Моя маленькая “My Little One” by Polina Agureyeva

From what I have been able to glean, Polina Agureyeva is the singer. The song is “My Little One” from the Russian film “A Long Goodbye” by Sergei Ursuliak.

This song is beautiful and so moving. It’s not classical guitar, but that doesn’t take away one iota from the moment. I’ve been humming this song for a couple of days now!

This song has hooked me. I want to see this film.

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Segovia’s Master Class

Wanted to share this video with you. As you know I am learning classical guitar. I found this video of Segovia’s master class back in the day. Believe it or not something like this is very helpful to a student learning CG. It’s not only the historical perspective, but as a student I can watch their fingers and how they hold the guitar, etc.

Especially for those tricky barre chords!

I geek out over stuff like this. Enjoy. 🙂

 

Passacaglia and Barre Chords in Classical Guitar

My classical guitar lessons have been going well. I honestly feel I am making good progress. I’ve memorized the two main sections of “Malagueña” Malaguenaand have to work on the lento (slow) section. The other song I’ve been working on with my teacher is “Romanza” or “Spanish Ballad”.

Malagueña is the feminine form of the Spanish port city Málaga. I think the tune was also used by Ernesto Lecuona in a piece of music. It has been featured or used in many other pieces of music as well. The song itself is pretty old, unless I am mistaken, and has its roots as a traditional piece from the port city of the same name in Spain. De Torres painted a picture he titled Malagueña in 1917 so it has been popular for a long time.

Aside from “Classical Gas” by Mason Williams, “Malagueña” is the second most requested song by audiences. There are a ton of different renditions and arrangements, but I am concentrating on the one by Christopher Parkening. My guitar teacher, btw, used to study under Parkening.

“Romanza” (Romance) or the “Spanish Romance” is of more questionable origin.  It appears it first appeared in the late 19th century, but other than that we don’t know the authorship. I am studying the minor section right now, and trying to get myself to mastering barre chords. Agh, they are my bane! (But I refuse to be deterred. I will master them.)

The third big piece I am working on (for myself, not my teacher) is “Passacaglia”. This is another musical form which originated in Spain and is derived from the Spanish pasar or “to walk” and calle (street). Even so it looks like there are Italian sources to this musical form sourced to 1606.

So it’s old no matter how you cut it. Again there are many different arrangements to this, but I am studying the one in Hal Leonard’s Classical Guitar Method. I like its strong, haunting quality. Any passacaglia has a brief sequence of varying chords over a bass line, which itself may vary.

Anyway, I like it. I am having fun now that I have committed to CG but I would be less than honest if I said there wasn’t some frustration along the way. CG is one of the most difficult forms of music to master. I don’t know what the most difficult would be. (Flamenco, maybe?)  But CG is difficult enough. I love the music and I love the structure inherent in the form. I am probably practicing about 2.5 to 3 hours on average a day. Sometimes longer. I’d say that feels about average. I am not interested enough to keep a record. It has probably has been longer of late because I have the opportunity to put in the time. That won’t always be the case, though, once the writing picks up again.

One final note, classical guitar doesn’t necessarily mean you have to play classical music. I kind of agree with the modern interpretation that says any kind of music can be played in a classical style.  To show what I mean, here is Per-Olov Kindgren playing Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” in classical form.

Maybe someday I can do this! (in about a million years) 😛

Fado

For a long time I have been trying to think of the name of this music. Then, out of the blue, one of my writer friends J. Kathleen Cheney Fado, painting by Jose Malhoamentioned something about Fado. Kathleen has been working on stories set in Portugal, I believe, and has even go so far as to begin to learn how to speak the language. She’s a good writer and if you haven’t given her stuff a try then you should. She brings an incredible attention to detail and authenticity you don’t see enough in fiction.

Anyway, that was the name and style of the music. Fado is often mournful and the themes reflect the sea, or the poor, or longing and resignation. There’s a culture around this form of music I like a lot, too. Fado is traditionally sung in a dim, unadorned café. When the performer is singing everyone is required to stop eating and sit very still and quiet so she (or he) can concentrate.

I had a scene in an unpublished novel called Red Widow where a Russian-American spy sat in a Lisbon bar listening to fado. That was years ago, and I didn’t feel like going back and pouring through the manuscript to see what it was called. But I couldn’t remember the name of the style.

All this time I had been wracking my brain trying to remember it, haha. Thanks, Kathleen!

Anyway, here is some fado for you by Amália Rodriques, one of the best fadistas ever. Enjoy!

My First Guitar Lesson!

My first classical guitar lesson went pretty well yesterday. We didn’t do much. The instructor asked me some questions and we ran through some sight reading of music so he could see where I was. I played a little bit. He helped me see how my right hand was not parallel to the strings and my thumb not resting behind the neck. I knew I had some bad habits to correct and now I have to work on that. These changes help me to reach the strings better and cover the frets with my hand span.

I don’t know how it happened but I lost my Korg tuner so I had to buy another! It’s around the house somewhere, but I have looked and looked for  a month and I cannot find it. Of course, now that I have bought a new one (about $15) I will probably find the one I lost. It’s probably under my pillow or in a coat pocket that way. Some obvious place. It’s always that way.

He asked me and I told him my goals were to play Romanza and Malagueña.

Got some homework. He wants me to view some YouTube videos of other classical guitarists and watch their posture, hand positions, etc. Also check out some videos of the songs Jesu, Afro-Cuban Lullaby, Lagrima and Adelita. It’s to help me broaden my perspective of other kinds of music out there.

I also have a song to practice, Malagueña. Mostly be able to read the notes and play them, worry about tempo later. I can do that. I will also work on some other stuff as well. He said the two classical books I was already working out of, Noad and Hal Leonard’s Classical Guitar, were fine. I could keep on with them. He will bring music to the sessions and give it to me, stuff he wants me to work on. Sounds good.

So I’ve got a lot to do and I am being challenged. But that’s what I wanted so I can’t complain. I didn’t expect to be thrown into Malagueña this early, but, hey, I’m game to try.

Diana Damrau as Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Die Zauberflote

Many divas have tried their hand at this role.  No one can match Diana Damrau.  She is the Queen of Night.  She’s beautiful and evil and she scares the living hell out of you. Which is what the character is supposed to do.

When she comes at you  with those eyes you can’t help but cringe. She not only sings the part, she plays the part to the hilt and will tear the stage apart in the process.  Other women sing the role but they don’t act it.  Or vice versa.  Damrau does both to perfection.

I’ve seen Damrau twist arms, throw Paminas across the stage, force them to their knees and generally browbeat them into sobbing puddles.  If you’re cast as Pamina against Damrau’s Queen of Night then you’re plain out of luck.  You don’t have to act scared.  You will be scared.

Here are the song lyrics:

The vengeance of Hell boils in my heart,
Death and despair flame around me!
If Sarastro does not through you feel the pain of death,
Then you will be my daughter nevermore.
Disowned may you be forever,
Abandoned may you be forever,
Destroyed be forever
All the bonds of nature,
If not through you Sarastro becomes pale! (as death)
Hear, Gods of Revenge, hear a mother’s curse!

Poor Pamina.  Well, we don’t get to choose our parents. By the way, those are High Fs Damrau is hitting in the signature notes. And she’s so menacing and exudes such venom when she stalks Pamina across the stage.  It sends a chill up the spine.  She’s ready to devour poor Pamina.

Die Zauberflote is not a true opera. There are spoken parts in the production and a lot of idiotic Masonic ritual garbage.  But no one goes to Die Zauberflote to see that, they go to hear Mozart’s music.  I think it’s safe to say if you don’t believe in the Queen of Night character the entire opera suffers.  Some queens you can’t help but laugh at when you see them. They come across as clowns. You will never laugh at Damrau in this production.  She was made for it, and it for her, and it’s well known throughout the operatic universe this was one of her best performances as the Queen of Night.

