Irish Songs and Secret, in Cartoon Form

This Sunday are the Oscars, and the nominees for animated feature film feature three pretty big American releases (How to Train your Dragon 2, The Boxtrolls, and Big Hero 6) and two more exotic releases, including the latest Studio Ghibli release.  Besides Japan, the other foreign country represented is, perhaps surprisingly, Ireland!

Song of the Sea was created by Paul Young and Tomm Moore, and it takes on the Irish myth of the selkie, seals who shed their seal skins to become women and take human husbands… or something like that…  The Oscars’ page on the film has some more footage, and it really is stunning!

The selkie is a pretty folk tale, but of course my favorite interpretation is John Allison’s!  Selkies figured into a 2012 Bad Machinery case, and I just love those meddling mystery-solving kids!  Click on the image below to read The Case of the Fire Inside from the beginning!

Bad Machinery: The Case of the Fire Inside, copyright John Allison

Bad Machinery: The Case of the Fire Inside, copyright John Allison

Tomm Moore is also the creator of the similarly-Irish-themed and similarly-gorgeously-animated 2009 feature film The Secret of Kells, this one about the classic monastic illustrated manuscript, The Book of Kells.

Mourning Becomes Something…

Last Monday the composer Marvin David Levy passed away and though he only ever wrote one opera, the scale of its premiere followed by its passage into obscurity and then late-life renaissance sorta overshadow all his other accomplishments…  I guess opera can do that!

That opera, Mourning Becomes Electra, was one of two operas commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera when they moved to Lincoln Center in the mid ’60s.  It wasn’t too well received, and was barely performed again for three decades, until 1998 when Levy created a revised version for the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  Since then, it’s been performed at a few other American companies, most lately the Florida Grand Opera, where the newsreel below is from:

Along with Levy’s repairs, I wonder if the very fact of it being an American setting of ancient Greek tragedy (it’s based on Eugene O’Neill’s transposition of the Oresteia by Aeschylus to the American Civil War) can help give it a new life around the US at regional opera companies…

Speaking of Met commissions, it’s apparently not an uncommon story for those rather rare birds to be neglected for a while, then championed dramatically by other companies, as the Los Angeles Opera is currently doing with John Corigliano‘s The Ghosts of Versailles, commissioned by the Met for their 100th anniversary and premiered in 1991.

It would certainly be interesting to track how well Met commissions have done historically once they’ve received their house premiere, especially in light of the Met’s renewed commitment to commissioning new opera…  What might they do differently going forward?

Speaking of all these companies and of new opera, I certainly am excited it’s season announcement season!  Will have to get back to you with thoughts about the recently announced 2015/2016 seasons from several American companies…

SebaSM Comics Digest, Week of Jan. 19th On…

Sooo, I’ve been pretty bad at keeping you all in the SebaSM Comics loop, huh…  Well, let’s catchup on the past four weeks, shall we?

SebaSM Comics Collage

So since January 15th when I last updated you, I’ve posted seven comics, only five of which were about me…  Who said I was self-centered?  See the new comics here or by clicking the image above.

Also, I participated in my seventh annual Hourly Comics Day!  That’s the one where you draw a comic about your day for every hour that you’re awake on February 1st…  This year’s HCD Comics are up on my boring Tumblr as well as the official SebaSM Comics site.


Ok, all caught up!  Hope you enjoy binging on four weeks worth of SebaSM Comics!

Trip to Aulide

This week, the Met+Juilliard collaboration between the Metropolitan Opera and the Juilliard School will be giving three performances of Gluck‘s 1774 Iphigénie en Aulide.  It’s been pretty much supplanted in popularity by Gluck’s own 1779 Iphigénie en Tauride, so much so that most performances of it seem to occur as a double-feature with both installments:

At any rate, this week presents a pretty rare opportunity to see it!  Here’s a Juilliard Journal article interviewing some of the people involved in this production.

The Met+Juilliard collaboration has produced a few operas at Juilliard already, and though none have made the jump to the Metropolitan Opera, in some of the early announcement materials I read, that was cited as a possibility…

Which leads to some speculation…  Much has been said recently about the Met showing more modern opera and even commissioning new works…  In one such announcement from 2013, Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov was said to be working on an operatic adaptation of the original Euripides play Iphigenia in Aulis, tentatively slated for the 2018/2019 Season.

Hmm…  Aulide, Aulis…  What if – stay with me here – the Met were planning a 2018/2019 season including both Golijov and Gluck’s versions of Iphigenias in Aulis?  (And hey, they could even toss in their existing production of Iphigénia en Tauride, seen below).

Would that be too crazy?  Or would it be super amazing?  Thoughts?

Comical Art

In tomorrow’s New York Comics and Picture Story Symposium, artist and cartoonist Aidan Koch will discuss the popular use of comics imagery and formats in contemporary art.  A rich subject to mine surely, and I’m curious as to the timeline she’ll cover…  Will it start with Roy Licthenstein and Pop Art?  Maybe earlier or a more narrow recent focus?  We’ll have to see!

It’s such a wide topic that it seems silly to tie this post in to any one gallery show going on right now, but I’d been meaning to mention an exhibit at the Swiss Institute (yeah, first time I’d ever heard of it either) on the early work of the late David Weiss.  Known more for his more conceptual art in partnership with Peter Fischli, this exhibit showcases his early work, including some cartoony imagery and something that looks like images in sequence?  Oh boy!

Wandlungen (detail) 1974, David Weiss at Swiss Institute

Of course, will be neat to get a more rounded account of this phenomenon from Aidan Koch tomorrow night!