More Opera at Lincoln Center

Today a new partnership was announced between the New York Philharmonic and its host campus, Lincoln Center, to pool resources and produce fully staged operas, starting with George Benjamin‘s 2012 Written on Skin in August of this year, weirdly coinciding with the Mostly Mozart Festival

Written on Skin was incredibly well-received after its premier at the 2012 Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, with a subsequent production at the Royal Opera House, which resulted in a new commission for the 2018 season for the team of Benjamin and Martin Crimp

This new initiative builds on Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert’s success with innovatively semi-staged operas at the Philharmonic in collaboration with production team Giants Are Small, starting with György Ligeti‘s Grand Macabre in 2010:

This clip Barbara Hanngian features at the NY Phil production of Le Grand Macabre, and of course Hannigan created the role of Agnes in Benjamin’s Written on Skin too, so nice coincidence there…

 

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SebaSM Comics Digest, Week of Jan. 5th

2014-12-30-A-76 2014-12-25-A-75I’ve totally abandoned my weekly SebaSM Comics digest, sorry about that folks! Let me catch you up real quick:

Part of the reason for the delay was the holidays, so let’s start off with the Christmas comics!  Obviously, gift-giving (and receiving) is delicate territory, so that’s what I focused on, also because I’m a materialistic jerk.

Then of course there’s the new year, and all the promise of change that brings…  not that I ever live up to it, so that’s another year-end tradition I figured I’d skewer…

2015-01-01-A-77Eventually, I figured it was probably time to move beyond holiday comics, so instead I made a classy joke about an iconic New York art museum…  Hopefully you can recognize it below…

2015-01-06-A-78(If you saw today’s Bizarro Twins post on abstract animation, it’s about the last exhibit at the Guggenheim, hence, this comic…)

And finally, going back to my most beloved subject matter: internet dating!

2015-01-08-A-79I’ll try to be better about remembering my Bizarro Twins followers in the future!  But just in case, consider bookmarking SebaSM Comics maybe?

Abstract Animation

Yesterday an exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in New York on the post-war German, and eventually international, network of artists called Zero closed.  I had never heard of the group or most of its members, but it was a great exhibit and an interesting moment in (art) history…

One of the recurring themes for the group and many of its members was movement in art, either literally art with moving parts, or optically, creating the impression of movement.

Vision in Motion / Motion in Vision exhibit at Hessenhuis, Antwerp 1959

Vision in Motion / Motion in Vision exhibit at Hessenhuis, Antwerp 1959

As such, it was interesting that one of the earliest group shows, whose distinctive installation (seen above) the Guggenheim mimicked in part of their own exhibit, was called Vision in Motion – Motion in Vision.  Held in an old industrial building in Antwerp in 1959, it included some moving pieces, proto-op-art pieces implying movement, and one abstract animation by the American Robert Breer.

The Breer piece included in the Guggenheim was Phase Forms IV, from 1959, and the above animation, Eyewash, was from the same year, the earliest piece I could find by him online…  The piece I saw at the Guggenheim, maybe more than this one, reminded me a tiny bit of a better known 1965 semi-abstract animation by that American animation giant, Chuck Jones:

Kindred spirits-ish…

What is Opera, Alex?

We here at Bizarro Twins are huge Jeopardy fans, and always relish the rare opera or comic-themed categories, but opera has burst onto America’s favorite trivia show in a surprising way recently…

If you’ve been watching, the current Jeopardy champ is Elliot Yates from New York, and he’s introduced as an opera producer which is exciting enough on its own…  But in his second chat with host Alex Trebek he talked about a new opera he’s working on about Truman Capote!  Unfortunately, my Googling is not turning up much concrete information about this project, but as always, I’m excited to hear about new operas, no matter how far in the future they may be!

Capote is obviously known as a writer of prose, from short stories to novels to non-fiction, but he did write the book for one musical: 1954’s House of Flowers, about rival bordellos in Haiti…  cheery, I guess.  With music by Harold Arlen, the most enduring song is probably A Sleepin’ Bee, sung here by Diahann Carroll, a member of the original Broadway cast.

Funnily enough, this song was also sung by Barbra Streisand seven years later on her first appearance on American national television, on The Jack Paar Show in 1961:

Now, another interesting tidbit about this forthcoming Truman Capote opera is the fact that Capote’s distinctive voice will be portrayed by a countertenor.  On hearing this, Alex Trebek referenced the British singer Alfred Deller who helped revive the use of the countertenor voice in the mid 20th century.  So now I like Alex even more than before!  Here is Deller singing an Elizabethan love song by Thomas Campion, accompanied on lute as he was wont to be…

All around, not a bad day for opera on national television…

Happy Birthday Miyazaki!

Today is Hayao Miyazaki‘s 74th birthday!  He is most famous as co-founder of the Studio Ghibli animation studio (official website, in Japanese) and as writer and director of many of its most beloved films.

Miyazaki began working in animation in 1963, a career that came to an end 50 years later in 2013 with the release of The Wind Rises, which he said would be his last movie.  His retirement has launched a new wave of accolades, including an Academy Honorary Award at last year’s Governor Awards (see his acceptance here).

Five years earlier in 2009 Miyazaki was honored at an event by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and here he speaks on the tension between hand-drawn and computer-aided animation:

(There are more clips from this conversation, and this bit about his villains is especially interesting for someone known for his morally ambiguous “bad” guys.)

As for what Miyazaki will do in retirement, he has started work on a serialized samurai manga set in Japan’s Warring States period, (EDIT: updated Warring States link from ancient Chinese namesake to correct Japanese version) so a return to manga like his environmental epic Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, serialized between 1982 and 1994.  I’m actually on the last volume of this myself, so expect further thoughts on it soon…

Some of his collaborators have said it’s likely Miyazaki will come out of retirement (he’s done so before), but in the meantime, Studio Ghibli is still releasing movies, including The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (already released in Japan in 2013), directed by the other Studio Ghibli co-founder, Isao Takahata, with a markedly different animation style: