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Everything posted by Birdsall

  1. This pandemic and loss of seeing in-person events.....it was harder than we thought. And so I am just choosing to see things as positively as possible even on YouTube from here on out. I don't want to go and nitpick and hate what I love. I don't think I will be blind. I will see things that aren't my taste, but I plan to be positive from now on so I enjoy life as much as possible with all this death and decline around me.
  2. Buddy, I like what you wrote. Every single human moves differently. This is why ballet is so subjective. Same with opera. The most feted ballerina or opera singer often divides people completely with half the people disgusted by what they see or hear and the other half in ecstasy. It's actually the ho hum dancers and singers who leave a majority of people with no opinion who do not divide fans/detractors. When a dancer or singer has very little controversy about her artistry often it is a B level singer/dancer. The great ones almost always divide opinions. Take Maria Callas. Her voice is fingernails on a chalkboard to some. To others it is Heaven especially in Norma. Dame Joan Sutherland....same thing.....people still argue that she might as well be singing in Chinese b/c you can't understand anything. Others delight in her amazing technical feats. To each his own. After the pandemic for me personally, I think it is healthier to see the glass half full and not half empty. I lost my dad and my dog and may lose my mom at any moment and my best friend is dying of throat cancer. I choose to enjoy ballet and opera. I can't do what they do on stage so I am going to go to shows looking for what's good and not dwelling on what I don't care for. I think it is important to do that for my mental health.
  3. https://www.miamicityballet.org/2021season This has been announced today. Ratmansky's Swan Lake will be in Feb./March
  4. Ivy, thank you for your wonderful review! I loved Wozzeck! When I first became an opera lover maybe some 28 years ago Wozzeck interested me somewhat b/c I studied the Georg Büchner play Woyzeck. The play was left unfinished and is actually fragments, but it matches the fragmented and deteriorating state of the character. It is a prime example of Naturalism that showed the plight of the working class and showed how environment can influence an individual. Alban Berg did what no one else could have done. He created an opera based on the play. Well, having studied the play and knowing Wozzeck was one of the few modern operas that is in the standard repertoire I tried for years to like it. I just didn't for the longest time. But when I saw it was playing this season at a time when I could also see the Anna Netrebko New Year's Eve Gala, I decided to go. In preparation for Wozzeck I listened to the opera over and over and over again. Maybe 15 times in the last month. I suddenly found myself humming portions of it. I fell in love with the opera. It basically underscores how the masses are really screwed by the people in power and they can't get out of the endless cycle of misery. There are a lot of metaphors of circles in the libretto and even the end of the opera could reattach musically to the first few bars of the beginning. So there is this circular nature to the music and the themes of the libretto. Ongoing cycle of misery (story). However, it is an opera that requires study or you do not "get" the opera. Once you "get" it you absolutely love it. That's why so many important conductors around the world want to conduct it over and over even though they know it is not a crowd pleaser. It is definitely not an opera for a beginner. Omg! The Netrebko Gala was everything I had hoped it would be. Her Mimi is looking back at her past as a more lyric singer, her Tosca is in her current spinto repertoire, and her Turandot was her first staged debut in the role (even if not the whole opera), so that role is looking to her future. Most Turandots I have heard are screamers. This was a lovely toned Turandot which is highly unusual. I was worried her Mimi would sound matronly at this point since she has taken on so many "Big Girl" roles. Well, she did a wonderful job lightening her voice and using piano singing, in my opinion. She was believable as the young Mimi. Her Tosca was super jealous and fun. But her first foray in a staged Turandot was so exciting. And confetti rained down us in the audience at the end. I saw Angela Gheorghiu during intermissions. I hope the Met is planning to stage something for her soon!
  5. I have actually seen Parish mess up so many excellent ballerinas during partnering especially during turns. I have witnessed him almost cause Anastasia Kolegova to fall onto the floor, and she is a rock solid technician, and she has no such problems with Korsuntsev or Shklyarov. During paddle turns for years the moment he put his hands on the ballerina's waist she practically stopped or slowed down considerably. He has gotten better as far as that is concerned (paddle turns), but I have seen the exact moment people are discussing concerning Batoeva and her leg hitting him causing her to put her leg down via alternative means. This is a bad mistake. A partner is supposed to help the ballerina shine. This is not an isolated event for Parish. It has been ongoing. In my opinion, this is a serious issue, because he could end up injuring a ballerina due to his partnering issues that, I repeat, are ongoing.
