Gay:sha - Cul:sha continued

Gay:sha Cultch:sha Vultch:sha aka Five-Hundred-Twenty-Five-Thousand Six-Hundred...

Gay:sha are voracious consumers.  Especially of culture.  Remember that annoying Jewish girl in your critical theory class who talked about Culture Vultures?  Well.... something about a shoe (or a ge:ta) fitting...

Now thanks to the magic of scanning and the Adobe corporation, here're all the playbills and exhibit catalogs that I've saved, which is a pretty high percentage of them... How do you measure the life? Love is covered elsewhere on this site, so here's to the ladies who lunch, and the busy social calendar they can dish up for their husbands ("Did you catch Caravaggio in London? Striking, no?")

The scary part is owing to OCR (optical character recognition) the text of the playbills is largely searchable, and will, presumably, eventually be indexed by Google.

Bear with me: there are 104 of them, ranging from the Prado in Madrid to Shirley Bassey to the Metropolitan Opera to Santa Fe to Paris to Lypsinka.  It will take me a while to upload them all. But keep checking back.

And it's not like I put David Daniels & Bejun Mehta first on this page or anything simply because Mehta went to Yale with me and went on to have a career for himself. Nothing like that at all.

David Daniesl & Bejun Mehta Oct 29 1998 at 92nd St Y

Lorraine Hunt is the one star (admittedly "only" of the classical vocal music scene) whom I would approach on the street or in an airport to thank her for the difference in sheer pleasure and enjoyment she has made in my life.  A New Yorker review aptly said "she is possesed of a voice that could stop a war."

Monsterat Figuerras was a little "discovery" of mine back in Tokyo in 1992, on an Astree Audiovis disc of Monteverdi's madrigali.  Her voice is so pure, her phrasing so intriuging, why her career never broke out of the early music-o-philes is completely beyond me.  Yet another pleasure to treasure.  First seduced by "Ahime, ch'io cado", parts of which I can still recite in Italian 13 years later, I was hooked by the hauntingly lyrical Su la Cetera Amorosa -- did you know the work Cither/Zither exists in English? it does -- by Tarquinio Merula, another non-canonical-nobody (and you should have so little talent as this nobody!) she rescued from the past. Brava, baby. Brava, and to Jordi and your children too!

Sweeney:  Sondheim's best. Enough said.

Alice Tully Lorraine Hunt Lieberson Oct 20 1998
Montserra Figueras Oct 29 98 at Alice Tully
Sweeney Todd March 2004 New York City Opera
BAM: Ford Dutchess of Malfi December 1995
Metropolitan Opera Don Giovanni with Hvorostovsky Jan 9 203
ABT Fokine Celebration June 15, 2004 with hottie Hernan Cornejo
forces of nature: Diana Rigg as Aggripina in Brittanicus

Among the bitchiest of things ever translated into English

There is something really fascinating about beautiful faces.  Though an object such as a vase or a fan may be ugly in general, there is always one particular part that one can gaze at with pleasure. One would expect this to apply to faces also; but, alas, there is nothing to recommend an ugly face.

[Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon: 147, p2] 

What's so lovely about Heian Japan  (the book is from the year 996; gotta love those three digit years, and contrast Japan with what was going on in Europe save the Byzantines) is that the choice of an incorrectly textured paper for a love note, or the wrong type of branch to which to attach it, each was sufficient reason to drop a lover. Take that, Marquise de Merteuil! Plus ca change...

Kathleen Turner Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolfe March 12 05
Charles Busch Shanghai Moon 1999

Sentences translatd into English, award II:  Longest & most fluid with unmatched cadence, almost (but failing) to redeem the rest of the turgid bok to follow

