Sunday, December 30, 2007


I saw the movie. And, feel compelled to write a follow-up blog as I said I would. Unfortunately, this one's not going to be filled with epiphanies about my closed-mindedness or of self-flagellation under my desk: "DELIVER ME! TIM BURTON!!" .... oh WAIT, you cut that from the movie ....

To begin, I almost feel like I shouldn't even *write* the rest of this, except to say this: If they made Dreamgirls into a movie and cast people in the roles who looked just right, but had been pulled from the world's leading graduate musical theatre and opera schools, you'd be pissed, right? I don't mean to manipulate you, but it wouldn't really sound quite right to your ears, and you'd leave feeling that perhaps you'd missed something, but you just didn't really feel a need for the strange innovation which you just saw? I'm not talking about marketing here, before you point out that they were able to be true to the Dreamgirls style beceause it's what people want. I'm talking about you, and your reaction, so that you might understand how I feel. After all, it's a pointless hypothetical, isn't it?

Well, that's how I felt about this movie. The reedy, whiny, unpleasant "voices" of too many of its actors, not just computer-generated HBC, made it completely impossible for me to appreciate most of Tim Burton's choices. Furthermore, his and Mr. Sondheim's cutting the film down to 1 hour and 57 minutes, perhaps unnecessarily, made the whole thing feel rushed, robotic, unfeeling and under-nuanced. His "artful gravitation" toward the blood and the throat-splitting felt ornamental to me because the film's original message of "man devouring man" was lost due to a total dehumanization of everyone in the film.

"By the Sea" was visually appealing, but the total lack of chemistry between the two up to that point -- much less at least on a business-partner level -- than I've seen on the stage, made me keep my overwhelming "I DON'T CARE ABOUT ANY OF YOU" hat pasted firmly to my head. The cutting of "Kiss Me" and a host of other young lover-related things made the two seem a little too much like little mosquitos floating around the real plot. "A Little Priest" was devoid of joy a) because they sounded like they were having a lot of trouble with the lilting melodies and weird rhythms of the song for one and b) because unlike onstage, they didn't have to make their fun, so it became a scientific song about pointing out of the window and deciding whom to cook and eat. I'll keep "Silence of the Lambs" for that. "Epiphany" fell slightly flat for me too, though Depp did OK with it vocally, because one of my favorite parts of that song has to do with My feeling as a member of the audience being fucking freaked out, and watching Mrs. Lovett be, as well. Burton chose that one as his "Let's move it to the street" number, and I ended up feeling taken out of it, and the whole "out of body experience" just made it seem less real.

Pirelli and the Beadle were both wonderfully cast, but I just missed their character tenor identities and I think it took away from the characterization something that was not supplemented. Much less fun and much less creepy.

All right, so realism is not Burton's thing. Too bad, because the one thing I think that could have been served by a film version of this is that the city itself could have been accurately represented. Not so. Swirly buildings aside, my favorite utterly-laughable moment is when the Beadle throws Anthony out of the judge's house and then beats the crap out of his face, only to have Anthony rise and sing through his bloody, broken teeth. Yeah, Anthony's a little silly, but I usually end up feeling for his side of the story because he's dignified and passionate in his own way, and really wants to take care of Johanna, who's story we know a lot more about onstage. A lot of it for me, also has to do with his voice. Here, he's just a whiny guy who keeps saying the same damn thing over and over and over again, hardly ever actually interacting with Johanna before he risks his life to get her out a mental institution. What a douchebag.

While we're on realism, a lot of people have been upbraiding me for my desire for better voices in the movie. After all, would the "real" Mrs. Lovett have had a great voice? No. Well, they would not have broken out into song either, so ....

Finally, is it too brazen to suggest: With all the New York Times articles floating around, I think we've been tricked to a degree. Sure, Sondheim and Burton can come up scores of English major bullshit reasons as to why songs were cut, the most obvious being that they don't advance the plot. But when you strip away character entirely because a song doesn't advance the plot, you're left with something that feels, as I said, rushed and under-nuanced. Sondheim's not an idiot. How dare we suggest that he write things that could have been trimmed away with the fat? Therefore:

Dare I suggest .... that songs like the Judge's Johanna, like Ah Miss and Kiss Me and the Ballad were cut because THEY WERE TOO HARD?? If so, and I think it's a real possibilty for at least a few of those choices, shame on them. At least own up to it, or realize you can't stand the heat and get out of the kitchen.

So maybe I'm alone in my reactions and maybe I care more about Broadway than Hollywood. But I'm fine marching to the beat of my own drummer on this one.

To quote Beauty and the Beast, "If it isn't baroque, don't fix it."

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Squeamy Todd. Read, for some clarification on Me.

OK, no, I haven't seen it yet. I am seeing it tonight after a much-anticipated half-priced meal at Grendel's Den with Anthony. Further updates will certainly follow. I have to say, I've been kind of obsessing about it. The movie, not the food, though they do make a mean pesto. I wish I could be unadulteredly excited about the film, but instead I feel a nervousness more akin to the first day of work, rather than in anticipation of nightmares about Johnny Depp dressed as a throat-slitting cosmologist.

Why so glum?, you might ask, and indeed, many of you have. Johnny Depp, pinstripes, Sondheim, gritty, dirty, Burton-izedly accurate London .... and Sondheim signed off on it, so what could be amiss? Let it be observed that based on the previous sentences, I do see the positives inherent in this artistic collaboration. And it isn't the cutting that bothers me -- I myself have been known to streamline material to help it tell a story -- and I trust Burton to make moviemusical choices that I can stand behind (there's always the obligatory 'this scene usually takes palce in a room but let's move it to the street). In other words, I trust Sondheim as an orchestral adaptor and Burton as a director ....

