Sunday, September 27, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Everybody around the world probably knows about it already. Anyway, once you log in, it takes you to numerous operas from all around the world that you can watch for free, or not.
So last night I watched a free Act 1 of Gluck’s Orphee et Euridice from Thearte du Chatelet(1999) with Magdalena Kozena in the title role.
What a beautiful opera: I was very impressed! I have to confess – I am really passionate about early music. Gluck, Purcell, Handel make my world, but Gluck certainly reigns there. His music is out of this world, and so full of life, energy, intense beauty, and so modern at times!
Needless to say, that J’ai perdu mon Euridice is a real gem, but how about Objet de mon amour? Ah-h, it left me speechless!
I really liked the way the performance was staged. Nothing extra, no lavish costumes or scenery, no extravagance at all, but obviously, not for budget reasons. This was just how the director saw it. Dark stage, dark costumes, almost no scenery…and just right to the point. I believed it.
Choreographically the whole thing was weird and exquisite. Dark silhouettes moving slowly among the dark cypresses, mask-looking faces… And Magdalena, looking so masculine and yet so feminine... confusing, a little creepy and beautiful!
Maybe I’ll pay the money and watch the whole thing after all!
Magdalena Kozena has quite a voice! So, just out of curiosity, I searched her online and this was what I found - isn't it something?
Shriver Hall, Baltimore MD
Sunday, February 21st at 5:30
SCHUMANN: Liederkreis, Op. 39
RAVEL: Histoires Naturelles, Op. 50
RACHMANINOFF: Songs, Op. 38
BARTÓK: Dorfszenen, BB 87a
(Program subject to change)
Tickets @ $33.00
Oh, what on earth did Baltimore do to be so lucky and get every great artist just like that for low prices? For everything below $50.00 we consider low these days, right?
Don't ask me if I am planning to go - I don't have the answer yet. Check with me in a couple of months.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
On a slightly different but still a very relevant note, I am going to Charles Theater to see La Boheme movie this Sunday.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
A linguist by trade, I speak 5 languages: Russian, English, Spanish, French and German + conversational Latvian (yes, Elina Garanca’s language), which I don’t even count because it’s only conversational. How did I learn it? It’s a separate story that I promise to share soon. I am pretty happy with what I do right now. I am in social work, working with senior residents of two apartment buildings, and at work I use my language skills on a daily basis, translating for the residents. Considering that Troy is so young and my job location allows me to see him at lunch every day, it’s a perfect job and I am incredibly happy there. Not career-wise, but life-wise.
So one day my husband and I were just talking about what we would do if we could start our lives all over again and I said that I would probably become a musicologist and teach musicology at a college, to which my husband said I should still pursue my dream and do that.
As much knowledge of music and composers as I have, I do not have a legal right to share it anywhere expect on my blog or in a conversation over coffee and biscotti, even though potentially, I could be doing much more than that. However, in every country the order is the same: you have to have a legal right (i.e. a certificate or even better a diploma) to do anything professionally. If you don’t have the paper, you might as well forget it.
So I told my husband, to which he suggested that I volunteer at my job with small music talks and see how it goes. Should it go really well and I feel that this is something I would like to do, I might as well take college classes and eventually get certified to teach musicology.
Of course, even in the best case scenario, we are talking about quite a life span.
While Troy is a little boy, I will always coordinate my job with his interests and needs.
Therefore, that day, I put the whole idea into the back drawer of my consciousness and decided to keep it there “until better times”.
However, yesterday an interesting conversation took place between my boss and myself.
My boss mentioned that our English-speaking and Russian-speaking residents are too separated from one another. In other words, they do not interact. Of course, it would be nice to offer a program for them which would involve both. So could I show a Russian movie with English subtitles?
A wild thought raced through my mind and I said: “Maybe I should show them Tchaikovsky? Everyone likes Tchaikovsky!"
My boss was excited about it because it’s a new fresh idea, but was concerned that the residents might not be ready to see the movie, because they do not know enough on the subject. And then I said: “Well, I don’t mind making a small pre-movie talk, if you are interested?”
The deal was sealed there and then. My boss placed an order for the movie, and I spent all last night refreshing my knowledge of the subject.
So there, I’ve got a chance for my first music talk. We’ll see how it goes and I’ll keep you all posted. Wish me luck, my friends. I need your support to go through with this crazy enterprise.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
I still can’t get over the shock that neither of my tennis heroes won in the US Open!
I am a fan of Nadal.
Are you kidding me? The guy is genius. Unfortunately, he lost.
Well, maybe he hasn’t fully recovered from his injury.
And then Federer. The hot guy!
