Tag Archives: entertainment

La Boheme

The Met PR calls it a “passionate, timeless and indelible story of love.”

And so it is.

La Boheme  was not the first opera I saw.  That title goes to Aida at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City while I was in 8th grade.

But Boheme is the first opera that made me cry.  And it still does.


I listened to the opera live from the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday afternoon. This fresh and lively performance was exquisite.

The ending got me, as it always does. Ever since 1977, I have been spoilt for C#-minor chords, as they always signal Mimi’s death.  (Just yesterday, I heard a C#-minor chord in the piano in some theatre piece I had on, and I felt the chill of death at that moment.)

My first Boheme was March1977 with Pavarotti in the role of Rodolfo, on the first-ever Live from the Met broadcast.  I wanted to watch the live telecast, and my parents relegated me to their bedroom, to watch the production on the little 13-inch black-and-white television.

Several hours later, I emerged crying in the way that only a closeted 16-year-old classical music lover can.  Mimi had died.  Rodolfo had cried out those incredible high g-sharps, and my world had changed forever.

And the opera still gets me . . . every time.

The Long Weekend

Well . . . ’tis really the long continuation of the week.

Friday.  New-student auditions.  A dozen wanna-be music majors.  Quite fun day.  Teach class and a voice lesson, and take 7 quick meetings.  Attend Faculty Composers Concert.  Sing premiere of my “Three Teasdale Songs” with oboe.  Home at 9.30.

The final act on last evening's composers concert.
The final act on last evening’s composers concert.

Saturday.  Out the door at 9.  Produce the rehearsal for A Gift to the City, Webster University’s annual holiday concert.  Dash to school to play piano for and music direct a staged reading of Spring Awakening with Conservatory kids. Maybe home for a few minutes. At church by 4 for the Advent I Vigil Mass, singing in lots of Latin in plainsong and four-part polyphony.  Maybe attend Yours, Anne at school tonight, depending on my weariness factor.

Sunday.  Advent I services at church, including “O thou, the central orb,” one of my favorite anthems.  A couple of hours off then.  At the cathedral by 1 for A Gift to the City with a 2 p.m. start time.  Dash to church for rehearsal and service of Advent Lessons and Carols.  Restive reception follows.  I should be home by 7 p.m.

This means three 10-hours-of-‘on’-time days in a row.  Monday will be a 14-hour day.  Tuesday will feel like vacation in comparison.

I thought several years ago that when I stopped singing so much, and conducting so much, my Advent season would slow.  But this weekend every semester is a full one, since it’s the last weekend before the last week of class, and we go dark during the last ten days of the semester to allow students rest and focus on studies and juries.

Bring on December!  I am ready indeed!!

Les Miz

I saw Les Miserables again this weekend, in its 25th annivesary touring edition.

And once again I was enthralled and moved and amazed.

My first experience with Les Miz was on its first national tour.  That red flag came out at the end of Act One, and I cried through intermission.  And I kept tearing up during Act Two, with the ending just walloping me into full-out sobs.  I didn’t talk all the way home in the ride with friends.  And I didn’t say much the rest of the day.

Les Miz has never had that impact again, but yesterday, seeing it for the first time since London in 2005, I was moved and delighted.  This new edition features some revised orchestrations, and a full orchestra.  Hurrah and wow!  And the vocal score has been revised a bit too, making for fuller sound and more chills.  The big anthems filled the Fox, and then some.  Goosebumps piled on goosebumps, and I felt that wonderful racing-heart that tells me I am in the thrall of something powerful.

The detractors can detract.  I love this show.

Research 2

Scenes from the day:

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My morning was spent organizing and determining which way to divide and conquer the task ahead.  After I departed at 11 this morning, I walked a good chunk of the way north, then hopped on the subway to complete the journey to Lincoln Center.

Arriving early at the library, I decided to have a snack of some gelato and Pellegrino.  The grove was shady and cool as I read the newspaper and waited for the library to open.

