Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
At the big guy, San Francisco Opera, we have a weird season that I've already complained quite a bit about: a dozen performances each of Madama Butterfly and Aida, a bunch more of Nozze di Figaro, plus Werther, a mixed bag of an opera, Cyrano de Bergerac, a genuine rarity staged for the benefit of the world's greatest living
Here on my side of the Bay, Berkeley Opera, renamed Berkeley West Edge Opera, has a great season all around, opening with Handel's Xerxes, followed by a re-imagining of Carmen into The Carmen Fixation, with the excellent Buffy Baggott, and closing up with Clark Suprynowicz's Caliban Dreams. Not yet up on their web site is the readings series, one-off concert performances of rare operas, but they were announced in the printed brochure I picked up at Legend of the Ring. (I realize not all of these operas are in the fall, but I am thrilled by the repertory!)
Down South, Opera San Jose is putting on a couple of standards this season, but also the West Coast premier of David Carlson's Anna Karenina. I'm looking forward to seeing what he does with Tolstoy's great and maddening novel of marital unhappiness. On the Peninsula, West Bay Opera has La Forza del Destino, which would be interesting to see in a small theater.
Pocket Opera hasn't got dates up yet, though their season is listed on their home page. As usual, they've got a fair number of rarities (what, exactly, is The Marauders, which is by Verdi? I Lombari?) mixed with standards, but you have to have a high tolerance for a piano-dominated orchestra and unnecessary narration from the stage. Worth it for a piece you won't get to see anywhere else, but I would personally skip the standards.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
To the Editor:
Jane Brody has written marvelously and informatively about end-of-life issues in her Personal Health columns, especially during her late husband's final illness. I was disappointed to see that in her latest column, she says that conservatives "erroneously" called certain counseling provisions in the proposed health care reform legislation the "death panel option."
No, there was no error involved. Those were outright lies told for political gain and they should be identified as such.
I forwarded it to the Public Editor's office with the following comments:
I just sent the following letter to the editor to the Times, for publication. However, I'm concerned about how it is that outright lies can be termed "errors."
I understand that The Times and Ms. Brody might have felt that calling a lie a lie could lead readers to focus on that point rather than the excellent points she makes about end-of-life counseling, but it's seriously misleading to call outright lies, repeated constantly by opponents of health care reform, "errors."
There's a problem with your editing and writing standards when you allow liars to hide in this way.
Thank you for your attention to this.
Dear Ms. Hirsch,
Thank you for writing.
This office has no say in selecting letters for publication in The Times. I will make sure that the proper person sees your letter.
Sincerely,Daniel E. SlotnikThe Office of the Public EditorThe New York Times
I know that you have nothing to do with what gets published.
I am writing to you because the Times's writing and editing standards are of concern. That is, I am raising an issue with YOU, the Public Editor's office, about why the Times allows writers to call outright lies "errors."
-- LisaLisa Hirsch
Dear Ms. Hirsch,
Thank you for this.
The Times has to be very cautious about using loaded terms like the word "lie." Using "lie" presupposes that the speaker does not believe in the "death panels" and is using the term dishonestly to influence a debate. Although that certainly could be the case The Times is not in a position to make that judgment with regard to its coverage.
Jane Brody used the word "erroneously" to describe how opponents to health care reform have used the idea of death panels. Webster's New World dictionary defines erroneously as "containing or based on error; mistaken; wrong." The definition of the root "error" is even more explicit: "The state of believing what is untrue, incorrect, or wrong" is the first definition.
The Public Editor's office thinks that "erroneously" was a more suitable word.
Daniel E. Slotnik
The Times is a total humbug if it is unable to recognize that those "errors" were all in support of a particular political agenda.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
- Make it easy to find prices.
- Make it easy to buy tickets on line. You can use PayPal (I know of several small Bay Area organizations that do this), you can use a third-party vendor such as Brown Paper Tickets or City Box Office, you can have a custom page for credit card entry, but make it easy.
- If you've got the budget to use Tessitura (again, big-city, big-budget organizations that perform in big venues), for the love of God, get the choose-your-own seat module. Do not make your customers loop through the ticketing process multiple times before they are assigned a satisfactory seat. (That means YOU, LA Opera.) Some percentage of them will give up on you, meaning you didn't succeed in selling a potential audience member a ticket.
- If you're using Tessitura or other ticketing software, I assume it can tell you how many people get into the system without buying tickets. That's important to know and think about.
- Regardless of which ticketing software you use, web analytics programs can tell you whether or not people navigate to the ticket-buying page.
- Don't make any web site functions or information dependent on color coding. About 10% of the population has limitations on what colors they can see.
- Don't use teeny tiny fonts or fonts with super-light stroke weights.
- Don't use white-on-black. Looks snazzy, but much harder to read than black on a lighter color.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
On Dec. 9, 2008, Governor Blagojevich, then in his second term, was awoken around dawn at his Chicago home and arrested. Federal prosecutors accused him of turning his state office into a criminal enterprise to benefit himself, citing what they said were brazen efforts to get political contributions in exchange for legislation to help a local pediatric hospital, state funds for a school, a law to benefit the horse track industry and, most infamously, for Mr. Blagojevich’s choice to fill Mr. Obama’s Senate seat.
