Sunday, August 26, 2007

Old boats

Heiliger scheiss! Das ist eine gross boot!
Previous viewings of Wagner's "Fliegende Hollender" have left me somewhat cold.
Eh! I said to myself, nice music, but the story, like, sucks.
Last nights performance by Sir Speight Jenkins (I'm awarding him Lane Savant title of "being better than the sad and deteriorating Gerry Schwartz")of aforementioned, was about 6 degrees short of 100% spectacular.
I stayed awake for the whole thing.
One factor was the staging and costuming. A modern (for the 50's anyway)
fishing boat with guys in motley. T-shirts, slickers, baseball caps,
hard hats, etc. I can relate.
The boat originally appeared on stage in earlier performances with the running lights on the wrong sides. In Seattle, it got noticed and corrected.
That would happen in Boston too, I imagine.
Unless they do it the other way 'round on that end of the country.
The other boat, Mr Fliegende's, was appropriately spooky.

One other thing I noticed was that the libretto talked a lot about sails even though the fishing boat was obviously diesel powered.
The story is still suspicious, of course, but acted properly, as it was not before,(the supertitles help) what is accentuated is the emotional and psychological content.
The ensemble, (set, costumes, music and the singing) make the suspension of disbelief easy, almost inevitable.
I am not worthy to comment on Jane Eaglen's Senta. I am always suspicious of superlatives and I can't think of anything else to use.
Same goes for Greer Grimsley's Hollender.
Two supporting roles stood out. The somnolent steersman by the enthusiastic
Jason Collins, and Eric by Jay Hunter Morris. O.K. they didn't
stick out but they were noticeable and, oh...what's
the word? Supportive.
But Whattowhyknow?
Wagner seems to like the psychological dynamic of women dying to save their men.
But as Bugs Bunny once said "It's Opera, doc, wattaya expect? A happy ending?
But it is supposed to be a happy ending.
I don't know. Two confused and depressed nut-cases find "release" in death?
I think we have medications for that now.
Could be Sid Vicious and his girlfriend.
Alice obviously suffered some kind of brain damage after falling down the rabbit hole.
Dorothy's wild stories about tin men, lions and scarecrows indicate to me some
sort of brain trauma that ought to be looked into.
I worry about people.
My question is; what does it mean to the living and sane?
Why, in other words, do these mythological scenarios exist in the first place?
Huh?
I'm sure that the majority of the audience have a reasonably firm grip on reality (O.K. "reality")
They seem to have more money than I do. They dress better. That's the definition of sanity, isn't it?
My wife did say I looked almost sharp last night. (I think I told you about the new shoes and I also bought a new shirt)
Anyway, the theme of my flute concerto is this sort of retreat in to the world
of the mind. Naive and vulnerable flute suffers the torments of her
reality and retreats into a self constructed dream like internal state.
The piece ends with with the success of achieving that state.
And the tragedy implied thereby.
Dreams nourish but it is sad to have to try to live on them.


Managed to meet and greet five people I knew, that's always nice.

Labels: ,

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lane:
Thanks for the best review I´ve read anywhere of the Seattle "Holländer"!!
I liked yours soooo much that I´ve e-mailed Speight to suggest he would also enjoy reading it. This e-mail reads: Dear Speight: You might want to read Lane Savant's blog rave about the Seattle Opera "Holländer" @ www.stellamartis.blogspot.com.
Lane is a retired auto mechanic who built an "Amphibian" car that also runs on lakes, like the "Ducks". Under another name he and hos wife are Seattle Opera subscribers.

After a frequent flyer free flight I finally arrived back in Schwerin after a hurricane rain-delay in Chicago; I'd never fly via Chicago then Heathrow (ugh!!!) on a paid flight; my itinerary then would be Seattle-Copenhagen-Hamburg; quicker and more comfortable and convenient, but "beggars can't be choosers".
Margrit (always!!) says "Grüße an Meredith and Doug", so herewith I'll follow her orders and include greetings of my own!!"
You'll enjoy "Iphigenia" in the Fall, as it's staged by the same genius who staged "Holländer"!!
Tschüs, Win (und Margrit).

2:29 AM  
Blogger butch said...

You and Anonomann are way out there this time. I think that some day I will have to get off my backside and actually attend one of these gala performances, and see what the shouting is all about.

Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) is an opera, with music and libretto by Richard Wagner. The story comes from the legend of the Flying Dutchman, about a ship captain condemned to sail until Judgement Day.

Wagner claimed in his 1870 autobiography "Mein Leben" that he had been inspired following a stormy sea crossing he made from Riga to London in July and August 1839, but in his 1843 "Autobiographical Sketch" Wagner acknowledged he had taken the story from Heinrich Heine's retelling of the legend in his 1834 satirical novel "The Memoirs of Mister von Schnabelewopski" (Aus den Memoiren des Herrn von Schnabelewopski).[1]

The central theme is redemption through love, which Wagner returns to in most of his subsequent operas.

Wagner conducted the premiere at the Semper Oper in Dresden, 1843. This work shows early attempts at operatic styles that would characterise his later music dramas. In Der fliegende Holländer Wagner uses a number of leitmotifs (literally, "leading motifs") associated with the characters and themes. The leitmotifs are all introduced in the overture, which begins with a well-known ocean or storm motif before moving into the Dutchman and Senta motifs.

Wagner originally wrote Der fliegende Holländer to be performed without intermission — an example of his efforts to break with tradition — and, while today's opera houses sometimes still follow this directive, it is also performed in a three act version.

Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) is an opera, with music and libretto by Richard Wagner. The story comes from the legend of the Flying Dutchman, about a ship captain condemned to sail until Judgement Day.

Wagner claimed in his 1870 autobiography "Mein Leben" that he had been inspired following a stormy sea crossing he made from Riga to London in July and August 1839, but in his 1843 "Autobiographical Sketch" Wagner acknowledged he had taken the story from Heinrich Heine's retelling of the legend in his 1834 satirical novel "The Memoirs of Mister von Schnabelewopski" (Aus den Memoiren des Herrn von Schnabelewopski).[1]

The central theme is redemption through love, which Wagner returns to in most of his subsequent operas.

Wagner conducted the premiere at the Semper Oper in Dresden, 1843. This work shows early attempts at operatic styles that would characterise his later music dramas. In Der fliegende Holländer Wagner uses a number of leitmotifs (literally, "leading motifs") associated with the characters and themes. The leitmotifs are all introduced in the overture, which begins with a well-known ocean or storm motif before moving into the Dutchman and Senta motifs.

Wagner originally wrote Der fliegende Holländer to be performed without intermission — an example of his efforts to break with tradition — and, while today's opera houses sometimes still follow this directive, it is also performed in a three act version.

Roles
Premiere, January 2nd, 1843
(Wagner conducting)
The Dutchman bass-baritone Johann Michael Wächter
Senta, Daland's daughter soprano Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient
Daland, a Norwegian sailor bass Friedrich Traugott Reinhold
Erik, a huntsman tenor Carl Risse
Mary, Senta's nurse contralto Thérèse Wächter
Daland's Steersman tenor Wenzel Bielezizky

Plot
Place: on the coast of Norway.


Act I
On his homeward journey, the sea-captain Daland is compelled by stormy weather to seek a port of refuge. He leaves the helmsman on watch and he and the sailors retire. (Song of the helmsman: "With tempest and storm on distant seas.") The helmsman falls asleep. A ghostly vessel appearing astern is dashed against Daland's vessel by the sea and the grappling irons hold the two ships together. Invisible hands furl the sails. A man of pale aspect, dressed in black, his face framed by a thick black beard, steps ashore. He laments his fate. (Aria: "The time has come and seven years have again elapsed")

Having broken his troth, he is cursed to roam the sea forever without rest. An angel brought to him the terms of his redemption: at the end of every seven years the angry waves cast him upon the shore; if he can find a wife who will be true to him he will be released. Daland meets him. The ghost offers him treasure, and when he hears that Daland has an unmarried daughter, he asks for her as his wife. Tempted by gold Daland consents, and favoured by the south wind joyfully acclaimed by Daland's men (repetition of the song of the helmsman and chorus), both vessels set sail.


Act II
Girls are singing and spinning in Daland's house. (Spinning chorus: "Spin, spin, fair maiden") Senta dreamily gazes upon the picture of the Flying Dutchman, whom she desires to save. Against the will of her nurse she sings the story of the Dutchman (Ballad with the Leitmotiv), how Satan heard him swear and took him at his word, she declares she will save him by her fidelity. Erik arrives and hears her; the girls depart, and the huntsman, who loves the maiden, warns her, telling her of his dream, in which Daland returned with a mysterious stranger, who carried her off to sea. She listens with delight, and Erik leaves her in despair. Daland arrives with the stranger; he and Senta stand gazing at each other in silence. Daland is scarcely noticed by his daughter, even when he presents his guest as her betrothed. In the following duet, which closes the act, Senta swears to be true till death.


