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January 12, 2021:

PROJECT ONE BEGINS

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, I may just have to do a little rant here, oh, yes, I may just have to do a little rant here and said rant involves ranting. Here it is: What is with these horrible “directors” who film opera productions? I’m not talking about the actual stage directors, but the video directors, these people who have the chutzpah to have their credit be the last one AFTER the actual director in the front credits. Let me be clear – these people should not be having that credit – all they did was set up a bunch of cameras and either live switch them or edit it later or a combo platter of both. It’s been my limited experience in watching opera videos over the last couple of months, that few of these people have a clew what they’re doing. Some are trying to disguise that it’s a live production, some are trying to be arty for reasons known only to them, and some are downright inept. For example, I watched a bit of a DVD of the Met production of Turandot, filmed before the hi-def days, “directed” by someone named Kirk Browning, who has done a lot of opera video directing, in fact, more than anyone else. To give the late Mr. Browning his due, he’s directed concerts and operas since 1951, when he directed Amahl and the Night Visitors for television. He directed almost all the original Live from Lincoln Centers and those are all fine. So, how can this Turandot, for which he won an Emmy, be so inept? Well, here’s how: You start with James Levine coming out, taking his bow, and starting the opera. All good. You see the front curtain. All good. But we never see the curtain open and have a wide shot so we actually know what we’re looking at. I call this the geography shot and in an opera it’s kind of imperative, especially when you’re shooting a live production. Instead, the first thing we see is a close-up of someone. We hear the audience applauding the set and the cast, but we see neither. For that you get an Emmy. Establish the geography and THEN cut in. And it continues like that – random close-ups of others that are not doing anything, while the people we should be seeing are actually singing. It’s like he’s trying to hide that it’s live, but when we’ve seen the conductor, the band, and the front curtain, and it’s Live from the Met, well, we know it’s live. I stuck with it for act one, but I just find it so irritating. It’s no brain surgery. Get five or six cameras, put them where they need to be and shoot the thing and then edit it together so that the audience knows what’s what. I have sound similar issues with almost everything I’ve seen. All that said, Mr. Browning also did the Met Hansel Und Gretel, which is simple and effective, so he knew how to do it. End of small rant.

Otherwise, I’m sitting here like so much fish, listening to a potential Kritzerland release by a composer I adore. I’m unsure of this at this point, so do offer opinions. This would be a two-disc set – the main feature is an opera or operetta, or some might even say a musical. It’s based on a famous play by a famous playwright and the same play was adapted into an unsuccessful American musical, too. I find it absolutely delightful musically and it’s well performed and even though mono sounds great. But – it’s in French. There will be no libretto included, but there will be a synopsis, which is kind of what you get with a lot of opera releases these days, and I’ve got several operetta recordings here in foreign languages that only have a synopsis. So, what do you think? Because the thing runs about 105 minutes or so, I’d be able to include a couple of other pieces by this composer, orchestral stuff. What do you think? I also listened to the first act of Smetana’s delightful The Bartered Bride opera, thanks to our very own elmore who sent me a CD set of it. As those who’ve read the Kritzer books know, Mr. Smetana was my introduction to the world of classical music, with his The Moldau. Anyway, I’m really enjoying it and the performances are excellent.

Yesterday was certainly a day. I got eight hours of sleep, which was good. Once up, I answered e-mails, and then got right to futzing and finessing the previous day’s sixteen or so pages. Lots of additions and subtractions and smoothing out. That process seems to be taking ninety minutes to two hours. Then I wrote about four new pages. I made some bow tie pasta, about six ounces, with butter, onions, and cheese, and ate that all up whilst writing more pages.

I took a little break and went and picked up a couple of packages, including elmore’s, then came back home and listened to the first disc of The Bartered Bride. Then I watched the first act of Turandot – and was surprised that the main cast took bows after act one. What is THAT about? Is that normal? I found it off-putting and peculiar. Then I wrote more pages, for a total of about ten.

I then did a quick Gelson’s run, as I thought I should have a little salad – I got the small Caesar, and I got some rye bread for today’s tuna sandwiches, and a couple of other things. I came home, ate the salad, and wrote a few more pages, for a total of fourteen. I’ll do a few more after posting these here notes, since I left off in the middle of an interesting sequence.

Then I relaxed and began listening to this potential release. I also got word that my leading lady filmed all but one of her songs, so I’ll check those out later or in the morning.

Today, I’m going to try and be up by eleven, I’ll do whatever needs doing, watch the Hartley videos, I’ll futz and finesse, write new pages, hopefully pick up some packages, eat, write new pages, and then we have our first day of shooting project one – four or five dialogue sequences. I’m hoping that will go easily and well. Then I’ll write new pages, watch more Turandot on DVD, write new pages, and then relax.

Tomorrow will be more of the same, and so will the rest of the week until we’re finished shooting, and, of course, I’ll be printing out the second batch of pages, probably a little over 100, which I’ll Xerox and get to Muse Margaret, and then I will be doing nothing but recovering from this busy week over the weekend.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, do whatever needs doing, watch videos, futz and finesse, write new pages, hopefully pick up some packages, eat, write, have our first day of filming project one, write, and then relax. Today’s topic of discussion: What are your favorite PBS things like Live from Lincoln Center, Great Performances, all those kinds of special events. Which specific ones were your favorites? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, excited to start filming project one.

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