The waiters, light-footed, smart, flashy fellows, not a few pleasure-boys among them, but now sweaty and harried, scarcely had time to catch their breaths, and their forever smiling head-steward with the cold look in the corner of his eyes and the politely tip-opened hand, drove them hither and thither, himself rushing up-deck and down-deck because, apart from the progress of the meal, it was necessary at the same time to take care of those who -- wonderful to relate -- seemed to be already sated and now were taking their pleasure in other ways, some promenading with hands clasped upon their bellies or over their behinds, some, on the contrary, discoursing with expansive gestures, some dozing on their cots or snoring, their faces covered with their togas, some sitting at the gaming boards, all of whom had to be served and appeased incessantly with tidbits which were passed around the decks on large silver plates and offered to them, keeping in mind a hunger which might assert itself at any moment, keeping in mind a gluttony which was limned in the expression of all of them, ineradicably and unmistakably as much in the faces of the well-nourished as in those of the haggard, in those of the slack as well as the swift, of the restless and the indolent, in the faces of the sleepers and wakers, sometimes chiselled in, sometimes kneaded in, clearly or cloudily, cruelly or kindly, wolfish, foxish, cattish, parrotish, horsish, sharkish, but always dedicatd to a horrible, somehow self-imprisoned lust, insatiably desirous of having, desirous of bargaining for gods, money, place and honors, desirious of the bustling idleness of possession.

Hermann Broch, The Death of Virgil, (1945), p. 15.

WHEW.  Take a breath now. Ok, arguably my all time favorite sentence PERIOD. 

Such textures, such cadences, such juxtapositions.  And, if one were sympathetic to Paul DeMan, Nazi sympathizer though he may have been, one can hardly fail to notice the build up to the final four words, in all their tensions:  the bustling idleness of possession.  It's like coming and then falling off a cliff.  Email me if you want to join the Hermann Broch p. 15 fan club. Well, there really isn't such a club, but if that sentence moves you, then our sensibilities are no doubt shockingly similar.

Note the date of publication. 1945, a post-mortem of Nazi fascism that is surprisingly, allegorically relevant to today -- given that he used Imperial Rome to describe what had ailed Germany under der Furhrer. Think of a Royal Carribbean cruise ship docked in the Hudson during the 2004 Republican National Convention and it's remarkably relevant: the relationship between the Bush II tax cuts and the bustling idleness of possession.

Ballets de Trock August 2002
ABT Le Corsaire June 10 2002
Joyce Theater Martha Graham Feb 99
J.C. Verspronck, Girl in a Blue Dress (1641)
Japanese "Demon Drums" from Sadoshima: Kodo, Carnegie Hall, 3/5/03
National Gallery of Art (DC) Vermeer Exhibit Winter 95-96
London National gallery Caravaggio May 2005
Angels in America: Date Uncertain

Leon finally swore he would not see Emma again; and he reproached himself with not having kept his word, considering all the trouble and reproaches she was likely to bring down on him, not counting the jokes made by his fellow clerks as they sat around the stove in the morning.  Besides, he was soon to be head clerk; it was time to settle down.  So he gave up his flute, his exalted sentiments, his poetic imagination; fo every bourgeois in the flush of his youth, were it but for a day, a moment, has believed himself capable of immense passiohns, of lofty enterprises. The most mediocre libertine has dreamed of sultanas; every notary bears within him the debris of a poet.

Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, (1857) p 211, Norton translation, 1965

It [this extravgant hat] was one of those poor things, in fine, whose ugliness has depths of expression like an imbecile's face.

ibid, p.2.

Avenue Q November 2003
Ridiculous Theatrical Company: Carmen (1995?)

Excerpts from The Man Without Qualities, set in neurasthenic Vienna of the pre-WW I period.

His father, furious at the humiliation brought upon him by thi unrecognizable chip off the old block [at the prestigious Viennese Theresianum school], packed him off abroad to a Belgian town nobody had ever hear of, where a small, inexpensive private school run on shrewd and efficient business lines did a roaring trade in black sheep. [Vol 1,p. 4]

[Q]"So you don't think he will ever amount to anything?"

[A]"There is no second such example of inevitability as that offered by a gifted young man narrowing himself down into an ordinary young man, not as the result of any blow of fate but rhough a kind of preordained shrinkage".

HARSH! (ed.)

He [Walter] seemed to have a built-in, highly melodious amplifier for the minor joys and miseries of life.  He was always paying out emotional small change in gold and silver, while Ulrich operated on a larger scale, with, so to speak, intellectual checks made out for vast sums -- but it was only paper, after all. Vol 1, p. 120.