But I can't help but feel that this movie is a step backward for the art of American opera. I was able to articulate my grievance as soon as I read this sentence from A.O. Scott's New York Times review: "Mr. Depp’s singing voice is harsh and thin, but amazingly forceful. He brings the unpolished urgency of rock ’n’ roll to an idiom accustomed to more refinement, and in doing so awakens the violence of Mr. Sondheim’s lyrics and melodies." It's not the first part of that second sentence that I have trouble with; it's the second. Sweeney Todd has been produced by some of the top opera companies in the country and it is on baritone Bryn Terfel's list of his top 3 favorite roles. Now, I hope Mr. Scott will forgive me if I am wrong, but I am not sure that he has listened in depth to Len Cariou's performance, or to Bryn Terfel's performance, or even to Michael Cerveris's performance, and certainly not to the most powerful performance I've ever heard, done by former-Javert and amazingly terrifying Todd Alan Johnson in 2005.

So, to use a melodramtic phrase, how dare he say that an untrained "rock 'n roll" voice "awakens the violence" in Sondheim's music? This is what most people want to think, and now the most-read newspaper in the world has confirmed it. Great. Just because Mr. Depp is choking on his own uvula and screaming his guts out, does not mean that his singing is more emotionally-charged or even more violent than a well-trained, intelligent voice full of color, technique, and, yes, ANGER. It can be done, folks. Who's seen Wagner? Who has seen fucking Sondheim (who listened to Britten who listened to Wagner, but that's beside the point).

And now, everyone who is simply afraid of opera and opera singers, and even what I like to call helden-musical theatre, will sit content, knowing that the "rock 'n roll" voices of the day, the NON voices of the likes of Mrs. Helen Bonham Carter Burton have been able to take a work of art out of someone else's medium and "shake the dust off of it" or "lighten it up" or "tell it like it is", and that makes me ANGRY.

Come on, people. It's not a medeival trope. It's Sweeney Todd. It doesn't need that much dusting off. I'm all for updates, for emotional truths, for beautiful art direction. But Sweeney Todd is an American opera, or at least one of our best American musicals. Now American cinema has dressed it up and funded it really well. Great, right? NOT GREAT. Because Burton and, dare I say it, Sondheim himself, have robbed Sweeney Todd of one of its defining characteristics. It's now a "rock opera" with Crooners instead of Singes. It's Angela Lansbury, Patti LuPone, or Diana Ruskin, these people are better than Helena Bonham Carter. I know that Sondheim usually picks actors who are actors first and singers second, but come on .... it's a little bit of a stretch, and it smells like Money. And if there's one thing Sondheim doesn't need more of, it's probably that.

So, we've taken Sweeney and changed it into something where music matters less than almost everything else. And that hurts my sensibilities, I'm sorry to say, and I'm objecting on principle. Because this Sweeney is indeed accessible, because this Sweeney is bloody and devoid of all the beautiful and challenging restrictions of the theatre, the vast majority of Americans will probably pick this one when they think Sweeney. It's exciting and beautiful, but it's not quite Sweeney ... the Sweeney that already exists and IS violent and IS moving. Worse than bad community theatre, this one is so in the public eye that I can't help but see it as a kind of big Wal-Mart blocking eight lovely little country stores right behind it. I fear it will breed more anti-opera, anti-musical theatre, and maybe even anti-intellectualism in our already spoonfed culture.

Call me insecure and jealous if you want. It's happened before. And I might enjoy the movie tonight, as a movie. But it's not an opera. And I want my opera back, because I want America to hear it.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Lyrics I really heard this morning

Leave, leave,
And free yourself at the same time
Leave, leave,
I don't understand, you've already gone

And I hope you feel better
Now that it's out
What took you so long
And the truth has a habit
Of falling out of your mouth
But now that it's come
If you don't mind

Leave, leave,
And please yourself at the same time
Leave, leave,
Let go of my hand
You said what you have to now
Leave, leave,
Let go of my hand
You said what you came to now
Leave, leave,
Leave, leave,
Let go of my heart
You said what you have to now
Leave, leave...

- Glen Hansard (Once).

Saturday, December 1, 2007


I'm frustrated with myself because I feel like I just blew a phone interview that I really wanted. I'm also frustrated because he just did not seem convinced that I could do something simple like props paperwork, just because it took me a while to recognize the term he used. I talked to my mother and she said that it sounded like I was too general when describing my strengths. She also said I did not sound "haughty" enough but she often says that I do not sound "humble" enough. It's certainly hard to strike a balance, and therefore it feels quite hard to gain credibility and get one's foot in the door.

Maybe I shouldn't beleive that my mother knows everything about the world. But she acts like she does so it's easy to believe.

Maybe that's the secret to phone interviews. Hm.

I have to be in Lynn tonight for 5 hours singing horrid music. I am cold and feel sick and I hate today.

Thus ends the whining.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Marketing Musings

Here at the BSO, we have a couple of programs designed to make classical music Sexy to people of various categorized ages. First is Repartee, which is designed for "fun, curious" individuals aged 21-35. So this is marketed either at students who are not intrepid enough to stand in line at Rush and get the really good seats for 9 bucks and awkwardly scan the room for that special girl with whom they can have a conversation about varying degrees of political dissidence in Shostakovitch symphonies, or at happily married/coupled thirty somethings who come for the free cheese.

We also have Bolero, which is a "high-spirited program" for individuals over 40 who I guess our society deems "the older set". This makes a little more sense because the assumption on the BSO's part, I'll bet, is that people of this age who would voluntarily attend the BSO are of the certain socio-economic class that they are there just for the social networking and will perhaps buy a subscription next year.

