Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sometimes, my hair color speaks for itself...

A few days ago, I was looking through my desk drawers and came across a program from the Stars of the Lyric Opera Millennium Park concert from 2005. This would have been at the beginning of my junior year of high school. Flipping through the pages, I remembered a lot from the concert; being in the open air with my mom and aunt Jan, the blisters on my feet, Ildebrando D'Arcangelo's beautiful voice, hair, and his music nearly flying away in the wind while singing the crap out of "Suoni la tromba" with Quinn Kelsey, Matthew Polenzani stopping in the middle of "Salut, demeure" because of the fireworks from the Rolling Stones concert at Soldier Feild, and Denyce Graves singing one of the most beautiful renditions of "Mon coeur s'ouvere a ta voix" I've ever heard. Oh yeah, and Nathan Gunn singing the first Figaro/Almaviva duet and the Hamlet Drinking Song. But this had somehow slipped my memory momentarily:

Les pecheurs de perles
Act One, Duet: "Au fond du temple saint"
Matthew Polenzani (Nadir)
Nathan Gunn (Zurga)

Obviously I remember it, and yes, it was basically gorgeous. This duet, as with many pieces, really needs to be experienced live to appreciate its total beauty. The Lyric Opera of Chicago is presenting this opera next season, with Gunn in the cast. This is giving me roadtrip ideas...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cat Pic Friday!

Salem is almost back to normal. He wants to go outside and is back to his old habits, like lounging on his back on the kitchen floor. Here he proudly displays his stitches.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Vocal Poetry

Yesterday a pleasant surprise arrived in the mail; a belated birthday gift, in the form of Dmitri Hvorostovsky's Sviridov album (thank you Mom!). Georgi Sviridov, who died in 1998, finished the song cycle Petersburg, a vocal poem for Hvorostovsky in 1995, using poems by Russian poet Alexandr Blok. I read some Blok in my Russian lit class last semester, including his bizarre short play The Puppet Booth. His poetry does not employ many words, but those he chooses are powerful, even if the poetry is obscure and difficult to understand. Blok was at the beginning of what is known as The Silver Age of Russian poetry (the Golden Age being that of Pushkin and friends), which produced many of the early Soviet poets. I can't believe it took me until this past year to discover these poets, and I wish more people would read them. In my class, many of the poems we read also included the original Russian text, which was a big plus for me. Sviridov makes platinum out of these already golden words, and Hvorostovsky's dark-chocolate voice brings them to life with pianist Mikhail Arkadiev.

Also on this disc are Sviridov's Six Romances to words by Alexandr Pushkin, written in 1935. Of course, Pushkin is a totally different poet than Blok, and his style reflects that. Pushkin belonged to the Romantic age and uses more flowery and beautiful language than Blok. This is the man, after all, who wrote Eugene Onegin and The Queen of Spades. "To Nanny" is especially beautiful.

My advice? Go out and buy this album. Now. Right now. Honestly, this album is so good it makes everything else he's done look like crap. It's that good.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Another cat update

Salem is back at home! He isn't quite out of the woods yet, but he's on the road to recovery. At the moment, he's being very sluggish and seems a little confused, but that's to be expected; he had surgery yesterday and is on pain killers related to morphine. So now we have a druggie cat. His diet has also been changed to moist food, since it has more water in it. However, he seems to be happy to be home. The vet staff seemed to glad to be rid of Salem, because he is very angry when at the vet. At home, he's very sweet and affectionate, but once he gets in that office, he turns into a terror. Swatting is one of his favorite ways to irritate the staff; they had to put a towel over him a few times. You'd never know that seeing him at home.

This is my cat...
This is my cat on drugs.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cat update

Just got a call from the vet's office. All of Salem's kidney stones were removed, and we'll be able to pick him up tomorrow or Wednesday! We're going to have to adjust his diet so that this doesn't happen again, and I'm sure there are going to be some other changes as well. But I'm just glad he's coming home!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cat Pic Sunday?

This is Salem, our tabby. He's currently at the vet for kidney stones, and we're unsure of what exactly is going to happen to him. Salem and Tacy are my first pets, so I'm not taking this as well as I should be. More updates later.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cat Pic Friday!

I'm also joining in on Cat Pic Friday. This is Tacy, my calico cat. It isn't a great picture, but it shows what she does all day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Another reason not to like small towns...

We all know college is expensive. The logical solution, therefore, would be to get good grades, do a good job in your studies, and apply for scholarships to reward your good work. Makes sense, right? Apparently in Adams County, this is most definitely not the case.