Act III
Later in the evening the crew of Daland invite the men on the strange vessel to join in the festivities, but in vain. The girls retire in wonder; ghostly forms appear at work upon the vessel of the Flying Dutchman, and Daland's men retreat in fear. Senta arrives, followed by Erik, who reproves her for her desertion, as she had formerly loved him and vowed constancy. When the stranger, who has been listening, hears these words, he is overwhelmed with despair, as now he is forever lost. He summons his men, tells Senta of the curse, and to the consternation of Daland and his crew declares that he is the "Flying Dutchman." Hardly has he left the shore when Senta plunges into the sea, faithful unto death. This is his salvation. The spectral ship disappears, and Senta and the Dutchman are seen ascending to heaven.


Gosh it sounds like Jenkins put a wonderful touch on things by modernizing it a tad.

Speight Jenkins is the General Director for Seattle Opera in Seattle, Washington. He is unafraid to perform new and untraditional Operas, but he still makes time for the greats, such as Der Ring des Nibelungen every four years. He believes that Seattle Opera's "biggest accomplishment...is successfully playing up, rather than down, to our audience."

Texan journalist turned opera producer, Speight Jenkins will be celebrating his 20th year with Seattle Opera in August 2003. He has brought international recognition to his company, not least for the outstanding quality of their Wagner productions. Maria Nockin interviewed him late last year and they talked about his lifelong enthusiasm for, and legendary knowledge of, opera, and his ongoing work in Seattle.

Soprano Jane Eaglen is one of the major performers in the opera world today, enjoying some degree of success in the dramatic soprano roles of Isolde (for the Metropolitan Opera, Seattle Opera, Gran Teatro del Liceu (Barcelona), Lyric Opera of Chicago, and in Puerto Rico), Leonore, and Brünnhilde (performed in Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Milan, New York and the UK).

Other major performances include Bellini's Norma (performed for the Metropolitan Opera, Seattle Opera, Ravenna Festival with Maestro Muti, and the Bastille); Ariadne for Seattle Opera and in London; Senta (Der Fliegende Holländer) in concert with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra; Ortrud (Lohengrin) for Seattle Opera; La Gioconda in Chicago and London; Donna Anna in New York, Vienna, Los Angeles, Munich and Bologna; and many others.

Her work on the concert platform includes performances of Strauss’ Four Last Songs with Daniel Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Strauss’ final scene of Salome with Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic, and Sir Richard Hickox and the London Symphony Orchestra; Wagner’s Immolation Scene with both Bernard Haitink and Jeffrey Tate and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Zubin Mehta and the NY Phil; Verdi’s Requiem with Daniele Gatti and the Orchestra of St Cecilia, Rome; Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with Klaus Tennstedt; Nabucco with Riccardo Muti for the Ravenna Festival; Gurrelieder with Claudio Abbado for the Salzburg and Edinburgh Festivals; Die Walkure and Siegfried with James Conlon in Cologne; and many others.

Eaglen has an exclusive contract with Sony Classical. Her many solo albums include arias by Wagner and Bellini, arias by Strauss and Mozart, Strauss’ Four Last Songs and other song cycles, and Italian Opera Arias. Her recording of Wagner’s Tannhäuser with Barenboim for Teldec earned a Grammy for 'Best Complete Opera'. She may also be heard in Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with Chailly for Decca; in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Abbado for Sony; as Tosca for Chandos; as Norma with Muti for EMI, and in the title role of Opera Rara’s recently re-released Medea in Corinto. In addition, Eaglen is featured on Sony’s soundtrack for the film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.

