Wednesday, April 23, 2008


There was a time in history that, if the audience demanded it, a diva or divo would sing a stellar aria again, even if it were in the middle of an opera. In fact there are cases where they would repeat the piece three or possibly four times if desired.

This has fallen out of favor in most opera houses as they have been trying to be more conscientious about performance practice, and try to give an upper hand to stage craft and telling a story. Many opera houses have gone so far as to ban the practice, and it has gotten to the point that the audience would not even think to demand/expect an encore. In fact I rarely even hear "encore!" or "bis!" yelled after an aria. Some times a "bravo!" or "brava!" but never the former two.

However it is still done! Monday at the Met it was in fact planned for (which is necessary if you're going to pull it off). Again Juan Diego Florez has taken opera stardom and stepped it up to where it once was! I love it! (I'm also still bummed about not seeing him this year at the Lyric, so I can see what the fuss is about)

I'm excited to see a small return to the feeling that opera should be thrilling, because it should be! Scholarship is great, and makes us better musicians, and creates better performances, and respect of the work of a whole is noble. But we mustn't get too stuffy!

Monday, April 21, 2008

The rules...

This week is Passover, which is one of my favorite holidays of the year. I find it to be the most meaningful, and has the best present day traditions as well. I won't go into more that that now, but I'm sure I could.

I was in the grocery store yesterday, picking up some things for dinner and there at the little kosher for Passover table I picked up and looked at a box of Kosher for Passover brownie mix. I was looking at the ingredients, the normal things that you would expect, matzah meal instead of flour, potato starch, chocolate....sodium bicarbonate....wait.

Sodium Bicarbonate? That's leavening. That is leavening. Sodium bicarbonate is baking soda, who's purpose is to make your brownies fluffy. So clearly (in my mind at least) it is strictly off limits for anything that is Kosher for Passover.

When did the rules become, no grain products rather than no leaven foods. To me eating brownies with sodium bicarbonate in them ever if they are made with matzah meal made under the strictest rabbinical direction just doesn't make any sense! It's some giant loop hole that just doesn't add up.

So you have to sit down and think about why we don't eat leaven food during Passover. The Jews left Egypt in haste, and had not the time to let their bread rise and to commemorate this we don't eat bread with leavening. "For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is an alien or native-born. Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread." (Exodus 12:19-20)

OK looking at this it strictly says nothing with yeast. But is also says unleavened. To be fair baking soda was not a prevalent factor in Biblical times, but its purpose is solely leavening (and cleaning?), so in my mind it's definitely out. It is very interesting to me that the rules have sort have been distorted to nothing with grain in it unless the grain was matzah first.

Are we really trying to re-create the experience of wandering in the desert? if so I can think of a lot of food we would not eat: Brisket, Matzah ball soup, etc...Also in the desert if they found (at an oasis) wild rice, they clearly would have eaten it. We don't stop eating leaven food to punish ourselves, but to be conscious for an entire week of the Passover story, and what God did for the Jewish people. I guess that perhaps eating mediocre brownies from a box made with matzah meal might make someone conscious of this as well. But really. It's just a week. Eat ice cream for dessert, though they certainly did not have that in the desert.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

what!? I can't hear you!

check out this article from today's NYtimes.

It's strange to think about musician's in an orchestra having to worry about their hearing. It makes sense. I've stood behind the horn section in concerts and even that's loud, but as many of the musicians point out, ear plugs or screens make playing incredibly hard.

I guess this article brings up the same confusion in me that the idea that the delicious chocolate smells in Chicago are pollution. I mean it's delicious smelling, but I guess that if it were another less delicious smell as strong in the neighborhood, people would be up in arms about pollution.

Friday, April 18, 2008


I must conclude that earthquakes only happen in the small hours of the morning. I have somehow experienced two earthquakes in the last 6 or 7 years while living in Connecticut and Illinois, both woke me up in the early hours of the morning.

Now according to the New York Times it's not actually surprising that Illinois would get an earthquake...we're apparently on a fault. I had no idea.

The first one was in high school. I distinctly remember thinking that my brother was making a ruckus and he thought that I was doing the same. So when the room shook I yelled"Evan!" and he yelled "Emily!". So that was good. I also remember Sarah telling me that she had been dreaming about a raccoon in her room and therefore assumed the shaking was "just the raccoon under my bed". Yup I'm usually pretty calm when it's "just the raccoon under my bed" too.

This time I knew immediately what was going on. I think it was slightly more violent than the one in CT. There were people in the street trying to figure out what was going on. Well I can only assume that's why they were in the street. I just looked at my clock to find out that it was 4:35 and went back to sleep where I promptly had very strange dreams.

But the dreams aren't news really.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


I've decided that if my goal is to be famous (I'm trying to sing opera, so this is not really a priority) I want to be able to go on Sesame Street. I think that's a good use of someone's famous.

Speaking of famous opera singers, my boss is attending Juan Diego Florez's high profile wedding down in cool!

In less cool news because my boss is going to be in Chicago for only a day after this, I've been scanning microfilm for a replacement aria in Il Barbieri (Manca un Foglio). (Ironically Barbieri was the show that JDF just pulled out of at the Lyric Opera of Chicago due to a throat infection. Too bad it would have been cool to see him)