I recently turned down a baby marketing gig at the Ballet, and something has begun to irk me. I used to thank my lucky stars that we don't live in Vivaldi or Mozart's time, where most of the money-making music was commissioned by the church and used in sacred contexts. But right about now that seems sort of refreshing.

I'm sick of admitting that something that I like so much personally just because .... I do .... has to be shoved down people's throats in fun, flirty little packages to survive. It will not be long before opera, one of my favorite art forms, is affected. It's always teetering on the "make it accesible without changing its essence" precipice

I know, call me impractical or whiny, or whatever, but consider the premiere of the Rite of Spring:

This music, which was helping dramatize a story which no one was quite ready to hear, was so ... well, UNmarketable that it incited a fucking riot, and only Schoenberg could be heard yelling over the screaming right wing pundit equivelants that the music itself was actually sort of good. Not sort of good -- rather, essential, revolutionary. An instant classic. Something that would define a generation.

I guess I'm a bit down in the dumps about the practical aspects of contemporary opera and symphony. What appeals to me about straight theatre is its ability to morph into an art form which is basically controlled by its creators. Good opera, grand opera -- whether it is from the classical period or something like Picker's American Tragedy -- its fate is ultimately dependent on a board of directors whose fortunes were probably made very far away from the creative drawing table. Some donors I've dealt with are lovely people ... but the majority of them are crusty, crazy, alchoholic, and a bit out of touch with, well, everything. How could one not be when 1,000 is "pocket change"?

Why do we live in an arts culture frighteningly similar to 18th Century Court Patronage?

And that makes me sad pandaz.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving, before the triptophan gets to my brain.

I can't remember the last time I consciously enjoyed Thanksgiving as much as I did today. Turkey and its trappings aren't usually up there on my list of favorite foods, but my cousin Janet made this ridiculous turkey with butter/mushroom/sage glaze that almost tasted like steak. It was ridiculous. Her son, my cousin Alex, made both amazing shallot mashed potatoes, and balsamic/red wine sauteed onions ... plus the standard pumpkin flan. After months of Boloco chicken caesar wraps eaten alone hunched over a book, this concentrated dose of home cooking was definitely what I needed.

Also, said cousin Alex and I have really gotten to a place where we can relate and kind of be friends with a small f. He and I like to sit around and talk politics/books/movies with the older folks, and it's a nice change from just two years ago when he would rather have seen the football game than other humans.

Speaking of politics, my father and I had the mini-debate with Mom about her blind idealism regarding Barack. Don't get me wrong. I have far from made up my mind yet. In fact, I don't even know where either candidate stands on the death penalty. But, on some level I instinctually believe that Barack won't make it for 2008. For 2012 I think he might be able to waltz right in, but perhaps only after Hillary prepares American for someone who is not old, balding, male and white. It will be interesting to see if Oprah comes out for Obama, because he may suddenly have thousands of middle aged woman converts who previously would have stuck with Hillary. I plan to really research things, read the memoirs, watch the debates, and really make my vote count, now that I have time to think about things that might actually influence my life, instead of ... Statistics.

We also talked a bit about the difference in their generation vs. our generation when it comes to post-college activity. I am really not sure which one is better, if either, but it is interesting to consider the main difference, which seems to be: They were focused on staying young, while we really seem to focused on growing up. A 9-5 and an early bedtime was the goal for many of us upon moving out and starting to pay exorbintantly high rent. For them, it was what they avoided. That of course resulted in many years of aimless wandering and a very late decision as far as life plans went.

So I don't know which one I prefer ..... but I do kind of miss dancing on tables. And in cages. ;)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"So ... when do you think I'll be able to do all this online?" - A patron, referring to the eventual loss of my job.

I suppose it's the end of the "weekend", which was a very pleasant one, despite the slight interruption caused by, you know, working Saturday.

Friday evening, I was invited to my friend Jenny's flat in the South End for a dinner party. I say flat, because Jenny is English, and speaks like Kate Winslet. She works in the Pru in advertising, and her company pays for the majority of this beautiful apartment, which is well-lit and well-furnished and just sort of idyllic in the way of single girl flats. She made a delicious Japanese marinated salmon, sticky rice and snow peas, and requested that we each bring a bottle of wine. There were ten of us, the dinner party was about 4 hours long, and at the end of the evening, half of a bottle of wine remained.

You would be correct if you assume that an entire bottle of quality red wine in the form of 7 glasses resulted in me, at 12:35 am, hurtling down Dartmouth Avenue, hopping gaily over puddles in my high boots, just sort of waiting for the Copley T stop to appear, which it eventually did, in the form of two little green reptiley lights flashing in the distance. I tried to read David Sedaris on the train but was too drunk to even focus on that, and narrowly avoided interviewing a fellow passenger about his decision to purchase Snapple Earl Grey iced tea, and whether he thought that was really the right choice.


I worked all day on Saturday which was sort of one of the more entertaining times I've been paid to sit in front of the computer since the unveiling of "June is Bustin' out All Over" c/o Shaun Kelleher over the summer. People here are nutty on Saturdays; totally their fun selves, and because no one thinks we're open, it's rarely harder than taking sharp things from a baby.

