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?


Costumes & Horror on Halloween

Girls with Slingshots Halloween costume comic

Girls with Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto

Halloween is usually a fun opportunity for webcartoonists to dress their recurring characters up, but I haven’t seen a whole lot of that yet among the comics I normally read!  Where’s the holiday spirit, guys?

That being said, Girls with Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto is a reliable source of Halloween themed story lines and this year it’s built around a librarian-organized, kids’-book-character-themed costume party!  Lots of great costumes so far, but I thought the comics-themed couple costume at left was especially appropriate for us…

Aside from Halloween story lines, here are two seasonally appropriate comics.

Little Ghost is a cute monster mash story by Kate Leth, and its the first ongoing fictional storyline she’s serialized on her own website, though she also has several new monthly print comic projects out, including the new, ultra-Halloweeny Edward Scissorhands comic from IDW!

Little Ghost by Kate Leth

Little Ghost by Kate Leth

Also, Abby Howard, who I learned about through the Strip Search webcomic reality show and her hilarious comics at Junior Scientist Power Hour, is a big fan of horror as evidenced by her other webcomic, The Last Halloween!  I believe it was launched about a year ago after a successful Kickstarter…  At any rate, I started reading it, but it was  way too scary for me!  So that means it should be appropriate for anyone over, like, age 10 😛

The Last Halloween by Abby Howard

The Last Halloween by Abby Howard

Even Abby’s latest autobio JS Power Hour comic is Halloween themed, about the big farm home she moved into as a kid and the mysteriously threatening happenings that followed…

Alright, hope you all enjoy these alternately cute and horrifying comics on this spoOoOoky Halloween!  Anyone dressing up as a comic character?

Turn of the Screw in Brooklyn


I’ll be seeing this on Thursday…


Glad to be going back to the now itinerant New York City Opera after missing them last season.  Ever since this season was announced, I’ve been pumped for The Turn of the Screw by Benjamin Britten and I’m glad to see some positive press from the NY Times and fellow bloggers at Parterre (which has some especially good background on the opera, the inspiring story by Henry James, and the cultural contexts each were created in).

I’ve actually featured this opera a few times before, once for Halloween (it is a ghost story after all), and in a post on the British soprano Jennifer Vyvyan who was the original Governess, who you can actually see in some of the historic images featured in the above video!  The Halloween post featured a link to a full playlist of the opera on YouTube, apparently a 1980s made-for-TV version.  Good prep for seeing it in person…

I was Happier not Knowing about “Body Horror”

Happy Halloween!  I’m not a big horror fan, so I’m not much of an expert on horror comics, which is certainly a rich and varied genre, but here is one awful little horror comic I sadly experienced first-hand.

The Enigma of Amigara Fault by Junji ItoCopyright Junji Ito

The Enigma of Amigara Fault is by Junji Ito, a sick, sick Japanese manga artist (seriously, if one of your genres is listed as “body horror“, you’re gross).  I think the reason I “liked” this comic as “much” as I did was that it’s more of a psychological drama than a *shudder* “body horror” gross-out comic; well, at least until that last page… : (

Hope you enjoy though!  You twisted sickos…

Haunted Opera House

A bit soon for Halloween maybe, but that just means more time to enjoy!

This is a 1980s film version of Benjamin Britten‘s ghost story chamber opera The Turn of the Screw; that’s right, a ghost story opera!  Based on Henry James‘ novella, it centers around a governess sent to an isolated manor to take care of two classically creepy children and, of course, creepy things happen…  Dun dun duuuuun!!!

Turn of the Screw movie

Click through the image for the full playlist.  (You can skip to about 7 minutes in on the first video though, cuz the opening is just a big child-molestation allegory…  You know how it is…)

Also, Written on Skin, the new opera sensation of the coming season, which I highlighted in an earlier post, is down to its last week for free viewing on Arte Live.  It’s an equally creepy though more gruesome opera, so a perfect operatic double feature for the Halloween season!

588 Hours Left for Written on Skin!

Ok, not as pressing, but if you enjoyed David et Jonathas from the Aix-en-Provence Festival, you miiight enjoy Written on Skin from the same!

Image copyright Pascal Victor (again!)

Written on Skin on Arte Live online

This is the 2012 world premiere performance of Written on Skin, by British composer George Benjamin, but it’ll be going on to opera houses in London, Amsterdam, Florence, and Toulouse, so you can see he has his fans.  It was indeed very well-received, but it’s also a dark, vicious work, so be warned.  The Festival’s synopsis after the cut…
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