Sunday, May 29, 2011

A night at the opera: La Boheme - we laughed, and laughed some more.....



Last week I went to my first live, full-length opera.
Up until a few years ago, I was not an opera fan, although my exposure had only been the Bugs Bunny versions from Saturday mornings. I liked the music, but it just wasn't something that I was interested in going to watch-a bunch of people singing in languages I didn't know being overly dramatic all over the stage, visions of fat ladies in viking helmets, it just didn't appeal.
Then Ben took an interest in opera and things changed. He was three or four when I picked him up from daycare and he was humming an aria from Carmen. We encourage every interest, so I dived into the internet and started reading all the opera stories (frick most of them are sad) and we got opera cds and listened to them. I talked to my friends who were opera fans and got them to tell me about performers and the background of the operas and the history. I went to a couple of Live at the Met performances at the movie theatre, and took Ben to see the Carmen Met show a couple of years ago which we both enjoyed, although Ben might still have fonder memories of the licorice and the announcer for the evening, Rene Flemming.
So I've been meaning to go to the opera for a while, but haven't gotten around to it, when suddenly it all came together- Guislaine and Adriana were both available and the opera was a classic - La Boheme. Can't go wrong with that, really. We got our tickets in the nosebleeds (or as Adriana pointed out, the hip and young section) and on Wednesday night we met outside the entrance. We dressed for the occasion, really, what's the fun in not making it an occasion considering the price of the tickets, and went in and climbed stairs, and stairs, and more stairs. We actually had good seats near the middle and an excellent view of the stage. Guislaine and Adriana told stories of previous opera shows (the one about opera at the Big O was hilarious) and finally the lights dimmed. Show time!
La Boheme is supposed to be pretty sad, but it starts relatively happy - starving artists joking around, deciding to go out, a romance between Rodolfo and Mimi (they call me Mimi, I don't know why) that is engineered by the guy pretending he can't find her key and blowing out his candle to make it darker - sly devil, and then a big scene at the Cafe Momus with the introduction of Musetta and the strange appearance of a toy maker, Parpignol, for really no reason. They make a big deal about it though. When the scene ended, the lights came up and we talked about it. First, the translations, in French and English which sometimes didn't match and Adriana said didn't always convey the Italian. Sometimes they were downright funny. Then we joked about the romantic scene and how fast that moved along and then the mysterious toy maker. What was the deal with him? Guislaine suggested we should write a sequel just about him, perhaps with his toys coming to life and going on a rampage through the rest of the opera, and thus © La Boheme 2 - Parpignol's Revenge was born. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the opera...... Honestly, he doesn't appear in the rest of the opera, what is the big deal with him?
Great fun, then the next act starts at the gates and Marcello talking to Mimi and Mimi telling him how jealous and awful Rodolfo is being. Then she hides and listens when Rodolfo and Marcello are talking and finds out he feels bad about making her stay at his cold flat and that she's dying, which surprisingly she doesn't realise, which was kind of funny. Then she's discovered because of all that coughing (amazing that she can sing), she tells him she's going back to her place (the translation here is "goodbye, no hard feelings" which has now become a catch phrase for the three of us) and they confusingly agree to stay together until the Spring. I've heard all of the music in the past, but this was the first time I was reading a translation as it was going along. Mimi's "Donde lieta uscì" is beautiful to hear, but I was amused to find out that she is basically singing about her hat.
More discussion during the set change: what the hell was the whole staying together until Spring about? And seriously, how is she surprised when Rodolfo says that she's dying?
Final act- The guys are both missing their ladies and singing about it, then they all start horsing around which was really well done and nice and light. Then Musetta rushes in with Mimi who is on her last legs and the whole thing gets pretty sad from there. Colline's song about his coat is a bit odd, but I guess he needed something to sing about. Her death is sort of subtle, she doesn't die while singing, she just quietly passes while the other characters are mourning her imminent demise and praying. While it was sad, it didn't really bring out a lot of emotion in me. This could be the young age of the cast or the direction, but for someone who cries at dog food commercials, I was shockingly tearless at the end. Still, it was a wonderful night, with beautiful music, good friends, lots of laughing, and ended with burgers and fries in our fancy clothes at midnight.
I'm doing that again!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Men in blue cannot resist princesses

On our way to a friend's house tonight and Naomi is sitting in the back of the car, in a dress and tiara of course. A police car is waiting next to us at the light. As it turns green she says, "Mom! The policeman waved at me!". I turned to see the officer giving her a big thumbs up with a smile on his face as he's driving away. I look back and Naomi is giving a big thumbs up and said, "Look! I'm doing what he was doing. He waved too!", and then after a few seconds, "He thinks I'm beautiful."
Yup, you are kiddo...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

perfect moments

Waking up on a warm night to the sound of the rain and feeling the soft breeze on your face before falling back to sleep.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The mouse, part one