Whenever he plays opposite Nadal, I cheer for Nadal . But – like I always say, had there been no Nadal, I would definitely be Federer’s fan. He also lost, and – what makes it even more ridiculous and tragic at the same time – to the same Argentinian 20-year-old!!!!
Agrhhhhhhh… it makes me so angry to even think about it!
So what, we have a new tennis champion now?
I don’t think so.
Let Nadal come back fully recovered, and then we’ll see. And Federer too – it takes a lot to beat him.
Another sad news this week.
Patrick Swayze died.
We all knew it could happen any time, considering his health condition, but no matter how prepared you are to take the bad news, it hits you real bad when it happens. I am really sad about it.
Patrick Swayze… Dirty Dancing… Ghost… He was a dream guy and an inspiration for so many of us, 16-year olds, and he was a good actor, and when I say good, I mean it!
Talented and dedicated.
He gave it all to the camera till the very end.
I have posted one of his young pictures, because that's what he has always been for me: an inspiring fiery dancer and a deep amazing actor!
Finally, on a bit better note, today, September 18th is Raisa’s Day! Some of you might think: what is that?
It’s a Russian cultural thing.
In Russia, every name is assigned to a certain day of the year,which means that besides your birthday, you get another day to celebrate yourself, get gifts and cards, go out with family and friends and what not.
This day became even more special to me 6 years ago, when I got a very special gift - a diamond ring, having gotten engaged to my husband on our romantic trip to New Orleans one year before hurricane Katrina!
So since then, Raisa’s Day is also my engagement anniversary.
Happy Raisa’s Day to me!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
was Rossini's wife and a leading mezzo-soprano, or soprano sfogato (unlimited soprano), for whom he composed so many wonderful operas, such as Otello, Armida, Zelmira, La Donna del Lago and a couple of others.
Also, finally, after a long wait, La Cenerentola DVD ( with Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Florez), recorded live in Barcelona is coming out in the end of October and is already available for pre-ordering at amazon.com.I was quick and pre-ordered it already! It's a wonderful performance, and Joyce's Cinderella is so beautiful and so sincere. Just like I imagined her, when I was a little girl and my mom read the story to me.
As a matter of fact, both the gems could not have chosen a better time to come out. I have been listening to a lot more Rossini than I used to since I started reading my Rossini book, and nothing, nothing can be a better illustration to it than Joyce or/and Juan Diego singing those gorgeous arias!Perfect timing!
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
For me, a non-professional piano player and a very passionate music lover, the whole process is full of miracles and daily discoveries.
It is very exciting to be able to match the music in your head with the music under your fingers. It's a lot of fun to discover in what way the composer wrote the piece: it kind of gives you a better understanding of what and how the composer meant it.
For example, when you play the Birdcatcher's Song, you realize what a great sense of humor Mozart had. Watch your right hand flipping through the keyboard just like a bird. Witty Mozart!
Playing for my son is quite a treat. He is a great listener.
I play all kinds of music for him: opera, nursery, folk.
As a rule, kids are hard to surprise. They do not know the difference between a miracle and routine. However, I do get to surprise Troy when I play by ear. He looks amazed when I play the tunes he is only used to hearing on CDs.
My recent achievement is a Russian folk song
Всю-то я вселенную проехал (I Have Traveled All Around the World)
My Russian readers are familiar with it, I am sure.
The song is incredibly beautiful and very romantic in the way Russian folk songs are. It is about a guy who has traveled all around the world looking for love, but could not find it. Then he came back to Russia and remembered that he used to love a beautiful girl with blue eyes. So he sings to her and reassures her of his love and that he would give up the whole universe to make it mutual.
Troy loves to listen to this song on the CD. Very often, while the song is playing, he makes soft humming sounds, as if trying to sing it!
So last weekend I played it for him on the piano and it sounded really pretty! He looked very surprised and so excited. He could not get enough of it! So I kept playing it over and over again and sang it for him too. It was a truly quality time for us both.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Here, take a look!
Date: 31/08/2009 - 20:07
Message: ¡Hola Juan Diego! Me gustaría dar las gracias a Usted de mí mismo, mi marido y especialmente, de nuestro hijito, quien es de 7 meses de edad, pero le gusta mucho su voz, sobre todo "J'ai perdu mon Euridice". Mi marido y yo le vimos en 'La Fille du regiment' en el MET el año pasado. iBravo! ¡Mucha suerte con todos los proyectos futuros!
- My pre-recital time (where to go and what to do)
- The ultimate look ( what to wear).
Every time I go to Manhattan I stop by at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is great, but hei - how about something really different this time?
The Cloisters look incredible, and they have gardens too...
This gorgeous painting is by Lawrence Kelsey. Isn't it beautiful?
Saturday, September 12, 2009
No Reader, not Great Expectations.
I did open it a couple of times during the course of last night though, leafed through it lovingly and... closed it.
