Monday, January 11, 2010

One of the Best Weekends of My Life

The title of my post is rather exclusive, and, thus, my readers shall probably expect something truly grand that I have to relate, and this is a correct assumption depending upon one's definition of the adjective 'grand'.

To commence quickly, for a perceived brevity is most attractive among authors, I was afforded the pleasurable opportunity of going to a local cinema to view the Metropolitan Opera's Live in HD presentation of Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier. I had desired to see it ever since I learned of Renee Fleming and Susan Graham's collaboration on this production, and my anticipations for this performance were high. From earlier reviews, I knew that this Saturday matinee broadcast would be most excellent from Fleming and Graham's perspective, but I had nothing to fear in regards of the performances of Eric Cutler, Christine Schafer, and Kristinn Sigmundsson. Susan Graham's offstage personality, which I have had the prior pleasure of witnessing from her hosting of Great Performances: Live @ the Met on television, easily matches her onstage charisma, and I have rarely seen a performer who exudes such a personality and imbues their characters with such vivacity. Her portrayal of Octavian is energetic, comical, and amorous. Renee Fleming's Marschallin is such a pleasure to watch, for she tempers all of the role with a knowledge of the character and a little improvisation from her natural intuition. One of my favorite moments came from one of the intermission interviews when she spoke concerning her and Susan Graham's relation to each other in these opposing gender roles saying, and I paraphrase, "Susan and I had a joke for a long time that we were the only people we had kissed. That was during a sad time in life." I cannot wait to see Renee's interpretation of Rossini's Armida in May, and it is also presented Live in HD. The acting in this production was pretty good, and if you possess any preconceived notions about how opera singers act on stage, you ought to reward yourself to this production with Fleming and Graham. Yes, I know that I continue rambling about Fleming and Graham, but they were my introduction to opera, so I have a predilection towards them.

The other portion of my excellent weekend occurred Sunday evening with the commencement of the new season of Masterpiece Classic on PBS. They initiated the season with Return to Cranford, which is a Victorian-era tlae of life in the small, country village of Cranford, and it stars Judi Dench, Imelda Staunton, Lisa Dillon, and many other admirable actors. I viewed the first miniseries last year, and I was enthralled by the quality of the acting and the depths of the characters that the actors and actresses explored. My favorites were the portrayals of Miss Mary Smith by Lisa Dillon and Miss Matilda "Matty" Jenkyns by Judi Dench. Except in the case of David Suchet's turn as Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot last year on Masterpiece Mystery!, I cannot say that I have ever been more elated by the continuance of a story produced for television. If you are afforded the opportunity of seeing this excellent narrative of the elegance of Victorian England at its very best, for I cannot see it being better provided for an audience's pleasure elsewhere than in this series and perhaps in Masterpiece Classic's retelling of Jane Austen's Emma later this season, I would highly recommend that you exploit it.

In other news concerning opera, It should be mentioned that this Saturday we are granted another Metropolitan Opera Live in HD presentation, and it is Bizet's Carmen. The cast promises to amaze us since it is made up of Elina Garanca, Barbara Frittoli, and Roberto Alagna. I shall not go see it in the theater because I must work, but I shall hear it and record it on my mp3 player. My employers cannot deprive me of all of my enjoyment on a Saturday afternoon.

I should mention that I received two gifts for Christmas that are worthy of note here for their relation to my content within this blog. I was given the Metropolitan Opera 2010 wall calendar and The 5 Browns's autobiography, entitled Life Between the Keys: The (Mis)Adventures of The 5 Browns. I anticipate filling my calendar full of dates, and I shall never miss a Met broadcast in 2010 because they are all marked on the specific days that they occur. Of course, it is also filled with many important dates of debuts of singers and such things, which makes it ideal for the opera aficionado. In their surprisingly entertaining autobiography, which also includes a CD of The 5 Browns's 'hits', the virtuoso siblings, who made history by attending Juilliard simultaneously, reveal anecdotal and moving episodes from their lives of childhood, through their years at Juilliard, to the present. One would never believe that Gregory was such a comical writer. Ryan, as might be expected from his personality and his absence from their blog on their website, contibutes the least to the volume, but being a busy concert pianist is probably taxing. The best revelation in the book came when I learned that Desirae Brown not only knows who Renee Fleming is, but she aspires to be the kind of performer that Fleming is known to be, which is amicable and respectful towards the audience. How could life be any better?

To those who noticed, and I certainly did, I have another follower of my blog. Whoever you are "c-ireland", thank you for evidencing your interest in my writings, and I hope you enjoy what you read. Feel free to comment often, and that goes for everyone!

With that I leave you, and I pray that God continues to bless all of you beyond measure, and I hope that you are all well. Thank you for reading!

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