Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Mandolin Vision sends its most heartfelt congratulations to Juan Diego
on the birth of his daughter Lucia Stella on January 1st, 2014
and his operatic baby, that is still on the way and is due on April 15th, 2014 – his new CD L’Amour,
which can be pre-ordered on amazon.com.
Congratulations, Juan Diego!
What a fantastic start of 2014!
Friday, January 31, 2014
The performance was indeed the one to enjoy. From the beautiful idyllic sets to the breathtaking costumes, it was all about the precious classical tradition that never goes out of style.
Even though normally it is the prima who steals the Swan Lake show, in this performance Esina had to split her success with her Siegfried, portrayed by young Mariinsky soloist Timur Askerov.
His security in performing the most difficult pas as well as his command of the space and his ability to “sit in the air” kept wowing the audience throughout the performance.
In any other ballet that would not be a problem, but in the Swan Lake color is everything. In the Swan Lake things are color-coded to the extent that white stands for good (Odette), and black stands for evil (Odile). And so if that is the case, then, excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, but what was a flock of black swans doing among the white-feathered friends of Odette’s? Moreover, from the esthetic point of view, this combination did not look nice either. Next to the shimmering tutus of “the white swans”, the dancers dressed in plain black tutus resembled black crows, rather than swans. You get my point: diversity is awesome, unless it interferes with the concept.
Monday, January 27, 2014
And here it was, seated in the middle of the Sculpture Court, the young and talented Peabody Prep string orchestra, performing Mozart under the baton of the Meyerhoff’s regular, Maestro Edward Polochick. The great acoustics of the Sculpture Court allowed the sound to gain immense power and volume. It was hard to believe that this incredible, all embracing sound was produced not by an orchestra of grown-up musicians, but an orchestra of 7-12 graders.
However, what struck me most about this performance was the amount of genuine passion for music and the selfless dedication with which those kids were performing. Their music did not just sound – it went straight into the heart! Needless to say, the performance found a huge response with the audience, especially with its youngest members. Troy moved both his arms in the air, pretending to play the music on the cello. A boy on the balcony was waving his arms as if “conducting”, just like Troy used to do. A girl right in front of us pretended to play the violin. In short, whether on or offstage, in reality or still just in their dreams, all the children were playing Mozart!
Friday, January 24, 2014
a couple of days ago, on a beautiful snowy day, on the day when Baltimore ended up sinking into the whole 10 inches of snow.
The snow was powdery and would not stick, but we were persistent! (LOL)
As you can see, this picture was taken before the real snowfall.
Happy Friday to all!
Thursday, January 9, 2014
Monday, January 6, 2014
Below please find a slightly belated, but very special holiday music card for you all!
Wondering what might be musical about this card?
Well, this fantastic snowman was built by the talented Peabody students after an overnight snowfall - right in front of Peabody Institute, Troy's beloved music school and the cradle of music in Baltimore.
|(Washington Monument - center, Peabody Institute - right)|
And so, on that note, from Mandolin Vision to you all:
Happy Holidays! May music always live in your hearts!
Friday, January 3, 2014
Mozart’s Die Zauberfleute
Verdi’s Rigoletto ( I do owe you all a post on that)
Tschaikovsky’s The Nutcracker
Weber’s Der Freischutz
May this year bring you all joy, peace, love and, of course, lots of wonderful music.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
And mind you, my friends, it was not a kiddie picture book with two sentences on each page. No, my friends, we read the full version, written by Hoffmann in a book with only one, but very special old-fashioned watercolor illustration in it.
Back in the fall, Hoffmann’s Nutcracker became our bedtime story – one chapter every night. And I have to say that reading this book together with Troy was a wonderful experience. The way Hoffmann addresses his young readers, calling them “my young friend”, “Marie” and “Fritz” and asking them questions about how they would act if… makes understanding of the story so easy, and makes the child feel as if he plays an important role in the story and as if he can change the story if he/she chooses to do so.