My first 45 minutes today was spent in the Dictionary Catalog of the Music Collection on the New York Public Library.  That seems dry, but I discovered all sort of things to see while I’m here.  Before the day was over I’d added about 15 new scores to read, and found some possible song choices in several of them.

The remainder of the day was spent looking at scores and sheet music.  The process is cumbersome: one submits an individual, handwritten call slip for each piece of music or book you wish the library to retrieve.  They assign you a number.  You wait for the number to flash on an electronic call board.  You collect the item and get to hold it, read it, photograph it, but not mark in it or photocopy or take notes except on paper they provide.

Today I took over 140 pictures.  In two days already, the total of songs photographed is over 75.  I probably have two more full days of research, with a possibility of four more before I depart.

Lunch today was at a Halal food cart next to Julliard.  Dinner, after unexpectedly meeting an alum I needed to see, was in Little Brazil near Times Square.  And then I was able (barely) to catch the evening show of One Man, Two Guv’nors, one of the funniest and most satisfying shows I’ve ever seen.  The plot takes ten minutes to get wound up, but then it takes off on a non-stop ride of jollity and mad-cap hilarity.  I’ve not had this much sheer comedic entertainment at a show in years!

Nice Work If You Can Get It

Arriving at LaGuardia at noon today, and at my hotel at 1.15 (awful traffic!), I was still able to run ’round the corner to purchase a 40% off ticket for Gershwin’s Nice Work If You Can Get It at the Imperial (where I twice saw Billy Elliott), starring Matthew Broderick and Kelly O’Hara.

The show is a pastiche, with a flimsy and silly story line built around verses to Gershwin songs.  It has the same formula as so many other shows from the 20s and 30s (and The Drowsy Chaperone), with the playboy, the chorus girl, the girl with whom he falls in love, the two criminals, the moralist, the last-minute savior, and the dancing chorus.

Flimsy and silly and puff, it was, but what fun!

Broderick is aging well (even with dyed hair), and still has the comfortable footwork well enough.  He wasn’t feeling well today (if his cough at the stage door was any indication), but he knew how to mug for laughs and keep us entertained.  He’s played this role in movies and shows before, and it’s a comfortable one for him.

Kelli O’Hara, who I saw in a cabaret act in Salt Lake City two summers ago, sang the hell out of her few solo turns.  She was funny and warm and managed to make the most of the motivation-less part written for her character.

The star of the day was Judy Kaye, who brought down the house near the top of Act Two with a drunken routine that had her literally swinging from the chandelier.  The elderly Indian man next to me was laughing so hard he started coughing.

The show leaves one feeling happy about being in NYC.  I’m awfully glad I saw it first this trip.

Wednesday matinees are new to me, and I am reminded that, as in Saint Louis or Kansas City, they tend toward the older crowd.  I saw more duchesses and dowagers today in one place than at a Red Hat Society conclave.  But they knew and loved these songs!

Here are shots from after the show at the stage door:


Today’s song list

Four of my students sang their musical theatre juries today in a three-hour block of students this morning.

The songs from today:

  • Little Boy Lost (Michel LeGrand)
  • A Little Skipper from Heaven Above (Cole Porter)
  • A Quiet Thing (Kander and Ebb), from Flora, the Red Menace
  • A New Town is a Blue Town (Frank Loesser), from Pajama Game
  • O mio babbino caro (Puccini), from Gianni Schichi
  • Mira (Bob Merrill), from Carnival
  • Come with me (Rodgers and Hart), from The Boys From Syracuse
  • Do You Remember (Pasek and Paul)

Later today – a senior acting major’s final jury, with Miniver Cheevy by John Duke, and a quiet little jazz piece.

Weekend activities

I judged the Carroll Classic show choir competition in Ft Wayne on Saturday, arriving there late on Friday evening.

Sunday included a trip over to I-75, then south to Dayton, to see Darin and his son Quintin.  We laughed a lot, caught up on the news, and took in a portion of the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB there.

Then I drove on down to Cincinnati, meeting Jim Helton, staying at a fabulous hotel, and seeing Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along at the Playhouse in the Park.

Today I drove through portions of Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri to arrive home.