Tuesday, January 30, 2007

La Fille du Regiment

I never thought I'd have so much fun at the Opera!

This "opera comique" was very "comique" indeed, and I was really happy to see something light hearted, witty, and full of slapstick fun too. There is nothing bad to say about it at all, and the singers were so amazing! Juan Diego Florez, obviously, hitting the high Cs effortlessly, and Natalie Dessay, just brilliant actress as well as singer. She put so much effort into making it funny, she is great! The Independent says: "Never has a woman of forty looked more like a Quentin Blake cartoon. Dessay pings her braces, pets her battalion of adoptive fathers, and "Bouf!"s and "Merde!"s her way through the mountains of military laundry, channelling the great comic heroines of children's literature, and making scintillating sense of Marie's idealism, her terrier loyalty, her despair, her wit and her music."

Loved the decor as well, made of giant map that rise and crumple towards the back to take the shape of mountainous slopes.

Salut à la France! A ses beaux jours!
A l'espérance! A nos amours!
Salut à la gloire! Salut à la France!


Almodovar talks about the future

Very interesting interview of Almodovar in El Pais today.

On his absence at the Goyas (the spanish cinema awards): "I've been travelling more than my body can handle and I am psychologically saturating with award ceremonies. (...) The simple thought of seeing me sat down with a camera on my side broadcasting all my reactions was very uncomfortable to me. For once, I thought about myself, because, also, the film wasn't left alone, my brother [Agustin, producer] was there"

On Volver not being nominated at the Academy awards in the foreign film category "It was like a cold shower"

On his next film: "[Penelope Cruz] will be the character in La piel que habito, a film about vengeance. But I am also writing a movie full of intrigue about the movie world, about the manipulation of images. (...) For the first time in my life I feel tempted to do something about the spanish civil war or the post-war. I am doing research"

On working: "After 3 years of isolation, I am in a cycle of openness, both as a person and a writer. For the first time, I have spoken with someone - I keep the name to myself - about sharing my universe and my writing with him/her"

Spanish speakers, the full interview here

Monday, January 29, 2007

Volver wins plenty of Goyas

The Academy of Spanish cinema awarded Pedro Almodovar yesterday evening. His movie Volver won the best director, best soundtrack and best movie prize. Penelope Cruz won best actress, and Carmen Maura best actress in a supporting role.
Almodovar has always had a tempestuous relationship with the Academy, but, the night they love him, he isnt there! Oh well...

Pan's Labyrinth won most prizes though, and is up for more Oscar nominations, it must be said.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Save the Blue Rigi!

The Blue Rigi, JMW Turner, 1842

Do you have a lot of money lying around? OK... do you have at least £5? Please help the Art Fund and the Tate museums to buy Turner's masterpiece The Blue Rigi, a view of the Rigi mountain from the Swiss city of Lucerne, at dawn.
I would be very grateful if you would help, because the Blue Rigi has been bought by a private foreign collector at auction last year, but the government has given the Art Fund until the 20th of March to raise the money to match the offer. Otherwise, they will grant the painting an export license, allowing the buyer to acquire the watercolour, and say "fuck off!" to the thousands (millions) of us who would have liked to see it on display in a big (and free!) museum.
Two other Rigi watercolours (the Red Rigi and the Dark Rigi) are already on display at the Tate Britain museum. A special exhibition with the three paintings together (for the very first time!) is on at the moment: do not miss it! and help us raise some cash to make this exhibition permanent by keeping the Blue Rigi in the UK!

The Red Rigi, JMW Turner, 1842

The Dark Rigi, JMW Turner, 1842


Oaxaca, Mexico, January 07
(via Riccardo)

Ryszard Kapuściński dies

The polish journalist and writer Ryszard Kapuscinski died yesterday, at the age of 74.
He had quite an impressive life, witnessing many conflicts around the globe, especially in the Third World.

I really enjoy his writing so would like to take this opportunity to advise you to read The Shadow of the Sun, a collection of several dispatches and stories from Africa (his account and explanation of the 1994 Rwandan genocide is very good). Another book is about the regime of the Shah of Iran, which has been in my reading list for ages because I dont know anything about it. I might get round to it today...