That evening, I had a lovely evening with the Terrell. We ate soup and pasta in true vegetarian fashion (oh, how I remember ye), and then, finally, saw Vampire over in Watertown at Whistler in the Dark. It was uh .... not Aristotelean, that's for sure. It was elegant for a black box show, and included many strong aesthetic choices, although I was not, most of the time, aware of why they were being made. That, however, may have been the fault of the script more than the production. I did like the script, but I must say that I found its use of an Idea as a through-line not because it was an Idea, but because it's really hard to write a satisfying arc for an Idea, so the end ended up feeling just a little Meh. Some good acting though, and I love being in that space, the black box at New Rep ... which reminds me!!:

I *finally* got an Assistant Directing gig. I'll be assisting the director of Pieces which is part of a new play series called "Their Voices Will be Heard" at New Repertory Theatre. Zohar Tirosh is a contemporary Israeli-American playwright/director who is based in New York. Apparently she is really great to work with and I am excited. The only decision to make is about my job .... I don't know if I'll be in good enough to just ask for 15 days off, unpaid, but in any case, this is kind of what I've been waiting for, so I am definitely going to do it. To that end, I turned down an offer from Boston Ballet to be their Group Sales/Marketing Assistant, figuring that if I made a real commitment to the artistic side of things, something would turn up. ;)

I'm also the new Production Assistant for Don Giovanni with the BOC. Although I wanted to Assistant Direct, this will be a good way to be around opera and its opera-philes. And hey, I miss going to rehearsal. :)

Thanksgiving is coming up. In general, I'm having trouble coping with/understanding the fact that Thanksgiving is now just a day instead of an entire week dedicated to me sleeping and sitting on my ass as much as possible. Oh well, I suppose it's good that my brain and body aren't sagging under the weight of things like the entirety of the History of Western Theatre or, say, Sweeney Todd tech week (also a formidable and historical force).

I misplaced *coff coff* some checks at the ATM the other day. Only Erin may be witness to how completely stupid the mode of misplacement was, but the point is is that they are on the way back to me, somehow, miraculously, on little wings of joy, rent, and cash.

Wonder of wonders miracle of miracles, someone in the airforce just called me ma'am over the phone. Hey, that almost fits with the scansion ....

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


According to my mother's DNA test, she is 3% Sub-Saharan African, which makes me 1.5% black. Sweet-ass.

Also, eating bacon apparently raises the colon cancer risk by like 21%.


Sad pandaz.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Laundry and Thirds.

Today I sold a ticket to Osvaldo Golijov's mother. Golijov is a locally-based Jewish/Latin-American composer who wrote a piece of regrettable minimalist choral music I sang at BCF, but also one of the songs about the moon which Lauren sang in this past year's recital, and a pretty sweet opera. Anyway, his mother was not responsible for any of this and is quite adorable and lives in Newton.

I am home today for a bit to do some laundry and learn 90 (yes, 90) pages of Christmas carol harmony. I am hoping it is basically singing Christmas carols .... only a third lower.

I read "Doubt" finally last night on the T. I was so riveted that I did the whole feet spread widely apart risk barrelling into dude next to me just to turn the page thing. It was a short play, but almost cinematic. Shanley is so good at showing through dialogue that I almost envisioned the whole thing set, as it is, in a drab Catholic middle school, but with secrets and desires and personalities and insecurities sort of floating around the characters all the time, like little tinkerbells. In this country, there are so many things to fight about, to care about, and to sacrifice oneself for. Sociologically, it is hard to imagine caring so much about some of them until someone like Shanley can literally plunk you down in the middle of things and force you to care, big time.

We had our first "holiday concert" rehearsal last night at CpM. I was afraid that I would, as has been the cast of the last 5 years, not really be ready to Feel the Spirit as they say. But the music we're doing it really legit -- Poulenc, Pinkham, Handel, etc., and if there is some kind of musical/mathematical formula for joy, they have to have discovered it and put it in there. I think the concert will be something that's really good for me to do. I have to find my own way to celebrate this time of year.

Monday, November 12, 2007

How I learned to ....

**BLOGGER'S NOTE: Ex-Kenyon folks, please feel free to comment on your post-Kenyon feelings/thoughts/emotions, without or with sympathy. I am just curious to know what you're thinking, how you're dealing, advice you have for me. But do be honest. **

Here we go:


After, um, 2.5 hours sleep on Thursday night following my equally-long Requiem concert that evening, I awoke on Saturday at 3:50 AM to pack and throw myself on another airplane toward Gambier, starting a weekend which would leave me entirely sleepless until 4 pm Sunday afternoon, at which point I would sleep straight through the night until 9 am this morning. Talk about the early bird special. The early Drunk Bird special.

On the way back to the airport at 4 am on Sunday morning, I tried my very best to stay awake in order to keep Erin company. I succeeded only about half, the most amusing part of my efforts coming when Erin asked me a question about someone at Kenyon and I proceeded to explain their situation. Halfway through my explanation, I realized that I was a) half asleep again and b) discussing whether or not this freshman Koke had a "subscription". I didn't even have to be at work until Tuesday and it was bleeding into my brain already. Anyway, I very much doubt he does have a subscription to the BSO.

The weekend was .... I don't know. It was great. In some ways I worry it was too great. There, I said it, so you can all save your hushed suggestions that perhaps I am still too attached to school. It was great to use a shared vocabulary again, other than one involving flexpasses, patron numbers or train destinations. It was great that so many appreciated that I had come back, and it was great to see Stew and Anna do their thesis (I cried), which was a remarkable show. It was great to be in a place that made me feel things. Good things, happy things, proud things, sad things, things based on experiences and people and not on just Myself.

It was great to know that something that had been intelectually discussed and analyzed and decided against still existed with someone else despite our best mental efforts, even if that means it was also a bit agonizing. Just a bit.

Kenyon is the place where I did things that I am the most proud of to this day. I am not the logical, sensible sort of person that is "proud" of "making a life" here. In many ways, i did the easy thing anyway. I know the city already. My parents are a T ride away if I forgot a skirt. I would like to be in a Place that I can go back to and be glad that I graduated, that I can go back to Kenyon and and be glad I did too, because that would be easier for me. I don't mean a real place, because Boston is great and I'm often happy that I am in Boston instead of Gambier, and the people I know here from Kenyon and high school and wherever else are great, too. But I guess I often do not feel fulfilled anymore, and that is my own fault, and not theirs.

