A Very Operetta New Year

Gipsy Princess poster from The Memory of the Netherlands digital collection

Gipsy Princess poster from The Memory of the Netherlands digital collection

In the latest case of me learning about something just hours before it’s set to start, Medici.tv will be live streaming a special New Year’s performance of Emmerich Kalman‘s 1915 operetta Die Csárdásfürstin (aka, The Gipsy Princess for those non-Hungarian speakers among you) from Staatskapelle Dresden with the powerhouse duo of Anna Netrebko and Juan Diego Flórez.  You’ll need an account to see the live performance, but it’s free and pretty painless!

Here’s an old school televised version of a duet from the Gipsy Princess in all it’s glory:

Operetta seems to be an old world New Year’s tradition, and the Met Opera is getting in on the game with a new production of Franz Lehar‘s Merry Widow premiering on Wednesday, New Year’s Eve!  So get your operetta fix this week!

 

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Twelve Nights of Music

I’ve been off my blogging game this holiday season, meaning less posts but also me getting to the party late for some pretty neat music events…  Chief among these is the Twelfth Night Festival, a twelve days jamboree of early music at Trinity Church and Saint Paul’s Chapel in downtown Manhattan starting last Friday and lasting through this weekend…

There’s lots of great instrumental and vocal music from the renaissance and baroque, with plenty of free concerts throughout, and  the festival is even book-ended by two musical dramas.  It opened this weekend with the French renaissance Play of Daniel, in a production originally created for the Met Museum‘s medieval outpost, the Cloisters, and reviewed here.  An excerpt from the original performances at the Cloisters above, depicting Belshazzar’s Feast.

The festival ends this weekend with another fully staged musical-theater performance, of Georg Frideric Händel‘s 1739 oratorio Saul, a chorus of which is below.  Get your tickets for that now, and check out the other ticketed and free(!) performances throughout this week!

Christmas Caroling

Photo by Lynn Lane

Photo by Lynn Lane

It was just a few weeks ago that I first discussed the young British composer Iain Bell here, specifically his first foray into opera with last year’s dark adaptation of the 18th century moralistic painting cycle The Harlot’s Progress, but the 2014/2015 cultural calendar has brought the premiere of his second opera.  He’s moved one century forward in British art, but the new opera’s source material shares a lot in common with last year’s…

Bell and the Houston Grand Opera have adapted Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, apparently emphasizing the eerie ghost elements over the more conventional yuletide cheer…  In another unusual turn, it’s a monodrama for a single tenor, inspired by the one-man version of the story Dickens himself used to perform in Victorian England.

Keeping with the forward march through British literature, Iain Bell’s website already lists his next operatic commission, for the Welsh National Opera, this time adapting an epic poem of the 20th century.  In Parenthesis, by David Jones, was about World War I and culminates in the Battle of the Somme; WNO’s 2016 premiere performance will mark the occasion of that battle’s centennial.

At any rate, I’m hoping Bell keeps up the pattern and makes his next opera about some 21st century British work of literature…  Any suggestions?

SebaSM Comics Digest, Week of Dec. 15th

Well, Bizarro Twins posts have taken a hit lately with my new job and the holiday season and family visits and such, but SebaSM Comics are going strong!  Here are this week’s latest updates: 2014-12-18-A-73Confusion abounds this week, whether it’s not knowing how to handle flattery or braving the minefields of spoken communication (as opposed to my forte of the written word)… 2014-12-16-A-72I should have something up for Christmas next week, and then we’ll try to get back into the Bizarro Twins swing of things for reals!

SebaSM Comics Digest, Week of Dec. 8th

2014-12-09-A-70New SebaSM Comics!  Let’s not let the holiday season get in the way of tacky jokes about online dating and such…  Speaking of which, this comic was intended as a follow-up to an earlier online dating comic, but got interrupted cuz of Thanksgiving…  Oh, those pesky holidays!

2014-12-11-R-71Also, we all love icebreaker questions, right?  I’ve been having a good time coming up with ridiculous answers to “What kind of animal would you be?”, so that might lead to a little series, we’ll see…

UPDATE: Sorry for the non-link with the second image, fixed now!

International Space Age Comics

The European Space Agency broke onto the scene (or at least my consciousness) in a big way this year with their Rosetta project.  If you haven’t heard about this, I’m definitely not the person to explain it, but let’s say that Rosetta pulled up alongside a moving comet after a decade, then landed the Philae probe onto that moving comet.  Exciting stuff!

This was the first I’d heard about the European Space Agency, but going through the archives of one of my new favorite webcartoonists recently, the Frenchman Boulet, I found out that he’d been invited onto a reduced gravity aircraft by the Centres Nationales d’Etudes Spatiales to experience Zero-G and make comics about it!

His comic about the experience covers the anxious build-up, the kinds of experiments being run on the craft, and of course the main attraction, the experience of weightlessness…

The further back I go into Boulet‘s archive, the more I see why he was invited on this trip, as an amateur science enthusiast with some strong opinions about space exploration, as well as some strikingly exquisite sci-fi imaginings, as below…

And of course, as far as space exploration outside the US goes, there was a more direct, and more controversial, comic response to another noteworthy space mission, this time out of India:

Political cartoon on India's Mars Mission by Heng Kim Song

India’s Budget Mission to Mars, political cartoon by Heng Kim Song in New York Times

Singaporean cartoonist Heng Kim Song made the above comic in response to the Indian Space Research Organization’s Mars Orbiter Mission, which was done on the cheap but has succeeded in orbiting Mars.  The cartoon caused a bit of a furor with the New York Times apologizing for running it, but India is definitely an unexpected entrant to the space race…  But the democratization of space exploration is an exciting prospect; the more the merrier, science wins all around!

SebaSM Comics Digest, Week of Dec. 1st

2014-12-02-A-68Two new SebaSM Comics this week, including a special Thanksgiving edition, above!  Predictably, the Thanksgiving edition is also about online dating, because I am desperate.

The second update is about my most recent case of murder-mystery showverdosing with my parents.  In this case it was BBC’s Broadchurch, which left me traumatized, I hated it, why do we do this to ourselves…

2014-12-04-A-69I should’ve known better given the vastly different tastes my parents and I have when it comes to murder-mysteries:

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