Archive for the ‘the life’ Category

“When Harry Met Salvatore”

A gay take on a great scene from one of my favorite movies, and arguably one of the best romantic comedies of all time (which I just gladly rewatched).

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Harry: You realize of course that we could never be friends.

Sal: Why not?

Harry: What I’m saying is — and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form — is that gay men can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.

Sal: That’s not true. I have a number of gay male friends and there is no sex involved.

Harry: No you don’t.

Sal: Yes I do.

Harry: You only think you do.

Sal: You say I’m having sex with them without my knowledge?

Harry: No, what I’m saying is they all WANT to have sex with you.

Sal: They do not.

Harry: Do too.

Sal: How do you know?

Harry: Because no gay man can be friends with a man that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with him.

Sal: So, you’re saying that a gay man can be friends with a man he finds unattractive?

Harry: No. You pretty much want to nail ‘em too.

Sal: What if THEY don’t want to have sex with YOU?

Harry: Doesn’t matter because the sex thing is already out there so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story.

Sal: Well, I guess we’re not going to be friends then.

Harry: I guess not.

Sal: That’s too bad. You were the only person I knew in San Francisco.

But, at least Harry doesn’t have to worry about Sal faking an orgasm (ala Meg Ryan)!

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Dramatic Soprano Heidi Melton’s Official Website Launched!

I’m ecstatic to announce the launching of Heidi Melton’s Official NEW Website!

Click on the image or link below to visit her site. Once there, review her upcoming performances (book your flights!), sample her incredible artistry (via multimedia), read her blog musings, and more! She’s taking the opera world by storm. GO HEIDI!

I designed and built the site from start to finish (using the SquareSpace platform). It’s an honor be her friend, FANatic, AND web designer.

www.heidimeltonsoprano.com

A Koken’s “Butterfly”: Chapter 2

The Adventures of…


“Look! Up on the stage! It’s a samisan, it’s a parasol, it’s SUPER-KOKEN!
Slower than a drifting glacier, more stealthy than a leopard on the hunt.
Able to spin the turntable in a single hook.”

Further Feats: 40 minutes of standing in a demi-plié, 6 child’s poses, 30 minutes in a forward yoga lay, 16 turntable rotations, 1 death-defying silk drop catch, and more!

But, don’t all superheroes have baggage? Thus, I deliver my diagnosis of the Koken: In need of treatment for OCD and chronic inefficiency. These Kabuki-inspired characters in San Francisco Opera’s Madama Butterfly (of which I am 1 of 6) unfailingly offer up perfectly aligned prop placement and table settings, and impossibly measured, controlled movement. SICK!

From a serious perspective, I love exploring and learning different kinds of movement (and dance). Ours requires us to be very in sync, and move nearly as one, in an energized, yet internalized way (like the Tai Chi we trained in). It’s been the best workout I’ve gotten in ages (boy, those pliés are GREAT for the inner thighs!). I’m also savoring the meditative, spiritual practice I’m experiencing through the incredible presence this technique requires.

Given that our all-black costumes are very much like those of a ninja, our presence lends an air of intrigue and gravitas to the unfolding of the proceedings.

 

From left: Yvette Rosedale, Ronna Alexander, Joan Dickson, Paul Ziller, Eliza Fox, Sherman Lee, (Not pictured: Helen Lew; Photo by Betsy Kershner)

 

Demystifying Illusion & Stagecraft (WARNING: SPOILERS)


I’m amazed at how transforming the art of illusion and stagecraft are, when used so masterfully. Up-close and unlit, the set shows its almost 30 years, and doesn’t really “sing”…BUT, when lit, and from the house, it emerges full bloom into a seemingly living and breathing world. The fiber board panels with overlapping green carpet look like REAL stone and earth. The perforated metal panels that up-close look too thick and heavy-handed, appear exactly like paper screens. GENIUS!

The technological trick that enables the crew to rotate the turntable a calculated amount each time is a crafty system that includes UV painted numbers on the TT rim, that when black-lit from the side are visible only to the offstage crew. This ensures exact placements every time. WOW! Yes, the cat’s outta the bag, the Koken only pantomime the TT rotation, but it’s still a workout to make it look real, with right degree of physical tension.