Erin was saying in a past blog that she felt worried about going back because Kenyon is no longer home and she is afraid she no longer has a place there. That sounds normal. For me, it's the opposite. Which can't be normal. Every time I am there I feel as though I have Come Home, as though I have a Purpose and Potential. I also feel Novel and, not gonna lie, that helps too, since things have a tendency to get monotonous and anonymity-shrouded during daily routine here (".... the destination of this train is .... government center). I am no longer a beautiful and unique snowflake, etc.

Most of all, Kenyon provided me with what I miss most of all -- a big community of friends, working toward a common cause (survival). By the way, I hate eating alone. Some people don't mind it. I do. I am so sick of it.

My job is fine, it really is. It's not like the other one and does not require Dire Action. But it is one's typical Ticket Work, boring but with the potential of horrid screw ups around every turn, and pays so little that it leaves me worrying about money all the time (so, seemingly, does not alleviate the one stress that work indeed should). And it's not Kenyon. And yes, I do remember how much I complained.

How strange to think that 6 months ago I didn't have to give a thought to paying rent. And that I thought buying my own food would be novel. My dad says I am chronically unhappy, a trait which, we both agree, must have been inherited from him. I think, personally, that I am just Dumb and that I would be happier if I stopped screwing it up (whatever that entails).

I talked to Jon (Tazewell) for about twenty minutes before the play started on Saturday, and he told me basically the same things that Daniel does. I did ask him to elaborate on whether he felt I needed to do anything different to build my resume if I am someone interested in academic theatre. He said no. OK, fine, whatever. Here I go, joining Stage Source to put on my first rickety production. What does it mean that my favorite part of directing is working with the actors and not the designers? Why don't I ever think about what I want my shows to look like? Why do I think about it all the time now but not while it mattered? Why is it that the career of a succesful director is no more stable than the career of an opera singer? Am I doomed to be an Assistant Director forever because that is what I like doing?? I am so frightened of the pretense, of the need to Make a Name for Myself, of everything Riding On everything.

Eh. Breath. Through research, I have discovered that I actually should seriously look into dramaturgy, seriously. As a second thought, being Mehleis (the beyond-awesome English/Theatre High school teacher/director who both saved and changed my life in HS) keep popping into my mind, as they have been for like 5 years. Again, not a bad way to make a living. I am a person who enjoys teaching, who enjoys showing others how to find their creative voice within the context of a, basically, right way to do things. I am a person who also enjoys the magical combination of routine without drudgery.

In any case, any case at all, I should join Stage Source and I should do SOMETHING in 2008 that no one has to give me permission to do, other than the building renter. ::Picks up 'Streetcar named Desire, puts on adapting hat, stares at text::

Anyway, if there's one cheery thing that has come out of this entry, it should be that I love and appreciate People most of all. Thank you, everybody. I like you, a lot.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Requiems and Recidivism

Well, it has been a long week. The kind of long week that makes me fully re-program my Gmail calendar in order to ensure a lack of Fuck Upitry in my schedule, which forced Erin and I to abandon the weekly grocery shop and hover over bowls of starch before running once again out the door to the snail-like arms of the B line. That is to say that the B line is slow. I don't presume to know anything about snail appendages. (Do you??)

I layed around on Monday and babysat for Erin's baby friend Dylan in the evening. All together, not a difficult day. However, I woke up on Tuesday morning and realized that real life had resumed, with a vengeance. At work, I learned all about those first day mistakes that seem ridiculous to me, even now on my 4th day. Wrong days for the parking garage, price class discrepencies, exchanges set up as regular sales .... oy vey. Oh, the learning process. So that was SuperFun. The rest of work passed rather smoothly, and then I zipped home to grab my Ames/Faure scores and head over to Old South for my first choir tech week rehearsal for a concert of "two moving works".

I love requiems, as you can probably tell from my facebook religious views, so I was feeling like I was in for a fun evening after a tough day at work.

WRONG. The artistic director was, without going into too much bloody detail on the world wide web, not to my liking. He simply seemed to hate working with amateur singers, and I really, really, really, really don't understand why you would want to work with amateur singers unless you liked it. It's a non-profit, volunteer organization. He can't be getting paid that well! He spent the evening barking, mocking, and condescending, claiming that "no one, not a single one of [us]" was prepared, or listening, or doing it right in general. I broke my back for him all night, and he wasn't even technically aware of my existence, in terms of me as a person in time and space.


Damned if I did not miss Doc that night.

It's gotten better this week as I've learned to tune him out. I'm not sure if I didn't notice it as much at BCF because it did not apply to me back then, but I know now for sure that is NO EXCUSE for speaking to amateur performers as if they are trying to destroy the music one is making with one's paid orchestra and soloists, whom you've engaged to help sell tickets.

There are members of the choir who could sing those solos just fine.

So who's concert is this, anyway??

In any case, I had been feeling pretty down about life, future, and the state of things during the middle of the week, and ended up losing it to my mother when I met her at Boston College to pick up my concert skirt. My poor professor mother who had been advising students at Lasell College all day had to listen to me whine and cry about my priveleged life for 20 whole minutes. What really caused my breakdown, as I explained to her, was that my difficulties are all really my own fault. And, although I search and apply and follow up daily, I am still not doing anything Artistic, at least in an official context. Until I do, I will feel as though I am still paying for my mistakes, even though I have forgiven myself.