Greer Grimsley
Bass-baritone

Greer Grimsley made his Seattle Opera debut in the 1994 production of Wagner’s Lohengrin singing Telramund, a role he reprised with the company in 2003. This Seattle Opera Artist of the Year (2005/06) has sung many other roles with Seattle Opera: Méphistophélès in Gounod’s Faust; Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen; Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca; Jack Rance in Puccini’s Fanciulla del West; Kurwenal in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde; Amfortas in Wagner’s Parsifal; and Wotan, the Wanderer, Gunther, and Donner in Wagner’s Ring des Nibelungen, and the title role in Wagner’s Flying Dutchman (Der fliegende Holländer). In the 2005/06 season, he reprised Telramund and Scarpia at the Metropolitan Opera, where he has previously appeared as Kurwenal, Jochanaan in Richard Strauss’s Salome, and Balstrode in Britten’s Peter Grimes. Other North American credits for this New Orleans bass-baritone include Jochanaan with Michigan Opera Theatre and Santa Fe Opera, Scarpia and the Dutchman with Pittsburgh Opera, Wotan and Bluebeard in Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle with Opéra de Montréal, and engagements with Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, Minnesota Opera, and Portland Opera. Overseas, Grimsley has sung leading roles with Deutsche Oper Berlin, Royal Danish Opera, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Teatro La Fenice, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Scottish Opera, Stadttheater Basel, Opera de Bellas Artes in Mexico, and the New Israeli Opera, to name a few. Upcoming engagements include Wotan in Berlin in January 2008, Scarpia in Seattle Opera’s Tosca in February 2008, and Wotan/The Wanderer in the 2009 Ring.

The young American tenor, Jason Collins, is already beginning to attract the attention of the public both with his robust but beautiful voice and his commanding stage presence. This season he returns to the Chicago Opera Theater as Jove in Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria and makes his debut with the National Symphony Orchestra as Narraboth in a concert version of Salome.

Jay Hunter Morris
Tenor

Jay Hunter Morris made his Seattle Opera debut as Anatol in the 1999 production of Barber’s Vanessa and returned here to sing Pinkerton in the 2002 production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and des Grieux in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut in 2005. In 1995, Morris created the role of Tony in Terrance McNally’s play Master Class at Philadelphia Theatre Company. Since then, he has performed with opera companies throughout the United States and Europe. Morris made his San Francisco Opera debut as Mitch in the world premiere of Previn’s Streetcar Named Desire. Other roles in San Francisco include Walther von Stolzing in Wagner’s Meistersinger (a role he sang at Frankfurt Opera for his debut in Germany), Father Grenville in the world premiere of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, and Captain James Nolan in the world premiere of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic. Recently, Morris has sung Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos with Dallas Opera, Erik in Wagner’s Fliegende Holländer with Arizona Opera, and Unferth in the world premiere of Eliot Goldenthal’s Grendel with Los Angeles Opera. He returns to Seattle Opera in 2007 as Erik.

Sly, aka John Simon Ritchie, Sid Vicious

Sly was born May 10th, 1957. He was born in England, and spent his teen years in London. A high-school dropout, at a young age he was recruited by Malcolm McLaren to join a band that McLaren had created to exploit the disaffected youth of London.

That band was called the 'Sex Pistols', named in part after McLaren's boutique, 'Sex.'Sly was approximately 19 when the Pistols made it to the very top of the music industry in 1977 with songs like 'Anarchy in the U.K.' and 'God Save the Queen', which made number one on the charts despite being censored (The Billboard chart had a blank spot at Number One).

The Sex Pistols were a smartly packaged group representing rebellion and anarchy, even as they were basically about making money. Sid, however, was no act: cruel, nasty, self-destructive, he personified that which the Sex Pistols purported to represent.

