Culture Magazine

Don Giovanni and Helicopters

By Pinkall @pinkall
I want to thank all of my friends and family who came to watch the opera this weekend.  It really means a lot to me that you made the trip to see my performance in Don Giovanni at the Conservatory.  I thought it went well, and I am excited to now have the time to begin work on other things.
For the most part, this week I will be trying to recoup from being in performance mode for so long.  Every day that I had to sing, I went through a specific routine of allergy medicine, coffee, bananas, sleeping at the same times, all to keep my voice in some kind of healthy shape.  It becomes a little neurotic at times, but it is all for the love of the art.
Thank you for all the comments about the "Lazy Person's Guide to Opera" posts last week.  I hope that you find some entertainment out of those, and hopefully I will be able to add to those in the future.  If you missed them, here are the links to the posts:
Sex and Death: A Lazy Person's Guide to Don GiovanniA Lazy Person's Guide to Opera: Don Giovanni - Part 2A Lazy Person's Guide to Opera: Don Giovanni - Part 3A Lazy Person's Guide to Opera: Don Giovanni - Part 4
This week made me think a lot, not only about Don Giovanni, but opera in general and what the future of opera looks like.  I love to go to the movies and I caught myself searching for upcoming releases to see what I could be looking forward to: war movies, sequels to other movies that I like, movies from directors that I like, etc.  That lead me to think that this was probably how opera was received in Mozart's time.  I know we will never see that kind of reception for opera again, but perhaps there are some things to get excited about.
So, I did some searching online about some upcoming operas, just to see if I could feel the same excitement towards them as I do movies.  Keep in mind, that I am an opera freak, fully aware of the differences between movies and opera.  None of these have had their world premiere, but I tried to study them a little bit - this takes the place of a teaser trailer.  And in the movie critic (Roman Emporer) culture of thumbs up and down, I will set a rating system using Pavarotti Hankies and Susan Boyle - 2 Pav Hankies mean I am the most excited, 1 Pav Hankie means I am looking forward to it even though it may be weird, and a Susan Boyle means that it looks and sounds pretty strange to me.
So, here is my first review (keep in mind, this is just measuring my personal excitement - so there's nothing scientific about any of this)
Sonntag aus Licht by Stockhausen
This opera is premiering April 9 at Oper Köln (Cologne, Germany).  Out of a long list of premieres, it caught my eye because it was written by Stockhausen.  Stockhausen is one of the most important composers of the last 100 years, however he died in 2007.  So, to produce an opera after death - it is pretty intriguing.  AND, this is the last opera in a cycle of operas.  Each opera is a different day of the week - this one means "Sunday".  Stockhausen began writing the first opera (Thursday) in 1978, so this is a long work coming.  The operas are about the mythology that brought about the days of the week - gods, battles, love, and all.  Yet another exciting thing is the instrumentation and composition in the first six operas including: trumpets on rooftops (Thursday), eyebrow and nostril dances (Saturday), the first "modern orchestra" of synthesizers (Monday), the battle between Lucifer and Michael using eight loudspeakers (Tuesday), an opera for children's orchestra and children's choir (Friday), and the most odd of them all, a helicopter and string quartet - using four string instruments and four actual helicopters (Wednesday).  By the way, the whole opera cycle is about 29 hours long!"Sunday" is the last opera of the cycle by Stockhausen.  It was finished in 2003 but this is the first time that it will be performed.  The story is about Eve and Michael, but what intrigues me are his inventive programming and orchestration choices. Scene two is called "Angel-Processions" and is written for seven choirs!  Scene four is called "Scents-Signs" and involves the release of fragrances as sort of a smell symphony.  And scene five (which I'm sure will be tortuously long) consist of a Hochzeit (a traditional Germanic musical form for the wedding celebration) for five choirs and one for five orchestras.  They perform them simultaneously in two separate auditoriums, and at various points, windows are opened to hear the other performance going on.  AND THEN, the performers switch halls and they do the whole thing again, so the audience has two different perspectives of the piece.

I am very sorry for the English speakers out there, but here is a German video about the music from the first scene that has many musical excerpts.  (I dare you to listen for longer than 15 seconds)

Ok, so for the rating.  I am not too excited about Stockhausen's music since it is pretty mathematical and not even close to tonal - the movie equivalent to a film being an hour of random color blotches instead of being a Disney animated feature.  But his ideas seem to be really neat, and I like mythology in art - it usually brings about some pretty awesome and imaginative things.  So, I will give it:
1 Pav HankieDon Giovanni and Helicopters(It might put me to sleep, but I've never smelt music before)Also, I have one more schedule update.  I will be performing the world premiere of "Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Day" by Betty Liang, an art song for marimba and tenor on April 17 at Grant Recital Hall at the Conservatory.Last and certainly not least, THE KANSAS SENATE SUCCESSFULLY REPEALED THE GOVERNOR'S EXECUTIVE ORDER ABOLISHING THE KANSAS ARTS COMMISSION!UPCOMING SCHEDULE
  • World Premiere - "Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Day" by Betty Liang - 5pm, Grant Recital Hall, Kansas City, MO 4/17
  • National Anthem - Kansas City Royals vs. Cleveland Indians - 4/18
  • Conservatory Finale  - Poulenc Gloria (probably on my top 10 favorite pieces ever) featuring the Conservatory Choirs and Orchestra - 4/23
  • National Anthem - DOE Small Business Conference & Expo - Kansas City Convention Center - 5/10
  • Administrative Director of the 33rd Annual Summer Choral Institute - 6/5-11
  • National Anthem - Sporting KC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps - 6/25
  • Sugar Creek Opera Festival (Chicago) - role: chorus/cover, opera: Daughter of the Regiment - 7/20-8/7
  • Kansas City Symphony Chorus Auditions - tba

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