No voices were harmed in the making of this production

Here’s a new blog post from Elisabeth Meister on some of the realities of being a professional singer! Great tips if you’re a singer, and honest and interesting even if you’re not. Go read it now! 😉

No voices were harmed in the making of this production.

I REALLY wish I could have seen The Minotaur in its recent revival at Covent Garden. Here’s a picture with Liz as the Ker:

Eek! and the singing is just as challenging!

Eek! and the singing is just as challenging!

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Priceless: Jonas Kaufmann Recital in Princeton NJ

  • About 900 miles round trip

  • Drive 900 miles round trip
  • tolls and gas
  • take 3 vacation days
  • ask friends to put us up and feed us
  • 65 minutes of music = Priceless!

On February 16, my friend Susan Martin and I packed our bags into my car and headed north on I-95 . We had a day-long drive ahead of us, but the goal was clear: Jonas Kaufmann was giving a lieder recital at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey, on Thursday evening. Fueled by coffee, chicken biscuits, and artisan donuts (we live in a foodie town), we had an easy drive despite rain for most of the journey.

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Years ago, before the popularity of reading groups, I used to have friends over for a “Literary Tea,” the purpose of which was to tell each other about our current favorite books and persuade each other to read them. Ironically, my modus operandi was the opposite of literary and consisted of my saying I LOVE THIS BOOK! I LOVE THIS BOOK! YOU MUST READ IT!

I feel that way again about my newest opera discovery, Königskinder (Royal Children, or literally King’s Children). I cannot tell a lie, it was this picture that got me interested:

I’d never heard of this opera by Engelbert Humperdinck, composer of Hänsel and Gretel, but who could resist a picture like that?

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Panettone Time!


I bought my panettone today! This is the only tradition left from my semester in Florence so many years ago. I was on a semester abroad program from July to December 1968 and was introduced to wonderful panettone (along with yogurt, Bel Paese cheese, and unsalted butter–I know, odd foods to taste for the first time in Italy). I led a very sheltered life in so many ways! 😉

I never saw it again until the late 1970s when it started appearing in England. It tasted just as good as I remembered, and since then I’ve usually bought some every Christmas.

When I open the box and the plastic wrapper and smell those wonderful spices it takes me back to Florence. Although now I wonder how it stays so soft and fresh–surely they bake it year round!

It seems to arrive earlier each year, and in many more places. For a long time you could only get it in specialty food stores.  Now Whole Foods has panettone with chocolate chips or cranberries; surely this is heresy!
mmmmmmm…must go to bed, so that tomorrow morning comes soon!

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The Reichenbach Fall

So I finally got around to watching the last episode of Sherlock series two.

OFF THE FECKIN’ CHAIN. *ahem* sorry about the language. Is Martin Freeman eligible for a BAFTA next year for this? Had me in FLOODS of tears. What a great, great actor! Cumberbatch, goes without saying of course, fantastic, but he has the flashier role and in a way those are almost easier. (Is Sherlock series one up for BAFTAs this year? Have I missed it? I have not been keeping up.**)

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What hath Goethe wrought?

You all know how I read The Sorrows of Young Werther and found myself enchanted by the young man, with his endless philosophising, expounding upon Nature, Romantically (as we now call it) throwing himself with full emotional force into life, love, and death.

I was so taken with it that I tried (in vain, of course) to remember what I’d learned about this period when studying the Romantic poets oh so long ago. What music did they listen to? What books did they read? What was going on in politics? in art? in science?

Then in Costco today I came across this wonderful book. The subtitle, How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science, grabbed me. I was confused as I thought the Romantics were rebelling against the science of the Enlightenment. The author, Richard Holmes, has written many books on the Romantic poets, so I’m really looking forward to his explanation of this! The writing is elegant and captivating, which is important because Bill Bryson’s At Home: A Short History of Private Life is the only nonfiction book I’ve finished in an embarrassingly long time. Oh I begin them with high hopes, but I’ve got half a dozen nonfiction titles sitting around my house that I’ve started and abandoned. (Temporarily! Temporarily!)

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Some thoughts on The Sorrows of Young Werther

The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von GoetheThe Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe by R.D. Boylan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would. Sturm und Drang, romanticism, the first emo boy, first copycat suicides, and so important to European culture. It was a real window into the past. A perfect picture of a kind of youth that still exists: sensitive, argumentative, philosophical, and desperate to die for love. I was particularly impressed with Goethe’s description of Charlotte’s state of mind after Werther has pressed his suit and kissed her. Very modern as she struggles with the question of telling her husband.

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