Face like an imbecile: The Met's Girl. J. Vermeer 1666
Hesperion XX Alfonso el Sabio Allice Tully Hall
Brooklyn Museum of Art Qajari Persian Painting (late 90s)
Metropolitan Operan Dialogue des Carmelites 12 30 02

Girls goin' to the guillotine.  Seriously though, some interesting music in this piece, and an utterly memorable line from the prioress on her deathbed:  I who have studied and contemplated death for every waking moment of the last 20 years, I am afraid. [Expires]

Emma Kirkby is a lovely, er, niche singer.  She does courtly music divinely (along with Evelyn Tubbs: the wigs they wear on the cover of Musico Oscuro's Angelo Notari disc are a hoot!) (See also Tubb's Brotherly Love: The Music of Daniel Purcell, whose By Silvery Thames' Flow'ry Side, is exquisitely mannered). Email me for the track.  Oh, Emma. Also can be hear singing the gothic abbey accompaniment in Simon Schama's History of Britain for BBC.

Tallulah. What is there to say? Bitchiest jokes /lines around, to wit:

My father warned me about men and liquor.  He forgot to mention women and cocaine.

Tallulah and her pet poodle get into a taxi.  At ther destination, the driver, having noticed excrement in the back of his cab, shouts after her, "Hey Lady, your dog crapped in the car!" To which her response was, "What, Sir, makes you believe it was the dog?"

And finally, on Montgomery Clift's "alleged" homosexuality: 

I dunno. He never sucked my dick.


Emma Kirkby at Allic Tully April 7 2002
Tasllulah Hallelujah (2002?)
BAM Powder Her Face (1999?)

Powder Her Face, the opear of the blowjob aria fame, and to think this was the Clinton era too!  Better book than score, though there were a few wonderful lines about this aristo dutchess on trial for adultery.

1) [The judge intoning] "We have seen in this trial acts discussed that I did not believe happened north of Marrakesch"

2) upon learning of her conviction, theDutchess of Argyle says "I do not care what the chattering middle classes say about me. That is what they are there for, the middle classes, to lie.  I used to think but now I know."

Madame de Sade: Don't remember anythign about it.  I must have been drunk or high. Joke. Nothing other than just making the curtain and being seated in the middle of row only to discover it was in sweedish and we had not rented the translation thingies. God that first intermission did not come soon enough!

Makropolous with Jus'Enormous.  I actually like her, though it was hard to imagine her Emilia Marty having any kind of sex appeal like she did when it was Catherine Malfitano.  Still the great bit about this one was how a couple of days before I saw it, somethign most remarkable happened. On two fronts.  First, the Metropolitan canceled a performance.  it had not done so since the Kennedy administration, when a patron suicidaly threw himself off dress circle onto pattrons below. I forget how many died.  But -- and who knew real life could be half so literary!-- the clerk, played by singer Richard Versalle (RIP), in the first scene who is climbing up a ladder, exaggeratedly tall for this production (not for singers with fear of heights).  Well, Richard (not the clerk) has a heart attack, and falls off the ladder onto the stage, after having declaimed "After all, one can only live so long!" Bravo, Richard. It will take at least another millenium for life to trump that! 

BAM: Madame de Sade, Ingmar Bergman/Royal Theater of Sweden
Met Opera: Makropulous Case w/ Jessye Norman Jan 96
Theodora She-bitch of Byzantium, Ravenna, 540AD. Notice how subtle are the effects of the door frame and the fountain on the pedestal.
92nd St Y Lorraine Hunt Jan 27 1996
at MetOpera: Bolshoi Ballet Spartacus July 22 2005
Wonderful Life Feb 2004
Chicago with Ute Lemper
BAM Radical Graham Fall 1994

Love Ute, especially the Berlin Cabaret Songs "Smart Set" and "Special Girlfriend"

Radical Graham, from before the Ron Protas estate infighting, was astonishing, and my introduction to Martha.  Most memorable was Heretic, in which the dancers as if in cross sectional slow motion exclude one, the heretic, with an oppressive indifference (if that makes any sense).  Hope it's captured on film somewhere for posterity, for it's the kind of thing that makes you realize not all culture worth studying happened on a far shore.

Culch:sha Vultch:sha continues...

He tries to write but is not pleased with what he writes, because, to be frank, he never manages to reach the center of his agony and his pain.  He beats about the bush, waxes sublime and ideological, but none of it satisfies him, because he knows he is still not telling the trust.  He knows that he is not at one with his writing.

PierVittorio Tondelli, Separate Rooms