more random news (and happy new year!)

rose parade 2009

madness has already started on colorado street in Pasadena in preparation for the rose parade tomorrow. Living 1 minute away, i have the luxury of just walking out and see tens of thousands of people camping on the streets. Some friends from work got there early today and blocked out a space. i was invited to put a couple of chairs down. 2 sisters (+ husbands) + 3 little kids are coming tonight. tomorrow some time between 8-8.30am, hopefully we’ll wake up and push the kids out to see the parade. lots of pictures to come soon. tonight, our plan is to mingle the streets and watch people cooking, eating, playing games outside in BRRRR weather.


meanwhile, my goal of the day (while waiting for babies and sisters to arrive) is to finish boxing 2 bicycles. even more ambitious is the plan to move everything BIG out of this tiny studio by sunday. the space is getting super tight, the poor cat is hopping between boxes like maneuvering the jungle.


we don’t really celebrate this particular new year.  for us vietnamese (or at least for me), lunar new year has more meaning.  but to the rest of the world, happy new year everyone!

back to packing for me.  and the clip that got me all started with frau K madness in 2010.

Marc Minkowski’s Alcina interview

Many thanks to Smorgy for the translation. Interview is from Wiener Staatsoper Alcina production booklet.

Herr Minkowski, auch in der Barockzeit gab es sehr große Theater an denen Opern aufgeführt wurden. Das heute gelegentlich vorgebrachte Argument, dass Barockopern in kleineren Häusern zu Gehör gebracht werden sollten und ab der Klassik die größeren Spielorte besser wären, ist doch somit aufführunghistorisch nicht haltbar.

MM: Ich habe mit den Musiciens du Louvre – Grenoble sehr oft in Großen Häusern Opern von Rameau, Händel oder Gluck gespielt, etwa im Pariser Palais Garnier, und es hat stets auch akustisch gut funktioniert. Es gibt also eine einfache Antwort auf Ihre Frage: Größe ist eine Sache, Akustik eine andere. Ich kann da ein sehr gutes Beispiel aus meiner eigenen Laufbahn bringen. Ich unternahm gemeinsam mit den Musiciens du Louvre – Grenoble ein Gastspiel in Südamerika, und wird machten unter anderem Station im Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires. Auf dem Programm standen einige Symphonien von Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, die wir in einer verhältnismäßig kleinen Besetzung aufführen wollten. Nun wird jeder, der zum ersten Mal im Teatro Colon auftritt, von diversen Kollegen gewarnt, dass die Ausmaße der Bühne und vor allem jene des Zuschauerraumes gewaltig wären, man sich mit einem Male unheimlich klein vorkäme und sich automatsch die Frage stellen würde, ob man diesen riesigen Raum akustisch überhaupt zu füllen imstande wäre.

Sie können sich also vorstellen, wie wir uns im ersten Moment fühlten, als wir schließlich mit unserer kleinen Besetzung auf der Bühne dieses Hauses standen – die Wiener Staatsoper wirkt vergleichsweise klein gegen das Teatro Colon. Doch dann folgte die Überraschung: Die Akustik war herrlich und wir kamen besser zur Geltung als in manch anderem, kleinen und intimen vorhandenen Räume anpassen, aber das ist ja für alle Stilrichtungen für alle Interpreten und Ensembles der Welt gleich. Dynamik, manche agogische Aspekte, Tempi sind je nach Akustik oder Größe des Raumes variabel. Darüber hinaus glaube ich aber, dass man in einem so wichtigen Opernhaus wie die Wiener Staatsoper das Repertoire möglichst weit spannen sollte. Der Mensch ist im Allgemeinen neugierig, manche Teile des Publikums dieses Hauses hatten bisher wenig Erfahrung mit Barockopern. Und da es künstlerisch keine Einwände gibt, wäre es schade im ersten Opernhaus dieser Musikstadt auf wichtige Stücke aus der Zeit vor 1750 zu verzichten. Georg Friedrich Händel kann durchaus so wichtig sein wie Mozart, Verdi oder Wagner.

Mr. Minkowski, in the Baroque period operas were performed in large theater. Today there occasionally is an argument that Baroque opera should be played in small houses to be heard well, and those from the classical period on can be played in larger venue. Does performance history support that?

MM: I have, with the Musiciens du Louvre – Grenoble, very often played operas by Rameau, Handel and Gluck in big houses like the Palais Garnier in Paris, and it has always worked well acoustically. So there is a simple answer to your question: hall size is one thing, hall acoustics is another. I can cite a very good example from my own career. I and the Musiciens du Louvre – Grenoble made a guest appearance in South America and performed among other places, at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires. The program included some symphonies by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which we wanted to perform with a relatively small cast. Now, anyone who appears for the first time at the Teatro Colon is warned by several colleagues of the enormous dimensions of the stage, and especially of the size of the auditorium, so that they would automatically question whether they would be able to produce enough sound to fill this vast space.

