almaviva90: (The Merry Widow)
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Probably the second stanza/verse of Ralph Vaughan William's 'Let Beauty Awake' includes my favourite lines ever in an art song. Plus it helps when it's the incomparable Sir Thomas Allen singing them as well =DD

Let Beauty awake in the eve from the slumber of day,
    Awake in the crimson eve!
    In the day's dusk end
    When the shades ascend,
Let her wake to the kiss of a tender friend
    To render again and receive!
almaviva90: (Sherlock)
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This would be a's Justin Bieber. He's literally everywhere nowadays and I simply don't see the point why on earth he should garner this much attention. I was never a fan of Michael Jackson, for example, but I understood why his music was (and still is) so popular...something which I don't understand with Bieber. To me, Bieber's basically the musical equivalent of that wretched fantasy series, Twilight...overrated and uninteresting.

Instead of Bieber, give me Queen, ABBA, Muse, Coldplay and on a more traditional note, Mozart, Purcell and opera singers any day.
almaviva90: (the merry widow)
Watched the whole performance of this last night on my computer then rewatched it again with my mum just now. It's such a fantastically ingenious concept (comedy and music [even classical music?], mon Dieu, is it even possible?) and the orchestra seemed to be enjoying the night too, esp. looking from how amused they looked during the 'Cockney music' section. Oi! XDDDDD

And Saint-Saen's 'The Swan' on those Alpine bells is just brilliant (not to mention hilariously funny and entertaining to boot!). Bailey's definitely now on my list of favourite comedians. Thanks be to QI and Stephen Fry for introducing me to his work...among other great comedians like John Sessions, that is.

EDIT: And wow, I've just noticed that it's the first of December now...goodness how time flies...and in a month or so, it'll be 2011!
almaviva90: (thoughtful TA)
It's weird how some things turn up in places you really never expect them to; just watched the first part of Andrew Roberts' documentary on Churchill (yes, I know it's late but I can't sleep) and instantly recognised the Embarkation piece from William Walton's score for Olivier's Henry V and then grinned like an idiot when I heard 'Dance ti thee Daddy' (which I first heard being sung by TA) being played in the background when Roberts' started talking about Churchill's rather bizarre interest in fish rations for the Royal Navy at the beginning of WWII.

Anyways back to watching...

EDIT: Watched the other 'side' of his documentary series on Hitler and there was this clip of the battle of Agincourt from Kenneth Branagh's Henry V. Talk about media cross-references....
almaviva90: (la ci darem la mano)
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I think there's only one band in the world which would ever make me want to go back to past...Queen, esp. so when it happens that the title of this question comes from the Queen song, 'Killer Queen.' XDDD Hurrah for the late 1970s and 1980s!
almaviva90: (TA Guglielmo 1981)
Just (re)listened to Beethoven's 9th Symphony and once again, I'm reminded about how much I actually love it, especially under the baton of Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic. I think Beethoven is steadily becoming one of my favourite composers though I didn't like him that much before. Same with Mozart whose rather lightish musical fare always annoyed me in the past but now I think his music (his operas in particular) is absolutely charming. *shrugs*

I am still rather annoyed with my book but alas, what can I bloody do?

Continuing on music matters, my mum made me stare at her in utter disbelief the other day when she confused Ravel's Bolero with Pachelbel's Canon in D (both of which sound nothing alike as well as being written like 400 years apart)...*raises brow*

Then I made her listen to Bolero again as a result XDDD
almaviva90: (posa)
Although I probably won't be able to buy a new mp3 player at this very minute, it doesn't hurt to contemplate one's options, I guess. At the moment, I'm trying to decide whether to stick to my trusty old friend Creative by getting the Creative X-Fi 2 ( or give in to the ipod/Apple craze which everyone goes on about with the iPod Touch.

One thing I like about Creative is that they're usually break-resistant, the sound quality is pretty good and even dropping it a couple of times by accident doesn't seem to do anything to it. Plus they can play WMA files which the iPod can't (unless you convert WMA to MP3) which is sort of a problem since every time I rip music from CDs, Windows Media Player just converts them into WMAs and I seriously do not want to convert a large part of my music library from WMA to MP3. iTunes also gives me some misgivings since EVERYTHING has to be transferred/organised via the program.