She was sympathetic, but told me to buck up and volunteer, which I am working on doing. :) She also invited me to something pretty amazing:

Last night at Lasell, my mother hosted an event called "And Still We Rise", which is a traveling troupe of players who are all formerly incarcerated, and all of whom received their masters degrees while still in prison. My father and I were expecting a little bit of sort of hokey performance art to be sure, but what we got was actually deeply affecting, well-directed, and acted so well that even I, who hate to say "oh, so and so doesn't need to act! they can just be!", was saying just that. The performance basically ranged from their life stories/explanations (not excuses) as to why they made the bad choices that they did, their daily routines in prison and how hard it was to maintain self-respect, self-love and dignity, and then the ball and chain which follows them around still, even though the law technically says they have paid their debt to society: the CORI.
These folks, obviously, were all about CORI reform. They were not saying that criminal records were obsolete, only that the CORI are far too descriptive and accessible to employers who don't even know how to read their multi-paged codes. Some states, by law, will not even consider applicants that have a CORI, even if it's for a misdemeanor, or from 50 years ago. It literally follows you around for the rest of your natural life. I know that there are some you who might say that that is fair, and there might not be anything I can say to change that. But, at least from a legal perspective, consider the fact that the law says after X amount of years you are "free". Not to get Valjeanesque about it, but that's not true where the CORI is concerned. You have lost all your due process, and the Masters degree you worked so hard for behind bars is, in most cases, useless. Think about that.

After the performance there was a talk-back, and Lasell criminology students asked questions like "How is it fair that you killed someone and get a free masters degree, and I have to pay and I haven't killed anyone?" The performers and two of my mom's former students answered the questions eagerly and respectfully, and afterwards they talked honestly about how they really loved that the questions were asked, because over everything else they appreciate directness and honesty. Afterwards, two of the fifty-something female performers came up and group-hugged my mother, and I have never been so proud of anyone in my family.

I rode home with Mom, Mom's former student Richard who bounces at Ruggles across the street and lives down Comm Ave., and Mom's other student who has only been out for about 2 months. They're awesome guys, but in particular it was fun to finally feel like I had siblings. When Mom turned out of her own campus and went the wrong way to Route 30, she announced "I went the wrong way." And all three of us responded "Surprise!!" It was cute. All snarkiness aside, what we had most in common was our admiration for this woman who is our mother.

I feel all right going into this weekend. I'm vaguely energized enough for the concert tonight, and I hope the audience likes the new piece as much as I do.

You should come and hear a lot about death. It really makes you think about life.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Ici, ca va.

Just returned from the first real Vacation Vacation I have had in a while: Montreal with my two dearest high school friends Alison and Katherine. I've had depressing "days off" when various jobs don't work out, and hibernation periods of a few days after various life stages end and other ones are about to begin, but due to comps and work and Chamber Singers tour and stuff, I haven't had a Vacation Vacation since probably .... just before Senior year to DC. I guess that's all the vacation normal people get anyway. In any case, this weekend was just what I needed in a lot of ways. Montreal is a gorgeous city, magically devoid of chains, but still with everyone one needs in one place. I will use ABCs rather than go into all the gory details:

A: Alison! Lives in Montreal in a tragically cool neighborhood that we could come visit. :)
B: Babka, chocolate. Our snack upon arriving. A delicious and auspicious beginning. Also bagels and Business Breakfast.
C: Comic book people. I didn't know much about the Type, but it is a Type apparently just like Drama People or Voice People. They are uniformally nice, under 150 pounds, and use phrases like "HOLY SMOKES!" in everyday conversation.
D: Drawn & Quarterly, one of the most famous graphic novel publishing companies in the world, where Alison interns!
E: English. The language most waitstaff defer to when they hear our first non-deftly handled R sound.
F: Franglais. I HAVE DECIDED I AM A FRANGLAIS MASTER!! I know just enough French to mix it with my English in a manner which sounds cavalier and casual enough that I sound like I am bilingual and just really lazy.
G: Georgia, Vermont. The charming locale in which I left my cell phone for a half hour at a rest stop and recovered it from a messianic maitenance woman.
H: Housing. Alison's apartment is really nice and homey. It reminds me of the urban dwellings of my cousins in DC. It's basically the top floor of a brownstone, the kind of thing with really ornate glass doors and a raised tub shower.
I: Ici ca va. Alison said this to the cabbie once, in a slightly innapropriate yet effective use of French. It became one of those bizarre private jokes all weekend.
J: Jesus. Alison's 35 year old roommates had a religious party a few years ago when David, one of the two roommates, turned 32, "The age of Jesus". There are last supper mock-up photos in the bathroom.
K: Katherine! I fell out of contact with Katherine this past summer, and I am so glad we are back to being good friends. She was one of my first real friends when I was new and awkward in 6th grade, and I think, after hearing my mother's tales of her recent High School clique reunion in New Mexico, that we'll be friends for a long time.
L: Long walks. Alison walks just about everywhere, including 45 minutes to work, so we joined her in that this weekend, and it was really nice to not feel like a bump in front of a computer. It was windy and great outside.
M: Mont-Royal. The mountain up which we hiked on Saturday to get to the very top of Montreal and look down over the view while my feet tingled in subdued fear.
N: Nonna. Italian for grandmother, and part of the name of the restaurant in which we ate on Saturday night. 30 bucks for a prix fixe menu, but not a rip-off at all. We even got cookies!
O: O stands for West when you've crossed the Border, which turned out that it was good to realize.
P: Pendleton. Megan Pendleton, another high school friend, teaches elementary school art now in Vermont and drove up to visit as well. It was good and strange to see her. She is doing what she has always wanted to do with her life since I have known her, and she's happy. I wonder if it's a gene.
Q: Quebec. I don't know much about the Quebecois seperatist movement, but I am going to do some reading about it because it interests me. The language laws, which dictate that all signage must be in French, and almost everyone's dual fluency (in Montreal that is) really strikes one in this place stuck between Vermont and the rest of Canada, both English-speaking countries to be sure. I wonder what it must feel like to know that the language that you identify with both politcally and personally is hugely in the minority, mostly by choice.
R: Roommates. Alisons' 35 year old roomates, Manuel and David, are awesome. David is a computer programmer and Manuel is a chef. They are best friends and live in this sweet little apartment, cook brunch together. It's a definite case of hetero guy love and looks to be a lovely existence. They also posses Samurai swords. They watch the Discovery Channel and the Food Network and yell things at the TV such as "THEES FEESH EES NOT SEXYYYYY!!"
S: Selling drugs. As we were waiting for Megan to come meet us at the botton of Mont-Royal, we were cavalierly approached by a really enterprising Narcotics Marketing Professional who asked, "How are you? Do you need something extra to enjoy this beautiful day? Drugs?" Straightforward and direct.
T: Thai star. Home of the world's worst and most empty thai food restaurant in rural Vermont in off-ski season. Katherine's noodles tasted like they were covered in ketchup and death. We saw a lot of Rural Rutland after my brilliant idea, on the way home that we attempt to access the Berkshires from the butt of rural Vermont. If you ever need to know how to get back to a major highway from the literal middle of nowhere in Vermont, just ask me.
U: Unbelievable pie!! I know it's cheating to use an adjective. But I have to write about the pie somewhere. Katherine bought a pie from this bakery in Somerville: Apple/pear with walnut stresel ..... add vanilla ice cream and holy crap.
V: Vermont. I am serious, I know everything about this frigging state now.
W: Water. I remembered that the only person that likes water quite as much as me is Katherine, bonding over our mutual love was refreshing (haha, bad pun).
X: X-pensive classical music Used. That's OK, I bought it anyway because it was one of those charming used CD and book stores and they had Lamenta della ninfa by my friend Claudio M.
Y: Youth. We did a lot of talking about high school and the way we used to be and the things we used to do. When you're around a lot of people from that time in your life it's really easy to remember what you thought your life would be like by the time you were your current age. It led to a little reflection on what it means to actually consider myself an adult now. I think I hardly knew MYSELF five years ago, and only what I WANTED. Which is different.
Z: After last weekend, I think it's safe and convenient to say that I'm zealous to go back. :)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Resolute Resolutions

