Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Final Updated List

Since I last updated my list of orchestra concerts Andrew and I have attended together, we have attended another nine concerts.

In the order we attended them, the nine concerts are listed below.


Boston Symphony
Symphony Hall

Vasily Petrenko, Conductor

Stravinsky: Scherzo Fantastique
Rachmaninoff: The Isle Of The Dead
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10


The Handel And Haydn Society
Symphony Hall

Jean-Christophe Spinosi, Conductor
Andreas Scholl, Countertenor

Vivaldi: “La Fida Ninfa” Overture
Vivaldi: “Cessate, Omai Cessate” Cantata
Vivaldi: “Al Santo Sepolcro” Sinfonia
Handel: Arias From “Giulio Cesare” And “Giustino”
Vivaldi: “Filiae Maestae Jerusalem”
Vivaldi: Stabat Mater


Berlin Philharmonic
Symphony Hall

Simon Rattle, Conductor

Brahms: Symphony No. 3
Schoenberg: Music To Accompany A Motion Picture Scene
Brahms: Symphony No. 4


Boston Symphony
Symphony Hall

Bernard Haitink, Conductor
James Galway, Flute
The Women Of The Tanglewood Festival Chorus

Debussy: Nocturnes
Ibert: Flute Concerto
Brahms: Symphony No. 1


Boston Symphony
Symphony Hall

Christoph Dohnanyi, Conductor
Frank Peter Zimmermann, Violin

Bartok: Divertimento For String Orchestra
Martinu: Violin Concerto No. 2
Dvorak: Symphony No. 8


Boston Symphony
Symphony Hall

Colin Davis, Conductor
Nikolaj Znaider, Violin

Mozart: Symphony No. 38 (“Prague”)
Elgar: Violin Concerto


Concertgebouw Orchestra Of Amsterdam
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

Mariss Jansons, Conductor
Janine Jansen, Violin

Sibelius: Violin Concerto
Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2


Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
Symphony Hall

Riccardo Chailly, Conductor
Louis Lortie, Piano

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”)
Beethoven: Symphony No. 7


Cleveland Orchestra
Severance Hall

Franz Welser-Most, Conductor

Bruckner: Symphony No. 8


The Leipzig and Cleveland concerts were extraordinary, the Berlin and Amsterdam concerts disappointing.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Four Temperaments

"The Four Temperaments", a supreme example of 20th-Century Classicism, choreography by George Balanchine (1946) to an original score by Paul Hindemith (1940).

Another List

Andrew and I attended seven ballet performances over the last year. We caught performances in Boston, Dallas, New York and Washington.

Six of the seven performances involved evening-length ballets, an unusually high number for us. Only one performance was a mixed bill.

In order, the performances we attended since my July 2009 update were:


Boston Ballet
Boston Opera House

Giselle [Adolphe Adam/Jean Coralli-Jules Perrot-Marius Petipa]


Texas Ballet Theater
Winspear Opera House

The Nutcracker [Peter Illich Tchaikovsky/Ben Stevenson]


New York City Ballet
New York State Theater
New York

Romeo And Juliet [Sergei Prokofiev/Peter Martins]


Mariinsky Ballet
Kennedy Center Opera House

The Sleeping Beauty [Peter Illich Tchaikovsky/Marius Petipa-Konstantine Sergeyev-Fedor Lopukhov]


Bolshoi Ballet
Kennedy Center Opera House

Spartacus [Aram Khachaturian/Yuri Grigorovich]


Boston Ballet
Boston Opera House

Coppelia [Leo Delibes/Marius Petipa-George Balanchine-Aexandra Danilova]


Boston Ballet
Boston Opera House

The Four Temperaments [Paul Hindemith/George Balanchine]
Apollo [Igor Stravinsky/George Balanchine]
Theme And Variations [Peter Illich Tchaikovsky/George Balanchine]


The Russian companies were a real eye-opener for me. The dancing of the Mariinsky was exceedingly refined, while the dancing of the Bolshoi was nakedly extrovert, even showy.

The Boston “Giselle” was our second “Giselle”, we previously having seen “Giselle” danced in Minneapolis by The State Ballet Of Georgia (Tbilisi).