On the other hand, the iPod Touch is admittedly very cool and can access the internet. But I'm not sure how long the battery life lasts on average (Creative players last perhaps for 2 and a half years?) the real lack of alternative video formats to play (only MP4, mov and some other rather obscure formats [to me, at least]) is concerning me since a lot of my videos are either in WMV and AVI. I know I can convert them but seriously, do I seem to want to convert nearly everything (music and video) just for the sake of getting them to play on the iPod? Also does anyone know how good the sound quality is on the iPod and how does it stand to the occasional 'abuse' of getting accidentally dropped on the floor? XDDD
almaviva90: (TA Mahler 91)
LOL...I'm so sad if I get excited when I instantly recognise the hilarious March-Septet from Franz Lehar's The Merry Widow the moment I walk into the classical music section of a record store. XDDD

Well, at least that was the highlight of my day's not everyday you hear Lehar's music playing in HK!
almaviva90: (Default)
If I start laughing upon seeing the following picture after finding out that Queen was featured in a Lego game; that means I'm definitely a fan of the band by now.

They've certainly got Brian May's hair right (I did read that he asked the developers to specifically include his trademark hairstyle), Roger Taylor looks fine and you are reminded of Freddie Mercury (though methinks the moustache is a bit too big) but alas, what is up with John Deacon's character? It doesn't look anything like him at fact, it sadly looks more like a woman than the great bass guitarist.

However, they do remind you of the real guys here though more or less!

almaviva90: (the merry widow)'s looks like it's really been a while since I last posted here...been busy with a myriad of things this past week. I know that I have to change that poem of the month thing in the sidebar but I really am stumped as to what poem suits this month. I thought about putting up a Christmas poem but decided that was waaaay too sentimental (and vomit-inducing XD) to do so. Anyone have any ideas?

Anyways...moving on. I've been listening to a lot of the band Queen recently for some reason. I once heard their very famous song, Bohemian Rhapsody and didn't like it at the time. Now I've listened to it again (after seeing the hilarious Muppet version recently) and really am fond of it. The weird Scaramouche bit in the middle is just made more funny (and makes more sense) now since I kind of know the basics of opera (which is what Freddie Mercury was trying to imitate/mock). Oh and yeah, Brian May is simply a god on the guitar. It's amazing that he also has a PhD in astrophysics though. Simply awe-inspiring. Is it just me or do the 80s seem like golden age for music, not only for rock and pop but also for classical and opera? Queen, ABBA, Air Supply, Elton John, etc, etc...the list goes on plus it was a great time to see opera greats at their prime onstage with the likes of Domingo, Te Kanawa and last but not least, of course, Thomas Allen. What an experience to have lived in the 80s, I think.

Hmm....what else? Oh yes...finally got to reading books again (it seems ages since I read a book properly and to the end) and bought a copy of a book I've been keeping an eye on: Irish Peacock and Scarlet Marquess - The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde. A fascinating read and a wonderful insight into how Wilde acted and talked in real life. It also gave me an idea on how damning the evidence against Wilde was in his libel suit against Bosie's father. Had I been in his shoes, I really would have escaped abroad and avoided suing the Marquess...but Wilde was defiant...and sadly very foolish in stating his innocence since the amount of witnesses testifying against him was quite shocking. They might of course have been a whole pack of liars but seriously when you get more than 10 guys testifying against you, you're in a bit of hot water, I think. There was an amusing exchange between Wilde and the overbearing barrister, Edward Carson QC, showing Wilde's wit and eccentricity. They were talking about a letter which Wilde had sent to Bosie in which the language was a little overly intimate, shall we say, not to mention suggestive. Wilde kept on talking about how his letters and words were meant as poetry above all else and was marvelling at how beautiful they were while the barrister must have been rolling his eyes sarcastically. Carson was reading them to both him and the court and the following exchange followed (I'm reciting this from memory but the main gist of it should be more or less right):

CARSON: [having read a line from the letter] And was that a beautiful line, Mr Wilde?
WILDE: Not when you read it, Mr Carson. When I wrote it, it was a beautiful line. You read it very badly.

