torstai, 13. joulukuu 2018

Cracow in December

The week before mother's funerals we were in Cracow. The weather was cloudy, even rainy at times.

The hotel was tidy but very basic. The location, however, just outside the old town and near the railway station was excellent.

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View from my room.

We visited the Christmas market: had some pierogi and mulled wine.

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Christmas Market with St. Mary's Church in the background.

And saw sights: Sukiennice, Wawel Royal Castle, Rynek Underground, Old Synagogue in Kazimierz...

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A view from Wawel Hill

One can fly to Cracow very handily and cheaply these days. I'm almost tempted to return there to buy the bag I left in the shop; I've had bad luck with my bags since then.

torstai, 13. joulukuu 2018

Now Alone

Mother died a month ago. The funeral was last Friday. There were more guests than I had expected, but still no crowd. The minister had even met mother in her nursing home. He was young and nice, but probably more at home in other kinds of family occasions.

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My first Christmas alone is drawing near.

 

 

 

perjantai, 30. marraskuu 2018

Another New Cinderella

In 2011 there was a new Cinderella ballet in Helsinki. The same year in Birmingham there was another new Cinderella, by David Bintley to Sergei Prokofiev's music, with sets and costumes by Emma Ryot. Yesterday I had the chance to see it here in Helsinki. Comparing with what I wrote about the Terence Kohler - Lera Auerbach ballet in 2011, I liked this one better, although I have no actual memory of the other one.

David Bintley's choreography was technically undemanding but pretty - there is no need to comment on the music. What I liked particularly were the sets and lightning. Visually it was very English and reminded me of Tenniel's Alice illustrations. The starry skies were lovely, the Helsingin Sanomat review complained about darkness, but I thought the nocturnal scenery somehow made it all dreamlike, and a fairytale has much in common with dreams, I think. The lizards, the frog and the mice were cute, and even the comic stepsisters brought a slight smile to my lips. And when the clock started ticking I got goose bumps.

There were lots of children in the audience, with some of the little girls dressed in sequins and rhinestones and tulle, and some of them had tubs of popcorn - not something I had ever expected to see or smell in the opera house. As a child I would have loved this ballet, and even now I liked it much better than I had expected.

perjantai, 26. lokakuu 2018

Wonderful Tales

The Tales of Hoffman, composed by Jacques Offenbach, and of course based on E.T.A. Hoffman's stories, and now directed by Johannes Erath (originally for Semperoper in Dresden) is full of wonders, so full that I have very little to say about it. I ought to watch it many times to penetrate even half its mysteries. The staging etc. is very clever, except the long wait before the last act. For instance, all the three women, Olympia, Antonia and Giulietta, are all played by different singers, even as at the end it is insisted that they all are one, Stella. On the other hand Lindorf / Coppelius / Dapertutto / Miracle (fantastic Franco Pomponi), Muse and Hoffman are all dressed in purple velvet, perhaps implying that they are also one person, Hoffman.

Lovely music, great singers... except maybe Dominik Sutowicz as Hoffman, who was a bit strange at times in the beginning. This is one of the operas that I have known only by name so far, a gap in education I have been in no hurry to fill, to my loss as I now realize.

maanantai, 8. lokakuu 2018

A Little about A French Soiree

Last Thursday I went to the ballet with some doubts. A French soiree with Pneuma by Carolyn Carlson and Suite en blanc by Serge Lifar was on the menu. What I had seen earlier of Carolyn Carlson's work I had found soporific, and the neo-classical ballets I had seen I had found vacuous. Apparently others had shared my doubts as the house was half-empty.

However, Pneuma, shown before the intermission, was beautiful and fascinating, while the shorter Suite en blanc was both fun and energetic. The dancers and the music left nothing to complain about, but in particular I liked the lightning of Pneuma by Rémi Nicolas; I've never before seen yellow shadows!

On the whole, a worthwhile evening.