Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Damned Shame

"The Scottsboro Boys" will play its last performance on Dec. 12. I thought this show, one of the last works of musical theater masters, Kander & Ebb, was a brilliant attempt to theatricalize one of the more monstrous chapters in American history.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"She Goes About Using Sex as a Sort of Shrimping Net"

I've been reading a lot of Noel Coward recently, and the above line is one from "Hay Fever" that made me laugh out loud - have also read for the first time,"The Vortex" and "Nude With Violin." Even on the page, these plays are incredibly entertaining.

I read somewhere once that Sean O'Casey used to spit spiders at the mention of Coward's name. Shallow, trivial commercial stuff, you know. But I can't recall the last time I read O'Casey for pleasure.

Friday, November 19, 2010

This However, Makes Me Smile

An Italian art historian, Elena Lazzarini, says in a new book that male figures in Michelangelo's "Last Judgment" fresco are based on the bodies of prostitutes and laborers he encountered in the bathhouses and brothels of Rome.

"One of the damned is dragged down to Hell by his testicles, and amongst those who are blessed there are kisses and embraces, undoubtedly homosexual in nature," said Miss Lazzarini, whose book is called "Nudity, art and decorum: aesthetic changes in the art of the 16th century".

Friday, November 12, 2010

This Makes Me Very Sad

Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, is stepping down. From CNN: "Death threats and a life plagued with controversy have taken their toll on the 63-year-old, leading him to announce this week he will be stepping down as bishop in 2013, seven years before the mandatory retirement age of 72."

I've never met Bishop Robinson, but have heard of him through the church and through friends who have met or worked with him. They all speak of his kindness and grace. I wish him well.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Quiet Place

I went last night to City Opera's A Quiet Place, the New York premiere of a full-length opera by Leonard Bernstein. If you can believe that sentence. But it's true - written almost thirty years ago, it's now making its debut in his hometown.

A Quiet Place is long-ish, and overstuffed with musical ideas and I loved it. The music is almost too beautiful and the performances are lovely, across the board. The first act takes place at a funeral, and it feels like every fucked up memorial service you've ever been to, only set to Bernstein music. (The chorus even sings at one point, "What a fucked up family!")

The staging is by Christopher Alden, one of my new favorite directors, after this and last season's Don Giovanni at City Opera. He's got a knack for staging that manifests the psychology of the characters, in ways that never seem obvious or ham-fisted. Or goes against the grain of the music.

I walked up to the window two weeks ago and got a twelve dollar ticket, fifth ring. (The acoustics there always sound better to me than fourth ring, further to the back of the house.) It's gotten rapturous reviews, but the place didn't look full to me. There are five more performances, so go and listen. This man was a giant and it's great to see this work getting its due.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Three Faiths

An absolutely gorgeous exhibition over at the main branch of the NYPL. They have a King James Bible from 1611, the Gutenberg, early medieval Islamic prayer books and beautiful illuminated Ethiopian gospels. You can look at the exhibition online here.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Great Weekend

Marymere from American Opera Projects.

"Psycho" with Jane.

Edward Albee's Me, Myself & I. I know, a lot of people didn't like this show. I love Albee and I'm a bit of a completist when it comes to seeing his work. And any excuse to watch Brian Murray.

The Walking Dead. Lots of fun, especially the scene where the streets of Atlanta are taken over by zombies.

Ever read this book? Me, neither. It's great.