Continue Experiencing a Koken’s Butterfly —>

“Toi Toi Toi” on SFO “Butterfly” Opening Night!

Inspired by a comment from La Cieca on one of my recent facebook statuses…here is the opening of my greeting to all my fellow Koken, cast, and creative staff tonight, on Opening Night of San Francisco Opera’s Madama Butterfly:

NorCal (Less Tragic) Parterre Gathering: Part the Second

Casta Divas

The City* might have been fogbound and frigid, and parterre.com may continue to offer up the occasional chill (via the Comments’ peanut gallery…aka The Real Housewives of Parterre?), but there was plenty of warm sunshine and good cheer still to be found in Petaluma.

On Oct. 2nd, Batty Masetto and Frank hosted an intimate, operatic-themed sit-down early dinner on their veranda, beneath a glorious specimen of a redwood…with Norma conceivably worshipping Irminsul just a mistletoe sprig away. Emanating from their home were live Callas selections…but, of course! jumping clapping man sang along with his best Callasian coloratura runs and disembodied high notes, from Ophélie’s Mad Scene to Abigaille’s “Anch’io dischiuso.”

 

The masterful Cassata alla Melba, a multi-layered ice-cream dream.

 

Cher Public Shares

An attempt to urge a garden-side duet (“Mira, o Norma;” “Sous le dôme épais;” or at least the Barcarolle) from Ching (an operaphile and sometime Parterrian) was unsuccessful. Meanwhile SF Guy shared details of the treasures in his extensive video library (dvds cleverly transferred from dusty Beta videos), including the original mounting of the Hal Prince Butterfly that I’m opening in next Tuesday at SFO! It was televised via Great Performances, with Anna Tomowa-Sintow and Peter Dvorsky.

The food would have made Alice Waters salivate, and the English garden turned Ina Garten green with envy. It was fresh, divine, AND oh so very operatic! Kudos to our hosts for their inventiveness, culinary skills and generosity!

* referring to San Francisco, NOT NY, however difficult that may be for a New Yorker to swallow.


Menu

Preludio:

Trittico di antipasti:
• Il Signor Bruschetta
• Ciliegine alla Martina (“Madama Butterballs”)
• Carciofi alla Callas (vinegar and honey)

Atto primo:

• Spaghetti alla Norma

Atto secondo:

• Bracioline di maiale alla “Scotto”-dito
(based on a traditional Scottadito, meaning “finger-blistering” or “burnt fingers,” and meant to be eaten hot, with the fingers)

• Finocchio al parmigiano (fennel)

Finale:

• Cassata alla Melba


Genius, Batty, Genius!!! (Batty conveys his apologies to the Italian language.)

Our first meeting was Parterrians @ the Pagoda, this time Parterrians in Petaluma. There were whisperings of the next gathering being in Oakland. That’ll need some alliterative help. Wanna be on the guest list? Drop me a line. Until next time…

“Turn the clock to zero…”

I have no idea which interpretation of this Sting song will hold true for me on this most important of days, but it inspires me to start anew, continue looking and building forward, and choosing love and truth:

“I’m thinking in a brand new way…
The river’s wide, (I’ll) swim across.
We’re starting up a brand new day.”

Thanks Sting!

(Here are the complete song lyrics.)

The Buddhist “Middle Way” & Balance

“The Buddha said, ‘I’ve discovered a new way to go,
and it’s not the path of asceticism,
and it’s not the path of sensory indulgence.
It’s the Middle Way…everything needs to be balanced.”

— Mark Epstein, psychiatrist

“Fair goes the dancing when the Sitar is tuned.

Tune us the Sitar neither high nor low,
And we will dance away the hearts of men.

But the string too tight breaks, and the music dies.

The string too slack has no sound, and the music dies.

There is a middle way.

Tune us the Sitar neither low nor high.
And we will dance away the hearts of men.”

— An ancient song that inspired The Buddha

Wisdoms on Nirvana

“There is no where else than here.

The only gate is now.

The only doorway is your own body and mind.

There’s nowhere to go…there’s nothing else to be.

There’s no destination.