Damrau retired this singing part in 2006.  Most opera stars sing the role and then put it away forever because it’s so hard on the voice.  Well, like I said, those are High Fs.  A lot of them.

Leontyne Price Sings Her Farewell in Aida

Leontyne Price was a famous African American singer.  She was best known for her role as Aida, the black slave girl in the opera of the same name.

During the 50s and 60s she endured racism and other humiliations like not being allowed to sleep in the same hotel as the white singers.  Nevertheless her voice and her talent endured and she became one of the best known and best loved singers in the entire pantheon.

Her signature role, as I said, was as the slave girl in Aida.  During this opera Aida realizes she will never return to Ethiopia and she sings of the love and the heartache she has for a land she will never see again.  It’s heartbreaking.  When Ms. Price left the stage, of course her signature song was going to be “O Patria Mia”.  Everyone was waiting for it.  Emotions were already very high. Everyone throughout the world of opera knew how much the song meant to Ms. Price personally, and could only guess what emotions were raging inside her

This was to be her final curtain call as Aida — she was leaving the world of opera forever.  And then the time came when she had to sing the song on stage…and then she had to stand there and endure the fantastic reaction she knew was going to come from the audience.

Yeah.  It brings the house down. Most times those are just meaningless words. Not this time. Ms. Price brought the house down.

Watch as she stands there and endures the waves of love and emotion that break over her.  She’s about to completely crack open and begin sobbing uncontrollably — the audience is already sobbing and shouting “Brava!” — but she can’t break down because if she does the opera is ruined and she has to go on to sing the next song.

Watch it yourself…and try not to cry as the audience breaks down and says goodbye to a true artist.

http://youtu.be/xGfP38nd-U0

 

“Stagger Lee” by Lloyd Price

As a writer I am fascinated how small and seemingly insignificant events have, through oral repetition, come to play an important part in our culture.

One of these events is the (very real) murder of Bill Curtis by Lee Sheldon, also known as “Stag” Lee.  Down through time his name has become corrupted into Stagger Lee, or Stagolee, sometimes Stackalee, or any other variation you might think of.

I don’t know about you but when viewing this through the lens of a writer I find it fascinating. The acts are so simple and yet they carry so much power. This is a good lesson for a writer, I think.  Here we are with a barroom brawl, and a Stetson hat in 1895, and it becomes legendary in our culture and a mainstay of music.  Wow.  I just can’t wrap my head around that.

Most of us know this song either from the 1995 Nick Cave cover, or the 1959 hit by Lloyd Price. Speaking for myself I prefer the Lloyd Price rendition.  It’s more evocative and much the better constructed narrative.

It’s a “Livin’ Thing”

Anyone who reads my blog knows I like opera.  But unlike some stuffed shirts I don’t believe opera has to be Wagnarian in concept to be opera.

That’s why I want to give you a link to one of the first rock bands to incorporate operatic themes and classical sounds in their music.  When Electric Light Orchestra first started out they were a true orchestra.  In fact, they were more orchestra than rock band which gave them their signature sound.  They weren’t ever referred to as ELO but as Electric Light Orchestra. It was only later they moved away from their classical roots and became E.L.O.

As a result, they were never as good and they quickly vanished.  Deservedly so, imo.

But nevertheless this song, and the blend of rock and classical music, endures. “Livin’ Thing” has a deep orchestral arrangement that  sweetens the song and makes it memorable.  Give it a listen.

“This is Tosca’s Kiss!”

When Puccini’s opera Tosca was first performed the critics savaged it.  They called it a “tawdry, little shocker.”