Sometimes a book needs to stand on your shelf before it actually gets read and just wait for its turn.
So I started the book that has been pending for quite a few months. Here it is:
The Life of Rossini by Stendhal (that's the guy who wrote the Red and the Black, remember?)
It seems to be quite a book.
I have always wanted to learn more about Rossini, my all-time favorite composer and (answering the question in my own poll) the one and only composer I never get tired of! Honestly, whatever mood I am in, Rossini is always IT.
To me, he is the one and only composer of ever-lasting youth and everything that comes with it. Every Rossini's aria gives you the feeling of "butterflies in your stomach" that you get when you are in love, and quoting Stendhal:
"In the lottery of Nature, the noble Lord has drawn his prize in cash; but Rossini has won a name which cannot die, and genius with it, and best of all, a splendid share of human happiness".
Come on, you have to be a super lucky, loved and generally happy person to write Vieni fra Queste Braccia or La speranza piu soave, won't you all agree?
I am also learning a lot as I read, because Stendhal offers a lot of musical analysis, and in a very clear manner and language! He mentions composers that were popular before Rossini made his appearance, such as Cimarosa and Paisiello, which are certainly familiar to me. However, he analyzes specific arias and duets, which I never heard before, for which reason I run to the computer, find them on You Tube and listen.
I love it!
It is so educational!
Every word is literally teaching me about music. I would have probably never listened to any of those arias and duets, have I not started reading this book. And can I be more grateful for You Tube - what would we all do without it? How did we do without it anyway?
How did we read about music without being able to listen to the analyzed pieces right away?
Anyway, the book is making me incredibly happy! Almost as happy as Rossini's music!
P.S. I think this book is going to teach me to better express my feelings about music. Sometimes I am dying to write how I feel, but somehow can't find the right words. Let's see if Stendhal can help me fix that!
Friday, September 11, 2009
- A Little Bit of Singing and Dancing
Anyway, last Friday my husband and I took our 7-month-old son out dancing. Yes, dancing! So there is this place called Belvedere Square.
Every Friday night there is a free family/couples/singles event there, with food stands, book sales, lotteries, wine, sushi and -most importantly, live music! Music genres vary every week and differ all the way from beach music to hard rock. There is a small dancing floor next to the band, where people dance with or without their kids.
Troy loved it! This time it was beach music, and we both had a blast dancing with him to Brown- Eyed Girl. Hey, who wouldn't? This is one of those songs one could dance all night to, right?!
It was a blast!
As a matter of fact, I dance with Troy a lot at home, holding him in my arms of course. He enjoys it so much. Somehow, he seems to know how it all goes by intuition. He turns his head to the side - chin up, arches his back , puts one hand on my shoulder and the other in my hand, and moves his legs too, like a real ballroom dancer. He might have our dancing genes, because my husband and I are a dancing couple.
- Great Expectations
I have to confess, as well-read as I am, especially in English Literature, I did not read the book. But I did see the movie, the very old one:
I loved the story. It's mysterious, spooky and so unpredictable!
The spooky part was of course the old lady who had been left standing at the altar on her wedding day, and was still wearing her gown and veil and lived among all those wedding tables covered with dust and spider webs...
The unpredictable and definitely my favorite part was when Pip (the main character) discovered the true identity of his benefactor! Ah, could he ever think that the criminal he had once saved, watched him all his life and lay out so much money to help him become the so-called cream of society, just to thank him for the favor?!!! Just think what he must have felt!
And then, last week I saw this movie
and loved the story even more after that! I do not think too highly of contemporary interpretations of classic stories, because most of the time they come out very lame and fake. But this one is a gem!
Robert Deniro... ( not my favorite actor at all, even though he is o'kay) is amazing in this picture. This is his best role ever! This role somehow lets him reveal his true artistic power. It's worth being an actor to just play a small but grand role like that!
What I really loved about this movie was how it brought out and emphasized Dickens' genius thought about no one in this world being perfect. Bad people have great qualities( like Deniro's character) and good people have bad qualities ( like the main character, who was ashamed of his own uncle once he became rich and famous).
This particular cinematographic interpretation of Dickens' novel changed something in me. I kept thinking about the movie the whole next day and regretted that I did not have a chance to read it earlier.
Today, however, something else happened. I actually got the book!
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens!
It's a very nasty , chilly and rainy day today. I can't wait to get home, and (after Troy goes to bed) make myself a hot drink, cuddle under the blanket in the living room and start it.
- Carrie Is Back!
That was the line that attracted my attention while I was leafing through the fresh People magazine during lunch this afternoon.
