Opera in the Garden

In the midst of finals, I missed the first of only two performances by Gotham Chamber Opera of a rarity in a unique & appropriate site-specific setting…

Cherry Blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1941

Cherry Blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1941; Image from Brooklyn Public Library

La Hija de Rappaccini by the now late Mexican composer Daniel Catán was based on a play by Mexican Nobelist Octavio Paz in turn based on a story by American slut-shamer Nathaniel Hawthorne.  A scientist keeps his daughter locked in a garden where she’s exposed to his poisonous plants and acquires their deadly touch herself.

Gotham Chamber Opera‘s production is set outdoors, at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden; very cute no?  There’s just one more performance next Monday, so here’s a review from Parterre.

Also, the first image comes from the cool new collaborative photo collection sharing site, Brooklyn Visual Heritage, which brings together archival image collections from the Brooklyn Library, Museum, and Historical Society.  Hours of fun, and plenty of lovely pics too!

Welcome to Dadsville

In honor of Father’s Day tomorrow, enjoy Dadsville, a comic anthology about, you guessed it, fathers!  There are stories about the good and bad times, about chummy, antagonizing, and estranged fathers, so you can experience the whole gamut in one sitting if you don’t already…

First off, here’s Brazilian illustrator Fabio Lyra‘s story about reconnecting with his father over spaghetti westerns:

Dadsville comic by Fabio Lyra

Dadsville comic copyright Fabio Lyra

And next, In the Basement, a meditative, visually unique story about fathers as defined by the collections they amass…

Dadsville comic by Phil Gable and Carol Holsinger

Dadsville comic copyright Phil Gable and Carol Holsinger

If you have your own paternal story to tell, you can submit your comic to be considered for the next Dadsville anthology; the deadline is July 1st.  Maybe you can make some new stories tomorrow!  awww…

Two Mexican Operas on Two Mexican Drug Traffickers


Composer Jorge Sosa

Composer Jorge Sosa

The last full opera performed in American Lyric Theater‘s InsightALT opera fest is Jorge Sosa‘s “La Reina”, about a Mexican drug queenpin, performed on Monday at 7pm (buy tickets here).  You can actually hear a sample aria on Sosa‘s site (under “listen”), so good way to prep.  Here’s ALT‘s trailer for the new opera:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4e61G9S78yw&w=350&h=300]

This actually reminded me of another Mexican composer’s chamber opera about a lady drug trafficker: Gabriela Ortiz‘s “¡Unicamente La Verdad!” (“only the truth”), premiered in 2008 at Indiana University and recently performed at Long Beach Opera, California.  This video is from the 2008 IU performance:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wf_3LgoOpCI&w=350&h=300]

You can still  buy tickets for the remaining InsightALT operas (“La Reina” on Monday and “The Long Walk” tomorrow, at 7pm), and if you can’t make it in person, they’ll also be live-streamed here.


FCBD is Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day!  In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept, on the first Saturday of May, participating comic shops give away free pre-selected comics to any and all visitors!  You can find your local participating comic shop using FCBD’s store locator.

Free Comic Book Day 2013

To prepare, here is a list of the free comics that’ll be available, ranging from DC to D&Q, brand new to classic reprints, mainstream to independent, all-ages to mature, not to mention lots of TV, cartoon, and video game tie-ins.

I’m personally intrigued by Drawn & Quarterly‘s offering, an excerpt from their forthcoming Gilbert Hernandez semi-autobiographical comic, Marble Season (planning ahead, Gilbert will be at Housing Works in NYC on April 16th to promote its release!).  Also, FCBD is probably as good a time as any to try out Hindu comics, even if Liquid ComicsRamayan Reloaded is written by American Ron Marz

Plenty of good stuff to get (for free), so check out their offerings and find your favorites…

PS: This is my 200th post.  Go me!

Occupy San Diego Opera

San Diego Opera poster by R. Black

R. Black‘s posters for San Diego Opera‘s 2013 season

Sorta late on the bandwagon, but I’m loving San Diego Opera‘s posters for their 2013 season, created by a graphic artist more commonly associated with grassroots protest movements, R. Black.  An outside-the-box collaboration that proved fruitful!  There’s even a tenuous comics connection, since Dark Horse published a book of his work!

Back to the opera, SDO doesn’t seem to be the most adventurous house as a whole, but they did present two pretty unique operas this season…  One was Ildebrando Pizzetti‘s rarely heard 1958 Assassinio nella Cattedrale, based on T.S. Eliot‘s play on the 1170 assassination of Thomas Becket (aw yeah, medieval English history through an operatic Italian lens!).  The other was the world’s first mariachi opera, Cruzar la Cara de la Luna by José Pepe Martínez, director of Mariachi Vargas since 1975.

R. Black's posters for San Diego Opera

Both pretty rare, highly anticipated pieces, both wellreviewed.  Despite their rarity, it’s now possible to hear them both on Spotify!  Cruzar la Cara de la Luna was recorded at its Houston Grand Opera premiere, and the Pizzetti is represented by two recordings (I’d checked before, so these are new…).

Here’s the full first act  of the 1958 premiere performance of Assassinio nella Cattedrale from Spotify:

Creole Church Chorus

Misa Criolla, Phillips record cover

Religious music and opera have an interesting relationship…  Lots of church music – oratorios, parables, etc – tells a story, so that’s enough of a link for me.  In fact, though works based on religious themes were banned from the stage in 18th century London, that didn’t stop composers like Händel from writing religious works that shared a whole lot in common with their secular work…

Masses and passions are less plotty I think, but it’s still vocal music with a communicative purpose, right?  Glimmerglass Opera will be presenting a double-bill of Passions next year, so that’s an interesting precedent…  ANYWAY, this is all a long-winded excuse for posting a wider range of religious music here on Bizarro Twins.  So here is Misa Criolla by the Argentine composer Ariel Ramírez, ’nuff said!