Puccini had tremendous success with La Boheme the year before.  What kind of success? Imagine Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and American Idol all wrapped into one…and you still wouldn’t come close.  So everyone was looking forward to his next opera. Could he top La Boheme? The critics were certain he could not so they were predisposed to hate Tosca before it was staged.

The public, on the other hand, had very different ideas after they say it.

Tosca is an opera about a flawed woman.  Tosca is a deeply jealous woman in love with a painter.  But there’s a chief of police, Scarpia, who is also in love with Tosca.  He’s a real snake, this Scarpia, and one of the most evil characters in opera.  Intrigue, deception and violence are the foundations to this opera.  It’s the quintessential opera: people are either singing about their undying love for one another or they are screaming pure hate at each other.  There is no middle ground.  Nor should there be for Tosca examines violence and brutality on a fundamental level.  Puccini is saying, “This is violence, and, no, it’s not pretty.”

Because of the kinds of stories I write, and the themes I examine, I really like that approach.

But, back to the opera. Scarpia arrests Tosca’s lover and through his machinations lures her to his lair.  In a memorable scene he says he will relent if Tosca will yield her sexual favors.  Tosca sings a heart breaking aria which questions her religious faith. Finally, she’s had enough, and as Scarpia tries to feel her up she grabs a knife and plunges it into his heart

“This is Tosca’s kiss,” she cries.

Scarpia, as one may imagine, is surprised by this unfortunate turn of events.  But Puccini isn’t done with his “tawdry, little shocker.”  He has Tosca stand over the dying Scarpia and sing triumphantly while holding a dripping knife, “Are you choking on your own "Are you choking on your own blood?"blood?”

Lesson learned. Don’t mess around with Tosca.

So she grabs a note Scarpia wrote which will free her lover, she runs to the castle where he is incarcerated, a mock execution is held but it’s not mock after all because Scarpia is finding his revenge from the grave.  Soldiers run onto the parapet to arrest Tosca for murdering Scarpia but she’s had enough and flings herself off the parapet and screams all the way down and splatters her brains out in the street below.

End of sublime love.  End of Tosca.  End of opera.  Boom, curtain closes.

The public loved it.  And why not?  It has intrigue, deception, torture, extortion, blood, rape, murder, suicide, all wrapped around a pretty good love story.  What’s not to like?

Tosca has a bit of a funny past with its productions as well.  In one of them the director told the soldiers on the parapet, “Just react and take your cue from Tosca.”  So when Tosca leaps to her death they all fall in line and jump after her!  The audience liked that, too, though it was unexpected.  In another production a trampoline was hidden behind the wall so the actress wouldn’t hurt herself when she jumped. So the soldiers rush onto the stage, Tosca bids farewell and jumps…she hits the trampoline and bounces back into sight!  Pretty funny, and one of the little behind the scenes stories that make this opera so delightful.

I really like this opera a lot. If you like blood and violence and torture and sexual perversion, you’ll love Tosca, too.  Give it a peek.

Un Ballo in Maschera: Beautiful Opera Music Marred by a Poor Storyline

Un Ballo in Maschera (The Masked Ball) is one of those operas in which the music is better than the story.

It’s about the assassination of Gustave III of Sweden during a masked ball. That much is historically accurate.  The rest of the opera…not so much, even down to the last scene when the king is dying and forgives his assassin. Moving, yes, but not accurate. It’s one of those operas that can succeed or fail on the performance of a single character. In this case it’s the aria of the gypsy witch Ulrica who prophesies the king’s death. If she’s believable the opera rocks.

This opera was written by Verdi. It has all the usual Verdi touches: forbidden love, flashes of humor, jealousy, assassination, plans within plans.  And it’s not a bad opera. It’s just not all that great. Except for the extraordinary music which blows you away.

It’s the music that makes this opera memorable. It’s as beautiful as anything Verdi ever wrote, and that’s saying a lot.

