• So Many New Operas

    An Awesome article by columnist Anne Midgette about the state of Opera these days. The piece is two years old, so new pieces have been added to the list. How many? Dunno. I estimate about 35 new works a year.

    Thirty five... produced. In this particular Washington Post article there are over seventy!

    Opera is a weird bird, man. I mean, the opera world. You look across the great spectrum of music performance being created and one would think that for live music, musical theater is the genre getting the breaks, but hold on a second. There is a thriving world of opera music out there that the general populace misses, and then bags on it when hey hear a snippet.

    It's not that the museum pieces need not be produced. Think about it. If you go to a proper museum, there are several wings, each with a different era or collection emphasis. Or go to a number of galleries. Each gallery has it's own emphasis. The vastness of collected memories and thoughts across the globe is staggering. 

    The number of musical venues is also staggering and they are not all rock clubs and halls. There are jobs here. Work to propel us across the universe. From composers to singers, players and ticket sellers... it's a pretty heady time. And for opera, I mean It's not staggering, but the work is substantial.

    Some pieces will pop out and last and others will ebb and flow over time, with some subject or news tossing a title to the stage now and again. So interesting to see how it goes. I'm so interested in being a part of it.

    from Anna Nicole  by Mark-Anthony Turnage

    from The Emperor of Atlantis by Viktor Ullmann with a libretto by Peter Kien

  • Not perfect @ the JOBB

    A new colleague of mine after we had worked a 30top party (top is slang for thirty people) had a great observation. Some people are just unhappy with what you do and there's nothing you can do about it. I cant even think about it. It's out of my mind. One person was really mad at us and the rest had a great time.
    Training at the restaurant has been a robust challenge for me. I have had exactly two JOBBs in like fifteen years. This is one of them. I love the prospect of it, don't get me wrong. It's going to help me pay my rent and be a kind of place where folks can find me. I can also work on some of my singing rep there.
    I took about three tables after the 30top. I had it mostly handled, but made some errors. Came too late to a table to fill their drinks with any decorum. They had to ask... one of my serving pet-peeves. and THEN I woke up last night with the thought,

    "NO ICE in the Pepsi!"

    I gave a guest ice when they asked for none and forgot.... until it woke me up five hours later. Mom, I also remembered the name of that commedian (Jim Gaffigan). Fortunately those two mistakes were fielded with grace by my guests. OH, and I knocked a couple pieces of pizza off the tray and had to bring out a new pie with two few slices. We comped them a new pizza... I was my second evening to have tables since like, the early 2000's. I know what I want to do. I know what I have to do. I'm just not there yet. 

    Certainly it is a reflection on me and my capabilities. 
    But am I ashamed that I'm not the best restaurant server? Well, only somewhat. Only to the extent that I am motivated to be excellent. I am grateful to my colleagues and staff for affording me time to get better. Serving tables should be like performing a role. It must become second nature. ANd it will. There are only just so many buttons to push, only so many times when I get my process and procedure down, only so many people's names to learn.
    BelCanto singing is like this. Once you learn a run, you will see that figure in other works and you will automatically know it. You just have to learn it right, or having to RELEARN a figure is like reading the Terms of Service contract every website has. 
    These tasks, waiting tables, singing BelCanto, tyeing a suture, for you health service people, all take time to learn to do properly. Some people get it immediately and with others, like me, it takes a while. In the end though, I get it. And I'm not saying i just get it, I GET it. I inhabit it. 
    Until then I rely upon the good-will of friends, colleagues and strangers to have the grace to allow me my mistakes. And if not, I will put that ill-will out of my head and move on. There was nothing for me there anyway.
  • Folia Folia Folia

    i'm outside with a little fire and a coffee listening to Folias as the cars roll by on Sunset Blvd.

    So the academic class we are taking with the Great Robert Winter dictates that we listen to and understand the shapes and forms of music... oh and that we Fall in Love With Music. I'm listing to music. Amazing music. It's mind-blowing.

     The Folia is a Portuguese and Spanish style in the Theme and Variations form. Its 15th century early character is lively, sometimes very frantic and can also be seductive and slow. 

    The entire form is ten measures long consisting of six measures with a two bar coda at the end, used to either return to the top (da capo or the head) or end the performance after a number of sung verses or variations in the same key. This is your blueprint. The relative minor to the major fifth and then swiinging through the relative minor tonic to the relative major and then recapping with the dominant and the tonic at the end.

     Dm - A - Dm - C - F - C - Dm - A - (Dm)

    i - V - i - VI - III - VI - i - V - (i)

    The very distinctive thing about the Folia after it's incessant repeats is the ground bass. You can follow along to this very solid pattern 99.9% of the time with it. Check out the example pictured here from Judith Nagley of the Grove, Oxford Dictionary of Music. 

    Big names for this style are Vivaldi, Marais, Caccini, Frescobaldi, CPE Bach... 

    *Especially remarkable in this collection is the MUSICA NARRANS baroque ensemble. This is how to shoot a classical video... and mic it too, and pick either an amaze/ location or a great reverb patch (ha!).  It's a pretty remarkable cast and crew.

    I wanted to draw your attention to The Liszt 1863 "Rhapsodie espagnole pour piano S254 R90" played by Xiangdong Kong. It is particularly captivating and gives a real semblance of how a then-modern went about paying tribute to a 200plus year old style.

    With such a dominating form, you can really hear Liszt's composition language shine through in his typical bravura virtuosic fashion. Not that Liszt is anywhere near typical, mind you. 

    It's really fun in the beginning of the work. I think to myself, "Wait, where's the Ground Bass?" It is hidden. In what is-from the audience perspective-a blazing number of measures starting with a metallic A major fortissimo BANG on the keyboard (1:31 in the video), in the score is nine measures of the form. Liszt rhapsodizes on measure nine  going from A to F#m - E  F#m E  A F7 A F+  Dm6  Bb A B#m D C7 Gm7 E7. And then as your confusion rises, questioning whet her or not this its really a Folia, he drops the pretense in two seemingly inconsequential C#'s. But AHA! It is that tonic minor that starts the epic ground bass. After that, itsz off to the races following where Liszt goes in the consequent variations of the form.

    At last, what sounds like a typical Romantic period piece can now be seen as the robust interpretation of an historical form, The Folia!

  • FB friends, I just have to express to you how really lucky I am. This job... singing... is not something that I would really recommend to anyone. It is truly wrought upon somebody.

    One day you wake up and your life, that you thought was going someplace is halted, shaken and put into a completely different world. I'm sure it's not just a singing thing, it's a talent thing, throughout disciplines. You show an affinity and you get swept up into the world that looks for new, better, fresh, able, whatever... To be continued

    nathan granner