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November 21, 2020:

A TALE OF TWO OPERAS

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, we went to opera land, didn’t we just?  Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, we, the royal we, went to opera land and I have lived to tell the tale, the tale of two operas, one old-fashioned and one brings us into the twentieth century.  Let’s begin with the latter, Franz Schreker’s Irrelohe.  I’ve been a big fan of this composer ever since buying a CD of his music in Tower Records in the late 1980s.  Very melodic but with a slightly more modern (for his time) sense of things, like impressionism.  He was a great orchestrator, too.  He was quite popular in his day – nine operas, and much orchestral music.  And yet, today he is pretty much forgotten.  I thoroughly enjoyed Irrelohe – it’s my kind of music and the performances and band on the Sony Opera CD are just great, and it also sounds great.  Going in the other direction, it was Tchaikovsky’s Pique Dame, which I liked but didn’t love – just a bit old-fashioned for me but some nice tunes.  This was another Sony Opera disc but this one wasn’t nearly as good as the other, sound-wise, mastered at a very low volume level, which always annoys me.  I’m looking forward to discovering more of Schreker’s operas (most of them are on the Tube of You, if you’d like to sample them).  And now, it’s Stokowski conducting Ives’ fourth symphony.  I like it but boy does it get noisy and cacophonous in the second movement, almost as if Mr. Ives were having a psychotic musical break.  You could probably use it to score the exploding head scene in Scanners.  And yet, the very next movement is quite beautiful.  Go know.  Stokowski does it to a “T”, however and his American Symphony Orchestra on Columbia sounds amazing.  I had this little Stokowski box of his Columbia stereo recordings, but I guess I’d nuked all of it after hearing it, but I’m going to upload some of the set again, as there are wonderful things, including his Bach Brandenburg Concerto number five and three choral preludes.  Mighty fine sound on that album.  Oh, wait, I’m supposed to be writing these here notes in a hurry because she of the Evil Eye will be here all too soon and I have to go to bed earlier than I usually do these days.

Yesterday was mostly fine.  I did get eight hours of sleep, arising just before noon o’clock.  Once up, I answered emails and did other stuff, then went to the mail place to pick up some stuff, then came right back home.  I knew food wasn’t going to happen as the Zoom rehearsals were coming up, so I just did some stuff that needed doing and then it was Zoom time.

First up was Robert Yacko and we ran his songs and so he’ll hone them now.  Then it was Daniel Bellusci, and we ran his three, talked through them, and he can now hone them.  Then, finally, it was Sami Staitman – she’s only doing one song in the show, but it’s a really fun arrangement of a Christmas standard and she’ll do it great.  After all that, I was starving, so I did a quick trip to Gelson’s and got a chicken Caesar salad and a little thing so their spicy Thai pasta salad to accompany it.  I came home and ate the salad, did a few things, and then ate the Thai thing, which was good.  Then I sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I watched a DVD entitled Black Angel, from a novel by Cornell Woolrich, and one of my favorites in his “black” series.  I’ve only seen the film once before and I remembered not caring for it much, as it was way too different from the novel.  Watching it again, I liked it even less.  I really couldn’t stand the leading lady, June Vincent at all.  I always like Dan Duryea, Peter Lorre, and Broderick Crawford, so they were fun to watch, and it’s certainly well directed by Roy William Neill, who did a lot of the Sherlock Holmes movies.  But screenwriter Roy Chanslor basically just wrote his own movie, kinda sorta based on the book’s characters, kinda not, and changing most of the plot elements.  Mr. Woolrich hated the movie and it’s one of the worst adaptations of his books.  Roy Chanlor, the screenwriter, would go on to write two novels that were made into two hit films – Johnny Guitar and The Ballad of Cat Ballou.

After that, I had a telephonic conversation and listened to some of the Stokowski set.

Today, I’ll be up by eight-thirty and out of the house by nine or thereabouts.  I’ll head right down to Ventura Blvd. and see if I can get into a restaurant for a light breakfast.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to, as that’s the best and easiest way to kill time. I’ll hopefully pick up some packages, and then I’ll come home.  I’ll do some work on project two until the visitor shows up for a visit, and once that’s done, I shall prepare for tomorrow’s in-person rehearsal at the theater and the plan is to fully block everything, which, given the length and nature of the piece, shouldn’t really take that long.  We have two hours booked and that should be plenty.  Then I’ll watch, listen, and relax.

Tomorrow you already know about because I jumped the damn gun, and then this coming week will be spent with project two, a rehearsal or two for Doug’s playlet, then Thanksgiving – I’m trying to find a local jernt that I can just bring home a turkey dinner from but am having no luck at all – had Jerry’s Deli not closed, it would have been that, as they’d done that every year.  Barring finding anything, I think I’ll just get some hand-carved turkey, some stuffing and gravy and stuff from the Gelson’s deli case and that will be that.

Let’s all put on our pointy party hats and our colored tights and pantaloons, let’s all break out the cheese slices and the ham chunks, let’s all dance the Hora or the Twist, for today is the birthday of our very own dear reader, KevinH.  So, let’s give a big haineshisway,com cheer to our very own dear reader, KevinH.  On the count of three: One, two, three – A BIG HAINESHISWAY.COM BIRTHDAY CHEER TO OUR VERY OWN DEAR READER, KEVINH!!!

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, be up by eight-thirty, hopefully have a light breakfast, hopefully pick up some packages, work on project two, have a visit for a couple of hours, then work on Doug’s script, planning for the rehearsal.  After all that, I’ll watch, listen, and relax.  Today’s topic of discussion: Of the “modern” school of classical composers, who do you like best and what are your favorite pieces by them – anything from the twentieth century is fair game.  Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy to have told the tale of two operas.

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