Apparently, my guilty pleasure show Sex and the City is coming back in the form of a sequel, Sex and the City - 2!!! The first movie was not that great, but I loved it anyway, just because I love the show and watching the movie felt like seeing your old friends again. The short article said that they have recently started shooting the sequel in New York! Yay!!!
Now, don't forget, Reader, that I am going to New York in a little bit more than a month. So I might accidentally run into the whole crew shooting a scene in Central Park or something. What are the chances of that?
So, dear Reader, tune in next Friday for more exciting Culture Shock ramblings!
So here it is - I am introducing a new weekly issue, which will come out on my blog every Friday, called Culture Shock.
Don't expect it to shock you every time, Reader. This will be my place to talk about anything else cultural that I have enjoyed during the past week, such as books, movies, dancing, fashion, museums, exhibits, trips, etc.
So stay tuned and don't forget, reactions and comments are always appreciated!
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
It's ORANGE ( love the color!!!) and larger than any ticket I have ever held in my hands.
The surprising thing for me though is that it never said anywhere except for the e-mail from that GLF rep that there will be a post-recital reception with the artists. I hope that the said rep must have known what he/she was saying. It's probably one of their annual concert traditions. Just think what a draw it would be though, had the reception been advertised on the Morgan Library website!
I might double check the reception info closer to the date.
Besides all that, it's already time to plan my very exciting and so longed for trip to New York!
This coming weekend I am going to get a round trip, express Balto-NY-Balto train ticket. I love-love-love traveling by train. Sitting by the window, looking at the landscapes rushing by, sipping coffee, reading a book...who does not love that? My vacation time always starts as soon as I board the train.
The last but certainly not the least, it's time to plan my pre-recital time in NY and look at exhibits and lunch options!!! Therefore, here is the promised contest.
Friday, September 4, 2009
This fall and winter Charles Theater is indulging Baltimore in so many beautiful performances.
Take a look.
If I could I would go to each and every one of them, because I am sure they are all great. However, I will try to go to La Boheme
this month ( not sure which of the 2 dates yet) and Carmen ( the opening night at La Scala) on December 7th.
I am so excited about La Boheme. Not because it's my favorite opera (it's not), but because it's an opera movie and I love opera movies.
Who could ever forget Zeffirelli's Traviata or Bergman's Zauberflote?
Possibilities of camera are unlimited and if you apply those possibilities to an opera - magic is created!
Just think about how the singers can throw themselves into acting completely, without thinking about hitting all the right notes (the voices will be recorded separately, of course). And for the same reason, they won't have to open their mouths like they do on the stage, big and wide. They will pretend they are just talking like they do in life.
Like probably most of my readers, I already saw the trailer for La Boheme. It's beautiful and really romantic. Anna and Rolando seem great for the parts.
Plus, don't forget - my OperaAmerica Boheme course is coming up in October! So, even though I have seen quite a few Bohemes, this one I am sure, will be on everyone's lips or maybe it will even be old news by October. So I absolutely have to see it!
I am very excited about Carmen, because it is going to be my first La Scala production ever. I was a little surprised to see that Jonas Kauffmann will sing the part of Don Jose that night ( the opening night!!!). Is he that good? He must be, if an opera house like La Scala itself gave him the honors. Gotta surf You Tube!
Anyway, looks like it's gonna be a busy season for an opera loving mama!
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
If you do, though, be prepared to deal with the consequences, unless you have a couple of problem solvers in your sleeve. Because my son is only 7 months old, I do not have a lot of them yet, but I do have one (which WORKED!!!!!) and would like to share it with anyone who reads this blog.
So Troy and I were stuck in the traffic this morning for the whole 75 minutes. Can you believe it? 75 instead of 30!!! As it turned out later, there were actually 3 accidents on I-695! Guess what? To top it all, I did not have my cell phone with me either ( left it sitting on my office desk yesterday).
Thirty minutes into the trip, Troy started getting all whiny and cranky, and if you are a parent you know that once it starts, it does not stop or go away, unless you find a way to stop it.
And I did.
Here it is:
Beautiful, relaxing meditative piano music to the sound of waves... You know, one of those collections that you can't remember how to sing, but love every time you hear them.
That was it - Mr. Cranky calmed down, fell asleep and slept through the whole traffic experience.
I have probably mentioned in my earlier posts that we always listen to music together while driving. We listen to a lot of classics, folk, nursery and what not. Needless to say, my son responds differently to different music genres, voices, musical instruments.
He absolutely adores Russian folk songs, loves a ride to Juan Diego Florez 's J'ai perdu mon Euridice and so many more ( see earlier posts), but he can't sleep to them, because all those artists with their beautiful voices make him really alert and excited.
This one, however, is a winner.
So if you have an infant, grab it next time you are at Bed, Bath & Beyond and slip it into your car CD holder. You might get a chance to use it one day!