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Silent movies are my jam. So I really, really loved the production of Mozart's "The Magic Flute" I saw Friday night.

The stage background is plain white with doors at two levels. The upper doors open to reveal small platforms and/or stools, on which the singers stand (yes, they had safety belts). Animation was projected onto the background, and the singers interacted with it. Everything was in a very 1920s style, with touches of steampunk. The singers wore white silent film-style makeup. Spoken lines were replaced with intertitles (in the appropriate font, even!).

The best part was The Queen of the Night. The singer wore a tall headdress and makeup with a plain shift that concealed the rest of her body. Projections made her appear as a giant spider, the size of the entire background, prone to stabbing at Tamino with her stabby legs while he dashed out of reach. I also loved Papageno's animated black cat.

One update I really appreciated was that Monostatos, molestor of Pamina and chief of the slaves (this enlightened country has slaves?) was originally described as "a blackamoor." In this production, the tenor is instead costumed as Nosferatu, who leads a pack of wolves. Not only was it less skeevy, but it fit the theme.

A great start to my experience of the O17 festival, and the only non-premiere I'm attending. Tonight is "We Shall Not Be Moved," which will be very, very different from the Mozart.

Review at Bachtrack.

Broad Street Review.

It's Opera All the Way Down

Sep. 15th, 2017 08:42 am
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[personal profile] oracne
Time for the O17 Festival! I am not going to everything, but I'm going to a lot.

Tonight: The Magic Flute - The innovative production from Komische Oper Berlin presents Mozart's The Magic Flute in a style that evokes a meeting between 1920s silent movies and David Lynch, with the singers performing amidst fanciful animated projections. Also, the women in the chorus get to be in drag for part of it, complete with top hats and beards, which I know because all my buddies were posting pictures of their makeup on The Book of Faces.

Monday, 9/18: We Shall Not Be Moved, world premiere - Acclaimed composer Daniel Bernard Roumain and librettist Marc Bamuthi Joseph team up with legendary director Bill T. Jones to present the World Premiere of We Shall Not Be Moved, a genre-defying chamber opera combining spoken word, contemporary movement, video projection, classical, R&B and jazz singing, and a brooding, often joyful score filled with place, purpose, and possibility. This is the one related to the In/Sung event I went to last Saturday.

Thursday, 9/21: Elizabeth Cree, world premiere - Composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell, the team behind 2012’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Silent Night, return to Opera Philadelphia for the World Premiere of a chamber opera based on Peter Ackroyd’s novel, The Trial of Elizabeth Cree. One of my choir friends has a small named part.

Sunday, 9/24: Wake World, world premiere - Opera Philadelphia Composer in Residence David Hertzberg transforms the renowned Barnes Foundation with the World Premiere of The Wake World, a site-specific, one-act opera inspired by Dr. Albert C. Barnes’s famed collection and the works of mystical 19th century British poet Aleister Crowley. This one has a lot of cool chorus work.

I also slide in a Saturday day trip to NYC to see the premiere of Brown Girl Begins, a movie from the first part of Nalo Hopkinson's Brown Girl in the Ring.

See you all on the other side.

Accomplishments This Week

Sep. 14th, 2017 02:25 pm
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1. No gym on Friday, because I'm going to see "The Magic Flute," so I made sure to do both weight-bearing and cardio last night.

For weight-bearing, I did sets of twelve pushups and lunges and tried a new thing for my back muscles, which was pulling myself on a mat using my forearms. I did some ab stuff as well, though not as much as I'd planned. For cardio, I did intervals on a bike as well as trying out the new "Jacob's Ladder" climber machine; I didn't go very fast or very long, but twice got my heart rate up high. I plan to try that machine again.

2. Today, I got a flu shot, and my arm already hurts.

3. I paid my choir dues. Rehearsals start on Tuesday.

4. I bought four concert tickets for Tempesta di Mare, all for 2018.

5. I got a haircut.

Wednesday Reading

Sep. 13th, 2017 08:41 am
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[personal profile] oracne
A chunk of last week's reading time was taken up by my review book, but I also have some fanfiction recs!

Beyond Belief by thingswithwings crosses over Agent Carter with Wonder Woman, and there is action, and lesbian shenanigans, and heading off into the sunset together. More like this, please.

