Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Victoria de los Angeles: "la dulzura al servico del canto"



I will always adore the voice and performance of Victoria de los Angeles, especially when she sings Spanish song cycles. We had these boxed sets of classical music records when I was young, with two Rossini arias sung by her ("una voce poco fa"  and "dunque io son'"). I sang along to them hundreds of times (I don't think my mother ever complained).   Something about the timbre of her voice just made me happy. Later, I would recognize that she might not have been the most technically accomplished  when compared with some other sopranos, but she was my first love.

Here's a charming  interview clip, with a song performance, from British TV.

Best comment on this clip ("Che gelida manina" with the divine Jussi Bjorling):  her singing was "la dulzura al servicio del canto."

Monday, July 21, 2014



Lorrain Hunt Lieberson sings. She was only 52 when she died. 52! I found this through the book Orfeo.

Text from the YouTube video's About section:
"The last of Peter Lieberson's five "Neruda Songs", composed for his wife, mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. Ms. Lieberson made this recording with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of James Levine, less than eight months before she succumbed to breast cancer, making the text of this particular song that much more poignant.

My love, should I die and you don't,
let us give grief no more ground:
my love, should you die and I don't,
there is no piece of land like this on which we've lived.

Dust in the wheat, sand in the desert sands,
time, errant water, the wandering wind
carried us away like a navigator seed.
In such times, we may well not have met.

The meadow in which we did meet,
oh tiny infinity, we give back.
But this love, Love, has had no end,

and so, as it had no birth,
it has no death. It is like a long river
that changes only its shores and its banks.

Translation: Terence Clarke"

All five poems:

Yet another med change.

May 2014:
Since I was hospitalized for the first time a year ago, I've had a roller coaster with medications.

Medications I cannot tolerate, that made my symptoms worse, or that have caused allergic reactions or adverse side effects:
Celexa. worked, then didn't and caused horrible side effects.
Temzepam: worked, but also caused bad side effects that I tolerated for way too long because I needed to sleep to be able to work. I wish I had known better.
Cymbalta: tipped me from depressed to bipolar, and had lots of crappy side effects like no REM sleep.


Welbutrin: teeth grinding, nail-biting, acute manic symptoms, intense anxiety attacks.

Lithium: worked for a while, then, blam! hives and manic attacks, ugh.
Depakote: felt like being on the SSRIs again: no sleep, constipation, dreary mood, no apparent benefit.
Seroquel . This one helped stabilize the manic symptoms, and helped me sleep (wonderful!)  but was hellish on my metabolism and did not helped the depression. I slept, but I couldn't concentrate, remember  or focus well when I was awake; I am tired all the time, I gained 30 lbs in 3 months (!) and I felt shaky and anxious with every savage blood-sugar change. Scary: I  started to get symptoms of neuropathy in my legs, and this medication can make you diabetic. Worst is the fact that the depression did not go away, even though the panic attacks did. The doctor said we should step down and step off while I started a new mood stabilizer.

So, on to the next: oxcarbazepine, an anti-seizure medication also known as Trileptal (a close relative of Tegretol or carbamazepine). Some of the suckier side-effects are not an issue for me (don't need to worry about birth control pills), but I will need to have my blood levels monitored and watch out for nasty and potentially fatal rash.

So far, so good. The neuropathy disappeared right away, as did the daily mood swings. Trileptal has not caused any new side effects. I'm sleeping reasonably well. My appetite and digestion are normal. No manic symptoms. Still with the bad depression...but not as bad.  I can now read a whole book again, and I have returned to learning: Japanese and Korean.

I still experience periodic flashes of intense, gruesome, horrific depression that make the future seem uniformly bleak and make me doubt my capacity to resist.  But they are not lasting as long. This is progress.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pirates of Penzance

A friend and I saw a performance of the Pirates of Penzance yesterday at the Lake Harriet bandshell. So much fun! I will be singing this all week.

Poking around in Youtubelandia, I found New Zealand's Essgee Company's performances. Great voices, wonderful staging and choreography, and some liberties with the original. Gilbert and Sullivan purists might not approve, but I love it.





 Linda Ronstadt is so beautiful as Mabel. What a voice!


A more operatically trained singer's performance of "Poor Wandering One." At the bandshell, the swallows all took off when the soprano did her first run.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Janelle Monae, "Heroes"

 Love her SO MUCH! I cried the first time I watched this video.


Live version of "Heroes" on Letterman:


"Electric Lady" on Maya Rudolph's new show:

Also performed this great song live for The Today Show: love the faces of the women in the audience singing along!

Priceless Billboard interview:


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Orfeo by Richard Powers: listening project

Now reading Richard Powers' novel Orfeo, in which several works of modern music (none of which I have never heard) are evoked in compelling detail. After I finish the book, I plan to go back and listen to all of them, but for now, here is the one that the characters hear (and don't hear) on  pages 245-255, Steve Reich's "Proverb" :



Proverb (1995)
for voices and ensemble
Ludwig Wittgenstein (E)
3 lyric sopranos, 2 tenors—2 vibraphones—2 keyboards (playing 4 five-octave keyboards)



Thursday, April 24, 2014

Paco de Lucía documentaries

I enjoy this documentary film Paco de Lucía: Light and Shade.



I'm posting the version of the film available in Spanish with no subtitles for translation. If you want to view the version in English, you have to put up with the somewhat intrusive voice-overs, but don't let that stop you.

Here is a second documentary made for Spanish TV: Francisco Sánchez (AKA Paco de Lucía), and with extensive interviews of Paco de Lucía from his home in Mexico.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Magic Flute


I was fortunate enough to see a production of The Magic Flute by the MN Opera (review here). The production was designed by the 1927 group, debuted in Berlin and then went to LA. My friend thought the visuals sometimes upstaged the music, and she missed the colerful costumes of more traditional stagings, but I though the singing was quite good throughout, and really enjoyed the creativity and innovation. I did not like the Queen of the Night-giant spider characterization, but the rest of the characterizations worked for me.

This clip from the LA Opera's production shows how they us used early cinema as the aesthetic. So inventive!


A different staging, equally creative is Julie Taymor's design for  the Metropolitan Opera's abridged English production  Nathan Gunn as Papageno is so expressive!And


Papageno and Papagena's duet.

I went looking to compare performances of the Queen of the Night.  Here, dramatic soprano Edda Moser performs the first aria,"O Zittre Nicht".


Nathalie Dessay is so compelling on stage. I love her in everything I see:


Edith Gruberova:


Diana Damrau brings the drama! There is a DVD of this production that I must find:


And here's a recording of Lucia Popp, with the conductor taking things at a slower tempo, and her splendid technique.