Monday, November 19, 2012

San Francisco Opera - 'Tosca'


Music by Giacomo Puccini

Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa


Puccini's masterful melodrama is a sexually charged, edge-of-your-seat thriller, in which a great singer, a rebellious painter and a corrupt police chief engage in a deadly test of wills. Music director Nicola Luisotti, "one of his generation's most accomplished Puccini conductors" (Opera News), leads two astonishing casts.

One stars Angela Gheorghiu, "in a part she seems to have been born to play" (Opera Today) and "who, like Tosca, is a born diva" (The Independent, London); Massimo Giordano, praised by The New York Times for his "ardent, expressive singing;" and veteran baritone Roberto Frontali, who brought "vocal brass and weight" (The Dallas Morning News) to San Francisco Opera's The Girl of the Golden West (2010).

The next cast stars Patricia Racette, who "tapped into Tosca's combination of regal and all-too-human traits and backed up her vibrant characterization with singing of considerable expressive fire" (Opera News); tenor Brian Jagde, lauded for his "beautiful singing, now nuanced, now ringing and forceful" (Washington Post); and Mark Delavan (Wotan in the Ring cycle, 2011), a singer of "ferocious power" (San Francisco Chronicle).

Sung in Italian with English supertitles

Approximate running time: 2 hours, 40 minutes including two intermissions

Pre-Opera Talks are free to ticketholders and take place in the main theater in the Orchestra section, 55 minutes prior to curtain.

Production photos: Cory Weaver


See the above link for the cast, credits, profiles, synopsis, times, prices, seating, etc.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Nights of Cabiria

Nights of Cabiria (Wikipedia)

Nights of Cabiria (Italian: Le notti di Cabiria) is a 1957 Italian romantic drama film directed by Federico Fellini and starring Giulietta Masina, François Périer, and Amedeo Nazzari. Based on a story by Fellini, the film is about a waifish prostitute who wanders the streets of Rome looking for true love but finds only heartbreak. In 1998 the film was rereleased, newly restored and with a crucial scene that censors had cut.

The name Cabiria is borrowed from the 1914 Italian film Cabiria, while the character of Cabiria herself is taken from a brief scene in Fellini's earlier film 'The White Sheik'. It was Masina's performance in that earlier film that inspired Fellini to make this film. But no one in Italy was willing to finance a film which featured prostitutes as heroines. Finally, Dino de Laurentiis agreed to put up the money. Fellini based some of the characters on a real prostitute whom he had met while filming 'Il Bidone'. For authenticity, he had Pier Paolo Pasolini, known for his familiarity with Rome's criminal underworld, help with the dialogue.

The American musical and movie Sweet Charity is based on Fellini's screenplay.

When I started watching this movie, I had no idea as to what to expect. The movie revolves around "Cabiria," who was a prostitute--although this is downplayed in certain ways and just not really presented that way, as she often hung out with normal 20ish people--who lived in a house in a downtrodden district in or on the edge of Rome. She is a very engaging character who always wears her emotions on her sleeve. I can't really describe the character, who was almost like Sandra Dee meets Gwen Stefani with a little Audrey Tautou thrown in... and loud!! Bad things always seemed to happen to her, but she was never down for very long before some experience would make her smile or dance. You don't want anything really bad to happen to her, and you want her to get her life together, but it always does. At the end, something really horrible happens to her where she doesn't want to go on; but then shortly later she is smiling, and the theme seems to be "life is worth living" no matter what happens. The movie always keeps your attention. There's never a dull moment with the bantam Cabiria.

I don't watch a whole lot of movies now, but when I do, I always look it up and cross-reference names, dates, places, etc. This movie was no exception. There are some interesting tie-ins with all of that here. Old movies are like a time capsule. I mean, it's not like this was a hundred years ago... it was from the late fifties; in some ways a long time, and in other ways not very long. However, in this movie they all seem to have passed away. I see more of a deeper meaning in older Italian or European movies, rather than those from Hollywood...which is almost like a political or social engineering machine now. There's a certain innocence to older Italian cinema, generally a certain honesty. There's a movie poster on the above link, and a few images and posters from the movie here.

"Spoiler Alert" beyond this point!


The film opens with Cabiria happy and laughing, on a river bank with her current boyfriend and live-in lover. He pushes her into the river and steals her purse which is full of money. She cannot swim and very nearly drowns, but is rescued and revived at the last possible moment by helpful ordinary people who live a little further down the river.