Last year I was not able to apply for any of the scholarships available from the Adams County Community Foundation, even though I graduated from high school with honors and was accepted to the Jacobs School of Music. Why? Because Interlochen Arts Academy is not in Adams County (well duh!), and to be eligible for these scholarships, graduation from an Adams County high school was required. It doesn't matter that Interlochen turns down 2/3 of the applicants and is regarded as one of the nation's finest fine arts schools, it isn't in Adams County. OK fine. I knew I could apply for at least one scholarship this year, which required the applicant to have either graduated from an Adams County high school or have been a resident in the county for at least 5 years; I'm 19 and have lived here all my life, so I assumed everything would be ok. Wrong again.

I filled out the application in May, explaining why I wanted to go to college, what classes I had taken, why I deserved to receive this scholarship, yadda, yadda, yadda. I took 19 credit hours both semesters, got close to a 4.00 gpa, and took very difficult classes, so I figured that I could get at least $500 out of these people. After all, I've known others who have less fatiguing schedules and worse grades who have gotten more.

Yesterday, however, I received a letter saying that I got...nothing. Not a dime. My first thought was, "What the #%$*?!" I remained calm enough to call the Foundation and ask why I had not received anything. The reason basically was this; I had never applied before. Priority for the scholarship was given in this order: 1. students commuting state school students (basically, a local public college, of which we have the IU and Purdue local campus and some community colleges who take basically everybody), commuting private school students (only about two of those in the area), state school students (my category), and private school students (usually harder to get into and cost more money).

Now for the actual students: the "non-traditional" students also get first priority. These are people who have been out of high school for 5 years without going to college. Then they look at students who have gotten the scholarship before, and finally, the newbies. The person I talked to said that most of the students going to local schools often did because of a lack of money, which I think is only partly true. I have known so many kids who go to the local colleges because they simply lack the courage or desire to see life beyond what they know, or challenge themselves to a school like IU. Many have little ambition or motivation, and some in this category did not have the grades to get into a challenging university. So, these students are rewarded for their lack of achievement. Of course, there are those who do stay at home because of lack of money, but generally this is not the case. I remember that during the three years I spent at the local high school, going away to school was generally not encouraged, and the local schools, which offer often less-then-great programs.

So by the time my pile is reached, most of the money is gone. My brother got some money, but he is a returning applicant. I would be, but the Interlochen issue kind of screwed me over.

This is what is wrong with this community; there is no reward from the community for trying to better yourself academically. I did some theater with a girl some years ago who went to a college prep high school not in the county and went on to Harvard. Her mother was disabled and her step-father's job didn't have a huge income. But, since she chose to go to a good high school and then one of the world's most prestigious universities, she was ineligible for any scholarship from the community. This community does not encourage this level of achievement, and often doesn't really talk about people who do great things outside of the county, such as Don Neuen, who is from Bern and currently the choir director of the Crystal Cathedral and formerly taught at the Eastman School of Music, or David Anspaugh of Decatur, director of such movies as Rudy and Hoosiers. But are these people ever spoken of as role modals for reaching your dreams. Instead, high school football players from thirty years ago are still on a pedestal. This backwards thinking is ruining this county.

In other words, if I had messed up in high school, or if I chose a lesser music program and stayed at home, I would have a better chance of getting scholarship from this county. Some programs, such as architecture, are only offered at one university, in this case Ball State University. What, then, is the reward for wanting to pursue architecture if the community doesn't support going away? It would seem sensible to promote going away to college as a way to promote the county and show the rest of the state, or the country, what we're made of. But this is Adams County, Indiana, where most things make little or no sense...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Decatur has hit the blogosphere...

Opera blogger Susan has found Decatur...all 8000 of us. =)

Little known Indiana fact; baritone Nathan Gunn is an Indiana native. As is violinist Joshua Bell. Indiana rocks.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mariinsky fever!

I just found the website of St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theater, formerly called the Kirov, where the amazing and slightly creepy Valery Gergiev is artistic director. The Mariinsky is also the host of the famous Stars of the White Nights Festival of Music, which runs from May through July, this year celebrating 225 years of the Mariinsky. Here are just some highlights of this year's Festival:

May 12 (obviously already happened): Olga Borodina in concert

June 12 and 14: Great ballerinas of the Mariinsky ballet gala

June 17: Les Noces. Le Sacre du printemps. The Firebird

June 24: Bryn Terfel in concert

June 29: Dmitri Hvorostovksy in concert

July 12: Marking 225 Years of the Mariinsky Theatre La forza del destino

July 17: pianist Olga Kern

July 23 and 24: World premiere The Brothers Karamazov

As well as performances of Eugene Onegin, The Queen of Spades, Tristan und Isolde, Tosca, Don Giovanni, Carmen, The Love for Three Oranges, and all four operas of Wagner's Ring.

Seventy-nine days of pure bliss. The very thought of The Brothers Karamazov as an opera makes me want to scream with giddy excitement.