Firstly, I received the following note in my Gmail box, forwarded to me from friends of my neighbors for whom I appeared as The Countess last Saturday. They thought I might enjoy reading it:

"Thank you so much for such a
wonderful Halloween party and soup night. The children had a great time.
Imagine how much Olek enjoyed the Haunted House that he woke up 3 nights
in a row shaking & without being able to speak. When we calmed him down
he was telling us that the "Countess" was appearing to him constantly.
Good job guys!!!. I'll pass you the future bills for therapy."

They were right. I did enjoy reading praise about myself. There's a shocker. Maybe I should be a performer! What am I doing with my life!!? Haha.

I had my first real day at work today, during which I actually picked up the phone. Or pressed the button which allowed me to speak to humans on the headset. I did OK, I think, judging from the fact that Duane removed himself from his observation perch after only about a half hour. Among the gems from today were a very sweet woman who thought that Golijov Dvorak was the name of one person (it's the last names of two composers, used as the title of a concert), and someone who actually wanted to sit through Les Troyens (moneyed laugh). Anyway, it's really great that I am selling classical music and that we get to listen to rehearsals in Symphony Hall over the intercom. I just wish I didn't have to work so hard to supplement it.

Erin's Mom took us to a DELICIOUS repast at The Daily Catch where I had black squid ink pasta, which is delicious and homemade and does not taste like the squid ink with which it was colored. It was definitely one of the best meals in recent memory consumed by me.

Along with this jaunt from, basically, Allston to the Common to the Waterfront and back came with much walking around the windiest, most beautifully lit, most orgasmically beautiful parts of my city. The landscape down by the water and by the park is just so gorgeous in an urban way. Everything is tall and statuesque and stacked up on itself, and there is so much life around it, people, and causes, and the reasons it all exists. All this is juxtaposed with natural beauty, like the moon on the fucking harbor and the way the wind feels. It's beautiful.

So this spurred a resolve in me: Spend more time in Boston, Boston. Allston has its charms, but I must spend more time in the City. The next time I have five hours free and I need to go to CVS, I should pick a random T stop, hope that there's a CVS there, and explore.

I like this place. It makes sense to me.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Welcome to the BSO.

Not surprisingly, the Boston Symphony Orchestra is a little bit of a nicer place to work than some other organizations into which I have dipped by metaphorical money-making quill. Upon arrival, I was briefly shown around and the title of the blog was uttered which made my little nerd blood cells tingle, and then back downstairs for an entire day of training and observation. AND, there are three supervisors in the room at all times, which is, like, completely foreign to me. Help? Support? I'm sorry, have we met? Anyway, basically my job is to sell tickets and set up exchange forms which someone actually does, use the ticketing system to have people's tickets reprinted if they ask, these kinds of things. Entire other offices handle group sales, handicapped seating, subscriptions ....

It's nice, but it doesn't pay the rent by an embarassing margin. and may become monotonous very, very quickly. Pending things happening in 2008 of the AD nature, it might find itself being temporary. I need a Sugar Daddy. or a Spenda Step-Daddy. Or whatever. That being said, I turned down a $75 dollar alto section leader sub gig because Erin's mom is taking us to Legal Seafoods. Food, you are a cruel mistress.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Men Behind Curtains.

