Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page
Since I first sang the praises of my friend, soprano Heidi Melton on jcm, she has moved several steps closer to the exposure that her prodigious gifts hinted at. I’m very excited to share with you (Melton fans and newbies alike) my new e-interview with her: she, in Berlin, sidled up to her laptop with frosty brew-in-hand, and me, in San Francisco, eagerly awaiting her return to SFO, in 2011. Ah, it’s the next best thing to sitting down in-person at a pub!
It’s not surprising that, despite the 5,657 miles between us, her appeal, warmth, irrepressible sense of humor, and passion for her art still shine through. Enjoy this glimpse into her life, career and heart…
jcm: What is your very first memory of singing or performing?
HM: I suppose that my first memory of music would be of my grandma sitting next to me on the piano bench, teaching me how to play. It is how I spent the majority of my formative years, and was very gratifying.
jcm: Are you from a musical family? Or, were your gifts helped along in any way in your childhood home?
HM: My family has always loved music, although not necessarily opera. But, they have really started finding an appreciation for it — except for my sister, who still feels that opera sounds like someone is stepping on nails! My grandma went to college for piano performance, so that was always a part of my home, but I will admit to not really discovering opera until I was about 14 or 15.
jcm: Have you always been on track to be a performer, and when did your trajectory shift towards opera?
HM: When I first started applying to undergraduate schools, I did so under music performance and music education. I applied mostly to state schools in Washington, but I had my one “pie in the sky” school, which was the Eastman School of Music. I was accepted into Eastman, but only as a music education major. I wasn’t good enough to get into their performance program. Anyhow, I’ve never been good at accepting a “no,” so I worked hard and juried into performance, and haven’t looked back.
jcm: When did it become clear that your voice was that very special and true dramatic soprano, like one of your favorites, Régine Crespin, or perhaps even a Hochdramatische (“heroic”), like another favorite, Astrid Varnay? Is it a pressure, or instead empowering to know you hold this rare gift?
HM: It does seem to be heading in that direction, doesn’t it? I do consider it a gift, and with any gift comes responsibility, so I am just trying to do all that I can to ensure that I give “the beast” everything that it needs to be the best it can be. But to answer your question, it is both a pressure and empowering.
Date: Monday, February 15, 2010
Time: 7:00 – 10:00pm
Location: San Francisco Community Music Center (SFCMC)
Street: 544 Capp St.
Price: $15.00 or $20.00 (incl. drink ticket)
Join Jessica Coker, Soila Hughes and Leanne (“Anita Cocktail”) Borghesi — aka Busty, Over-the-Top, Outrageous, Brawds, Singin! (B.O.O.B.S!) — and friends for “EMERGENCY Cabaret Relief: Haiti”, an evening of song and performance to benefit those affected by the earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Buy Tickets: Brown Paper Tickets (seating is limited)
Under the musical direction of Ben Prince, the evening will feature performances by the cabaret trio B.O.O.B.S!, as well as other stars of San Francisco’s theatre and cabaret community, including Jennifer Coker, Amanda Dolan, Lonnie Haley, Charles Huff, Christina Miglino, John McCullough, Sara Moore, Shane Ray, Alex Rodriguez, Jef Valentine, Paul Ziller (with CJ Anderson, my partner), Daniel Umili, Daniel Velazquez, Chris Yorro, and Sharon Boggs! With a program of show-stopping and heartfelt numbers, this evening is sure to lift your spirits.
100% of proceeds from the event will benefit Partners In Health (PIH), a Boston-based organization that provides medical care to poor communities around the world. PIHs work in Haiti began 25 years ago with a single clinic and today it is one of the largest providers of health care in Haiti.
In addition to the performance, there will be a raffle, and wine and refreshments (pay with donations). For directions and parking information, visit sfcmc.org.
We hope to you will join us for this special evening!
Aunt Joyce’s Ice Cream Stand has shared a fascinating video (posted on youtube by a cangp08), allowing you to cross-compare the Compulsory Dances of the top two U.S. Ice Dance Teams, currently competing at Spokane Nationals. Although it’s not possible to fully absorb the details of both performances in this manner, you CAN easily compare overall speed and expression.
[UPDATE: Sadly, the referenced video has been removed from youtube. If it reappears, I will repost it, or please notify me if you find it elsewhere. In the meantime, I've posted a similar Belbin & Agosto / Virtue & Moir comparison video to at least share the split-screen technique.]
With this CD, Davis & White scored an American record (45.42), and Belbin & Agosto (“Belgosto”) were second (45.02).
After reviewing it, I have to agree with the result. Technically they are VERY comparable, although D&W appear to have slightly steadier/smoother edges. But, for me the deal breaker is that D&W embody the spirit of “Golden Waltz” more fully. They skate more completely as one, and exude greater effervescence, giving their dance more lilt and “lift” (not in the literal sense). Their connection is not surprising, given that they’ve skated together for 13 years!
Here’s a technical question for a CoP geek greater than I: Does Belbin & Agosto’s lift at the end of the program provide garner any additional points? Or, is it considered purely interpretive in this context, as this waltz itself is supposed to allow the judges to compare CDs apple-to-apples?
All this being said, the point difference is so minimal that the results of the OD and FD will surely decide this title. In this top two race, I’m not rooting for either team over the other…so, may the best team win!
However, in the race for the bronze, I’m very pleased that my favs, Navarro & Bommentre, came out on top in this round (37.60). The team generally favored for the bronze, Samuelson & Bates, are close behind, in fourth (37.36).