  6. Palmer House is a historic hotel within walking distance (minutes) to the Auditorium Theater. The lobby ceiling is beautiful.
  7. Here's what the Mariinsky website (very easy to google) says about this Paquita: ABOUT THE PRODUCTION Continuing to revive titles that are significant for the playbill of St Petersburg ballet, the Mariinsky Theatre is presenting a new version of Paquita. This is not a revival of the 19th century production, created in Paris by the ballet-master Joseph Mazilier and which was performed in St Petersburg from 1847 with choreography by Marius Petipa. Choreographer Yuri Smekalov is working on a new three-act ballet using his own libretto based on the plot of the novella La gitanilla by Cervantes. The basis of the score of the new ballet comprises music by Édouard Deldevez that was composed for the Paris premiere of Paquita in 1846. Yet today this one-and-a-half-century-old opus will sound different: the order of the numbers has changed, several of them have been re-orchestrated and, moreover, Deldevez' score has been added to by excerpts from works by Minkus and Drigo. The famous wedding Grand pas staged by Marius Petipa to music by Minkus, which triumphantly crowned the plot of the St Petersburg production, will occupy its place of honour in the new ballet, too. This parade of classical dance that demonstrates the skill of the corps de ballet and the virtuoso qualities of the ballerina and the soloists appeared in the 1881 production, and as an independent piece, unconnected with the ballet's plot, it has survived to this day. It is true that over the decades Petipa's choreographic text has undergone many changes. In the contemporary Paquita, the Grand pas will be included in a version brought close to the historic original – Yuri Burlaka is reviving Petipa's choreography using surviving records of the production from the early 20th century. The new ballet, which combines dances and scenes created by Yuri Smekalov, together with historic rarities, will be a hommage to the golden age of classical ballet, a mark of respect and gratitude of the new ballet generation to the aesthetics of the unsurpassed master of classicism – Marius Petipa.
  8. I do think you have to suspend disbelief a little during the Nikiya/Gamzatti cat fight. However, remember that Gamzatti (at least in the Mariinsky version) is basically saying that Nikiya is nothing but some lowly person (you can really watch and rewatch it and you will see this) and being pretty aggressive toward Nikiya. So tempers are flaring and when people get hot headed they do things they normally wouldn't. I believe in the reconstruction that the Mariinsky did a while back Nikiya comes back as a ghost or spirit and tries to mess up the wedding ceremony, so she's not a complete innocent, wilting flower. She's bound and determined to get her revenge, if I remember correctly. I am not sure how Ratmansky staged that in his reconstruction. But I do agree that the grabbing the knife and running/chasting Gamzatti all the way across the stage seems extreme especially when at that particular point she thinks Solor has pledged his love to her and sworn over the sacred fire and she even tells Gamzatti that during the cat fight. So she could have simply told Gamzatti off and left the building. She didn't really have to go after her with a knife. I guess it is supposed to be sort of like how people get road rage and act in ways they normally never would. From a theatrical standpoint it probably made the scene more exciting for audiences when it first was staged. The first time I ever saw La Bayadere I actually didn't question it, but as I have seen it more and more I have to admit I also find it sort of out of character for Nikiya to chase Gamzatti with a knife. I could see if Gamzatti were throttling her and to get away she grabbed the knife nearby, but it is a bit weird that way it is usually staged. I just think we have to view it as a rage moment like road rage.
  9. Drew is giving good advice. I noticed that the reconstruction is being played nowadays whenever Sleeping Beauty is being performed at the historic Mariinsky Theatre. When Sleeping Beauty is played at the M-2 theatre it is the Sergeyev version. Somova has danced the reconstruction. And, of course, Novikova has too. I think I would lean toward Novikova like Drew says, but Somova is delightful too. Some people have held perceptions of her young years against her, but she is, in my opinion, a different ballerina nowadays.
  10. How sad! Too young to die! I enjoyed the costumes and sets of the MCB Nutcracker!
  11. Once again, nothing is black and white. There are shades of gray. Life is complicated. And the reality is that people have bills to pay. So, yes, sometimes people sleep with someone they normally wouldn't to get a job or keep a job, but THAT DOESN'T MAKE IT RIGHT for the boss to demand or request sex. Why is the person who feels harassed often the one who was wrong in some people's minds? Shouldn't people in positions of power control themselves? Or are they simply dogs in heat? And when multiple people come out to speak against someone the old adage fits, "Where there's smoke there is fire." It boils down to this........would any of us want a daughter of ours told, "Sleep with me and I will help your career!" and "If you don't, I will see to it that you don't get a job anywhere!" DO WE WANT THAT FOR OUR DAUGHTERS??????