Opera is funny. You don’t have to listen to a lot of them or watch very many to get a feel for what the art form is about. There aren’t that many operas anyway so if you listen/watch to about a dozen or so you develop an appreciation for what’s being done artistically. Unfortunately, Un Ballo in Maschera isn’t a beginner’s opera. You would do better to watch Aida or Tosca or maybe  Madame Butterfly if you’re starting out and want to learn about opera.

But if you already know something about it, or have been exposed to opera on some level, I think you will appreciate Un Ballo in Maschera.

Give it a peek.

Ulrica prophesies the death of a king....

Finding Which Way to Turn in Classical Guitar

Part of the problem I run into when teaching myself classical guitar is I will bounce from book to book. What I mean is, there are many good solo books out there to learn from. I have several. I lean toward Solo Guitar Playing by Noad and Classical Guitar by Hal Leonard. They are both good. But on top of all that are etudes by everyone and his brother you can work through, not to mention all the resources on YouTube.

Having an instructor would help but that is not an option available to me right now. Then again this is only a hobby for me and not a total commitment.

So in the interim I bounce back and forth between books. I’m not saying this scattershot approach is smart. I have never been accused of being smart. But for a dedicated hobby it works. I can work on one section in one book and match that up with a similar session in another. As long as I do that I feel I am making progress on some level.

Without a doubt having professional instruction would be beneficial. I don’t have the resources or the time for that. I do not even know if I would make the personal commitment if I did have the opportunity. I’m still a writer. I don’t think I am ready to push that aside so I can concentrate fully on classical guitar. I know I am not.

When all is said and done I am making some progress on learning how to play classical guitar. I would like to advance a little faster, that much is true. But it is what it is and I can’t change it right now.

Classical Guitar and Memorization

As I posted a day or so ago I am at present learning how to play Sor’s Opus 60 No 1. The reason I mention this is because I haven’t yet decided if I am going to commit this song to memory.

Playing a song from sheet music is one thing. Committing it to memory is another. I can play quite a few simple songs, but I don’t memorize all of them. It takes something special about the song before I go that extra step. Maybe it’s something to do with how I connect to it on some level.

I wish I could understand this more because I’d like to pin it down as to what makes me pull the trigger on something like this. Here are the songs I have learned to play without needing the music in front of me:

Gunsmoke Theme
Red River Valley
Shenandoah
Jambalaya
Streets of Laredo
Minute in G
Blood on the Saddle
Barbara Allen
Wayfaring Stranger
Ashokan Farewell

There are one or two others I can’t remember. When I look at this list there is an obvious western theme at work. Not surprising since I am currently so involved in working on that genre, I guess. But even so I would like to figure out what it is about a song that makes me move toward memorizing it. Not that I think it will help me play or anything, but knowledge is power, right? 😛

Back On Classical Guitar: Sor’s Opus 60 No 1 and Spanish Study

I’ve changed the furniture layout in my room and one of the happy results is I sit a lot closer to where I keep my guitar. I say this is a happy result because I am by nature lazy. But now that I am closer to the guitar I have more reason to pick it up and practice and read some theory.

I’ve been practicing quite a lot in the last few weeks.

It’s a mindless activity to play scales or arpeggios when I am watching an old film on TV or the news or the odd sports broadcast. I just let my fingers do the walking across the fretboard and build up muscle memory. But I’ve also been more actively engaged in practicing technique and playing as well. So I am pretty happy about that. Right now I am learning how to play Sor’s Opus 60 No. 1 along with Spanish Study from Noad. I also play through my repertoire about every other day to keep those songs fresh in my mind.