Government agents had secretly recorded some 500 hours of telephone calls with Mr. Blagojevich and his advisers, and a portion of those recordings became a crucial element of the prosecution’s case.
Monday, August 16, 2010
- Joshua Kosman's review of the third Schubert/Berg program, which consisted of Berg's Chamber Concerto and Schubert's Great C Major Symphony.
- Jonathan Khuner is interviewed by Edward Guthmann. In the article, he's called a prompter, and the interview focusses on that aspect of his work, but I think the correct term for his position is assistant conductor. His job includes conducting rehearsals and, I would bet, coaching singers, as well as prompting. He has performed the same functions at the Metropolitan and at Bayreuth. I've heard Jonathan conduct many times at Berkeley Opera, and, you know, he is damned good. I wish he'd get a full run of something at San Francisco Opera; he's better than a fair number of guest conductors I've heard there. The little anecdote about Lotfi Mansouri, who tried to get rid of prompting and prompters, is telling. Sheesh.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Sunday, August 08, 2010
(And note Dame Margaret's use of portamento, which I was recently informed just isn't allowed in Wagner. Uh-huh. Tell it to Kleiber and Price. Pending some library research, I'll have a few more things to say about that assertion.)
- The last performance of Berkeley Opera's Legend of the Ring is this afternoon at 2 p.m., at El Cerrito High's excellent theater. Hear some terrific singing and a novel production in a small theater!
- Concert presenters: Enter your programs for the whole year for inclusion on San Francisco Classical Voice's performance calendar. You do need to be a registered user of the site.
- SFCV also has a new Musicians for Hire directory!
- Deutsche Grammophon is celebrating Mahler's birthday in style. Among other things, you can vote for a People's Cycle of the symphonies. Right now, Kubelik's First and Mehta's Second are getting the most votes for those symphonies. Mehta? Love his opera recordings but I'm not convinced his style is right for Mahler.
- California Bach Society's Summer Choral Workshop is on Saturday, August 21, 2010, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. They're singing through Hidden Treasures of Mozart and Haydn. I attended this last year, and I'd go again except that I sang the major works in 2006 with the Haydn Singers. $45, includes lunch, a great opportunity to work with Paul Flight, who is a terrific conductor. It's in Palo Alto and worth the drive if you're not on the Peninsula. Registration closes on August 14.
- Speaking of Cal Bach, they're auditioning all voice parts on August 25. Read about the repertory for the 2010-11 season here.
Friday, August 06, 2010
Thursday, August 05, 2010
- Madama Butterfly, with Patricia Racette, Brandon Jovanovich, Zheng Cao, and Stephen Powell/Donald Runnicles, August 26.
- Don Giovanni, with Mariusz Kwiecien, Elza van den Heever, Charles Castronovo, and others/Donald Runnicles, September 2.
- La Rondine, with Angela Gheorghiu and others, September 16.
- Samson and Delilah, with Olga Borodina and Clifton Forbis, September 23.
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
As I was intimately acquainted with every note of the score, the performers, if they were wise, played it as it was written; I would have died rather than allow the slightest liberty with the old masters to have passed unnoticed. I had no notion of biding my time and coldly protesting in writing against such a crime -- oh dear no! -- I apostrophised the delinquents then and there in my loudest voice, and I can testify that no form of criticism goes so straight home as that. For example, I once remarked that in Iphigenie en Tauride cymbals had been put into the first dance of the Scythians, in B minor, where Gluck has only strings; and that in Orestes' great recitative, in the third act, the trombone parts, which, in the score, are so exquisitely adapted to the situation, had been left out altogether. The next time the opera was played I was resolved that if these errors were repeated I would show them up. Accordingly, when the Scythian ballet began I lay in wait for my cymbals; they came in just as they had done before. Boiling with anger, I nevertheless contained myself until the piece was finished, and then, seizing the occasion of the momentary lull which preceded the next piece, I shouted out with all my might, "There are no cymbals there; who has dared to correct Gluck?"The hubbub may be imagined.
After having thus succeeded in getting my man into the theatre when one of Gluck's masterpieces was to be played, I placed him on a seat in the pit, conjuring him not to change his place, seeing that others were not equally good for hearing, and that I had tried every one. Here you were too near the horns, there you could not hear them; on the right the trombones were too loud, on the left the repercussion from the stage-boxes produced a disagreeable effect; nearer to the stage you were too close to the orchestra, and the voices were drowned; higher up you were too far from the stage, and the words were inaudible, or you could not follow the facial expressions of the actors; the instrumentation of this work was best appreciated from such a place, the chorus from another; in one act the scene was laid in a sacred forest, which was so vast that the sound was lost in most parts of the theatre, therefore it was necessary to go nearer; in another, which represented the interior of a palace, and was what is called, in the language of the theatre, a salon ferme, the force of the sound being doubled by this seemingly trifling change, it became advisable to move to the back of the pit,* where the voices would seem to blend in more complete harmony.
Monday, August 02, 2010
Really, there's something for everyone. Any person interested in Western notational music who can't find something to like in the music of the last hundred years isn't trying very hard.