Noone needs to be told how dire the state of emergency is in Haiti, following the devastating earthquake on January 12th. Although there are surely many disaster-response organizations doing good work, my familiarity with Doctors Without Borders encourages me to share this link. Through my friend John, who is in the DWB network, I know that this organization does invaluable work in responding to such disasters. Click on this banner image below to make a donation!:
Read the most recent SF Chron article: “Haiti aid flow grows; feuds over reaching victims“. The death toll may reach 200,000. Although no less tragic, that’s nearly two times the civilian death toll in the six year war in Iraq.
My heart goes out to all those who have lost loved-ones, and to the spirit of those whose lives were cut mercilessly short. I offer up the prayer and plea that the rescue and relief efforts be able to reach those in need as soon as possible.
For our January 8th show, we were graced with the presence of John Waters, as well as Sebastian, director of multiple Cockettes’ movies. The evening had a very special allure, thanks to their presence in the audience. Enjoy these vibrant photo moments from that performance, by fabulous photographer Dan Nicoletta.
“Your evil wish is my command, HONEY!”
Experience a taste of Lili’s fragile suffering here (ala Tebaldi).
I’d pay for two fistfuls of Yuans for that!
They are all “free, white, AND virgin”…at least when they arrive.
What else would you expect from a “Jaded Hussy”?
Mother Fu sure knows how to “THICKEN the plot”!
In January, in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Cockettes’ and their opening of “Pearls…” at The Palace theatre in San Francisco, there is a special “After Glow” floor show, featuring some fabulous drag king action! This image is from a scene from The Cockettes’ “Hot Greeks”:
From whores to boys. They sure do clean-up well!
Here are just a few more of the colorful faces at the Hypnodrome.:
Don’t miss it!!! We run til April 24th!
Lambiel Takes On Opera
I was ecstatic when I read the following update from Stéphane Lambiel, regarding his competitive long program.:
“Lambiel says he is….only (interested) in impressing the judges with his new free program set to music from the opera La Traviata.”
(Read the complete article here.)
What an exciting prospect this is…the perfect melding of opera and skating, if done well. The score of Verdi’s opera La Traviata offers a sweeping and contrasting range of emotion, rhythm, tone, and melody: festive to tragic, grand to intimate, loving to vengeful, lilting to mournful. I hope his program music captures that breadth, and that he includes a portion of the atmospheric overture. I believe Europeans next week will be the debut of this program. The only other La Traviata programs I can recall are Cappellini and Lanotte’s FD, from the ’07 season, and Slutskaya’s FS, from ’03.
His comment means he is replacing his previous Tango FS, “Otoño Porteño” by Astor Piazzolla (arr. by Ensamble Nuevo Tango). It was a fine program, but not a real Olympic-stage grabber, and although passionate, too rhythmically monotonous for my taste, and a bit too much more of the same, considering his latin programs of the past. Thankfully, he will be keeping his William Tell Overture SP. It is one of my favorites!
Counting Him Out? Watch Your Back!
It seems most podium predictors thus far are counting him out for medal contention in Vancouver. Although Europeans will be the moment of truth on whether he is in top competitive form or not, he is too great a skater to ever count out.
The “only” in his comment was in regards to meeting Plushenko head-to-head for the first time since the 2006 Torino Olympics. He noted that “he is not interested in their rivalry”. It’s so hard to believe that that much competitive time has passed, and that they’re both back in the game now!
Chime in with your own predictions! If you wish to take part in my Olympics’ Podium Predictions Contest, click here.
1. Rachael Flatt
2. Sasha Cohen
3. Ashley Wagner
IF Sasha withdraws:
1. Rachael Flatt
2. Ashley Wagner
3. Alissa Czisny
Although Sasha has confirmed her attendance as recently as last week, I’m providing a backup plan, as I’m still suspicious. If she competes, I predict her jumps will be sketchy as always, but her artistry and spirals will elevate her past Ashley. I love Alissa, and über-rooted for her at ’09 Worlds in LA. But, since she effectively lost our third spot there, I feel she had her shot (as well as her moment as Nationals’ Champion), and will karmically sit this one out.
1. Evan Lysacek
2. Johnny Weir
3. Jeremy Abbott
I think Evan has just been too consistent and confident to rule out, despite my biases (see below). Although Jeremy has more scoring potential than Johnny, I give Johnny the edge because of his season thus far. With Ryan Bradley & Brandon Mroz threatening to unleash a gauntlet of quads (ie: planning 3 quads each!) they could really shake things up, but I’m not betting on it. I don’t think Adam Rippon will get control of his 3A enough this time, but he will easily reign in the next Olympic season. And, Stephen Carriere has seemingly faded as a real threat.
1. McLaughlin & Brubaker (“McBru”)
2. Denney & Barrett
3. Inoue & Baldwin
McBru will get on top of their programs enough to eek out another Nationals’ title. Denney & Barrett will play second fiddle this one LAST time. And, Inoue & Baldwin will just miss making the Olympic team. Although I salute their staying power and persistence, I don’t root for them this time, whether they land their throw 3A, or not. I just don’t think they have Olympic podium potential anymore, even on their best day.
1. Davis & White (“Marlie”)
2. Belbin & Agosto
3. Samuelson & Bates
It’s becoming clearer and clearer, this may be Marlie’s first time to wrestle the Nationals’ crown from Belbin & Agosto in a head-to-head. Samuelson & Bates technical skating (ie: twizzles and speed) will land them bronze, a rung down from last season’s result. Fresh from Juniors, the Shibutanis and Chock & Zuerlein could shake things up for the bronze medal!
These are my personal favs, and special requests.:
Flatt: to become a first-time Nationals’ Champion, and make the Olympic team
Weir: to become a four-time Nationals’ Champion, or at least get to Olympics
Abbott: to skate his best this season, and make the Olympic team
Jonathan Cassar: to get some tv air time, and be introduced to skating viewers
Denney & Barrett: to become first-time Nationals’ Champions
Navarro & Bommetre: to make the Olympic team (fingers crossed!)