Both songs, Opus 60 No. 1 and Spanish Study, are coming along well. I am getting the first half of each song down but the second halves are presenting a problem, especially the triplets in Spanish Study which may be beyond my current skill range. Even though I may learn to play a song I do not always do the extra mental gymnastics to commit the song to memory. I am inclined to do that with these two songs, however, because I like them. I don’t commit every song I learn to play to memory, just the ones I like. So there! 😛

Technique is important with any musical instrument, I guess. In classical guitar technique is everything. I am reminded back in the day when I used to play golf. Okay, I played a lot of golf. But I not only played a round I really did enjoy working around the practice green chipping and putting and hitting a bucket of balls on the driving range. I could fill up two hours with a bucket of balls on the driving range (I would take my time, check my setup, my swing, work through the clubs) and the putting green. I liked that as much, if not more, than playing an actual round.

I must say either I have gotten older (although I think I would still enjoy just practicing at the golf range and I have been wanting to get back to it, but I have no time because writing is a total time sink) or something because I don’t feel that way about the guitar. I was happy enough just practicing golf as opposed to playing. I would rather play the guitar than practice. I don’t know what it says about me or about the two different activities, but there you have it.

Either way, I am practicing and playing more classical guitar than I have been recently and for my money that can only be a good thing. I am not very good, of course, but I find it relaxing and enjoyable. Those are reasons enough for me to continue pursuing the music. I’ve included two links to YouTube of Sor’s Opus 60 No 1 and Spanish Study to give you an idea what the music is supposed to sound like…as opposed to what it sounds like when I play it currently.

But practice makes perfect! Or at the least drives you bonkers….

Jolene

Dolly Parton has a superb voice, clear as well water and bright as sunshine. She is also a phenomenal guitarist. When I was little I remember watching her on television with Porter Wagner, he in his sparkling suit and she in her bouffant wig. She is the perfect Gibson Girl, but it’s her music which endures, and for me, one song has special meaning.

Her song “Jolene” was the inspiration I used to write “Vengeance is Mine,” published in the anthology Beauty Has Her Way edited by Jennifer Brozek.

I wanted a villain who could meet Magra Snowberry on equal terms. I wanted to show in an understated but emotionally powerful way how much Magra loved Marwood and to what lengths she would go to keep him safe. I not only wanted to show her supernatural power, but her raw emotional power and why it was the stronger of the two. The problem was how to do it?

I remember sitting across the coffee table with writer Melissa Lenhardt. We were talking about this song and how I wanted to use it as an inspirational device. I bounced some ideas off her, which is what a good writing buddy is always for. But I didn’t want to use the name Jolene since it was already so iconic, I told her.

“Why not call her Carlene?” Melissa asked.

And thus Carlene Stride nee Minker was born: Magra’s arch nemesis.

I was pleasantly surprised at the positive reaction this story got from readers. Many of them have told me it’s their favorite Haxan story by far and I think I can see why. I am rarely surprised by a story I write. I always feel I am in control. In this story Magra definitely surprised me. She revealed layers I didn’t know were there. I think Magra came into her own in this story in a very big way. Haxan is about many things. I reject all simplistic definitions that try to pigeonhole Haxan. On the other hand, Magra, and what she stands for, is prominent.

Magra, not Marwood, is the foundation of the series. I found that out when I wrote “Vengeance is Mine”.

I still get emotional when I hear this song because of the close creative ties it has to “Vengeance is Mine” so that’s I wanted to share it with you today. I hope you like both the music and the story. 🙂

SWTOR: Consular Sage Kicks Butt in Spiffy Science Fiction Baroque Style

As many of you know I am looking for a new game to play. I quit WOW a while back and stopped playing Eve Online when they took away ship spinning. *Mark has sad face* I’ve dabbled in a few other MMO’s like Age of Conan and Lord of the Rings Online, and while the last game is absolutely beautiful looking and I like Hobbits I haven’t been swept away by the game play.

That might all change when Star Wars: The Old Republic is released on December 20 of this year. You can play a bunch of different types of characters. I was thinking about playing the Imperial Agent (with a sniper specialty) until I saw this trailer. It’s of the Jedi Consular Sage and hoo boy does she kick tail while dressed like a Baroque queen. I mean, how can that not be fun, right, kicking the hell out of people while dressed in style?

