Posts Tagged ‘opera’

Heinlein Month: Bad shape

July 18, 2011

Cloistered SWF seeks poetic SWM, age not important, balcony-climbing skills a must. Send carrier pigeon to Villa Capulet. Your pic gets mine. No bots please.


You’re in bad shape when your emotions force you into acts which you know are foolish.

(Robert A. Heinlein. Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. 1958.)

The Zeffirelli Romeo and Juliet is a beautiful, faithful classic. But — keep this under your hat because I don’t want to be kicked out of the super-cool smart kids’ club — the Baz Luhrmann hamfisted crazy-go-nuts adaptation of Shakespeare’s play is actually my favorite, because I unapologetically love his juxtapositive imagination and didn’t think it defiled the play particularly. A little excess never killed nobody. (Get it? A little excess? Oxymoron? Yes?) I like over the top lushness in a movie — I’m a decaphile and I’m not sorry for that. But I went with the picture of Olivia Hussey to illustrate this idea because she is so exponentially hotter than Claire Danes that Claire Danes just now suddenly got sad, purely from all of us nodding silently, and she doesn’t know why.


Left: Amateur hour. Right: Holy hell.

The mise-en-scene of Luhrmann’s R&J dazzles me, but compared to the chemistry in Zeffirelli’s 1968 version? There is no comparison. Absolutely none. By the way, am I the only one who read that thing where Zeffirelli claims to have totally been hit on by Aristotle Onassis? Still wrapping my mind around that one and weighing its potential truth. (Verdict so far: Depends. Was Onassis trying to get Zeff away from Callas once and for all? Or just bombed on some really good shit?) More on that story here, and don’t skip the comments for the full scope of the debate.

Calendar Girls Day: Lavazza edition and short Music Moment

December 27, 2009

I realize I am inundating you with these Italian ad calendars, but I don’t know what to tell you — Italians just do it best! These are gorgeous, hi-res pics, so be sure to click to see them full-sized.

Luigi Lavazza S.p.A. is a 115-year-old, Turin-based coffee company. Since the early 90’s, Lavazza has put out a yearly artistic promotional calendar somewhat akin to Pirelli and Campari, full of beautiful women, although usually with less trumpet-blasting and more clothes on. This year’s campaign appears to be centered around music, chiefly opera. It was shot by no less than Miles Aldridge (past photographic artists have been Annie Leibovitz, Helmut Newton, and patron saint David LaChapelle) and features models Georgia Frost, Bianca Balti, Lydia Hearst, Daisy Lowe, Alek Alexeyeva, and Alexandra Tomlinson. (To the opera end, click below to hear while you’re browsing the pics, which will open in their own windows, my favorite recording of “Nessun Dorma (None shall sleep)” from Puccini’s Turandot, performed by Katherine Jenkins, who I normally don’t tremedously like, but this is a great arrangement, almost as good as Pavarotti’s, without treading on it. It really takes off at the :43 mark for me.)

Katherine Jenkins – Nessun Dorma


Alek Alexeyeva: “Va’ Pensiero (“Thought Goes,” aka “Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves,” Verdi, Nabucco).”

On various occasions, it has been suggested that “Va’ pensiero” replace the Inno di Mameli as the Italian National Anthem, and more recently has been appropriated by the Italian Northern Separatist movement, the Lega Nord, as the National Anthem of the unrecognized state of Padania. (the wiki)

Cool, huh? But the rest is going to focus on “Nessun Dorma.”


Georgia Frost: “Nessun Dorma (“None Shall Sleep,” Turandot, Puccini).”

It is sung by Calaf, il principe ignoto (the unknown prince), who falls in love at first sight with the beautiful but cold Princess Turandot. However, any man who wishes to wed Turandot must first answer her three riddles; if he fails, he will be beheaded.

In the act before this aria, Calaf has correctly answered the three riddles put to all of Princess Turandot’s prospective suitors.


Daisy Lowe: “Con Te Partirò (With You I Will Leave/Time To Say Goodbye).”

Nevertheless, she recoils at the thought of marriage to him. Calaf offers her another chance by challenging her to guess his name by dawn. (As he kneels before her, the Nessun dorma theme makes a first appearance, to his words, “Il mio nome non sai!”) If she does so, she can execute him; but if she does not, she must marry him. The cruel and emotionally cold princess then decrees that none of her subjects are to sleep that night until his name is discovered. If they fail, all will be killed.


Alexandra Tomlinson: “Guarda Che Luna (Look, What a Beautiful Moon).”

In 2009, singer Antony Hegarty, lead singer of Antony and the Johnsons recorded the aria with the Roma Sinfonietta Orchestra, which was released for free by the Italian coffee company, Lavazza. While the orchestration of the recording is Puccini’s original, Hegarty performs the song with his famous, quavering delivery. (the wiki)


Bianca Balti: “‘O Sole Mio (Oh, My Sun).” (my favorite version is Elvis Presley’s.)

Oh, my sun, like, did you want to hear that version of “Nessun Dorma” where hipster darling Antony Hegarty jacks Pavarotti’s signature piece for profit and makes it all about himself? Go find it yourself; until he proves to me he has a shred of redeeming value as a person that isn’t dripping with deliberate ironic self-references, art school bullshit, and materialistic perpetual adolescence, I do not care for that pretentious twat and I won’t be part of his making money.


Lydia Hearst: “Baciami piccina (Kiss me, little one).” (I had a dream a while back that had Lydia Hearst in it, but she was still a redhead in my dream.)

Don’t get me wrong, here. I don’t mind a dork even at all but I prefer if they are not hipstery, cynical, judgmentally snobby deliberate nerds. I like that kind of un-self-aware, loveably sweet, dorky-in-spite-of-themselves type of dork and I always go much more for a geek of any stripe (computer, academic, video game, sci-fi television, music, biting-the-heads-off-chickens, etc) that has got a little bit of heart and soul. ie: Kindness, faith, charity, optimism, forgiveness, non-materialism, and no jeans in the closet that could be mistaken for mine. Super-sorry!

Advice: Maria Callas and hiding beneath the sheets edition

October 4, 2009

It happens. Hiding: it is a thing.

“Love is so much better when you’re not married.” — Maria Callas

Maria Callas – Queen of the Night aria, “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen,” The Magic Flute (W.A. Mozart)

I finally have free time and I’m hiding from my writing today. I need to think about why. I think I know. But I need to admit it.


Hylocereus undatus, or Night-blooming cereus, sometimes called the Queen of the Night.

The nightblooming cereus is also known as the lunar flower, moon flower and luna flower. … The plant grows as a thin, almost dead looking stick from a single stem in the ground. They bloom just on one or two nights of the year. Pack rats often eat these blossoms before morning, so catching a glimpse of them can be fleeting. — The wiki.

And there you have it.

Advice: will work for love

September 6, 2009

“I don’t need the money, dear. I work for art.” –Maria Callas


And how she struggled for that art, and how the circumstances of her artistic and personal life tried to beat her back so many times, and how she prevailed, and how enriched the world is because of her voice.

Think about doing this. Believe so strongly in the power and entitlement of Your Voice that you would kill tigers just to hear it echo in triumph. Love your art first and best, before anyone else does. Work for love.