Season Tickets by shuofthewind is an X-Files AU in which Darcy Lewis is Mulder and Matt Murdock/Daredevil is Scully from S.H.I.E.L.D..

The Other Man out of Time by sara_holmes features Clint Barton traveling in time and meeting Bucky Barnes and falling in love. It's also AU Age of Ultron. Happy ending.

The Course of Honour by Avoliot is original m/m romance fiction on AO3 - features arranged marriages, treaties, gaslighting (in the past), and political intrigue.

Apoc, apocalyptic! Apoc, apocalyptic!

Sep. 11th, 2017 08:26 am
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[personal profile] oracne
I did better this weekend while staying off social media and Doing Things so I sometimes forgot that the world is apocalyptic (it is always apocalyptic, isn't it?).

I figured out one of the things that makes me so tense about social media. It's that when people are freaking out about events, or commenting about events, it all feels like I am Wrong for not feeling/commenting/doing what they are doing. It's worse when there are several Events going at once, like hurricanes/flooding/earthquake/immigrants/white supremacists.... I can't act on all those things, not all at once, not to the degree needed. There is only so much one person can do. It is very, very important to remember that, so you're able to do at least some things instead of melting into an anxious, ineffective puddle.

Another thing is that anxious/angry tweets/posts/whatevers can feel like personal attacks. Why aren't you fixing this?! You, right there?! It can feel this way even when you, the reader, know that those posts are coming from places of terrible dread and fear. Again, there's only so much one person can do, and sometimes to be able to do anything, you have to protect yourself.

So, things I actually did this weekend:

1. Hung out with a friend to give her support - we did brunch and, later, dinner followed by rolled ice cream. Green tea ice cream with an oreo ("The Hulk") is bliss.
2. Attended a film and spoken-word and song event about the 1985 police atrocity against the MOVE organization and the 2012 Philadelphia school crisis, showing support for this kind of event, and appreciation and support for the performers, some of whom were kids.
3. Wrote a book review, supporting Art.
4. Hung out with Ms. 9; talked about why some kids might not like school (she is not one of them), admired her growing acrobatic strength, and cuddled her on the couch while watching Teen Titans Go!
5. Culturally enlightened Ms. 13 and her bestie about Rainbow Goths.

These were good things, and I did them.

Blanket Fort?

Sep. 8th, 2017 08:50 am
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[personal profile] oracne
I've been getting a tad overwhelmed this week, what with hurricanes, floods, political rage, and now a terrible earthquake in Mexico. There are so many things and people needing help that I can't make any decisions. I've been having trouble getting to sleep.

I need to stay off social media for a few days, because my being there does not in fact make anything better in the real world, and gives me a lot less angst, anger, and frustration.

I set up a couple of Twitter posts this morning, and made sure they were on the distraction side. And for today's dayjob efforts, I'm going to focus on as much rote stuff as possible. It's that time of the month, anyway.

I did the basic workout again last night, minus the intervals because there wasn't an open machine I liked and I couldn't be arsed to go to another floor and look for one. The one open elliptical wobbled when you pedaled, so that was out. Instead, I tried out one of the weird bikes I hadn't tried before (the handlebars move like you're steering, disconcerting!, and the seat wouldn't go quite low enough for me); a stair machine (not sure if I was doing it right since I felt really awkward, but my heart rate did go up); and a rowing machine (got a bad leg cramp, had to stop). That all worked out to maybe 5 minutes of cardio, which I proclaimed good enough, and did some overheads and tricep exercises with dumbbells instead.

Sixty-second planks make my face really red! I have to catch my breath and let my heart slow down! So I guess I need to do more of those. And figure out if I'm really holding for sixty seconds, or if I'm counting too fast.

The static lunges are much easier when I have something in front of me to catch myself; have to remember not to push off with my arms, though.

In connection with the O17 Festival, I'm going to this free event on Saturday night at the African American History Museum:

Hear the real stories behind the World Premiere production of We Shall Not Be Moved. The opera uses two historic Philadelphia events to tell its story: the 1985 Philadelphia Police Department bombing of the MOVE house on Osage Avenue and the 2013 School District of Philadelphia budget crisis which caused the closure of 24 schools.