  12. I have told this story before on BA, but after reading this thread I feel I need to tell it again. I was taken advantage of by a doctor after a long illness in college. I was at my wit's end being misdiagnosed by many people and I was GRATEFUL to finally get the right diagnosis and the right medication by an emergency room doctor who then suggested a doctor for a follow-up. Frame of mind plays a role. I am giving my story so that some people on this thread know that it is not just black and white. I went to the follow up doctor who helped me completely recover. I was grateful to the emergency room doctor as well as the follow up doctor. I felt sane after months of being told nothing is wrong with me. I thought, "Finally, I have a great doctor!" Well, a phone message was left on my machine (back in the days when we had answering machines. It sounded urgent and to call right away. I called and the nurse said the doctor wanted to see me right away. I was worried. I thought my blood work had uncovered some other new problem. I rushed over to his office. He went over my blood work and it was fine. Then, he said since I am a new patient he needed to do a full physical. I agreed assuming it was all legit. I won't go into details but it included hernia check and prostate check. Everything seemed to take too long and at some point I got aroused. He then asked if he could give me a "medical massage." My immediate thought was, "Okay, up until now I have been pretty stupid, but I am not THAT stupid to think this is a medical massage!" But to be honest I agreed to it. I left his office feeling horrible. I kept saying, "Why do I feel so awlful? I agreed." My jogging buddy back then found out and told me I must have been wanting it to happen. Another friend said the same thing. By sheer coincidence I had a counseling appointment the next day and she was outraged and gave me a number to call when doctors cross the line (sex, drugs, drinking). I took the number but did not call. She did help me understand what I was upset about. She said, "How can you ever go back to this doctor for sound medical advice?" I think I considered calling the number for weeks, but I just didn't want to ruin the doctor's career. I thought, "Except for crossing the line he seems like a good doctor, but I have to admit I don't want to go back to him." I was actually "okay" with what happened AFTER I agreed to go through with the altercation, but I was upset that I was set up and manipulated into becoming aroused during a medical exam, and it was all planned out. Maybe a month or two later I received a letter from his office saying he has consulted with his wife and decided to close his practice. Up until then I thought I was the only one. Maybe it was the one and only time he acted on homosexual feeling and I felt sorry for him. But I suddenly thought, "What if he's doing this to men, women, and CHILDREN???? What if he's in trouble and someone needs another witness to step forward?" So I finally called that number and reported him. My point is that it is NOT black and white. People have very mixed feelings. Sometimes you actually don't want to harm the person's career if you think it was a one time slip on the person's part. But when you find out others had the same problem then you want to speak up......not for money at all......but to help others. Domingo is not a doctor, but a famous artist who you admire holds a lot of power over how you feel about the person. I can totally picture someone even going through with sleeping with him or letting him touch her inappropriately and hoping it is the one and only time. And if they tell even their close friends they will say, "You wanted it!" like my two friends did. People who haven't experienced it do not understand and probably never will. Nothing in life is black and white. There's no "You do this or you do that. Case closed." There is no, "You either report it immediately or shut up." I also personally feel like I was harassed at my previous job (not sexually) and I finally left. I feel like the boss should have been fired. I complained to everyone I could (people above the boss, people on my level). I did not stay quiet. I watched as people who I thought were friends start to avoid me because I was not getting along with the administrator. Yes, sometimes we choose to "go," but we shouldn't have to go. The one harassing should be the one to go. What happens is that the harassing person often has "favorites" who think the world of that person, and that is that person's PROOF that you are just a troublemaker.
  13. Sad so many men treat women like playthings. I liked him as a tenor (in his prime he was magnificent like molten lava flowing out of his throat when you heard him live). By 2010 he was still impressive for his age and longevity, but really pushing it....a shadow of his former self. Then, when he switched to baritone roles he went from a magnificent tenor to a very mediocre baritone. I don't understand why he is tarnishing his artistry remaining on the stage. I feel like he was hogging and taking roles that would have been given to younger up-and-coming singers who can actually sing baritone roles impressively. Maybe this scandal will finally get him to retire. I think he should have retired around 2010 maybe even sooner. I used to be thrilled to hear him. Now when I find out he is in the cast for something I will fly up to see at the Met I cringe and hope he cancels.