If you didn't know who was talking or what the situation was, I think you could have sworn that this exchange cropped up in The Importance of Being Earnest or something, lol. I must admit that Wilde had guts to say that in court.

Also got a hold of a nice copy of E.M. Forster's Howards End (a favourite book and film of mine)...I think I'll be well prepared for the holidays to brush up on my reading.

Oh, and's definitely been decided that I won't be continuing my internship after this month. That gives me time to focus on my history courses next term, hurrah!
almaviva90: (maestro)
[Error: unknown template qotd] that would be a very hard decision to make... =/

Probably I'd choose the 1990 recording of Mozart's Cosi fan tutte with Thomas Allen, Franciso Araiza, Jose van Dam, et al, conducted by Sir Neville Marriner - that is, if I really had to be forced to pick one out of my favourites. Either that or the 1984 recording of Don Giovanni also with Allen and conducted by Bernard Haitink.

But I guess I'm kind of cheating in a way since both recordings take up 3 CDs...

almaviva90: (TA 1980s)
Hurrah...I'm feeling better today. So hopefully this 'cold' will have worn off by the end of this week after copious amounts of rest. For the past two days, I've slept at least for 8 hours (which is quite something since I usually don't sleep that long on weekdays) and it seems to have benefited me in some way.

Ooh...and at the opera tutorial I had to go to today, it was probably the coolest tutorial we've had so far. We were allowed to go and see the historical, antique instruments the music department has. And the most interesting thing there? A HARPSICHORD. And we allowed to actually PLAY darn cool is that? It's so different from a piano though. Piano keys are sort of 'softer' where you sort of forget you're tapping on wooden keys and they hit the strings rather than pluck them to make sound. Harpsichord keys are more wooden and harder and you can really feel the 'plucking' motion of the strings when you press a key. Plus the colours were inverted...instead of having black keys for sharps and flats, they were white while the other keys were a sort of dark brown. You can imagine the masters of music, e.g. Bach and Mozart playing on harpsichords like these while they were composing. I can't really play anything fancy on a piano (due to my total lack of piano skills) but had a go and played the opening melody of the overture to Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro which seemed appropriate to the instrument. Other people tried to play modern church music or pop songs on it...which to me is utterly ludicrous. -___-

Also was able to see early piano fortes from the 19th Century, a viola de gamba (an early version of the cello) and lutes where were also interesting. But I don't think I'll be able to get over the feeling of actually having been allowed to play on that marvellous instrument which is the harpsichord...

almaviva90: (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]Well, in my case it's not a matter of seeing a's more like trying to see a particular singer, an opera singer to be precise.

And goodness, do I have to travel more than just moving from one city to another or one state to's more like one country to another since I have to make a trip all the way from Hong Kong to the UK in order to get any chance of seeing him perform.

The things I do for my interests...*head palm*
almaviva90: (Default)
I can't sleep...AGAIN.

So what am I doing now? Well, the title pretty much says it for what or who I'm drawing -- at the moment, I really have no idea.

And who knew that opera could be so funny? If you told me a year ago that opera could be comedic, I would have thought you mad. But I'm proved wrong yet again when one watches operas like Le Nozze di Figaro or Cosi and operettas like Die Fledermaus and Die lustige Witwe.

Here I am trying to sketch and listen to Mozart's Cosi fan tutte at the same time and then I get slightly bored and play my copy of the 1996 MET Cosi with TA, Mentzer, Vaness and Hadley (I'm sorry I can't remember the baritone who played Guglielmo...oops). I get to the scene where the two officers are saying farewell to their lady-loves...and I'm giggling non-stop at the the antics the singers get up to. Guglielmo is overacting his 'despair' at leaving, Hadley's body language (he plays Ferrando) clearly tells Guglielmo to get a move on and isn't too keen to deal with his hyperactive and overemotional fiancee (played wonderfully by Susanne Mentzer; definitely one of the most prettiest Cherubinos, Zerlinas and Dorabellas around. Von Stade obviously gets first place over Mentzer for singing but acting-wise, I simply adore Mentzer who is simply adorable when she gets into character). Vaness as Fiordiligi is trying her best to play older sister but also is frightened at the news of her fiancee going away to war while TA, as usual, plays Don Alfonso with all the sly cynicism and charm. What always makes me laugh is when the two couples are tearfully saying their farewells, he's more interested in pouring the sand out of his shoe (the set does indeed have sand since it's set on a pier/beach) XD

