic. I have Gergiev's recording of the complete ballet Firebird with the Kirov Orchestra, and it is AWESOME! And I've watched his Metropolitan Opera DVD of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin so many times, I'm likely to wear the darned thing out. Gergiev has a very muscular style of conducting, which makes his tender moments all the more heartbreaking. Although it's a hoary cliché, his conducting feels very "Russian," and from what the critics and fans say, that's an apt description of Gergiev's art.

Watch the video to the end and see how long he holds the final note of the Firebird. Wind players, take a deep breath!


Acceptance for "Wolf Dreams"

I just received word that my story "Wolf Dreams" will appear in the June issue of the Toasted Cheese Literary Journal. I'm very excited. "Wolf Dreams" is about a boy who loves wolves and falls in love with another boy. The kickoff point was reimagining my big high school love; only this time, he likes me back. The rest is all fantasy, but it's a lovely one. Look for "Wolf Dreams" to go up at the Toasted Cheese website in June.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Harvey Milk Day, May 22

Here come the wingnuts! This month marks the first observance of Harvey Milk Day in California, and as expected the homo-haters are starting to crawl out from under their rocks and denounce it. This video report from a television station in Bakersfield, California, is a nice, short summary of what you can expect to see as we draw closer to the event. Don't get me started on the idiot in the video who says that we shouldn't honor someone for his sexual orientation, only for his achievement. Harvey Milk achieved plenty, you doofus, and much of it was to demonstrate what ignoramuses people like you really are. Young gay people need a voice -- as Harvey said, you've got to give them hope -- and observing Harvey Milk Day is one way for us older gays to let the kids know they are not alone, because there are still plenty of places in this country where it is still terrifying to realize that you're gay and there is no one around to support you. I would like to see Harvey Milk Day observed not only in California, but throughout the entire US. That kid in Altoona, Pennsylvania, deserves it.


Monday, May 3, 2010

The Rise of Self-Publishing

An interesting look at the self-publishing industry -- no longer the province of cranks and bad writers that can't get published, it's become a new avenue for quality writing that would otherwise go unnoticed during a time when the traditional publishers are producing fewer and fewer books each year.

Cheap, digital-publishing technology — especially print-on-demand options, which let individual buyers essentially commission copies of books — has been a godsend to writers without agents or footholds at traditional publishing houses. It has also been a quiet godsend to literary history. Books that defy traditional classification now appear in print, and reprints of public-domain titles account for the biggest category of self-published books. (There are more reprints published than traditional books.)

There's always hope for us aspiring writers!


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Roger Ebert Does Not Like 3D Movies


3-D is a waste of a perfectly good dimension. Hollywood's current crazy stampede toward it is suicidal. It adds nothing essential to the moviegoing experience. For some, it is an annoying distraction. For others, it creates nausea and headaches. It is driven largely to sell expensive projection equipment and add a $5 to $7.50 surcharge on already expensive movie tickets. Its image is noticeably darker than standard 2-D. It is unsuitable for grown-up films of any seriousness. It limits the freedom of directors to make films as they choose. For moviegoers in the PG-13 and R ranges, it only rarely provides an experience worth paying a premium for.

Roger Ebert does not like the new 3D wave in Hollywood. I have reservations about it too, which are pretty much the same as what Ebert discusses in his essay.

I watched Avatar for the first time last night, in 2D of course. Very impressive visually, and I'm bet it was quite the show in 3D. But can you see them doing a movie of Hamlet in 3D? As Ebert says, "I'm not opposed to 3-D as an option. I'm opposed to it as a way of life." Time will tell.

As for Avatar, I enjoyed the "blue raver kitties," as a certain figure prominent in the furry world once called them. (Although for all the well-deserved critiques of the screenplay for Titanic, I thought it was a much better movie.) Or, as one wag at Hollywood Elsewhere called Avatar, it's a 450-million dollar furry movie! Yay!


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Tenor Brownlee Shows Race No Hurdle To His Career

Tenor Lawrence Brownlee is rising fast in the opera world. He has a terrific voice and amazing technique. Here is a fascinating article about him, not least because of the gobstopping racism Brownlee has encountered during his career. Mind you, this didn't happen fifty years ago -- this nonsense is still going on today.

But [Brownlee] also recalls the racism that dogged him as he tried to build his career.

An agent told him that he'd never succeed "because you're short and you're black,'" the 5-foot-6 singer says with a wry smile. Then, when he hoped to be hired by a second-rate American opera company he won't name, "they said, 'We can't, because you're black.'" (The company changed its mind after La Scala offered him the same part.)

One critic wrote of a Boston production of Rossini's "Barber of Seville" that "the worst embarrassment was the tenor, Lawrence Brownlee. Now I don't demand that the tenor look like Brad Pitt, but he shouldn't look like Al Roker, the Today Show's weatherman, or even worse, Oprah Winfrey in drag!"

Seriously, WTF?!? Are these people still living in the nineteenth century? Oy vay.

This reminds me of something that happened here in Kansas City about twenty-five years ago. The New York City Opera came to town with Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro. In this production, Figaro was performed by a bass-baritone who happened to be black. This bothered neither me nor my friend Claudia nor, as far as I could tell, anyone else in the audience. But the critic at the time for The Kansas City Star just couldn't get past having a black man playing a traditionally "white" role, and spent a couple of paragraphs of his review complaining about it. The Star received quite a few letters from opera patrons criticizing the reviewer's idiotic comments, but the best letter came from a representative of the managing agency in New York that was handling the New York City Opera's national tour. This gentleman succinctly discussed the suspension of disbelief required by many, many aspects of live theatre and particularly in opera, starting with age differences in the cast (he mentioned having often seen Le Nozze di Figaro done with a Figaro who was much older than the singer performing Marcellina, Figaro's mother) and moving on to travesti roles, which are male roles played by women. And then this gentleman totally pwned the reviewer by reminding him of one of opera's most famous travesti roles, Cherubino, in the very same opera where the reviewer couldn't quite get his head around a black Figaro.

The Kansas City Star, to its credit, let that reviewer go when his contract expired.

Anyway, check out the article about the talented Lawrence Brownlee and listen for him on the Sirius radio Met Opera broadcasts -- I have Armida on the radio right now!


Kids Talking About Evolution

This is just far too cute to actually be scientific...and yet it is!

Plainly these children have either great schools or great parents, or both.


"To nuketh the bastards or not to nuketh the bastards, that is the question."

What next, Shakespeare with furries? Say...

My Shakespeare authorship fans/detractors will enjoy this: Roland Emmerich is directing a film called Anonymous, which apparently is tacking the Shakespeare authorship question by positing that Edward de Vere, our old friend the Earl of Oxford, wrote the Bard's plays. Interesting, although how this fits in with the rest of Emmerich's films escapes me. Unless the pro-Shakespeare and the pro-Oxford camps get a hold of some awesome weapons and proceed to vaporize the earth to prove their various points. Cool!

Around the time 2012 came out, I discovered that Roland Emmerich is gay. I did not know that.


P.S. I never thought I'd be putting the tags "Roland Emmerich" and "Shakespeare" in the same post...

P.P.S. I watched 2012 last night. It is what it is, which is to say that it's fun, but needs a shirtless Will Smith to really make it work.