We are just home from Simon Boccanegra. It was really wonderful. Aside from what little I heard on YouTube prior to the performance I knew nothing of the music. I now really want a recording of this.

The singers were super. The orchestra was as well. The audience … well … the audience was not so wonderful. The people in front of us barely applauded at all. The couple to our right didn’t come back after the first half and an usher took one of their seats. She proceeded to open her zippered purse noisily, and then had something with velcro she opened. Bizarre. You’d think ushers would be quiet. Wouldn’t you?

But in any case, I just loved the Simon Boccanegra and I’m so happy I finally saw and heard Dmitri Hvorostovsky live and in person!

(I am only a mite disappointed that where we are now sitting — grand tier, row D or E depending upon the opera — means I don’t see the oboe section very well. But I heard them and they were, as always, great!)

If you were to catch me in my car any given day I can almost guarantee you I will be listening to classical music. My love of classical goes back to college when I took a class in music appreciation. Not because I wanted to expand my horizons, but because it got me out of taking another written humanities class. I, like many others, did not like classical music at the time because it was slow and boring. But at that time I had never heard Igor Stravinsky. Stravinsky has literally changed my life. This is NOT easy listening music, in fact my wife refers to it as hard listening music. It is so complex with atonality and varying rhythms, many people uneducated in music just don’t get it. If you just got lost in the previous sentence, you know what I mean.

Classical music is not meant to fill the void in the background while you drive or eat or read. It is best enjoyed in a very quiet, dimly lit room with no distractions and your eyes closed. To really enjoy it you have to let the music consume you, become one with it. I taught music appreciation for one year in a private school and, as an experiment, had the class move all the desks to the edge of the room and lie down on the floor with all of the lights off. I then played Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” You should have seen their faces when it was over and the lights went back on. “I didn’t know there was music like that!” Exactly. We had a party at the end of the year and they asked me, “Are you going to play any more of that Russian psycho music?”

-Jim Chester

(I read it here.)

17. September 2008 · Comments Off on More on Simon Boccanegra · Categories: Links, Listen, Opera, Videos, Watch

Director Ian Judge discusses the opera:

17. September 2008 · Comments Off on MQOD · Categories: Ramble

How many will develop an orchestra rather than feeding off its achievements? They’re straight for the dollar. Round the corner to get a better job. All they’re interested in is strutting about, wielding a bit of power.

and later …

Why would you want to stand there waving a stick when you could be playing an instrument?

-Nigel Kennedy on conductors

17. September 2008 · Comments Off on Opera Again Tonight · Categories: Listen, Opera, Videos, Watch

… but it’s not Eugene Onegin and I don’t have to fret about reeds!

Tonight Dan and I get to go to Simon Boccanegra. This is a new opera for me, so I have been reading the blogs of those who have already attended, and now I’ve found a San Diego Opera YouTube video that I think is helpful as well.

If you go to the San Francisco Opera link and then click on the video there you can hear and see snippets of the production with Dmitri Hvorostovsky. (You can also hear the camera clicks. I’m assuming they do the same thing we do here in our little opera company; the photographer comes in to our rehearsals to take pictures prior to opening. I’ve gotten used to the noisy camera clicks, but it used to drive me nuts!)

Update
Hmmm. Not sure why there are two, but below is another opera talk by the same guy as above. Much of the information is the same, but since I’m in a “get all the info you can online” mode, I watched it anyway.

This second video is longer, and talks a bit more about the revision. But, really, it covers so much of the same information, some of the script is the same, and the speaker, Dr. Nick Reveles, is being filmed in the same locations in San Diego. You will, in the middle, also hear musicologist Dr. Ron Shaheen discuss the opera.