The rest of the plot follows Cabiria as she plies her trade, interacts with her best friend and neighbor Wanda, and searches for a chance to better her life. She is frequently mistreated and taken advantage of, but she has some interesting adventures, and manages to keep her basic attitude to life positive.

Eventually, she meets Oscar, an accountant, who seems genuinely kind and who promises her a happy future. At first she is cautious and suspicious, but after several meetings she falls passionately in love with him and they are to be married—after only a few weeks. However, during a walk in a wooded area, on a cliff overlooking a lake Oscar becomes distant and starts acting nervous. Cabiria realizes that—just like her earlier lover—Oscar intends to push her over the cliff and steal her money (she sold her house and possessions and keeps all the money in her purse). She throws her purse at his feet, sobbing in convulsions on the ground as he abandons her.

She later picks herself up and stumbles out of the wood in tears. In the film's famous last sequence, Cabiria walks the long road back to town when she is met by a group of young people riding scooters, playing music, and dancing. They happily form an impromptu parade around her until she begins to smile through her tears.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Oktoberfest Argentina en Villa General Belgrano

Fiesta Nacional de La Cerveza - Oktoberfest Argentina en Villa General Belgrano

Cisalpine people make up a large percentage of Argentina's population. Perhaps one-third. There was a lot of tie-ins within the era of Cisalpine immigration to the cone of South America and northern California. If you're a Cisalpine descendant in California and the Pacific Northwest... you could very easily be living in Buenos Aires today. As Americans, we spend so much time geopolitically worrying about unrelated-foreign places in the world instead of our own connections!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Agnus Dei - Mass for five voices

William Byrd "Agnus Dei - Mass for five voices"

Uploaded by YouTube channel Musikkhistoria

Uploaded on Jun 23, 2009

William Byrd (c. 1540 4 July 1623) was an English composer of the Renaissance. He cultivated many of the forms current in England at the time, including various types of sacred and secular polyphony, keyboard and consort music.


A special feature of the four-part and five-part Masses is Byrd's treatment of the Agnus Dei, which employ the technique which Byrd had previously applied to the petitionary clauses from the motets of the 1589 and 1591 Cantiones sacrae. The final words dona nobis pacem ('grant us peace'), which are set to chains of anguished suspensions in the Four-Part Mass and expressive block homophony in the five-part setting almost certainly reflect the aspirations of the troubled Catholic community of the 1590s.


Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.

Lamb of God, who took away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
Lamb of God, who took away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
Lamb of God, who took away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

Performed : The Tallis Scholars
Dir : Peter Phillips


Image : Detail of a 13th century window from Chartres Cathedral.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

"Veltha ruin" - Planting our flag

"Veltha ruin" - Planting our flag

Padanian American League flag

Voltumna (Veltha)

In Etruscan mythology, Voltumna or Veltha was the chthonic (earth) deity, who became the supreme god of the Etruscan pantheon, the deus Etruriae princeps, according to Varro. Voltumna's cult was centered in Volsini (modern-day Orvieto) a polis of the Etruscan Civilization of northwest Italy.

The bond of the twelve Etruscan populi was renewed annually at the sacred grove of Fanum Voltumnae, the sanctuary of Voltumnus sited near Volsinii (present day Bolsena), which was mentioned by Livy. At the Fanum Voltumnae ludi were held, the precise nature of which, whether athletic or artistic, is unknown.

Fanum Voltumnae

The Fanum Voltumnae, or shrine of Voltumna, was the chief sanctuary of the Etruscans: fanum means a sacred place, a much broader notion than a single temple. Numerous sources refer to a league of the "Twelve Peoples" (lucumonies) of Etruria, formed for religious purposes but evidently having some political functions. The Etruscan league of twelve city-states met annually at the Fanum, located in a place chosen as omphalos (sacred navel), the geographical and spiritual centre of the whole Etruscan nation. Each spring political and religious leaders from the cities would meet to discuss military campaigns and civic affairs and pray to their common gods. Chief amongst these was Voltumna (or Veltha), possibly state god of the Etruria.

Sacred grove

A sacred grove or sacred woods are any grove of trees of special religious importance to a particular culture. Sacred groves were most prominent in the Ancient Near East and prehistoric Europe, but feature in various cultures throughout the world.

[Music: Piano instrumental version of 'Battle Hymn of the Republic' by Allen Dale

Flute instrumental version of 'Brandy' by Blue Train

Piano instrumental version of 'Delta Dawn' by Allen Dale]