Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Last week the Utah Opera opened its new season with Puccini's "Madame Butterfly," and we were there, five rows back, center right. Sure, it's a tearjerker, and I (along with most of the audience) shed some tears. Barbara Shivis was perfect as Butterfly; as the 15-year old in the first act, she was fragile and vulnerable, funny and trusting, and stubborn (as most 15-year-olds are!). She was magnificent as Butterfly three years later, her trust broken by that cad Pinkerton. Her performance was "stunning" as the review in the paper said--which brings to mind an ongoing argument (discussion?) I have with my husband concerning opera in general. He believes the voice rules. Physical appearance, not so much.
I remember when Martina Arroyo sang the role of Butterfly. She is a hefty Black woman, about 45 at the time. Well, that sort of thing doesn't work for me. The voice may be terrific, but Butterfly should look like an Asian teenager full of innocence and hope, like a butterfly, if you will. I have nothing against Ms. Arroyo, who has a splendid operatic voice and is a lovely lady in her own right.
So, what do you think? Does appearance matter, or does the voice overcome questionable casting??? Should an opera singer also be able to act?
Sitting next to us, as they have for many seasons, was a nice lady lawyer and her elderly father, who recently returned from a visit to New Zealand--Queenstown and Hamilton. They took harbor cruises and visited the LDS Temple and College in Hamilton. They LOVED New Zealand, and it was fun to hear their stories. And it turns out, their guide was an old friend of my husband's! Small world.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
NGC 602 is just too plain a name for this spectacular star formation happening in the Small Magellanic Cloud ~ Notice all the background galaxies hundreds of millions of light years or more beyond NGC 602. Please, guys, don't let Hubble die!
Have you ever seen ANYTHING more MAGNIFICENT??? Click it!
(Photo credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team)
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
In the beginning, so many circles of earth spinning around the sun ago, before clocks, before hours or minutes or even seconds were counted, in another garden outside Eden there were dragons. These dragons were simple water creatures whose feet were smallish and not made for walking on dry land. You might call these creatures monsters, really, because they were very large and scaley, toothy, four-mouthed beasts with tiny fins good for swimming. But because their fins were small and weak, they moved through the deep waters of the garden slowly, so slowly in fact, that the youngest sons of Cain (who had been cast out of Eden for slaying his brother) climbed up on their backs for rides across the river. Sometimes they brought their toy cannons and pop-guns and carved shields, and shouted, Ho, Away! and with the heels of their hard boots they goaded the poor things to go faster, and faster still, faster than their God made them to go. First the children of Cain shot their wooden arrows to frighten birds away, and then they fired their tin cannons at one another, and played dead, and rose, and fired again. Finally they kicked their sharp heels into the dragons ribs until their poor tongues hung out of their mouths like sausages, and their loud bellows frightened away all the rest of the birds. And how long they did this no one could say because there were no clocks to tell the time.
One day the boys began to make bullets of the dragons teeth, and they mended their worn and shabby shields with the dragons scales. Another day they forgot it was only a game they played, and they called it WAR. Many died. The dragons grew old, and their great hearts began to burst, their brains turned to smoke, their bones broke and they sank to the river bottoms like torpedoed ships, and they drowned and their flesh was soon eaten by the many big razor-jawed fish who now sweetened the waters. Their teeth became opals, their eyes became diamonds, and their bones turned into black gold.
Now they say there was an angel who stood guard with a sword of flame at the Gates of Eden, letting no one in, and very few out. The keeper of the garden's name was Adam. One night while sleeping, Adam dreamed of a great white horse who carried him out of Eden on its back. And Adam dreamed he saw the holy spirits of a hundred dragons rising from the water, their tiny fins having become wings. And Adam dreamed he called them by name (for he knew all their names). Elon, Kimani, Adara, Isabelle, Takoda, Dak-Ho, Izyan, Christopher, Jack....
Then, two of the hundreds of spirits of dragons came and sat at Adam's feet. To the first, Adam said I shall call you Alligator, and to the second, he said You shall be named Crocodile. And it was good. And Adam sent the two spirits back down into the ebbing and flowing waters of the garden outside of Eden.
. . . . . . . . .
When he woke from his dream, Adam found himself still in the garden outside of Eden. He marveled when he found those very dragons he had named Alligator and Crocodile swimming in the river, and he said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply. And they did.
But Adam grieved sorely for his wife, and for his children. He returned to the Gates of Eden, but the angel guarding the gate waved the sword of flames under Adam's nose and would not let him pass back into Eden, and Adam wept loudly and called out to his wife and children, Come here! Cross over, and I will show you these new creatures I have named Alligator and Crocodile! They are as sweet and tame and timid as rabbits! So his wife and their children packed up their tents and binoculars and sleeping bags. They filled their backpacks with flashlights and compasses, and they set up their camp in the garden on the other side of Eden. When they were done, and the others sang and told stories around the campfire, one of the children went off by himself and made a sundial of stones, with an arrow that cast a shadow on the edge, and when the sun rose, the arrow marked the sun's passage across the sky, dividing daylight into many parts, bringing TIME to the garden on the other side of Eden.
Before noon, the children, some of them, found these wonderful new creatures Alligator and Crocodile. They played tag and hide and seek among them, made them necklaces of flowers and fed them figs and apples. Some of them climbed upon their backs, and by and by began again to play the game WAR. Many of them died. And it came to pass that both TIME and WAR spread both East and West, North and South. The birds, which Adam had named the Doves of Peace returned, but could find no place to rest their wings and build their nests, and so flew far away.
And it came to pass that Adam wept in despair, and said, Will we never learn?
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Saturday, October 04, 2008
The autumnal equinox occurred on September 22, marking the end of Summer and the first day of Fall. Fall is a great time. I went to Simon's soccer game early today. The morning was cold and rainy, no sun rose over the Wasatch where a snowstorm was falling on the red scrub-oak and yellow patches of quakies. They were playing football to the east of us and several other soccer games were going on to the west. We cheered and clapped and whistled to encourage our Green Team (the Green Lightning's) even though they lost the game. They played well and tried hard. Watching a bunch of frozen seven-year-old boys struggling to kick a ball into a net is exciting, especially so if one of them is yours.
The full moon nearest the Autumn Equinox is called the Harvest Moon, and the markets are full of apples and pumpkins and nuts and egg-nog. The election is coming up! Remember to vote!
This magnificent photograph of the sun, taken just this week, on September 29th, should help to thaw the chills of those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, and encourage those of you on the Southern side that Summer is on its way!
(Photo Credit: STEREO project, NASA)