The Rochester Oratorio Society is rehearsing Carmina Burana, the secular cantata by Carl Off, composed in the 1930’s. It's based on a thirteenth century manuscript discovered in a Bavarian monastery. Beloved by singers and derided by critics for its lack of polyphony, Carmina celebrates spring, sex, love, and drinking, all while bemoaning the vagaries of fate. It’s fun stuff. In the upcoming May performance, the conductor has decided to use the “Coro Piccolo,” that is, to have a small chorus sing some of the sections instead of the full choir singing everything. This doesn’t please those left out, and during last night’s rehearsal, a few confessed to feeling resentful. “I KNOW that part,” said one soprano chosen to sit out during the small chorus sections.
I just finished James Kunstler’s new novel World Made by Hand. It’s the best book I’ve read in awhile. Years ago, Kunstler’s anti-suburbia polemic The Geography of Nowhere greatly influenced my thinking about urban planning, architecture, and public spaces. In his later non-fictional The Long Emergency, Kunstler imagined what our lives will be like (yes, he says, this WILL happen) when we run out of oil. The new novel is an apocalyptic, fictional telling of the same story, set a few decades from now in a small town in Upstate New York that mixes elements of Mad Max with Little House on the Prairie.
This morning University of Rochester President Joel Seligman announced that Eastman Theatre will be officially renamed “Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.”
It’s all about money. The Eastman Kodak Company is committing $10 Million to an on-going renovation project that includes the construction of box seats and a larger lobby. When renovations are complete, “Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre” will seat 2,250 and be less of a cave.
University of Rochester President Joel Seligman will host "a major and historic announcement for the community" tomorrow (Friday) at 9:45 a.m. in Eastman Theatre. No one in our newsroom knows what it'll be about. Or they're not admitting it.
"Why, when safely seated and merely listening, should our hearts beat faster, our temperature rise, our toes start tapping, our minds start racing after the music, hoping it will go one way and watching it go the other, deceived and disgruntled when we are unconvinced, elated and grateful when we acquiesce?
On Saturday I went to see the Met at the Movies, a live broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera projected in high-definition in an Upstate New York movie theater. It was my first time watching opera in my jeans and sneakers, and I was extremely curious to see Franco Zeffirelli’s famous production of Puccini’s La Boheme.
Earlier in the week, when I’d gotten two tickets, I couldn’t find a date. Everyone was busy, and the one dyed-in-the-wool opera fan in my family, my dad, had to work. I tried to convince one of my kids to go.
“You mean,” echoed my nine-year old son in faint disbelief, “they sing the WHOLE TIME?!”
Rachel Donadio’s essay in Sunday’s New York Times (“It’s Not You, It’s Your Books”) explores the touchy subject of reading habits in romantic relationships. Say you liked Jonathan Franzen’s “The Corrections” or “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand and you find out your date didn’t. Poof. Instant turn-off factor. The disclosure causes the same illogical deflation as the sight of someone clutching a fork like a shovel. Some habits aren’t sexy. With books, it’s a matter of taste, so it’s even more important.
Cary Ratcliff writes by leaps and bounds. The lines of his songs might jump a fifth, slide back down, and hover around a series of pitches before leaping up again. Difficult to perform but easy on the ear. Lyrical.
He’s also a working composer, far from the dreaded ivory tower. On a gleaming black Steinway in his light-filled living room, Ratcliff's written music that’s been sung by thousands of singers of all ages and abilities. His children’s opera "Mice and Beans" is being staged April 26-27 in San Diego. New York City Opera will read Ratcliff’s “Eleni” in May, and in July, the Rochester Oratorio Society will take a section of the “Ode to Common Things” to Beijing and Shanghai.