So there was this mouse.
This past winter I was cleaning stuff off the pantry floor, picked up a discarded cloth grocery bag, and discovered a few cups of catfood inside. I was confused for a moment until I noticed little mouse droppings in a corner. Great. And yes, I'm the worst housekeeper ever. Mr Mouse had been stashing that away for a while I guessed. So I threw out the bag and cleaned up the pantry and washed the floor and the next day found myself staring at the display for vermin traps at the hardware store. The classic wooden Victory ones were there, but so were a variety of humane traps. Live and let live is my motto, and I didn't want the mouse dead, just out of my house, so I bought a couple of non-killing traps and went home. It took a week to talk myself into baiting them and putting them out. I'd like to make one thing clear at this point-I'm not afraid of mice. I do not jump on chairs or scream, they do not bother me in the slightest when they are alive and free and running around places that are not my house. I always wanted gerbils or hamsters (my parents wouldn't let me have them) and I even raised lab rats. My problem is dealing with dead mice or captured, panicked mice. I had visions of the mouse crawling into the trap and getting caught and then squeaking and freaking me out in the middle of the night. What if the kids were here? And what would I do with it? I'd have to drive it somewhere (I was thinking the nicer area of town with the big houses) otherwise it would just get back into my house. I'd have to transfer it to something with air holes, maybe a cage? I didn't have one. Would it chew through a cardboard box? Maybe the kids would like to see it, would they get attached? Blabbyblahblah my brain inventing all these scenarios that had me suddenly incapable of handling a very small rodent. Dumb brain. I overcame, set out the traps, and waited, and waited. And moved the traps, and changed the bait, and waited some more, and tried a few more traps of different types, and waited. Nothing. Yet all the while I was finding new stashes of catfood hidden here and there and droppings. I cleaned and cleaned and moved things out of areas I knew that mouse was hanging around to discourage it when there was nothing to hide behind and tried to close its access points into the house. You may ask where my cat was for all of this, well, she was mostly sleeping on my bed and the living room sofa. She's at least 300 in human years of something, so while she was a fantastic mouser in her prime, those days are over. I think that she has adopted the "I don't see you, you don't see me" policy.
This went on all winter. I finally mentioned it to my landlady and she was shocked and claimed to not have any mice, despite living downstairs. I'm fairly certain that my mouse did not parachute into my house, but nevermind. She came up that afternoon and dropped off a couple of the classic Victory traps. Sigh, she was right. Mr Mouse had to go. I nearly took my finger off setting the traps and placed them in two places where I know he was hanging out, and went about my evening. At 11:30pm I heard one snap. I froze, paralyzed by the inevitable. I texted a friend in a panic and he said to leave it until morning and try to forget it. In the morning I slowly opened the cupboard door and looked inside to see an empty trap, the cheese gone. Damn. I was a bit relieved, but then pissed off - now I'd have to do this again! I set it again, this time with a smaller piece of cheese, and closed the cupboard. In the morning I opened that cupboard to grab a bottle of cleaner because the cat barfed on the floor, and saw trap the had been successful. I actually only saw the tail in the quick glance before I closed the cupboard. Yay and crap. What was I going to do now? I texted my friend again, now Monday morning. The kids were eating breakfast in the dining room, and I figured it would be best not to mention it. Naomi would have stared and poked and Ben might have gotten upset and insisted on a burial. My friend came over and disposed of the corpse seeing as how I couldn't even look at it. It was quick and with minimal clever remarks. I felt like a wimp.
I'm just not cut out for premeditated murder I suppose. Perhaps it gets easier after your first kill?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011



Another wonderful concert on Tuesday. A week before, I went to see Nagano conducting Liszt and Shostakovich which was pretty fantastic and made more so by a cheap last-minute seat in O right down the middle. This Tuesday I went to a show entitled The Evolution of the Symphony. Gabrieli, Bach, Webern, Stravinski, and finished with Beethoven's Fifth. The Fifth is near the top of my list. I am always amazed at the vibration that runs through me every time I hear it performed. Not a single note is wasted and the recurring themes running through become familiar but never expected. The energy in the hall was sensational and made my heart race. To make it even better, I was there with a person who is like a perfect symphony to me.
This is the last month of concerts in this hall after 47 years. Nagano gave a short speech without a mic, making the moment seem intimate. He spoke with emotion about the attachment to the hall, while looking ahead to the new space. Then, he announced an encore of Gabriel Faure, turned and began conducting Siciliene! So light and lovely and clean. After that was Berlioz's Le Corsaire, which I didn't know and only discovered later when reading the newspaper review. The reviewer also said that these two pieces were a classy gesture to Charles Dutoit, which after it was pointed out to me made sense, but went totally over my head at the concert. He complained about the incessant coughing of the audience. This past year they have strategically placed large bowls of Ricolas outside the entrances, but let's face it - the average age of the season ticket holders is still 200 or something. There are many younger people showing up, but we do stare out from our cheaper seats into a sea of white heads, that's reality. MSO, how about making tickets cheaper for people under 50 instead of under 30? I'm just saying.....many of us do not require oxygen tanks and would love a break on the prices so we could come more and probably start bringing our kids.