George V. Reilly

Review: Das Barbecü

Title: Das Barbecü
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Das Barbecü is Wagner's Ring Cycle trans­plant­ed to Texas for comic effect. We saw it at Seattle's ACT Theatre tonight. The Ring Cycle is currently playing at the Seattle Opera, who com­mis­sioned Das Barbecü in 1991.

I'm no opera buff and certainly no Wagnerian. After sitting through four hours of Tristan und Isolde years ago—Ach du lieber Gott! Mein Arsch! Meinen Ohren!—I told Emma that my limit for opera was two-and-a-half hours. I have never seen any part of the Ring Cycle and had only cursory knowledge of the story, and it detracted not one whit from my enjoyment of Das Barbecü.

Wagner continue.

Lyn on Billy Strayhorn

For weeks, Lyn has been telling us about the musical talk that he was going to give today at his UU con­gre­ga­tion about Billy Strayhorn, a little-known but talented composer, who col­lab­o­rat­ed for decades with Duke Ellington. Strayhorn was openly gay in the homophobic decades before Stonewall. That, coupled with his apparent liking for remaining in Elling­ton's shadow, probably con­tributed to his obscurity.

Lyn talked about Billy Strayhorn and his life and music for half an hour. He also ac­com­pa­nied Shirley singing some Strayhorn songs on piano, as Linda and Marion played the clarinet and cello. He said that Stray­horn's life gives rise to two questions, Do you know who you continue.

Max audio extractor

I blogged before that I had used Exact Audio Copy to rip most of my CD collection to the lossless FLAC format. I haven't ripped any more CDs since then, as the old Windows laptop that I was using had severe problems.

We went to the Columbia City Beatwalk on Friday night. I liked the Correo Aereo duo so much that I bought their CD.

It was time to figure out how to rip a CD to FLAC on the Mac. I found some hints that it was possible to run Exact Audio Copy in a virtual machine or under Wine, but neither choice appealed to me.

One guide rec­om­mend­ed continue.

The Italian Girl in Algiers

My operatic education continues. Tonight we saw the Seattle Opera's production of The Italian Girl in Algiers, aka L'italiana in Algeri.

The plots in opera, especially comedic opera, are always wildly improbable. This one revolves around Mustafà, the buffoonish Bey of Algiers, who wants to pass off his wife Elvira to Lindoro, an Italian slave, and take instead the newly arrived Italian girl, Isabella. Isabella has come in search of her lost love -- Lindoro, of course -- and has brought another lover, Taddeo, also a buffoon, who poses as her uncle. Isabella is more than a match for every man who crosses her path, twisting them around her little finger.

The continue.

The Scottish ... Opera

My opera education continues. Tonight, we saw Seattle Opera's production of Verdi's MacBeth.

I used to be very familiar with Shake­speare's MacBeth, having studied it for two years in prepa­ra­tion for the Leaving Cer­tifi­cate (the major ex­am­i­na­tion at the end of Irish secondary school; ef­fec­tive­ly the entrance exam for university).

Verdi's opera of MacBeth truncates Shake­speare's plot, con­cen­trat­ing on the tragic flaw of the MacBeths. Their shared ambition, feeding off each other, both impels them to power, and leads to their ultimate downfall. The opera was written during the Risorg­i­men­to, when Italy was trying to break away from the Austrian empire, and doubles as a thinly veiled appeal to Italian patriotism.

I had more fun continue.

Cosi Fan Tutte

I just saw Mozart's Così Fan Tutte at the Seattle Opera. I had a great time. Lots of fun. Well acted. Great music. And a modern dress production that works.

The plot, in case you're unfamiliar, involves fiancée swapping. Two officers, Ferrando and Guglielmo, accept a bet from Don Alfonso that their fiancées, Dorabella and Fiordiligi, are fickle and will easily betray them. They pretend to go off to war, then disguise themselves and each woos the other's fiancée under false pretences. Don Alfonso, along with Despina, the sisters' personal assistant (maid) sows mischief. Dorabella, the flirt, wears down quickly. Fiordiligi is tougher, but eventually yields. Ostensibly a comedy, by the end, everyone continue.

Pandora and the Music Genome Project

Via the Win Tech Off Topic mailing list, I learned about Pandora earlier today. It's an outgrowth of the Music Genome Project.

You create stations in Pandora by telling it an artist or song that you like. It starts playing music that it thinks you will like, based on its reasonably extensive database of carefully char­ac­ter­ized music. You can tell it if you par­tic­u­lar­ly like or dislike its selections, to guide its future offerings on that station. You can have up to 100 per­son­al­ized stations.

So far, it's doing a good job.