"The Un/Sung Stories of We Shall Not Be Moved" gives real-life accounts of those affected by these infamous events in Philadelphia history through an evening of short oral history films and live poetic performances from strong and diverse Philadelphia voices. This evening will be curated by Nina "Lyrispect" Ball.

Saturday's Line-Up will include appearances and performances :
Ursula Rucker
Black Boy Fly
Lee Mokobe
Selina Carrera
Amun Xkorpious Re
Lyrispect

With special presentations by:
Former Youth Poet Laureate David Jones
"Songs of the Children" from the Jubilee School
and a little bit more...


I'll be at the opera performance on the 18th. I had to buy tickets through the Fringe Festival rather than through the Opera for this one, and still don't know my seat number, just the row. Weird. The rest of the O17 tickets went through the Opera, so why not that one? I spent a couple weeks thinking it was sold out already because of that. This will be interesting - the MOVE bombing happened the year before I first came to Pennsylvania, so I only heard snippets about it at the time.

O17 is going to be a busy week for me - I'm going to everything except War Stories, the festival artist, and Opera on the Mall.

Didn't see any DACA rallies planned for this weekend, just a few that I missed because they happened during the work day this week. Keeping an eye out.

Two More Days

Sep. 7th, 2017 08:45 am
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I reminded myself this morning that this work week only has two more days in it. I had a good workout on Tuesday night, but as sometimes happens, afterwards I couldn't get to sleep as early as I would like, and last night was worse; I woke up around 2:30 am and ended up reading comics until I could get sleepy again.

This morning I feel very draggy. I'm hoping a second cup of coffee will help, also that once I get started on a project, it will keep me going for a bit. I plan to go to the gym tonight.

I also need to get myself together and write some sort of letter to my city reps about enforcement of bike laws, which are an ongoing source of rage to me. Bikes in Center City are forbidden from the sidewalks, and subject to the same laws as cars (and entitled to a lane, like a car). In practice, bikers don't follow these rules.

At least once a week, usually more, I am nearly run down in the crosswalk by bikers running the red light without slowing; Monday night, I was nearly run down on the sidewalk by a biker going full speed in the opposite direction of the one-way traffic (too lazy to go a block over?). Often, if they do "stop" for the red light, they are actually meandering around in the crosswalk, regardless of pedestrians (who always have the right of way in crosswalks in Pennsylvania). Or sliding in and out of traffic and between cars, in the cars' blindspots, to get ahead in traffic. Or riding full speed along the sidewalk because they're about to park the bike, as if that doesn't count as "riding on the sidewalk." Twice, I've nearly been hit by bikes who felt they could whiz between a bus and the sidewalk, apparently not caring that's where people are getting off the bus and not expecting to get creamed.

I feel it's likely one of these days I will get hit, despite my best efforts. Given that an elderly friend of mine was hit from behind by a bike, and spent nine months in various hospitals and rehab, this is a valid fear. If a bike kills me or injures me so I can't speak, feel free to sue them on my behalf, for everything they've got and more. My family could use the money, and I could use the bitter satisfaction.

Hmm, maybe I can use this post as the basis of a letter. Maybe it will help with the bottled rage. Also, I'm a little more awake now! Time to get back to being a bureaucrat!

ETA lunchtime: I emailed my City Councilman. Go me.

Wednesday Reading

Sep. 6th, 2017 08:39 am
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[personal profile] oracne
The Con Job by Anaquana adorably crosses over my Leverage OT3 with Captain America. And it starts at a comic con. And there are costumes. So cute.

Indiana Barnes and the Curse of the Tesseract by follow_the_sun and SulaSafeRoom places assorted Avengers characters in a WWII setting with many references to the Indiana Jones movies. It was one of the cleverest AUs I've seen in a while, and I would happily read more set in this universe.

Hawkeye: Kate Bishop Vol. 1: Anchor Points featured a guest appearance from Jessica Jones; there were also art references to the Matt Fraction/David Aja Hawkeye series, and some elements of the tone of that comic, as well. Kate is working in California as a private detective with no money, and trying to locate her father. She makes some friends, who don't yet have a lot of depth. I will probably check out the second volume after I get through more of my giant pile o' TBR comics.
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