Monday, July 23, 2007

Harry Potter....

I don't see how anyone who has a clue of what's going on in the world could have escaped all of the Harry Potter mania this past weekend with the release of the seventh and final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I spent the weekend in South Bend with friends Anne and Katherine (Katherine's taking a class at Notre Dame this summer, having sold her soul to the Latin department). After an amazing Potter party (and I've been to quite a few of those), the book was released at 12:01 am, and the mania became ever more intense. There were all sorts of people in line, from children to adults, dorks (like myself), college-aged jocks (surprised me!), and everyone else in between. I more than admit that I'm a huge Harry Potter fan, no guilt there! Yes I know I'm just as much of a Hugo and Dostoevsky person, but Harry Potter is a thing of my generation, and I really have grown up with these books. I was about the same age as Harry when I read the first novel, and in the last one, he's only a year younger than I am now. I'm crazy about it.

So after standing in line for about an hour waiting to get our book (the line ended up being about a quarter of a mile, and we got in fairly early), we got back to Katherine's dorm at about 12:05, started reading at about 12:10, and finished at 9:30. Yes of course there were breaks, I'm not that crazy. But reading a Harry Potter book in one night was something I had never done before, and since it is the very last novel, there seemed to be no reason not to do so this final time.

And it was more than worth it. I am deeply satisfied with how Rowling ended the series, being slightly nervous about half-way through at the direction she was taking with the plot and characters. However, she turned it around in the darkest novel of the series (if you're under 12 years old, please don't read it.) and emerged, in my opinion, victorious. I am more than pleased with it. A great ending to nearly ten years of imagination, the endless questions, magic, and mystery. But I'm satisfied.

Monday, July 09, 2007

For anyone that wants to know, I am doing a recital here in Decatur. It begins at 2:00 p.m. this Sunday, July 15, at the First United Methodist Church in Decatur. The recital, consisting of songs by Bellini, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, and Elgar, and arias from Le Nozze di Figaro, Rodelinda, and Julius Caesar, should last about half an hour. Please come!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Here's to the great ones

The world of opera suffered a double blow in the past week with the deaths of two beloved sopranos: Beverly Sills and Regine Crespin, who died within days of each other. Sills, of course, was one of the greatest champion of the arts, and did more in her lifetime than many of us could ever begin to dream about, making the general public more appreciative of the arts. Baritone Sherrill Milnes said it perfectly: "Before the three tenors were making opera more accessible, Beverly was doing it all by herself.” Personally, I had not discovered Crespin until I heard the Solti recording of Wagner's Ring, on which she sang Sieglinde. I admired Crespin's self-security and openness on a variety of topics musical and not, and her willingness to share her opinions.

The deaths of Sills and Crespin made me think of all of the singers from their era who have gone before them, especially in the last four or so years; Franco Corelli, Robert Merrill, Birgit Nilsson, Astrid Varnay, James King, Thomas Stewart, Renata Tebaldi, Anna Moffo, Lorraine Hunt Leiberson...their era is slowly passing away into history, their legacies bearing witness to the work they have done. After all, every tenor who sings "Di quella pira" is compared to Corelli, every Verdi baritone follows in the steps of Merrill, every Violetta put next to Moffo. Its daunting to have had such talented singers pave the way for the next generations, realizing what large and well-worn shoes are to be filled. Still, their voices will be with us for the generations to hear; Tebaldi still changes lives, Nilsson still inspires, Sills still encourages. They are forever singing...