You can then imagine how we first felt when our little cast finally took the stage at that house. The Vienna State Opera stage is small compared to the Teatro Colon. But then came the surprise: the acoustics were magnificent and we sounded better there than in many other smaller and more intimate halls. But that’s the same for all operatic styles and all performers and ensembles in the world. Dynamics, some agogic aspects and tempos are varied according to the size and the acoustics of the hall. Furthermore, I believe that in such important an opera house as the Vienna State Opera the repertoire should be as wide as possible. Human beings are generally curious, and some of the audience here have had little experience with Baroque opera. And since its art is no objection, it would be a shame for this city’s premiere opera house to abandon important music pieces from the period before 1750. Georg Friedrich Handel ought to be as important as Mozart, Verdi or Wagner.
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Anja Harteros’ Alcina interview

Yay, Smorgy is on a roll.  a biig vietnamese bowl of noodle soup to smorgy next time, my treat!!

(translation by Smorgy)
Wiener Staatsoper Prolog November 2010:

Alles ist Ausdruck: Anja Harteros singt die Titelpartie in Händels Alcina.
Die weltweit gefeierte Sopranistin Anja Harteros beeindruckt stets auf Neue: Mit ihrer edel geführten, wunderschön timbrierten Stimme, ihren stilsicheren Interpretationen, ihrem schauspielerischen Talent und ihrem facettenreichen repertoire das Barock, Mozart, Verdi ebenso umfasst wie Wagner, Puccini oder das französische Fach. Mit der Titelpartie von Händels Alcina kehrt sie nun an die Wiener Staatsoper zurück.

All is expression: Anja Harteros sings the title role in Handel’s Alcina.
World renown soprano Anja Harteros always impresses anew: with her refinement, beautiful vocal timbre, stylish interpretation, acting talent and her diverse repertoire ranging from Baroque, Mozart, Verdi, as well as Wagner, Puccini, and the French repertoire. As the title role of Handel’s Alcina she returns to the Vienna State Opera.
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Kasarova’s Alcina interview

Yay, her interview from the Wiener Staatsoper booklet, translated by the charming Smorgy.  I’m told Anja Harteros and Minkowski’s translated interviews are coming up next!
Wiener Staatsoper Prolog November 2010.

Zwischen Intimität und Emotion: Kammersängerin Vesselina Kasarova singt den Ruggiero in Alcina.
Im Gespräch mit Oliver Lang plaudert KS Vesselina Kasarova, eine der beliebstesten Sängerinnen der heutigen Zeit, über Alcina, Barockoper und das Faszinosum des Händelschen Musiktheaters.

Between intimacy and emotion: the opera singer Vesselina Kasarova sings Ruggiero in Alcina.
In an interview, Oliver Lang talks to KS Vesselina Kasarova, one of today’s most beloved singers, about Alcina, Baroque opera and the fascination of Handel’s musical theater.

mozart for the day

after a long fun weekend with an over-dose of kids, i back in the office today. super quiet, just as i like it. music is blasting all around.  I’ve been feeling quite mozart-y this last few days thanks to a couple of full operas i just managed to get my hands on:

Arbate: Christine Weidinger
Aspasia: Arleen Augér
Sifare: Edita Gruberova
Farnace: Agnes Baltsa,
Ismene: Ileana Cotrubas,
Mitridate: Werner Hollweg
Marzio: David Kuebler
Conductor: Leopold Hager
Orchestra/Ensemble: Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra


Here’s the 1st sample, in the form of Arleen Auger and Gruberova:

while reading reviews on the above recording, i also ran across another recording with Kristina Hammarström that is recommended just because of her Farnace:

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merry christmas

Before heading off to the big and great great fun family gathering with exotic vietnamese food 250km away, i’d like to wish all my newfound friends a merry christmas!! it has been so wonderful being able to share my joy in life here and feel connected with you around the globe. here’s a song for the holidays, the first after my coming-out, otherwise known as my first “free” christmas. apparently we vietnamese don’t hug, but as i’m quite americanized, a big hug from me to you for spending time engaging in fun conversations with me here.

(Sony is blocking it in many countries, hmm… in case you’d like to check out, it’s called “Walking in the air” and sung by Peter Auty.)

fine rain and singing

shot just earlier when i was walking in to work from the parking lot. “clunk clunk” sound is from rocks moving underneath.

Music: Melinda Paulsen singing Rossini’s Tancredi aria (sadly because of this, it’s again blocked in Germany)
Tu che i miseri conforti,
cara, amabile speranza,
deh, tu porgi a lei costanza,
nel suo barbaro dolor.
Un raggio sereno
di placida calma,
ah brilli in quel seno,
consoli quell’alma,
fra dolci diletti
respiri il suo cor

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