It’s not something to aim for in the afterlife.

It’s simply the quality of this moment.

Just this…this room where (you) are.

Pay attention to that…

Pay attention.”

— Poets Jane Hirshfeld & W.S. Merwin

“Just as Long as I Have Breath”

The gift of a song at the “right” time


Sometimes your first experience of a song can come at such a ripe, “right” time, it feels as if it were written expressly for you. The words seem to speak directly to you, and the state or space you’re currently in. Today that happened to me at church (www.uusf.org), thanks to the following hymn.

The entire song was beautifully relevant to me…but the third verse, in particular shot straight through to my heart. I am so thankful I attended the service. You just never know when a gift like this, including the entire rest of the beautiful and cohesive liturgy (crafted and led by recently ordained Denis Letourneau Paul and Lindasusan Ulrich), is going to come along. This inspiration is what drew me to become a member of the community a few years ago, and what keeps me going back.

After the service, I speedily went into the church office with hymnal in hand and asked them if I could make an (illegal) copy of it! Thankfully, the very helpful office asst. made me not one, but three copies. It’s not a text I would want to have lost track of! I hope you find it meaningful too.

As an aside, the other musical offerings, by Hans York, my favorite occasional music minister at our church were transcendent and joy-filled, as always. Enjoy samples of his music on iLike.

“Just as Long as I Have Breath”

Words by Alicia S. Carpenter (1930- )
Music by Johann G. Ebeling (1637-1676)

Just as long as I have breath, I must answer, “Yes,” to life;
though with pain I made my way, still with hope I meet each day.
If they ask what I did well, tell them I said, “Yes,” to life.

Just as long as vision lasts, I must answer, “Yes,” to truth;
in my dream and in my dark, always: that elusive spark.
If they ask what I did well, tell them I said, “Yes,” to truth.

Just as long as my heart beats, I must answer, “Yes,” to love;
disappointment pierced me through, still I kept on loving you.
If they ask what I did best, tell them I said, “Yes,” to love.

Words: © 1981 Alicia S. Carpenter

Parterrians Partake in Gaiety @ The Pagoda!

Brace yourself for this historic and tragic first-ever NorCal gathering of parterre.com fans and followers! La Cieca has sanctioned it with an amusing post. We hope you can join us…I know I’m just itchin’ to get on with it. Opera fanciers, queens and lovers are encouraged and welcome too.

What?

A SF/Bay Area parterre.com Soiréedare I say: Demented Mini-Conference? Perhaps our fair Queen Mum herself, La Cieca will descend upon our happy occasion and lead us in some gaiety. Although, Nilsson, Tebaldi and Rysanek’s attendance is more likely.

Where?

Chinese Pagoda (pictured below), on Stow Lake, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Location details: eastern tip of Stow Lake island, just south of Stow Lake waterfall, just southwest of the red star on this map.

We can mosey over to the Verdi Statue, towards the end for “Va Pensiero” and a knelt adoration. And, I’ll be sure to pass by the Beethoven Statue too on the walk home to make sure he doesn’t feel left out.

When?

12 noon – 3pm, Saturday, July 31st
(If too foggy, wet or cold, our back-up date is: Saturday, August 28th.)

What to bring?

Please bring something to share, by last name, as below. (If you object or have a terribly pinched wallet, you are still welcome to come, but please let me know.) Opera-or-Chinoiserie-related themes encouraged, but random, store-bought lameness fine too:

A – F: savory dish, finger food, or substantial snack
G – M: salad
N – S: beverages…chinese tea anyone?
T – Z: dessert

Activities

All (good/festive/opera-related ideas) welcome! I plan to shoot a Wenarto-inspired video shoot, involving those who are interested. If you have any operatic accessories (particularly Chinese), please bring/wear them to spice up our video.

Music

My iPod will be chock full of apropos selections, but feel free to bring yours as well, if you’re compelled. Again, orientalism encouraged (given our setting).

If we find a bevy of pigeons or a rival encampment has already inhabited the pagoda, we’ll be forced to shift our location, so it’s best if you RSVP beforehand, so I can give you my cell phone number, in case we should need to move.

Until then!

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