The Boston “Four Temperaments” was our third “Temperaments”, we previously having seen “Temperaments” danced by New York City Ballet and San Francisco Ballet.

I am now beginning to appreciate “The Four Temperaments”, one of the 20th Century’s great masterpieces. The first two times I saw the ballet, I found the work dry and academic. Additional exposure is causing me to change my mind: “The Four Temperaments”, more than any other Balanchine work, may exemplify 20th-Century Classicism at its richest and most elevated.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

World War I French Field Hospital

By 1907, the Lumiere brothers had perfected color photography.

In the last two years of World War I, the French government commissioned thousands of color photographs of the war. The resulting photographic record constitutes the only significant archive of color photographs of any nation participating in the conflict.

It is unknown whether this color photograph of a French field hospital dates from 1917 or 1918.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Another Updated List

I last updated the list of opera performances Andrew and I have attended together in July of last year.

Andrew and I have attended only two opera performances over the last twelve months. In order, they were:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”, performed at Theater An Der Wien

Gioachino Rossini’s “Tancredi”, performed by Opera Boston

I must confess that I am not really into opera, which is the primary reason Andrew and I attend very few opera performances.

Andrew wants to attend the American premiere of Franz Schreker’s “Der Ferne Klang” at Bard’s SummerScape at Annandale-On-Hudson next month, but I am not keen on going. It remains up in the air whether we shall attend.

Next season, I believe we shall try to attend performances of Beethoven’s “Fidelio” to be presented by Opera Boston and Puccini’s “Tosca” to be presented by Boston Lyric Opera, but otherwise I doubt there will be much opera-going in our near-term future.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Men's Basketball Players Can Be Cowgirls, Too

On Friday, March 12, Andrew and I, his parents and Alex—taking advantage of my Spring Break—embarked for Greece.

The previous afternoon, the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament got underway in Indianapolis.

We watched on television the first round game between Iowa and Michigan, a game Michigan easily won, 59-52. The game was not as close as the final score suggests, as Michigan enjoyed a sixteen-point lead with four minutes to play.

The Iowa point guard, freshman Cully Payne, played his heart out that day, scoring a career-high 25 points. Payne made every effort to carry his team to victory. His play was valiant.

In stark contrast, the rest of the Iowa squad on March 11 played very specifically in order to lose. It was patently apparent to anyone watching the game, in the arena or on television, that the Iowa players, Payne aside, had no intention of winning that game.

The most inexcusable performance on March 11 came from Iowa sophomore Matt Gatens (or “Max”, as Alec calls him). Gatens played a deliberately lame game—to say he mailed it in would be a vast understatement—and most observers believe that Gatens did so as a parting gift to Iowa coach Todd Lickliter, who was officially relieved of his duties as Iowa basketball coach the following Monday morning (but whose coming dismissal was widely known no later than the afternoon of Tuesday, March 9).

On the court and behind the scenes, Gatens had been undercutting Lickliter for months. Most persons in Iowa City were aware of the situation, and few were surprised at Gatens’s increasingly erratic play and behavior. Gatens’s poor, even dismaying, performance at the Big Ten Tournament, consequently, came as a shock to no one.

Happily for the basketball crowd in Indianapolis, Gatens did offer one particular pleasure on the afternoon of March 11: he played the part of a floozy chorine/cowgirl from the musical, “The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas”—and he played the part of the chorine/cowgirl supremely well.

Of course, Gatens was assisted in his convincing portrayal by the Iowa basketball uniforms, the tops of which are modeled upon women’s volleyball uniforms and the bottoms of which are adapted from 1920’s bloomers.

The shoes, somehow suggestive of cowgirl boots, completed the eye-catching ensemble.

In the photo below, also from March 11, the cowgirl-boot nature of the shoes is even more apparent.

At a glance, the shoes indeed appear to be cowgirl boots—although, upon close examination, one may see that what appear to be cowgirl boots are in fact black shoes and black socks (at which point all sorts of Third Reich associations uncomfortably assert themselves).

