Integrals on the Wall

Posted by me on Wednesday, the 22nd day of August, anno domini 2007 at 9:51 PM, local time.

or, Singing in the Shower

So, I’ve noticed I sing a bit in the shower. And I’m not talking like pop songs, here. I’m talking opera solos. Its kinda crazy. I’m usually a low baritone or medium bass, but in the shower, with no pressure and no mocking friends, I can actually hit a moderately high falsetto (by which I mean a rather low contralto…). Of course, it’s hard to remember the words to the songs, mostly because they are all in Italian or some such. “When the foeman bares his steel” and “When a felon’s not engaged in his employment”, along with “La donna รจ mobile” and “Largo al factotum” are typical.

Anyway, as cliche as it is to sing in the shower, what else am I supposed to do? It’s not like I can work out math problems on the shower walls in the steam… not that I haven’t left a few integrals on the wall from time to time…

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le nozze di figaro
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Losing a song in the sea of opera

Posted by me on Friday, the 17th day of August, anno domini 2007 at 12:02 AM, local time.

I listen to a lot of opera. It’s great stuff. Lots of very memorable songs and overtures, arias, etc. But sometimes, I think I listen to too much opera without concentrating on it. Later, I will find a particular tune is in my head and I know its from an opera, but can’t for the life of me remember what it is. I replay a bunch of the operas I listen to frequently over and over, hoping to happen across the familiar song, all to no avail. A year goes by. More. I begin to fear the worst: I will never hear the song again, except in my head, imperfectly reproduced by my horrible memory.

Then, by chance, one day your friend Jim starts humming a tune, then says , “Isn’t that a great piece from that opera we just saw?”

“What?” I say.

“Yeah, don’t you remember, when Cherubino sings his declaration of love for all women to the countess and hilarious hi-jinks ensue?”

“What?” I say.

Then he brings out Pam’s sheet music for “Le nozze di Figaro”, pages to Act II, scene II, and points out the notes, humming as he goes. “See?”

“Damn it Jim.”

Seriously. Good thing we went to see that opera (which I have to review on my blog yet… how long ago was that?). Otherwise, I may never have found that song again. Even though I have a nice recording of Figaro, and listen to it from time to time (more so since going to see the thing, but that’s a different story).

Anyway, lots of opera, lots of good songs. A pity I can’t remember where they all come from!

*Note: I’ve paraphrased Jim’s actual words. Mostly because I can’t remember what exactly was said, but also because it’s slightly funnier this way. Sorry Jim. Thanks though!

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le nozze di figaro
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Bizet’s Carmen

Posted by me on Friday, the 29th day of December, anno domini 2006 at 2:47 PM, local time.

[Note: For those of you keeping track, I decided that the best way to procrastinate while still getting things done was to put off packing for a bit, then put off writing, then put off packing, etc. That way, everything can get easily procrastinated, but things still get done. Doesn’t seem right, somehow, but here I am.]

So, I was going to blog about this weeks ago when Pam mentioned to me that Carmen was on the television. Well, it turned out that it was but a song from Carmen and I was then urged to get out my CD and listen to it proper. And so I did.

Anyway, Carmen is a great opera. I would go so far as to say that it is one of my favorite operas. One of the few French operas I have on CD, and I cannot say that I agree with the way the storyline goes and ends up, but despite all this, still it is a fantastic opera. Solti’s conducting surely makes it even better. The singing is superb, and Ms Tatiana Trayanos as Carmen is most spectacular. It is quite odd, I must say, to find oneself singing along with a song written in French, with words I do not know or understand, written for a voice about 4 octaves higher than my own. But it is just such a compelling voice and song that you find yourself drawn in and forced to sing along.

Often when listening to opera I am dismayed, one way or the other, by either the overpowering orchestra or the orchestra that cannot be heard. In the recording I am pleased to possess, neither of these things has been a problem. The orchestra is brought forward and recessed at exactly the right moments for great effect and I can only assume that is in some small part Sir Georg‘s doing, as I have yet to have any such problems with any of his conductions.

In short, everyone must go out and buy this Opera (preferably a recording with Solti conducting) and listen to it nonstop for months on end until you too are in love with it as I am. I am sorry if this will take up a large part of your time; but really, you have no choice in the matter.

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