Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Belated Don Giovanni review

Mia and I have been to two of the three operas that Chicago Opera Theater is producing this spring. We'll go see Orlando next week but for now I'll give a long over due review of their production of Mozart's Don Giovanni (Diana Paulus, Jane Glover); the only Mozart opera produced in Chicago this season.

I'm sure that most of you have read Mia's reactions to the production, my reactions were not as violent, but I still think that they made some serious mistakes. The production was set in what appears to be a strip club that Don Giovanni owns, this means that the stage was full of hot writhing girl bodies essentially constantly. One of the problems here was that the chorus played the strippers -- let me tell you -- aspiring opera singers: not great pole dancers. Not that I have a basis of comparison really.

The first mistake in my mind was the portrayal of Donna Anna's rape. She was masked and in the club, and the way it was staged (sparkly golden curtain, lots of laughter) made it seem complicit. The only place that you see something is going wrong is that Don Giovanni removes her mask (and therefore her honor?) but not his own. We're also not clear as it happens that the man who defends her is her father. You really think that he's another lover, or her pimp or something. Honestly, what is a father doing in a club with is daughter anyway? Either way it leaves the audience with out the pity and heart break that they are supposed to feel for Donna Anna. The woman was raped and then her father was killed by the man who raped her. Of course she's messed up! Here however she just comes across as whiny because we don't get the magnitude of what happened.

The second mistake I think they made is related to my comment about the dancing girls: they were alway on stage. There was just too much going on at all times, I needed fewer things happening so I could focus. During Leporello's aria listing the Don's conquests, they had girls holding numbers. Really this sort of gimmick added nothing and just cluttered the stage.

The third mistake I thought they made was in the casting of Masetto. He was just too good looking, you don't really get why Zerlina goes off with this creepy older fellow. Masetto should be cast as sort of bumbling and foolish. Here he was certainly hot headed, but handsome enough to forgive.

Finally I want to have a discussion of the ending. I don't count the ending as a mistake. Normally after the Don descends to hell all of the characters sing about how those who are evil get what's coming to them and are joyous because they are rid of a terrible influence in their lives. In this production all of the characters are singing and the police are investigating and they come and handcuff all who were trying to prove that the Don was an evil guy. He certainly was, but as they're arrested you have to pause remind yourself that none of the characters have been particularly "good" in their actions. I liked this. Then the curtain to the upper part of the stage is lifted and you see Don Giovanni hanging, covered in blood with a ball gag in his mouth. So you're left wondering, what was the falling to hell scene? Did they all band together and murder him in a sick and twisted way and the commodore taking him to hell was what? At that point it was just too much visual stimulus. There had been too many negative sexual tropes and too much violence for the audience to be shocked out of their seats. It was almost insult to injury at that point.

So the ending was well thought out but poorly executed. In fact I would say that this is my analysis for the entire show, except for the Donna Anna thing, that was poorly thought out.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Dear Work Computer;

It is my sad duty to inform you that we are no longer friends. Our relationship started out as a hopeful one, full of promise, these hopes were, however, swiftly dashed.

Our relationship has been tenuous, to say the least, for quite some time, but today really signaled the end of all favorable efforts on your part.

Normally I deem it unnecessarily cruel to list the short coming of whose who I am, or have been close to, however it seems best -- so you know just where we went awry -- for me to mention them in no uncertain terms.

I have two chief complaints: The first being your persistent refusal to find local wireless internet to which to connect. This would be understandable if I brought you to remote locations, however not finding wireless in my own home is simply offending. The second and greater complaint is of your frequent and inexplicable need to go blank in the midst of doing something. Today alone this occurred three times, and you never give any explanation. I have noticed that this happens after the system hibernates, but that is what you were designed to do.

All this to say that I will no longer defend your actions. They are unprovoked and unnecessary. I hope that we are able to continue working together in a productive fashion and that we both can work on our professional attitudes towards the other.

Miss Emblies

Friday, May 23, 2008

some kind of sample

I was reading an interesting article in the NYTimes yesterday about the six different tribes of bacteria that live on the insides of your elbows. It was all information that didn't surprise me, but was interesting to read about. According to the article the type of bacteria that lives there is fairly consistent from person to person. Again interesting but not shocking. I then read that this person's sample size was five people. (If I misunderstood the article the rest of this post is completely worthless).

Five people? Your sample size was only five people. Surely you know more than five people who wouldn't mind having a swab of their inner elbow taken. Wouldn't you want more samples before stating something about the consistency of the type of bacteria tribes from person to person?

wouldn't you want to know if someone half way around the globe has the same bacteria growing on them? I think that would be interesting to find out. All of this isn't that hard.

Anyhow this discovery is part of a larger project to find out what bacteria live in the human ecosystem, which is very cool.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Monkey Journey to the West

This seems really cool.

yes it's an opera.

yes the site is beautiful.

yes, the composer's one of the guy's behind the Gorillaz.

I'm pretty excited by the entire concept! Now to get to the Spoleto festival to see it...

doesn't it seem awesome?

I think it's kind of ridiculously awesome