Opera Chic is a girl who's seriously pwnd by her Xbox360 Elite, her GTA IV and her Bioshock and often fondles the polymeral secksiness of the Elite's black matte surface -- and she is so thirsty for Halo 3 that she's even considered buying a bottle of the horrible Mountain Dew.
Now, isn't that corny, but how simultaneously cool that the Japanese are madly chugging Chopin instead of the usual, 14,008th episode of the insane Tom Clancy videogame series?
And the composer as videogame hero is a concept that Opera Chic would love to develop for any interested videogame company -- we're already thinking of a driving game where great composers of the 19th Century chase each other thru the streets of old London, Milan, and Berlin driving crazy steam-powered muscle cars, like a GTA for the classical music lover with Verdi in a leather helmet and a big roasted ham in his lap; Bellini grabbing the steering wheel with silken gloves, a hawt woman at his side; Wagner dressed as the Nazi guy in The Producers, driving while singing creepy Norse hymns.
We'd also like to script a WWII game where Bruno Walter and Erich Kleiber and Paul Kletzki and all the other great exiled musicians team up with young Lenny Bernstein and Arturo Toscanini to fight to the death, Shaolin-style, Karajan, Furtwaengler, Knappertbusch and Mengelberg. Now wouldn't that be cool?
Opera Chic is back tonight from a late night passed at Conservatorio G. Verdi where she basked in the glory of Grigory Sokolov's piano recital in the white belly of that huge auditorium on via Conservatorio. The program consisted of Franz Schubert's Sonata in C minor D 958 which was played technically beyond-perfect, and suffused with tenderness and a wide range of color. The usual thirty-two minute composition (with four movements) took much longer under the careful caress of Sokolov, clocking-in at around forty. His pedal work is outstanding...his legato, his staccato, his transpositions...everything. He is appassionato in the fullest sense, and this performance quickly erased all prior memories of Barenboim’s momentous (but hey, kinda sloppy and heavy-handed) recital two nights ago at La Scala.
The second half of the program was, um, okay...a selection of Aleksandr Nikolaevich Skrjabin works with only a few standouts (not at the fault of the superb Sokolov, but my own incapacity to really get into Skrjabin). One "mistake" (we use this ironically) of Sokolov was launching directly into the astounding, trompe l'oeil splendor of "Opus 9 Prelude and Nocturne for the Left Hand", which demonstrated so much of his endless talent and received so much applause, that the following four program pieces sent the entire audience into proper applause etiquette confusion, with half the auditorium tepidly applauding, and the other half shushing them during each subsequent piece. jokes on us all. Again, his presentation of the Skrjabin work for the left hand was insane, his right hand hanging idly at his side. His phrasing and mastery of mixing legato with brighter staccato and spirito was beyond words. He used the voice of his left hand to mind-bogglingly sound like two. The Sonata No. 3 Opus 23 was also a standout, leaving the remaining works (Due Poemi Opus 69, Sonata No. 10 Opus 70, and Vers la flamme Opus 72) a bit of a chore (OC wanted the delicious encore already).
Six bis were given, starting with a sweet andante Frédéric Chopin's Prelude in E Minor, and then including another Chopin waltz, Liszt, Beethoven, Brahms, which all brought standing ovations. Opera Chic is just glad she was able to catch this great pianist play live in such a beautiful city that cherishes its musicians.
btw, we found one of Jessica's 2005 Sokolov performance reviews on a Sokolov website, and we love this quote: "And although he's a big bear of a man, he can be as graceful as a ballet dancer (take the hand crossings in the Schubert) and create sounds as delicate as a hummingbird." It's a wonderful quote because it's true! He's just perfect.
Now here's a picture of some random ladies mobbing the vendor in the lobby of Conservatorio after the show for Sokolov discs vvvvvvv
Ballerina Alessandra Ferri's final Milan curtain call before her retirement (later this summer), the night of March 31, 2007 at Teatro alla Scala, where she had earlier danced Marguerite Gautier in La dame aux Camélias.
(President's box from Thursday, March 29, 2007 at Teatro alla Scala's La Dame aux Camélias. Fabrizio Ferri, husband of Alessandra Ferri, is front row, first on the left.)
The thirty-year legacy of John Neumeier’s La Dame aux Camélias was originally via ballerina Marcia Haydée and the Stuttgarter Ballett where Die Kameliendame premiered to the German audiences in November 1978, and still has a popular run with contemporary audiences.
Of course, the ballet is based on Alexandre Dumas Junior’s novel of the same name, and centers around his romantic adventures in the Paris suburb Saint-Germain-en-Laye, where he encountered courtesan Marie Duplessis, and had a fiery love affair. Our fair lady died early from tuberculosis (à la Verdi’s Violetta), but apparently her beauty attracted many rich and famous lovers, notably Franz Liszt who was rumored to have given her piano lessons (NOT a metaphor). In honor of la dame, I went very N.O.W kick-a$$ in a Chloe camel silk shirt, matching Chloe black straight-leg trousers, my Burberry trench (this entire past week in Milan has been sporadically rainy), my rawk-n-r0ll Sonia Rykiel black studded slouch tote, and Costume National black booties. Onto things more substantial, eh?