  14. Since it is a rather large theatre I sat in the orchestra each time in different areas. I liked the aisle seat on the left set of seats in maybe the 6th or 7th row (can't remember exactly). There are two center aisles dividing the center orchestra seats from the left and right side orchestra seats. My favorite seat was the aisle seat on the left (between the left side and the center orchestra). It was close enough to the middle to see the whole stage, but it was at a slight angle since it is off to the side so no heads were in the way. But I am 6 feet tall so maybe others would have had head issues. I think the rake of the audience seating gets steeper the farther away you sit. I also liked the first row of the next section of seats (there is an aisle between the front orchestra and middle orchestra seats. That was a good seat also. The aisle between the front orchestra and the middle orchestra probably helps with heads as well.
  15. Yes, it is very obvious when you are there that the train station serves as the entrance and coat check. After leaving your coat you step into a very modern, large house which sits where the different tracks used to be. It is sort of a feel that you are entering an old building but it becomes very state-of-the art once you step through. It is a very interesting concept that combined the old with the new.
  16. I think another reason that the Mariinsky tours at Christmas (Western Christmas) is that the Vaganova Academy does a lot of Nutcrackers at home (St. Petersburg) and it is probably the time of year less tourists want to travel to Russia due to the cold. The tour is usually always around our Western Christmas, because Russians don't celebrate until January 8 (Orthodox Christmas....same with orthodox Greeks). So they are able to still enjoy their Christmas with family once they return home.
  17. Baden-Baden is sort of the Palm Beach of Germany, in my opinion. It has a very similar feel (attitude)......quiet playground. There is a lot of money and is a resort town (with amazing baths, casino, luxury hotels, sporting options nearby, etc.) I have only visited twice, but my suspicion is that the Festspielhaus (a privately funded opera/concert house.....unheard of in Germany or most of Europe) offers good contracts and pays well, so the Mariinsky signs up for an annual winter tour. They probably have a contract of some sort with the Mariinsky. The Festspielhaus is quite big (a renovated old train station). The fact that the small town has a small Faberge Museum with one of the eggs in it says a lot. This is not your normal small town. Their Christkindlmarkt was full of handmade and luxury items in comparison to most German Christmas markets that are still charming but geared for all people.
  18. I loved it. I am back into opera after a hiatus of several years. I saw Goerke years ago and thought something was wrong with her voice and I couldn't put my finger on it. She has gone on record saying that she was trying to fit a large voice into smaller roles (my paraphrase actually.....or my interpretation). To me her Brünnhilde had a roundness and bloom to it which is rarely the case in such a difficult role. Even Nina Stemme, who I absolutely loved in SF's Ring Cycle back in 2011 doesn't have a rounded quality. I also loved how Skelton held onto his cries of "Wälse" forever.......that was exciting! I cry every time I hear Wotan's farewell to Brünnhilde. It is the most moving moment in all of opera, in my opinion. I know it is a father saying goodbye to his daughter, but I always think of my sister. Wagner captured immense feelings in that farewell in his music. I choke up and my eyes fill with tears. He's never going to see her again, and she's going to live in another realm. The sad thing is that Brünnhilde is the hero Wotan is looking for, but he keeps trying to create a man (first Siegmund and then Siegfried is born) who is separate from his will who will save the world. But it is a woman (Brünnhilde) and love that ends up saving the world in the end. He totally misses the fact that his daughter (right under his nose) is the true hero. This seems to be the way of the world. It is also why the farewell, in my opinion, is so touching. He's saying goodbye to the hero he is searching for and doesn't even realize her potential. When I first saw all the Met's "machine" Ring operas in HD I hated the machine and thought it added nothing to the story or history of the staging of the opera. This time I went in thinking, "Maybe I was too harsh, and I will be open-minded and maybe enjoy the machine this time." Well, I started out thinking, "Okay, I am liking the machine more......it's growing on me...." but slowly halfway through the same old feeling came back. Most of the time it just sits there motionless creating a very "blah" backdrop or it is used simply as a video screen. I think regular backdrops and sets and video screens would tell the story much better. This machine is a big flop, in my personal opinion. If it moved and reconfigured itself constantly throughout each opera it would probably be exciting. In fact, I remember the initial video of computer drawings that the Met posted before it was actually created, and it looked VERY exciting. One computerized image showed all the planks moving together like they were wings with the Ride of the Valkyries playing in the background. I was really expecting big things when the first initial computerized concept video came out and was posted by the Met, but then the real actual thing came out on stage and in HD and so much of the time it sits there inert. So much expense for so little action and drama. With hindsight it makes sense that this machine did not work as originally planned and has to be used as a computer screen much of the time because it would have been too unsafe for singers to be moving around and trying to sing on a moving machine. The audience seems to love the Ride of the Valkyries with the planks moving up and down, but I find it dumb, especially as they wave to the audience and the audience applauds. Feels like a Disney World event. I think of the amazing Rings captured on video (the Copenhagen Ring is wild but thrilling, the Valencia space age Ring with La Fura dels Baus, the Met's old but gorgeous staging) and the ones I saw live (LA Ring which many hated but I loved, SF Ring with a huge environmental theme), and I then think of this "machine" Ring and I feel the Met, arguably the best opera house in the world, really messed up. I suspect by the time they realized this was a flop, they had already spent too much on it and had to keep going. So the Met is stuck with the biggest flop of a Ring Cycle on Earth. At least they are hiring good casts to make up for it.
