eccomi

Bard summer, post 11

Long time no blog ;) Sorry!
I'm getting a bit worked up these days, with everything going on at the same time. As some of you know from my Russian blog, I gave an open lecture on stage interpretations of Eugene Onegin

as part of Russian Music Days; the classes have started (and this semester is already quite intense, which is obviously a good thing, but there's a lot I need to do to prepare for classes, etc); my gym frenzy is still not gone (yes, Bard changed my attitude towards fitness; I no longer feel I am obliged to do it, or I must bear it somehow so that my body does not fall apart – but instead, I am finally enjoying it, and omg it's so much fun! But once again, it kind of takes a lot of my time); and then there are my projects at the Bolshoi that need me too (I'm going to Moscow tonight to work on a very very very exciting thingie... but I can't tell you just yet) and my Master's thesis (where I'm kind of stuck, but oh well). Anyway. I am sorry I'm so much behind on the blog, and I did miss it very much. I've been waiting to tell you about this very much, as for me it was one of the absolute highlights of the BMF. On Sunday, August 9, we saw a puppet show of Manuel de Falla's El retablo de Maese Pedro.
Manuel de Falla y Matheu (that's his full name) was a Spanish composer; he dies shortly after World War II and is often called one of the most important Spanish composers of his time – which is no surprise, judging by his works that were performed at the BMF. This puppet play was written in 1922. The libretto is an abbreviation of Chapter 26 of the second part of Cervantes's Don Quixote, and it's a story about how Don Quixote went to see a puppet show and ended up ruining it, both 'theatrically', as he kept interfering in the action, and physically, as he destroyed the puppets. In the book, everything ends well though:
And so he went on, putting values on ever so many more smashed figures, which, after the two arbitrators had adjusted them to the satisfaction of both parties, came to forty reals and three-quarters; and over and above this sum, which Sancho at once disbursed, Master Pedro asked for two reals for his trouble in catching the ape.
"Let him have them, Sancho," said Don Quixote; "not to catch the ape, but to get drunk; and two hundred would I give this minute for the good news, to anyone who could tell me positively, that the lady Dona Melisandra and Senor Don Gaiferos were now in France and with their own people."
"No one could tell us that better than my ape," said Master Pedro; "but there's no devil that could catch him now; I suspect, however, that affection and hunger will drive him to come looking for me to-night; but to-morrow will soon be here and we shall see."
In short, the puppet-show storm passed off, and all supped in peace and good fellowship at Don Quixote's expense, for he was the height of generosity.

(Those of you who read Spanish, please see here.)
In de Falla's opera, things are not looking up for Master Pedro in the finale (he complains about his wrecked puppet theatre and is quite discontent), and in the stage adaptation... Spoiler alert!
Or wait. Before I go on, I need to tell you a very sad thing. This amazing production that we've seen was only put up for one show only. You cannot see it again, anywhere. How I hope that it will travel! The opera itself is short, but it could make a wonderful double bill with, say, Mascagni Leoncovallo's Pagliacci (there's a show within a show in both of them), or even Tchaikovsky's Iolanta (yes, belta, I think it would be a very interesting approach to Iolanta, and making a puppet show kind of shed its light onto it might help the director make a lot out of the plot and the music!); but as of now, it was a unique event, and there's no chance to experience it again.
My heart is breaking when I write that, really, because it was really so very good. So fresh, so bright, so full of humour and so engaging!

(This is an official press photo, as, naturally, no pictures were allowed during the show; you can see a high resolution picture here, along with some more official shots.)
The singing cast was: Cecilia Violetta López, soprano, as the boy who narrates the puppet show story; Louis Otey, baritone, as Don Quixote; and Nicholas Phan, tenor, as Master Pedro. They did sing the parts standing upstage in conforming write suits, while other actors acted the parts.
And in the end (here finally comes the spoiler), when Don Quixote sings his monologue about him being the righteous knight, he suddenly realizes there's a voice coming from somewhere else, so he turns to the baritone, approaches him slowly... By this time he has already slain the evil characters within the puppet play along with the puppet theatre actors who were controlling them, including the boy and Pedro; and so he comes up the singer and focuses his eyes on him, and starts to approach him, stretching out his hand as though to though him – and eventually runs him through with his sword, too.
It's not so exciting when I'm retelling it. To realize how well it worked you need to feel the absurd (and yet realistic) and naive (and yet sophisticated) spirit of the performance, that was channeled both through music and through the dramatic action.
Another thing I loved about the show was how cleverly the supertitles were woven into the action:

(Another press photo, to give you an idea.)
See? They are not hanging somewhere up there; they are also shown in different fonts and colours; important words could appear earlier or fade later, and the text can move around. Awesome! Instead of reading the text to grasp the gist and then switching your attention to what's happening on the stage, you are constantly focusing on the performance, and you are seeing it at different angles at the same time. Instead of a play within a play, you kind of get a play within a play within a play because of these supertitles.
Too bad I do not know the names of the director and the rest of the cast. They were all brilliant!


And now on to something completely different. At our English class we were doing a Skype interview with Lily West, the frontwoman, founder and leader of an indie band called Lala Lala. They play something like this:

Not exactly the kind of music you'd expect me to share, eh? Yet it brings up a very interesting matter of surviving as an indie artist.
Lily is only 21 years old; she went to high school with Denise's daughter, and that's how Denise knows her. After school she went to college to become a visual artist, but then decided to quit it and focus entirely on music. She was not much into music until then, I believe, but then everything changed, and she started writing songs "about alcohol and mean boys" and play "girl grunge fuzz pop rock".
"Everyone on Chicago records tapes, so we made one," she explained, "and we also went on tour". Lily and her band have no manager or roadie; they just drive their own car and arrange things via Facebook. It is not possible to really earn money this way, but it's a way to maintain the life of the band remaining completely independent of contracts, managers, studios, etc.
I wonder if anything like this happens in Russia: I take it this story is specific for Chicago music scene, but then again, what do I know about other cities and countries?..

P.S. Went to a live screening of Rocky Horror Show yesterday... Brings back the memories of our night out with Jared!
Oh boy do I miss Bard and all the amazing people I met.

I'm not saying goodbye just yet. More to come next time I get a free minute :)
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Дддда, закрутили они с "Дон Кихотом". Развесисто. о_0
Ага; Отею, кстати, очень шло петь за Донкихота.
Mascagni's "Pagliacci"? Aya, shame on you! :))))

And shame on me, since I have not heard (or listened to) "El retablo de Maese Pedro" yet and haven't even read the "Quijote" (that's how we call him in short in Spanish) except some isolated chapters (for varsity).
Omfg what was I thinking
It was my lucky day obviously - on that day I also managed to mention "Crucifixus from Mattaeuspassion" in a paper ;-) But really, what the heck is happening to me :-(
By the way, I cannot see the upmost and the lowest picture/photo: there's just a stop sign instead. What's the problem?