If you have been reading this blog for a while you probably remember that I am a make-it-yourself girl. It is my firm belief that every person can do so much more than he/she thinks he/she can, and when it comes to children’s toys, handmade toys are truly unique and special.
Troy loves making toys together with me. So this year our Nutcracker time turned into a real project when I bought an unpainted wooden Nutcracker in a craft store and we painted, lacquered and decorated it together.
Check it out, my friends – is this guy cute or what?
Ever since I moved to the US, I have continued to see ballets, but only a few of them struck me as something of interest. One of the most memorable ones happened to be the Nutcracker that I saw a few years ago, presented by Moscow Ballet. The sets were nothing out of the common way, but the costumes were rich and the quality of the performance was pretty good. So, because I have been quite picky about the quality of performances that Troy sees, I told myself : “If Moscow Ballet brings the Nutcracker again, I will take Troy to see it”. So this year Moscow Ballet finally brought the Nutcracker back to Baltimore, and true to my intentions, I took Troy to see it.
However, the artist who performed the part of the Nutcracker/Prince did not impress at all. His was the performance that proved that people very rarely change from within. While his magical rescue did turn him into a human being, or at least so it seemed lookswise, overall, by the way he moved one could tell that this prince was still very much a wooden doll. Besides, the guy clearly had balance issues, and after several fouette's, he sort of went sideways, as if losing control of his movements. But of course, make no mistake about it, my friends - I did keep my sarcasm exclusively to myself and only spoke to Troy about things that I did like. As for Troy, he loved it all!
I have to admit that most artists demonstrated good dancing technique and moved quite in sync. Plus, of course, the live music and the luxurious costumes worked their magic. Overall, it was a very compelling performance, and if you want to see excerpts from the Snowflake Dance and the Waltz of the Flowers, please click here and here - and enjoy!
Friday, December 13, 2013
One of the most striking things about German to me has been that while phonetically, it is certainly not the softest-sounding language in the world, it possesses an incredible musicality when used in opera. The hoarse, throaty sounds that the German phonetics is so rich with, somehow melt away and the rough prepositions at the end of the phrases give the line a nice ringing quality. In short, to my ears, if sung in German, operas sound no worse (and sometimes better) than operas sung in Italian or French.
When I listen to German operas, I always feel privileged because I am able to understand pretty much everything that the artists sing. Naturally, understanding is very important. Or at least so I thought, until just recently my son Troy was able to convince me otherwise.
Just recently Troy discovered a cello version of the Huntsmen's Chorus from Carl Maria von Weber’s Der Freischutz on his cello CD and wanted to know what the music was, where it was from, who wrote it and, of course, what the story was about. In short, he wanted to know everything.
So I found this CD
in my rich home collection, told Troy the story and then we listened to some extracts together. He was mesmerized!
The spooky Wolf’s Glen Scene, the lyrical Agathe's Aria accompanied by the cello, Der Jungferkranz and, above all, the headspinning music of the Huntsmen's Chorus captured Troy's imagination.
When Troy only started discovering those pieces, he naturally asked me what this or that German word meant. I diligently translated it all word-to-word and even sang some of my own poetic Russian translations which I had written back in my early 20s, (which Troy grew very fond of).
However, soon enough I discovered that my son had been able to memorize some of Kasper's lines in the Wolf”s Glen Scene in German! While on the CD, Kasper was making the seven magic bullets, Troy would enthusiastically call out “Eins! Zwei! Drei!Vier! Funf! Sechs! Sieben! Samiel, hilf!” and then announce Samiel’s ultimatum "Morgen - er oder du!”
Apparently, Troy enjoyed saying those lines in German.
And then one day an even more unusual thing happened.
"Mama, said Troy, "can you sing about the wreath [Der Jungferkranz] in German to me?" "In German?" I asked.” Not in Russian?” “No, said Troy, I really like how it sounds in Russian, but in German it sounds even better”.
I have to admit, I was most pleasantly surprised. To me, Troy’s words meant
that at his early age, he was no longer dependent on translations and was now able
to appreciate that special magic musicality that only the piece performed in the
original language possesses.
