Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Chopin and the nightingale

Done your homework? Read the story? Good. Now read it again with the following in mind: the Emperor as the dying Chopin. And the nightingale as Jenny Lind. And, possibly, the artificial nightingale as Countess Delfina Potocka...

Have a look at this extraordinary stuff from Icons of Europe, under which auspices a whole book has appeared on the subject of Chopin's relationship with the great Swedish soprano Jenny Lind. It seems that Chopin was the love of the 'Swedish Nightingale''s life. Everybody loved her - notably, Hans Christian Andersen - but she wanted to marry Chopin; and after his death she put tremendous philanthropic efforts into raising funds to combat tuberculosis.

My only problem with the suggested interpretation of The Nightingale is that the story was published in 1843 and Chopin didn't die until 1849. But was this a case of life imitating art? Such things happen...Either way, it's a fascinating notion.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Please follow this link and read this exquisite story by Hans Christian Andersen. Tomorrow I'll explain why.

Philling up the Coliseum

If you fancy going to see Philip Glass's opera about Mahatma Ghandi, Satyagraha, free of charge at the London Coliseum on 5 April, Sky-Arts-sponsored bloggers ArtsWOM have some comps to give their readers. Have a look at their post & email them direct for more details & tix.

More info about the opera & the ENO production here. It's the opera's London stage premiere and the composer's supposed to be there in person. ArtsWOM tells me that their only condition is that anyone taking up the tickets should please talk about the show on their own blogs/outlets/forums.

So, will Glass generally induce a glacial glare, or gleaming gladness? Either way, it should be an event...and I may have to give it a go, too, having (blush) never heard any Glass live in concert, at least not since a CD launch in a converted cavern somewhere in Docklands, back in the days when CDs still had launches like that. Maybe it's time to face the music and reflect...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

a bit of fun...

Matthew/Sohothedog has some fun for the weekend with this unusual quiz! Here goes:

1. Name an opera you love for the libretto, even though you don't particularly like the music.
Tosca. I'm not kidding.
2. Name a piece you wish Glenn Gould had played.
Michael Nyman's music for The Piano.

3. If you had to choose: Charles Ives or Carl Ruggles?
Would compromise and go to The Ivy for lunch instead.

4. Name a piece you're glad Glenn Gould never played.
Debussy, La plus que lente.

5. What's your favorite unlikely solo passage in the repertoire?
The tweetybird unaccompanied violin passage in Enescu's Impressions d'enfance.The cuckoo ain't bad either.

6. What's a Euro-trash high-concept opera production you'd love to see? (No Mortier-haters get to duck this one, either—be creative.)
Wagner's Ring performed according to the composer's instructions with designs taken from Arthur Rackham's drawings. Wild!

7. Name an instance of non-standard concert dress you wish you hadn't seen.
Jean-Yves Thibaudet's red socks.

8. What aging rock-and-roll star do you wish had tried composing large-scale chorus and orchestra works instead of Paul McCartney?
Whatstheirnames from Abba.

9. If you had to choose: Carl Nielsen or Jean Sibelius?
Sibelius, but my husband might kill me for that.

10. If it was scientifically proven that Beethoven's 9th Symphony caused irreversible brain damage, would you still listen to it?

Reality check

Nothing like a baby bear for bringing back a sense of perspective. This is Knut, the polar bear cub that is being hand-reared at Berlin Zoo after his mum rejected him, despite "animal rights" activists saying he should be killed rather than let a hellable horralump of a human anywhere near him. The pic (photo by Franka Bruns/AP) can be found at The Guardian, which, if you're friendly towards bears, has ten more. Have a nice weekend.