Of his writing style, the NY Times says:

"He spent his working days gathering information for the terse dispatches he sent to PAP [The Polish news agency he worked for 20 years], often from places like Ougadougou or Zanzibar.

At night, he worked on longer, descriptive essays with phantasmagoric touches that went far beyond the details of the day’s events, using allegory and metaphors to convey what was happening.

“It’s not that the story is not getting expressed” in ordinary news reports, he said in an interview. “It’s what surrounds the story. The climate, the atmosphere of the street, the feeling of the people, the gossip of the town; the smell; the thousands and thousands of elements that are part of the events you read about in 600 words of your morning paper.”

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Mercedes Sosa in Europe, soon!

My favourite singer, the Argentinian Mercedes Sosa, has recently announced a tour of the U.S.A in April, and that she will soon "be coming over to Europe, where they have been waiting for me for a while now".

Mercedes Sosa is 71 (she was born in 1935) and was in poor health for a while, but, after losing weight, her health and her voice are back! On the 28th, she will be performing in Cosquin, Argentina, at the National Festival of Folklore, with Leon Gieco and Victor Heredia, two singer-songwriters who wrote tunes for her.

Sosa sings some traditional songs but also became famous for her involvement with the nueva cancion movement of the 60s, which combined "traditional Latin American folk music idioms with progressive and often politicised lyrics" (I am quoting Wikipedia here)

My favourite CD of hers is Mercedes Sosa en Argentina, a recording of concerts she did in Buenos Aires in 1982, when she returned from her 3 year exile (At a concert in La Plata in 1979, Sosa was searched and arrested on stage, and the attending crowd was arrested) This CD includes some pure classics of the Latin American repertoire, written by the greatest: Silvio Rodriguez, Bola de Nieve, Antonio Tarrago Ros, Atahualpa Yupanqui, Leon Gieco and more... Her voice is at her best, and the reaction of the crowd is wild. I get really moved everytime I listen to it!

I cannot wait for her to come to Europe.

I may have posted this already, but here is a video of her singing Violeta Parra's beautiful "Gracias a la vida"

Saturday, January 13, 2007

EL Roto

We would make people laugh if we were not scaring them.
El Roto, 10/01/07
El Roto draws daily in El Pais

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Giselle - English National Ballet - review

Headed down to the Coliseum yesterday to enjoy a sweeping romantic ballet, Giselle, performed by the English National Ballet.

This was basically the 1841 version, so bring on the miming! Which is something that I am not keen on! The first 5 minutes are miming "oh flowers! oh I knock on the door! oh! love!" argh! Just dance, will you!! Maybe I say that because they were miming cheesy things and I found it boring. The best bit of the first act was Giselle dancing crazy, moving that sword around to the sound of threatening violins. Quite gripping.

The second act was great. The Wilis (the spirits of abandoned brides who force men who cross their path to dance to their death) were really spooky with their veils on, and running around in a whirling wind kind of way, hiding their faces, attacking men. I find the ENB to be great at group works, they are all so perfectly together. In this second act, it really made the Wilis more threatening. Sara McIlroy was a powerful Myrtha (Queen of the Wilis), I loved her.

In the lead roles, Agnes Oaks (Giselle) and Thomas Edur (Prince Albrecht) were really good too. Amazing technique, with some pretty grand jumps and intricate footwork.

The music and choreography of this ballet were written side by side, and I like the way they reveal all the politics that exist in a ballet company. "Ok now Adolphe [Adam, composer of the score] we need to write a little pas de deux for those two guys who have nothing to do with the plot because they are Principal dancers and we have to give them something to do. Oh and in the second act, we will have to write something for the 2 special Wilis who will have some solos ok?" hehe

So, overall, the dancers were great and the ballet too. It's just the miming really, it annoys me, though I guess they have to convey the plot haven't they?

You can read the Guardian review here.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Bath Fairy

Bath, UK, Dec 06


Don't know where I took that, 2006

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Yone Minagawa

Yone is 114 years old today. Happy birthday!

We don't really care, but, look at the cake!!! LOVE IT!