Troy’s interest in listening to the German opera in German also made me think about all the new productions that offer foreign operas translated into English. It is common knowledge that any translation takes away from the original piece, yet the productions of translated operas keep multiplying and are quite popular.
The question is: do we gain or lose from seeing a foreign opera in English? And if the answer is “both”, then is the translation worth the loss of magic?
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
In this post I would like to share with you all a couple of Troy's "grown-up" statements that will hopefully put a smile on more than one face.
1. Who Needs a Winter Break?!
I know many people who do, but apparently, my son is not one of those people.
Last Saturday, Troy's cello teacher announced to her students and us, their parents, that there will be no cello classes on December 21st and 28th because of the Winter Break. Troy got most genuinely upset and said to his teacher:
"Noooo - I don't want this Winter Break! I don't need Winter Break! I love your cello and I love your class and I want to come to your class every day!"
2. When There Is Music in the House
Troy and I often play music at home. Troy, of course, plays the cello and I - the piano. We each have our own repertoires. Troy's repertoire consists of the Ants Song, King of the Castle, CGC Song and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (which is still a work in progress), and mine - of Ombra mai fu (Handel's Xerxes), Caro nome (Verdi's Rigoletto), Wir winden dir den Jungferkranz (Weber's Der Freischutz), Voi che sapete and Non piu andrai (Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro), and some cute songs that Troy and I composed ourselves.
The other day after dinner, as usual, Troy wanted to play some music. So we did. After that Troy gave me a hug and said: " Mama, I love our home so much, especially when there is music in it. I play the cello. You play the piano! It makes me very-very happy!"
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Monday, December 2, 2013
Last month a wonderful musical event took place. I do hesitate to say grandiose about an event organized single-handedly by yours truly, but hey, maybe I should say it after all, it truly was truly grandiose.
Remember Jacques-Pierre Malan, an aspiring cellist and grad student at Peabody, who performed for my seniors about two years ago together with his friend Solomon Eichner?
Well, my friends, about a month ago I saw Jacques-Pierre in the place I least expected to see him - my son's cello class in Peabody Institute!
(It turned out that Jacques-Pierre came to observe Troy's teacher "in action" and get some teaching tips from her).
Shortly after this meeting, I contacted Jacques-Pierre to see if he was still looking for opportunities to perform, and it turned out that he was! So we planned a program of classical gems by Bach, Beethoven and Haydn. Aren't you getting excited yet? Believe me, you should, because this time Jacques-Pierre would be accompanied on the piano by the virtuosic pianist and Peabody professor Clinton Adams.
This recital was to open my brand-new recital series, called "Recitals by Candlelight", and was to consist of 2 parts: the Pre-Recital Reception and the Recital proper.
The fame well preceded the event and soon enough 65 seniors from near and far (there was a shuttle that brought 14 seniors from miles away) signed up for the event.
And so, the big day finally came.
From early morning I was busy as a bee, dressing the reception room in fuchsia and silver, designing the cheese and fruit displays, carving baskets and flowers from red peppers and constructing veggie-stuffed rolls out of all sorts of cheese.
Yes, my friends, that's me.
I do not believe in paying $100.00 to the deli department in a local supermarket for something that I can make for under $30.00.
But of course, the highlight of the reception was Raspberrini's, my new alcohol-free creation made (especially for the occasion) of sparkling apple cider and fresh raspberries frozen inside ice cubes and served in champagne flutes.
Needless to say, my seniors had a wonderful time at the reception and, as my student Bonnie put it: " felt like a million bucks".
I believe it is now time to stop talking and let the pictures below speak for themselves.
|Left to right: my students Sandra, Fran and Sally|
|Right to left: my students Bonnie and Bea|
Indeed, the champagne and the flowers on the tables were fake,
|Left to right: my students Rosalie, Charlotte and Alla|
the candles were flameless, but the music was real!
The performance was absolutely incredible.