Sid & Nancy
Raised in southern England by his mother, Anne Beverly, a troubled single mother who had her own history of heroin use, Sid was lonelier offstage than his bad-boy persona suggested. "Deep down he was a shy person," wrote photographer Dennis Morris in a pictorial history of the band, 1991's Never Mind the Bollocks. "I think he was frightened of the audiences. . . . Sometimes he showed no emotion at all." At 16, after his first few one-night stands, says Beverley, Sid told her, "Mum, I don't know what people see in sex. I don't get anything out of it."
The daughter of an upper-middle-class Philadelphia businessman, Nancy had problems "almost since birth," says her mother, Deborah Spungen. "She was volatile." An emotionally disturbed high school grad, she abused drugs and repeatedly attempted suicide. But when she met the 19-year-old John Simon Ritchie in 1977 at a friend's London flat, she could hardly be described as aimless. "Nancy came to England with the express wish, much like a groupie, to bed a Sex Pistol," says Pamela Rooke, a buddy of Sid's who was working at a punk clothing shop on London's trendy Kings Road at the time. "And in a way, Sid was easy meat."
Nancy, who had worked as a prostitute in London, figured out how to turn him on. They moved into Rooke's flat, not far from Buckingham Palace, sharing a mattress on the dining room floor. "Everybody wanted to be with Sid, but unfortunately he came with Nancy," says Rooke, now a veterinary nurse on the southern coast of England. "She was unbelievably thick-skinned, one of the most unlikable people I've met. Everybody could see through her--except Sid."
The two were archetypally codependent. "Sid didn't have any normal, ordinary relationships, and I think the sex part overtook him," says Rooke. "I always saw him as being the child to Nancy as mum. She was one of those doting people, and he had never had that in his life." Predictably, Nancy's overbearing presence soon led to friction with the band. Lead singer John Lydon (then billed as Johnny Rotten) "would plead with him to get rid of her, but to Sid she was like a crutch," writes Morris. "When they were together he was like a kitten, but without her he would go crazy." In time, says Nils Stevenson, the Sex Pistols' tour manager, Sid came to "dislike everything-- except heroin and Nancy." Things came to a head in 1978, on the Pistols' only major tour. Throughout the American concert dates, Sid "was erratic," according to Morris. "No one knew why. It seemed he missed Nancy. Sometimes he wouldn't eat at all. He'd drink heavy and take lots of drugs." Fed up, John flew back to Britain halfway through the tour. Nancy joined Sid in New YorkCity.
After the couple moved into the Chelsea Hotel in August, their relationship took an even stormier turn. "There was a violent episode four days before she died," says Deborah Spungen. "She said he'd been hitting her. I spent the next days worrying. And then she didn't call. And never called again."
On the morning of Oct. 12, responding to a report of a domestic dispute, police entered their Chelsea Hotel room and found Spungen, clad in blood-soaked bra and panties, crumpled under the bathroom sink, dead of a single, deep stab wound to her abdomen. Sid, in a drugged haze, was charged with her murder and released on $50,000 bail. In several telephone calls to Deborah Spungen after his arrest, Sid "never said he was sorry," she recalls. "He never said anything about it happening at all." Ten days later, Sid attempted suicide, slashing the full length of his forearm with a knife and reportedly screaming, "I want to be with my Nancy! I want to be left alone!"
After Nancy's death, Beverley flew to Manhattan to be with her son who, despite a stint in rehab, was still nursing his drug habit. On Feb. 1, 1979, fearful that he would be arrested in a drug buy on the street, she bought a supply of heroin for him, and was with him in the Greenwich Village apartment of a friend that night while he injected it. Afterward, "I swear to God he appeared to have a pink aura around his whole body," she remembers. The next morning, when she brought him a cup of tea, "he was lying there quite peacefully. I shook him until I realized he was very cold and very dead."
Late one night, a few dayslater, Beverley climbed the wall to a cemetery outside Philadelphia.

Dougie, I have seen you several times looking "almost sharp". It is always a head turner from a natural man who does not dress for success, but is successful however he dresses; sort of. Your flute concerto sounds divine. I have not purchased a CD player yet, so I still can look forward to a Palmer concert that may last hours when I finally drop your CD's into the mix and into my head.

Glenn

10:48 AM  
Blogger butch said...

Here we go again with the double-pasting problem for my comments. Damn, I review the comment carefully, but somehow it can duplicate mysteriously. Who can explicate the logic and inner workings of Cyber reality? Certainly not I. So I will just blunder about like a beached whale in shallow water, trying to get a gulp of oxygen here and there.

Hey, this morning, Tuesday, at 4:40am, on the way to work, I was treated with the sight of the lunar ecclipse. What an experience that was! It made me feel mortal and spiritual at the same time. Did any of you rise early enough to see some of the ecclipse?

I think I have mentioned that on the way to and from work I listen to 103.5, KZOK, the classic rock station. I talk to the radio demanded each morning that I get to hear one of my top Five Groups, so that it will bring me luck. My top 5 are:
1. THE DOORS
2. THE BEATLES
3. JAMES MARSHALL HENDRIX
4. QUEEN
5. DAME ELTON JOHN
This morning on top of seeing the lunar ecclipse, I heard first the Beatles, followed by the Doors. So my day is flying high, like the Dutchman I guess.

Glenn

6:01 AM  

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