  19. He might have been one of the dancers who danced in the Broadway revival of Carousel (Renee Fleming was Nettie and Justin Peck did the choreography).......there were NYCB dancers who danced in it and a couple of MCB dancers did too, if I remember correctly. I don't have the program of that show anymore. He might have been one, so maybe he made contacts then or before.
  20. Anna's final scene (throwing herself under a train) was very effective.....very devastating.....her life is basically destroyed......when I read the novel years ago I actually laughed during the chapter she kills herself because Tolstoy is so great at creating a stream of conscious chapter where she views everything as ugly and horrible and you are literally reading about a character losing her mind. I laughed despite the horror of her losing her mind, because she was becoming absurd but you knew why and it was crazy! I think Possokhov conveyed this through movement which was probably a hard thing to do! I would very much enjoy seeing this again one day. But tonight is Richard Strauss' Elektra with Nina Stemme! Can't wait!!!!!!
  21. I just saw the Joffrey's Anna Karenina, and I enjoyed it very much, although it was very serious, much more serious and gloomy than, say, Ratmansky's version. However, the final scene has villagers, Kitty, and Levin very happy living in the traditional way. It is very obvious that Yuri Possokhov knows the novel well. I have seen an opera version and ballet version of this story as well as movies. Rarely does a version seem to put as much weight to Levin's story alongside Anna Karenina's story. I feel Possokhov has come the closest (in less than 2 hours.....an incredible feat!). Tolstoy has so many layers in his novel, that I believe it is basically foolhardy to try to put the novel on stage as an opera or a ballet. Like I said, I think Possokhov did as well as anyone probably can. Of course, the title character is always going to be the part of the story that audiences are most interested in (the doomed love affair). However, Tolstoy's novel could just as well be titled Konstantin Levin!!!! So much of the novel centers around his suffering and love for Kitty and their eventual marriage and their traditional lifestyle and marriage directly contrasts with Anna Karenina's story. Both the choreographer and the composer (Ilya Demutsky) use both modern and traditional choreography/music. This fits with the novel which has tradition and "progress" (industrialization) intertwining. My personal take on the novel is that it is easy to just live traditionally. You fit in, you end up happy, etc. It is very hard to survive change and "progress"......and Anna is a modern woman way before her time and gets crushed (literally and figuratively) by everything. I think the choreography is based on traditional ballet moves but doesn't shy away from modern movement either. Possokhov actually moved me with Anna's plight through movement. I lucked out that my matinee cast was the same as the Opening Night and the cast shown all over the posters around Chicago as well as featured in news articles. I simply chose Sunday matinee because it fit in between a Saturday Traviata and a Monday Elektra at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Victoria Jaiani put her heart and soul in the role of Anna Karenina. Fabrice Calmels towered over everyone as her husband. Alberto Velazquez was a handsome Alexey Vronsky. I will try to write more later. I am meeting friends at Russian Tea Time for an early dinner. If you are in Chicago I highly recommend this intense work. It is much more serious and moving then Ratmansky's version (I like many Ratmansky ballets, but I think his Anna Karenina misses the mark completely).
  22. I am seeing Anna Karenina today and will try to post a review.
  23. I don't know. I know who she is and I am not really a musical theater devotee. I consider her ultra famous. Of course, I am 51 years old. I am sure you are right concerning much younger people. However, I suspect all gay men know who she is. If not, their card in the club needs to be revoked.
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