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June 6, 2017:

THE HYPHENATED NOTES

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, it wasn’t exactly a day off – some of the day was on, but thankfully some of the day was off – not off in a bad way, just off in I got to relax like so much fish – and the on parts were fun so I didn’t mind them – why am I using all these hyphens – wouldn’t a period or a question mark be nicer – and yet I just keep using hyphens as if they were going out of style. There, finally, a period. I was hoping to get more sleep than I did – not quite eight hours, but I got up before ten, answered e-mails, replaced the singer who I had to replace, chose her songs, then I did some banking and had an omelet and a bagel, not necessarily in that order. After that I came home, where I found no hyphens and three periods.

Then Richard Allen came over. He’d had a work session with Richard Sherman working on the eleven o’clock number from the musical. I’d written a few new lines for it so they had to be set to music. We played through it – there was something not quite right about one of the sections, so I smoothed that out – mostly having to do with having everything sound of a piece. Then I adjusted a line – in every other section of the song there was one line with an interior rhyme – but they had it once where there wasn’t and it really needed it, found it easily, and put it in.

Then Richard Sherman came and we played it for him and he got very emotional because I read the two scenes that break the song up into three parts. Originally the song was basically all song at once. The two scenes were heavily revised by my very own self and they work quite well. So, Richard was very happy with it. We talked about the reading we’ll do in July, and yakked about other things – it’s always a good time when we’re together. In fact, here are the three musketeers, very happy after singing through the song (yes, Richard joined in, too).

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Then they left and I moseyed on over to the El Portal Theatre, just to say hi to our designers and see how things were looking. The lighting guy was programming away, and the set guy was doing all manner of things, and I hung out with our general manager for about forty-five minutes. After that I went and picked up some packages, then came home.

Once home, I finally relaxed and listened to music. More Stravinsky, then took a break from that and listened to two Martinu symphonies, conducted by my new favorite conductor, Karel Ancerl. I’d heard these symphonies recently, conducted by someone else and hadn’t enjoyed them at all and nuked them right out of iTunes. Well, a great conductor makes all the difference, and I really enjoyed hearing them with an actual interpretation.

Then I moved on to some Mahler – a box set of seven of the nine symphonies, conducted by Russian Kirill Kondrashin. These are not your grandfather’s Mahler – these are not smooth and perfect – these are wild and wooly and unlike any Mahler I’ve heard – and they work wonderfully. The sound is pretty good, and the interpretations are mostly very fast, never dwelling on or drawing the already long symphonies past the point of no return. The sixth symphony in this set is the fastest on record and I can’t wait to get to it. There are times when certain instruments are so forward that they almost distort – that seems to be a “thing” in these Melodiya recordings, but these interpretations are so fresh and invigorating – in fact they’re of a kinship with Shostakovich and the Kondrashin set of those symphonies.

I also listened to a CD of famous piano concerto-like things from movies, played by a female pianist. It had all the usual things, but the recording was so great and the pianist did such a great job, that it’s become, for example, my favorite CD performance of the Warsaw Concerto, a Benjamin Kritzer favorite. Crystal clear sound, great balance between soloist and band. The pianist’s name is Valentina Lisitsa.

At some point I made about three ounces of bow tie pasta and sautéed the little chicken cutlet that was leftover – about two ounces – I put a little butter and cheese on the pasta and it was a perfect and reasonable evening snack.

Today, I don’t have to be at the theater until noon. The cast arrives at one and gets into mics, and then we begin tech. We wrap at seven and I go directly to the Dial ‘M’ for Murder. I’m not quite certain when I’m supposed to eat – certainly I can’t wait until after the Dial ‘M’ rehearsal, so I may have to have someone go get me a sandwich or something. The Federal’s right next door, and there are several food jernts so it’s easy to get some pizza or there’s the good southern fried stand nearby, too.

The rest of the week is more of the same – tech, dress rehearsals, Dial ‘M’ rehearsals, and then we have an invited dress rehearsal on Friday night. Then we play our first performance Saturday night, and our final performance for this iteration on Sunday matinee. We will, of course, have our Tony Awards Bash on Sunday evening, and then on Monday we begin our Kritzerland rehearsals.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, begin tech, eat, continue tech, have a rehearsal, and then relax. Today’s topic of discussion: What are your favorite classical music vocal pieces – cantatas, oratorios, anything other than operas? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, whilst I ponder why these here notes were so damnably hyphenated.

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