I used to sing hyms for money both in Gambier and a few times here in Wellesley. Not being religious by nature, I was always astounded by the amount of Technical Theatre involved. Sure, they didn't lower Jesus down from the fly rail or make a tomb gobo, but there were lighting effects, entrances, and a script to consider. The number of times Jane Lentz ran up and down those stairs to check and see if the choir needed candles to carry, the bottle of Palmolive conveniently located next to the communion chalices, the fidgety eleven year olds waiting in the hallway to march out into the sanctuary and become acolytes, and even the two-hour choir rehearsals I sat through just to help the other parishioners not feel so shy about using their voices to praise God, all reminded me of a well-rehearsed play. In retrospect, I was probably able to notice most of these elements because I did not believe in it all myself, and therefore was not quite swept up in the effect.

I realize that if a sacred prop was not in its right place, a page lost on the book of common prayer, the wrong reading read, parishioners would not stand up in their seats and renounce their faith. Likewise, a theatre audience would not vow to never return to theatre because of a single technical glitch. But too many glitches, and the thing -- the play, the proclamation of faith, whatever -- just no longer exists. And that's a pretty big responsibility to take on.

It's pretty amazing the amount of behind-the-curtain work, artistically contrived or not, that has to go into making people believe. But, once it's there, we do indeed believe. Pretty nifty. In general, even more than being made to think, I think people like to be made to feel things, almost supernaturally, and this is one of the things that makes making theatre fun. Speaking of which ....

Tonight I played The Countess at Madison's (my 11-year old neighbor)'s Halloween-themed birthday party, which took the form of a Haunted House. Basically, my job was to make myself look like I had just crawled from the grave, using their available makeup, lie down in a coffin, and then scare the living shits out of them as I screechily emerged from said coffin. Then, I headed over to The Countess's "Blood 'n Breakfast" (I came up with the pun -- thank you; thank you), where it was my duty to try to convince the youngsters to sample some of my fresh products .... that is, after I replenished the bottles with fresh "blood" from Madison's mother, sitting in a chair behind me, fiercely hoping that the dyed-water pump tied to her collar would operate when she squeezed it so that I could say "LOOK AT THE BLOOD DRIPPING FROM THE VICTIM!!" and not have it be awkwardhe .

It's not easy to scare the living crap out of a bunch of ten-year olds desperate to seem cool in front of each other. To that end, we had a bonafide rehearsal at 4:30, and in between "takes", Madison's parents would run around to all the stations (Grandpa as the scary clown, Grandma as the wandering, gauzy ghost), frantically giving suprisingly Aristotilean notes like "On that first 'GET OUT OF MY HOUSE' dad, you can really go crazy -- really scare them there -- try to get them to leave!" And then there were the blocking notes like, "really let them see the blood squirting .... Mom, how can we get it so they don't know you're real ... so they don't see your face?"

Even though they paid me in $40 bucks and two pieces of cake, I still actually had a great time. I'm so glad I'm close to home sometimes, even if I'm not doing just the most scary and ambitious thing I can possibly think of, so that I can feel connected and part of these kids' lives still.

More significantly, it was wonderfully heartening to be doing something collaborative, selfless, and, at its heart, completely and utterly ridiculous. As I sat up in the coffin, with my hair in my eyes and my cape in my face, trying desperately not to let a girl whose diapers I changed 6 years ago recognize me as Adrienne, I realized that this was sort of play-acting concentrated. Our only job tonight was to make these kids feel so afraid that they forgot that they were in a suburban house they'd been in a dozen times before, with parents and care-givers and support all around. And we succeeded! Perhaps the best part is that they put themselves through it, and I really respect that in a kid. ;)

So what keeps us from jumping up, like Anton the Spanish-accented, adorable, 7 year old skeptic and yelling, "I KNOW YOUR TRICKS. I KNOW YOU!!"? I don't know entirely. But I'm glad that we don't.

I should mention that I scared the crap out of Anton about 20 seconds after he yelled that.

Happy Halloween.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Reason No. 348 why I love Boston:

Tonight on the T, as Erin and I were returning from the production of Figaro scenes mounted by the Boston Opera Collaborative, we encountered some of the most unusual personages on our local subway line. Among them: A skanky Little Red Ridinghood (one must wonder what it was she was planning on riding this evening), Quail Man (MAN MAN man man man), Peyton Manning, a credible impersonation of James Bond (although he just reminded me of Chamber Singers tour), and a very loquacious Flasher. Erin and I sort of rolled our eyes and discussed what a perilous public health hazard it would be if Gambier residents had to take the T to get to Shock yer Mama. And as the kids witlessly extolled the virtues of Jaegerbombs, each other, the Red Sox, each other, and Jaegerbombs, I must confess I took a trip down Stereotype Lane and pegged them merely as lucky, directionless, Booze Majors.

Until I heard the Flasher ask his friend who may or may not have been attempting to portray K. Fed which section of Ear Training he was in, and, furthermore, what said section's opinion of the Movable Do vs. Fixed Do controversy was? Which modes had they covered so far? The Flasher was a music major it seemed, and could probably give me a run for my money on your basic Music 121-122 test.

Here's to you, Flasher, for you are positively Myxolydian.

The evening of scenes, in general, was sort of pleasantly blanketed by random encounters, whether they were verbal or not, with new Boston music acquaintances. From the Susanna in the Mozart scenes, who is also the artistic chair at BOC and the person with whom I have a meeting on Sunday, to a friend of Colin's who is apparently an excellent pianist and coach at BoCo, to a tenor whom I met at my failed audition for The Cantata Singers but was nice enough to make conversation with me, to the audience of other people who felt like spending two and a half hours listening. Everybody was young and everybody loved opera. It was pretty cool.