The latter photo amply reveals Gatens’s shameful behavior that day: he is deliberately late in getting to the team huddle, his teammates waiting and his coach staring directly at him. Gatens’s body language demonstrates, in spades, the contempt he held both for his coach and for his teammates.

However, Gatens’s shoddy behavior is redeemed, at least in part, by his courage in cleaning out his ear in public in the presence of thousands of sports fans and before a national television audience.

Not everyone would have the bravery to do such a thing—even when playing the part of a floozy chorine/cowgirl.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Updating My Lists

I am a maker of lists, and I have not updated my lists since July of last year.

I last updated the list of theater performances Andrew and I have attended together on July 7, 2009.

Since that time, we have attended another eighteen theater performances, bringing to seventy-nine the number of theater performances Andrew and I have attended since February 2006.

Theater performances over the last twelve months are listed below, in the order we attended them.


J. B. Priestley’s “When We Are Married”, at The Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis

George Bernard Shaw’s “The Devil’s Disciple”, at The Shaw Festival, Niagara-On-The-Lake

Garson Kanin’s “Born Yesterday”, at The Shaw Festival, Niagara-On-The-Lake

Eugene O’Neill’s “A Moon For The Misbegotten”, at The Shaw Festival, Niagara-On-The-Lake

The Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine Musical, “Sunday In The Park With George”, at The Shaw Festival, Niagara-On-The-Lake

George Bernard Shaw’s “In Good King Charles’s Golden Days”, at The Shaw Festival, Niagara-On-The-Lake

Thomas Heggen’s And Joshua Logan’s “Mister Roberts”, at New Repertory Theater Company, Watertown

The Cole Porter-Samuel And Bella Spewack Musical, “Kiss Me, Kate”, at The Lyric Stage Company, Boston

Evan Smith’s “The Savannah Disputation”, at SpeakEasy Stage Company, Boston

Harold Pinter’s “The Caretaker”, at Central Square Theater, Cambridge

Conor McPherson’s “The Seafarer”, at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Lowell

Gerald Sibleyras’s And Tom Stoppard’s “Heroes”, at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Lowell

The Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler Musical, “A Little Night Music”, at The Walter Kerr Theatre, New York

Noel Coward’s “Present Laughter”, at American Airlines Theatre, New York

Arthur Miller’s “A View From The Bridge”, at The Cort Theatre, New York

Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons”, at The Huntington Theatre Company, Boston

Doug Wright’s “I Am My Own Wife”, at Signature Theatre, Arlington

Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit”, at The Lyric Stage Company, Boston


Nothing we saw during the last year was particularly good. We were especially disappointed in the quality of performance on display at The Shaw Festival. Prior to our visit to Niagara-On-The-Lake, we had assumed—wrongly—that the quality of performance at the storied Canadian venue would be at the highest standard.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Zell Am See

The narrow inner streets of beautiful Zell Am See, which we visited last August 7 (and we were to have lunch at the outdoor cafe on the right).

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

As Painlessly As Possible

Andrew and I spent a long Independence Day Weekend in Oklahoma.

On our way to and from Oklahoma, we flew through Dallas-Fort Worth both times. We did so in order that we travel on the same flights to and from Oklahoma City as my aunt and uncle living in Dallas, who joined my family for the long weekend. Booking the same flights saved my parents from having to make two trips to the Oklahoma City airport on Friday and again yesterday.

We did not do much all weekend. Oklahoma was hot and dry, as it often is in July, and we stayed home, visiting, except on Sunday, when we went to Norman for a cookout with numerous family members.

Andrew and I had not seen my family since Thanksgiving, when we had all gathered in Dallas, and it was good to see everyone again. No one was in possession of extraordinary news—we are, on the whole, a rather boring group—but at least we were able to catch up on each other’s minutiae.

My parents and my brother and sister are still talking about our trip last summer to Bavaria and Austria, which they enjoyed very much. They want to go somewhere next summer, too, the excuse being a celebration of my graduation from law school. Paris seems to be the destination of choice.

I hope I don’t flunk out, and spoil things for everyone!

Andrew and I have two long months ahead of us before Labor Day Weekend, when we will travel to Minnesota. We will try to get through the rest of a long Boston summer as painlessly as possible.