And the Allen/Vaness/Mentzer trio of Soave sia il vento is is Francisco Araiza's Un' aura amorosa on my Cosi CD. Sometimes I really prefer Araiza to great tenors like Pavarotti or Domingo for some reason. Domingo was basically the first tenor I listened to (when I bought a highlights CD of  Bizet's Carmen during QBS...we were listening to the darn thing in music lessons for some weird reason) but I wasn't really impressed with a tenor's voice until the first time I saw Araiza sing Dalla sua pace on the 1987 Don Giovanni. I liked Jose van Dam (the Belgian bass-baritone) as Escamillo but again, my mind didn't click with baritone voices till the introduction of a particular British baritone as Count Danilo on Youtube. Really, it's all Jeremy Brett's fault for getting me into opera since it was his singing of the English translations of the songs in Die lustige Witwe that got me looking for other singers singing the same thing. XD

Ah, but I've rambled too long...back to sketching!


Aug. 14th, 2009 08:33 pm
almaviva90: (TA 1998 Barcelona)
I feel like I'm living the life of an insomniac hermit this past week. I haven't gone out for about 4-5 days straight. and my internal body-clock has definitely been messed up...waking up in the late afternoon after getting to sleep around 6-8 in the morning. -__-

But the bloody problem is that no matter how much I want to (and force myself to) sleep at what are considered normal sleeping hours; I can't. Grr...well, I won't pretend that I don't know why I'm behaving like this...alas, a bout of mild depression has settled in again and I can't seem to shake it off. This bout is definitely the longest one I've had so far and what really isn't helping to get my spirits up is that HKU starts in 2-3 weeks.

So to combat this I'm just going to overwhelm myself with music...Purcell's Ode for the Birthday of Queen Mary is sort of helping...the finale ('See Nature, rejoicing') of this wonderful Baroque piece is quite uplifting. It's been a while since I've listened to Baroque music after listening to a lot of Mozart operas. It's amazing that only about 70 ish years separate Baroque operas to Mozart ones and yet the sound/tone seem quite different. But I can definitely say that baroque stuff is not easy to sing with a very considerable number of trills to do...probably the most difficult period to sing for professional singers. So the apparent ease with which Flott and TA sing these pieces is astonishing.

almaviva90: (carmina burana)
I'm still up.

So you can guess what I've just been doing.

Yes, I decided to stay up and listen to the Prom anyway...the atmosphere there at the Royal Albert Hall sounds phenomenonly fun and exciting. Wish I could have been there...sounds like everyone's enjoying themselves immensely and the John Wilson Orchestra was appropriately jazzed up playing the good ol' oldies of musical theatre.

As for the singers? All very professionally sung, of course...TA still in wonderful voice and doing very well singing musical numbers as well as having lots of fun at the same time. He didn't have much to sing on the programme but when he was onstage, he nailed every song beautifully. The rest of the singers sung their respective songs/repertoire surprise of the night was the man who created Family Guy, Seth Macfarlane (who I think is the voice of Stewie) who sang such numbers such as 'Singing in the Rain'. Very pleasant singing voice. Obviously not an opera singer but very suited to musical was interesting to hear him sing parts of the classic song 'That's Entertainment' with a Stewie voice...the audience reaction can be imagined. XD

I'm thankful that TA usually makes his voice customarily louder when the orchestra gets a bit loud or else I wouldn't be able to hear him over the music!

Again, thank goodness for the power of radio! *goes away to thank BBC Radio 3 for being online*


almaviva90: (Default)

January 2012



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