perjantai, 11. lokakuu 2019

Light Entertainment

Again three short ballets, this time called Triple Bill (in Finnish puzzlingly Tripla as the new Mall of Tripla is soon to be opened in Pasila district), with ballets by Wayne McGregor, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins.

McCregor's Infra to music by Max Richter was to my liking the most interesting, although not having read the introduction I apparently saw it in a wrong way: not as life under the surface of the city, but as the usual relationship mess on the surface of earth, and Julian Opie's walking figures of light more like transcendent reflections, thus more Supra than Infra.

Balanchine's Serenade to Tchaikovsky’s music I liked better than I had expected. I must have seen it before as it was last performed here in 2004, but I have no memory of it, which is not surprising as I see Balanchine as empty but pretty form.

Last but not least The Concert by Robbins to music by Frédéric Chopin. I don't think I have ever heard ballet audience laugh out loud, and it was indeed a funny parody of a concert in 1950s. The types of people depicted there are, however, extinct, and so there was a faint whiff of mists of time over it all, like classic slapstick comedy: one laughs but it doesn't really touch.

The house was almost full, which is not common with these triple bills at the National Ballet, and the audience was pleased with what they saw, to judge by the applause.

***

The prices at the restaurant have changed: a glass of red or white wine is now 11,50€, while sparkling wine is 8,50€ and champagne 12€ as before.

keskiviikko, 11. syyskuu 2019

The Prequel

The long-awaited and much discussed in advance Der Ring des Nibelungen has started with Das Rheingold. I was interested to see how this new version, unexpectedly directed by Anna Kelo instead of Kari Heiskanen (who neverthelless was paid for it), would turn out. The artistic director of the Finnish National Opera Lilli Paasikivi (who also sang Fricka) said they wanted a timeless version that could be shown for a long time. I hope this will prove to be so, although the goal is difficult to reach.

This version is completely without any contemporary allusions, a simple fairytale with the plot plainly in sight, which I found surprisingly enjoyable. The singers were all from the National Opera and very good. The giants in particular, Jyrki Korhonen and Koit Soasepp, were enjoyable. However, Wotan's (Tommi Hakala) German pronunciation was annoying: "Shasht du nisht Loge?" The staging was unremarkable, but with lightning it had its moments (all by Mikki Kunttu): apparently the Germanic gods lived on the Olympus and wore toga-like garments (Erika Turunen). The conductor was Esa-Pekka Salonen.

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The audience is arriving.

I would still be interested to see also Heiskanen's version with its critique of capitalism - not out of tune with Richard Wagner's own thinking, I believe.

And next Die Walküre in June...

tiistai, 13. elokuu 2019

What I did this Summer, and What I didn't

It's been a while.

Last spring was spent with my mother's estate inventory. In principle a simple matter, but something new kept turning up all the time. Finally the lawyer was able to send it to the tax office in June, and I happily passed on the papers to the banks. However, Danske Bank wants also my father's extracts from the population register, which we supplied them with after his death. Unfortunately they're missing, and so I had to order new ones from the various parishes where he has been registered. The last one came yesterday, and now I can forward them to the bank. At the same time arrived a request from the tax office for my mother's receipts for tax credit for domestic help; the deadline was yesterday. But anyhow, I'll fetch the receipts from Lahti, copy and send to the tax office, and hopefully they'll accept them. At worst, I'll have to pay back even the previous year's tax credit... There's no end to paper work, and expenditure.

Last winter I started to wonder why nothing worked the way it should, and checked my bhukti. I discovered it had been Rahu, which "reattaches the mind to stress and worldly concerns," since late October. That seemed to explain a lot. In the spring I decided to buy a hessonite ring, which is supposed to help with problems caused by Rahu, from a web shop where I had received excellent quick service and a good product earlier. This time, however, I got nothing: no ring and no reply to my emails, but at least I got a refund from PayPal in July.

When I came to spend my holiday in Lahti, first the washing machine stopped working, and then the lawn mower. Strangely enough, when my father died, the previous washing machine and the TV failed. When my mother bought a new washing machine, it turned out to be too big for the bathroom door, and the frame had to be pulled down. Now my worry materialized: the frame had to be pulled down again to get the old machine out. But now I have a new small washing machine. And a Fiskars reel mower, which I'm fairly happy with.

I had planned to paint the house myself this summer, but when I looked closer it became clear that more than paint was needed. I had started to explore painters when a firm phoned offering face work, new windows, roofing, etc. I asked for an offer on painting, which was higher than I had expected, but now the house has new paint, fascia, gutters, and drainpipes.

So, a lot useful things were accomplished, but not much fun. I did go to the market in July, though, and to the library, but that was the extent of my amusements.

perjantai, 15. maaliskuu 2019

Poor Sylvia

After many years, a good ballet at last, Sylvia by Léo Delibes, with John Neumeier's choreography (and beautiful lightning) from the year 1997. However, I wonder if Neumeier's angular movements will last. It seemed to me that they are already veering towards ridiculous, "so nineteen nineties."

I particularly enjoyed the mythological first act, but less the latter part. In the programme it is said that "at the end of the ballet, Sylvia finally finds genuine love through her own sexual awakening." Possibly that was Neumeier's intention, but I couldn't see it like that. Rather it seemed to me that the poor girl thrown out of her community is taken in (in more senses than one) by men, who take advantage of her, and in the end she is left psychologically alone and dependent on one man for her maintenance. I experienced the scene of Sylvia among men in evening suits as very unpleasant.

As usual for ballets, only the downstairs cafe was working. Even I settled for a free glass of water.

The applause was enthusiastic and long.

perjantai, 8. helmikuu 2019

Ice

I saw the new opera Ice by Jaakko Kuusisto yesterday. The librettist Juhani Koivisto says it was "a story that wanted to become an opera," but I would rather have said that it was "a story that never could become an opera;" I was really astonished when I first heard of the plan to turn Ulla-Lena Lundberg's novel into an opera. And as it was, I never felt I was watching an opera, but rather a musical with concert music. Still, the story of a clergyman moving to a small island with his family on his first job and ending with him drowning accidentally is interesting, and it was an altogether nice experience with realistic sets and post WW2 costumes. The music was unremarkable but it made a suitable background for the smaller and greater events in the archipelago.

***

Another aspect of "ice" was the way to the opera and back on slushy, wet and partly icy streets. I took the risk of wearing my evening boots with high heels, and I got finally home safe and sound after a couple of wobbly patches - unlike the clergyman of the opera, whose risk-taking ends fatally.