The accompanying music for the ballet was chosen by John Neumeier after a long trial, eventually settling on Frédéric Chopin. He was quoted:
"The subject had been chosen; however, I didn’t know yet which music to use. My first idea was to have Verdi’s opera re-arranged, a project that I soon abandoned. Subsequently I found the score for a full-evening ballet on the same theme, by the French composer Henry Sauguet: nevertheless, after closely examining this music, it did not seem adequate to me either. The date of the beginning of the rehearsals was coming closer. I met the conductor Gerhard Markson by chance over a lunch, and I asked him: 'Which music would you choose for a ballet inspired by Dumas’s Lady of the Camellias?'. He thought for a few minutes and answered me: 'Chopin or Berlioz, or both'".
Now that the music is down, this is where we begin to have problems. The story is so convoluted, non-linear, and esoteric. It is just too complex, especially during Act III. All complaints from peers who have seen this production is that it is indeed exhausting to follow (bordering on b0ring), and Opera Chic definitely agrees.
The crux of the confusion lay with the introduction of characters Manon Lescaut and Des Grieux from Abbé Prévost's Manon Lescaut. Ummmm yeah can i get a whut whut? These figures are nowhere to be found in Dumas Junior’s novel, nor in Verdi’s La Traviata, btw. They become central figures, mimicking and mirroring the relationship between Alessandra Ferri’s Marguerite and Roberto Bolle’s Armand Duval. Neumeier admits that he took the concept from the Dumas fils novel where Marguerite receives Manon Lescaut as a present from Armand, which is the same novel that Armand desperately seeks. Also, in the ballet, Marguerite and Armand meet at the theater during a performance of Manon Lescaut, so it becomes a-drama-within-a-drama.
The ballet begins with Act I in complete silence for a couple of (pretty awkward) minutes, the scenery of the late-Marguerite’s home, while an auction of her clothing and possessions is unfolding. Then we dissolve to the above mentioned ballet-within-ballet, where the lovers are attending Manon Lescaut at the theater, dancing to Chopin’s Piano concerto No. 2.
For Act II, the orchestra had left the pit to make a LAN party or something equally lame, leaving the audience only with piano accompaniment. We have been transported Alfredo’s French countryside cottage, and expect Violetta to barge-in at any moment. A piano occupies the stage with several couples dancing a pastoral dance party. The accompaniment is a medley of Chopin waltzes and repertoire. Next thing you know, Armand’s father gets pissy, and demands the couples to leave because he can’t stand his son dancing with a lol hussy lol. Then some stuff happens, the extras dance again, and then Bolle is savagely dry-humping a lady in pink after he rips open her bodice. *yawnz0r* Then more dance stuff, and Marguerite and Armand make teh secks, (via interpretive dance) and fall asleep in each others’ arms. Honestly, OC was so tired at this point, and the Chopin music was lulling me to into a repressed flashback of impatient piano teachers making me drill some Charles-Louis Hanon, that I was barely paying attention. sry sry ok ok whatevs.
Act III…aaaaaand what the frick??? Who knows what the heyll happened here? This ballet devolved into ladies in black gowns and the men in faux-tuxedos and spandex tights. I think Marguerite went to see Manon at the theater again before dying. Well, maybe. There were two ballroom scenes, and then some more dancing, and then Marguerite dies.
Technically, it was apparent that this ballet's choreography was waaaay beyond demanding and specialized. The polished skill of Bolle and Ferri couldn’t even make these moves appear easy. But to the layman, the choreography is really boring. The music, adversely, is tremendously gorgeous; but then again, as a Chopin junkie, you could set Bronenosets Potyomkin to Chopin and I prolly could watch it ad infinitum. OMG I soooo want a Battleship Potemkin opera. Quick somebody call someone tia.
Ferri, impossible to cut-up, was spectacular. She is as lithe and blithe (heh) as a dancer half her age. Bolle is on Atkins or something and is now troppo magro. His head is like 8x the size of his body. Next time la costumière should paint on musculature like Mr. Slim Goodbody's leotard to give him some bulk.
Back from the marathon La dame aux Camélias at Teatro alla Scala, where two twenty-minute gaping-wide intermissions added to an already exhausting night of dancing, and Opera Chic is all too ready to fall into bed. Tomorrow will come a full report, but for now, here’s a quick recap:
Roberto Bolle makes sexay-time with some random slut and then Alessandra Ferri, which is kind of h0tt, but then sulks like an annoying emo fanboy after the dirty deed with the former. (^so^ not hot)
Bolle hones his $kill$ as a break-dancer, demonstrating some particularly sweeet 80s' street moves; courtesy of Neumeier.
Alessandra Ferri dodges a shoddy, unraveling tutu for ten precarious minutes during Act II. La costumière must be pretty embarrassed.
Some drunk lady’s bracelet crashes loudly down from the galleria onto a piece of stage. It was probably a David Aubrey. just sayin'...
The orchestra left the pit for Act II to go play pool; or they went to smoke something-something.
The pianississimo of this ballet quickly displayed that OC isn't nearly the only one sick in Milan.
Did that make any sense at all? Other than that, I’m convinced that Ferri will forever look like she’s sixteen, and Bolle has dropped so much weight since his golden thong-encased Marcia Trionfale that his waist is now smaller than Ferri’s. Or maybe even smaller than his own neck. Ew.