radfrac_archive_full: (Harold Ross of the New Yorker)
[personal profile] radfrac_archive_full
And some attempt at measure.

Beauty: A walk and an opera

The Opera

On Saturday, I saw The Magic Flute. Somehow I've acquired a very inexpensive subscription to the local opera company. I think they tricked me into it, but I don't really mind.

I'd actually seen them1 perform The Magic Flute before -- I thought a bit too recently, though I see it was 2009. I recall that as both well-sung and successfully spectacular. This one felt a bit like an afterthought to the earlier production: smaller in scale and less coherent in design.

The sportsy question about The Magic Flute is, of course, did the Queen of the Night manage the coloratura? Our queen was a bit squeaky on the first run, but after that it was like crystal. The Sarastro was regal, but I was disappointed in his lack of resonance. Pamina and Papageno were excellent, though I thought the Papageno/Papagena duet could have been, I don't know, punchier?

Some of the company's stagings have been really glorious -- 2016's The Barber of Seville was this curvilinear 1960s fantasia of orange and white. This one was a bit perplexing. It didn't seem to have a unifying principle, but then perhaps I shouldn't so rigidly expect one.

The primary set pieces were large mirrored blocks, arranged and rearranged to create mountains, palaces, undefined areas of countryside, etc. Mirrors also featured as props. Sometimes this was effective, and sometimes I could see the conductor reflected in the set, or I got a violent beam of roving light right in my eye.

Some costumes and some props -- mainly on the distaff side -- had a "cage" motif. This was suitable for Papageno, but it meant that the Queen of the Night looked like she'd got stuck climbing out of a birdcage in her nightgown.

One very effective moment came during the trial by flame, when a curtain of golden cords, brushed gently by the hands of the chorus, took on the twisting forms of fire.

For my own reference: Operas I Have Seen2

February 2005: The Cunning Little Vixen, Leos Janacek
I remember liking this, though not feeling I'd come to terms with the musical principles. This theme will recur with embarrassing frequency.
October 2005: Eugene Onegin, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
I loved this, though according to my review at the time I found the music "too obvious" or something.
February 2007: Daphne, Richard Strauss
I also loved this.
October 2007: Idomeneo, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
I left after Act II of III, because of fatigue and school stress, not out of any dislike of the production.
April 2009: The Magic Flute, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
I enjoyed this, though I didn't write a review.
February 2013: Albert Herring, Benjamin Britten
Ditto. Rather fun and crypto-queer. Again, could not quite get the hang of the music -- I think the pastiches of so many diverse styles felt disorganized to me. My hubris!
February 2016: The Barber of Seville, Gioachino Rossini
Great fun.
April 2016: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Benjamin Britten
This was cool. I'd never heard a countertenor before.
February 2017: The Magic Flute, Mozart
I'm glad I went, even if it was not the supreme flute of my life.
For a not precisely musical person I show a dogged attachment to this particular form. I have no good explanation.

The Walk

On Sunday, [livejournal.com profile] inlandsea took me on a walk around Swan Lake. This was very good for me and recalled a little of my soul back from the void. There were few signs of spring, but much snow, she said, had melted since last week. We saw mallards, of course, and another bird neither of us could identify. The water, she said, was lower: the ducks dozed on the matted backs of bent grasses instead of floating among their upright stalks.

However, I noticed I had trouble conversing -- my speech was slow and laboured, like someone drugged or ill. I think I spoke coherently enough, but it took effort to avoid long vague gaps where my mind did not so much wander as gently collapse, like soft clay returning to mud.

I hope to attribute that to the onset of the illness I'm now experiencing, though at the time I felt physically well enough. Then, Sunday night, shortly after my evening's valerian, I felt the intimations of a illness -- to wit, a stinging and snorfly nose.

And frustration: I'm sick again

I thought I'd recovered almost completely from the December-January virus, except that my lungs were still reactive and I needed to build up my stamina.

Reading break was supposed to provide that rest, yet instead I found myself exhausted and falling into an old familiar depressive state, in which I become paranoid and self-pitying about all sorts of imagined slights and injuries (or if not imagined, unintended and nearly un-pin-downable). And now I am emphatically ill again

I wander foggily, coating everything in the Beautiful Shed with a thin film of Vicks VapoRub.



1. I say "them", but the primary singers generally come from away, so we heard entirely other voices last time.

2. Opera dates from http://www.pov.bc.ca/repertoire.html

Crossposted from Dreamwidth (http://radiantfracture.dreamwidth.org/4166.html), where there are comment count unavailable comments. Comments either place are great.
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