To me, the most striking thing was the contrast and, at the same time, the harmony of two polar performing approaches (Clinton Adams' being all class, and conservative flawlessness and Jacques-Pierre Malan's being all boldness, adventurism and humor). However, different as their performances were, the artists could not have possibly formed a more perfect duo, united by their endless passion for music and music making.
This recital set the room on fire. My students gave the musicians a standing ovation after every number, but especially after the 1st Movement from Haydn's Cello Concerto in D Major - everyone raved about (and even tried to sing!) that music days after the recital.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
As Troy keeps practicing day after day, his hand starts looking much better when holding the bow and the sound is getting prettier as well. But above all, Troy is happy, and inspired and so proud to play like a grown-up, which, in my humble opinion, is the most important thing now.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
I told Troy that as people listen to his performance, they should be able to see and hear what the song is about. And he, Troy, should be able to tell his listeners a story through his music. Troy took it in with an open heart.
"Why don't we switch to another song now?" I suggested after Troy played it quite a few times.
"No, mama, I want to play this song again!" said Troy. He played it, and as he played it he added more expression and character to his music.
And the music did sound different. It became alive. Troy heard the difference too and laughed happily.
That Saturday, in his cello class he played it really well for his teacher, got praised by her several times, and informed his teacher that the song was called “A Halloween Ghost House”.
It is his favorite song now, and maybe years later he will still cherish the memory of the first song in which he played real music.
Stay tuned for an event, much anticipated by Troy: the Bow Acceptance.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Saturday, September 28, 2013
|Our Radames, riding his horse, singing the Triumphant March very loudly inside his helmet|
After Troy watched Aida for the first time, we had this peculiar conversation:
Troy: Mama, so Radames loved Aida?
Me: Well, he loved her because he thought she was the best girl in the world.
Troy: But why couldn’t he just love Amneris? She looks better than Aida - and he would be alive if he married her!
Me: So I guess Radames didn't make the right choice then?
Troy: Nah, I would choose Amneris, but she is a mummy now.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
My seating for the evening was quite poor. Row C in the Dress Circle, my friends, which in the given theater is quite far from and quite high above the stage. Isn’t the company interested in the press to have a good view of the stage? On a second thought, maybe not. Sometimes the less you get to see the better it looks.
But of course, the biggest obstacle of the evening was served up by conductor Richard Buckley who let the orchestra play insanely loud and at an insanely fast tempo. Poor Bryan was not even heard in his Questa or quella, even though in his delivery of the piece he did focus on his sound much more than on his tone. Count Monterone sung by Matthew Trevino had an even smaller share of luck. His curse scene resembled an old silent movie with lots of action and articulation, but – no sound whatsoever. In short, Scene 1 was quite pitiful to watch and hear. Eventually, things did get better and all the three leads got plenty of opportunity to shine, of which you can read in my Bachtrack review if you click on the top review here.
And of course, both the scenery and the costumes were a wonderful fusion of tradition and taste. I think I find certain comfort in seeing some operas staged traditionally, and Rigoletto is definitely one of them. Sorry, folks, but I have a hard time getting convinced by Gilda blogging (or god forbid, tweeting) about her love for the Duke of Mantua or rather (Doug of Mantua, OH) or by Rigoletto making his living as a stand-up comedian. I have not seen this interpretation anywhere (well, at least not yet), but considering all the modernized Rigolettos that have popped up in the recent years, how far off can we be from a version like that?
Click here to read and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section of this post.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
With some knowledge of Greek mythology under his belt (the myths of Orpheus, the Minotaur and Medusa being among his favorites), Troy just gulped the story of Acteon, only asked to repeat it some 9 times and watched the You Tube clip (see previous post) with utmost attention.
Of course, I made sure to "take care" of the scenes that added nothing to the story, yet could cause unnecessary questions – we just skipped them. Troy loved the hunters’ chorus and while listening, pretended to ride a horse. He loved “Liberte, mon coeur, liberte”, asked to watch it a few times and still hummed it hours later.
And then, next day the funniest of things happened.