The trailer starts off showing the basic Consular and then how you can pick one of two paths: the Shadow or the Sage. I haven’t completely given up on playing the Imperial Agent (essentially a spy) but boy oh boy would it be awesome to go around kicking butt while wearing this Lucretia Borgia gear. A lot of fans of the game are ragging on her robes and head gear, but I think it’s rich from a story line viewpoint and gives the class a very different look from the usual armor.

Anyway, here’s the trailer if you want to take a peek. The music is awesome, too. I am no Star Wars fan by any stretch of the imagination. In fact I pretty much despise the mythos. But I am looking for a fun game. I think I might give this one a try.

Is Anyone Going to San Antone? (layered imagery by Charley Pride)

One of my favorite western songs. Great imagery in this song, and Charley Pride’s clear, strong voice lends a heartbroken resonance to the well-crafted lyrics.

 

ELEKTRA: Expressionist Opera by Strauss

Elektra is a modern expressionistic opera full of angst and anger and remorse and revenge.  I’m not a huge fan of expressionism (though I love Edvard Munch’s The Scream and the silent film version of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari), the art form which distorts reality to engender emotion.  But, boy, does this opera in question ever work in this opera by Richard Strauss.

But it’s hard to watch because it’s so disturbing and…well, unrelenting.  It’s a modern treatment of the Sophocles tragedy by the same name. Strauss wrote the opera in 1905 when Freud’s theories were beginning to take hold. So father-daughter complexes and female hysteria run rampant throughout this opera. The music is discordant, scraping the nerve endings and laying them bare.  The sets are bizarre and other-worldly, the makeup horrifying — all to bring about an overwhelming feeling of dejection and remorse.

Elektra, mourning the death of her father, Agamemnon, looks dead herself. Her skin is grey, her hair snarled, and her eyes are yellow with lack of sleep as she plots her revenge and scrabbles at her fathers grave. Her murdering mother, Klytamnestra, confronts Elektra in a key scene and confesses she, too, hasn’t been sleeping since the murder of her husband.  “I have had bad nights,” she says.  It makes your skin crawl — it’s that powerful.

Finally, Elektra’s brother, Orestes, shows up and kills everybody, even the servants, because he’s pretty pissed.  Klytamnestra screams off stage as Orestes strikes her down, and Elektra screams back, “Stab her again!”  Finally, Elektra is revenged and as blood drips from the walls of the castle she dances in the gray rain, her bare feet splashing in puddles of bloody rainwater, until she falls dead.  When the screen goes black you sit there for a few moments trying to get your brain into gear and back to reality.  Or what you thought was reality. You’re actually kind of relieved the opera is over because it was so goddamned oppressive…but you also realize you have just witnessed something that, in some small way, has also contributed to your growth (and destruction) as a human being.

I’m not kidding.  This opera really is that powerful. It changes you, turns you inside out, and not necessarily in a good way, but in a necessary way. It’s hard to explain, but that’s expressionism for you.

I highly recommend this opera to anyone who wants to be disturbed. Give it a peek if you have the time. I think you’ll be impressed, and disturbed. 😛

Lonesome Dove Theme: A story of friendship and love written in music by Basil Poledouris

I am not a fan of Basil Poledouris. Much of his music sounds the same with sweeping themes, grand entrances and quiet interludes. That’s what he writes and he does it well with with poetry…but he writes it too often.

However, if you have to listen to Poledouris you can do a lot worse than the “Lonesome Dove Theme”. This mini-series has a big reputation among western genre circles and much of it deserved. It’s not a perfect series, but it’s very, very good. Two things make the series stand out: the extraordinary on-screen chemistry between Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones, and the superb music which frames the story of friendship and love between two old cowboys.

Pure Prairie League – “Amie”

A little something with a western flavor for you to listen to while I write today. I mean it’s Pure Prairie League so what’s not to like, right? 😛

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