mojosmom: (Gautreau)
Is everyone ready for the holidays?

I had pretty much all my shopping done, other than random, impulsive stocking-stuffer type purchases, or at least I thought I had! I have friends with whom I exchange gifts, and waaaaaay back in November I was at World Market and saw some nice mugs with initials. I decided to buy these but a couple of the initials I needed were on a high shelf, so one of the sales people got them down for me. "Give me two Ds and a C", I said. And I put them in the cart, paid for my purchases, which were nicely wrapped in tissue paper, went home, and shoved the bag in a closet. Fast forward to Thursday, when I decided to wrap presents. And discovered that I had two Cs and a D. I went back to World Market, and, of course, they no longer had anymore Ds. However, they say they'll get more in and will call me, and one of the people who has that initial won't be with us the day we do the exchange, so I have time. But I do wish I'd checked sooner!

Both my sisters arrive tonight, and we are making plans. We'll go to friends on Tuesday for the traditional gourmet mac-and-cheese, vespers at First Unitarian on Christmas Eve followed by our traditional latke dinner, and dinner with other friends on the 26th.

There have been a slew of parties this year - last Saturday I had two in one day, an afternoon open house and an evening dinner.

I've been to a couple of really good music performances lately. I mentioned in my last that I was going to hear Judas Maccabeus, and it was a rousing good performance! I've also been to Bel Canto, the opera commissioned by Lyric Opera based on Ann Patchett's novel. Really excellent, particularly when you consider that neither the composer, Jimmy Lopez, nor the librettist, Pulitzer Prize playwright Nilo Cruz, had ever written an opera before! Thankfully, they eliminated Patchett's ridiculous epilogue, which was a real clunker. The singers were splendid, particularly countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo as César and mezzo J'nai Bridges as Carmen. Loved the set and lighting as well.

Then I went to a recital with Patricia Barber and Renée Fleming, Fleming singing mostly Barber's music, arranged as art songs, with sometimes Barber and sometimes Craig Terry and sometimes both accompanying on the piano. Barber's quartet also played, and we did get to hear her sing, though not enough for my taste! They sang together as well, notably a bunch of Christmas songs. The only real failure was Fleming's singing of You Gotta Go Home. But it was a grand and successful experiment in joining jazz music and classical singing.

As part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the S.C. Johnson Company sponsored trips up to Racine for tours of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Administration Building and the Research Tower (recently opened for tours). They provided buses from the Chicago Cultural Center up to Racine and back. On most weekends, you also get to see Wingspread, designed by Wright for Hibbert Johnson and his family, and now a conference center. It's all free! So I did that last weekend, and it was a great treat. Kudos to the Johnsons for hiring Wright in the first place, and for appreciating what they have and sharing it.
mojosmom: (Default)
Our "mild" winter has disappeared with a vengeance, now that spring is just a few weeks away. We got about 10" of snow yesterday (yes, New Englanders, I know that's nothing compared to what you've been dealing with!). It started in the early morning and just kept snowing into the night. Both things I had planned for yesterday were cancelled by mutual agreement, as was an event for this morning. I did go out in the morning before things got really bad, just to pick up some produce, but other than that I stayed inside, warm and dry.

What was cancelled (well, postponed, really) today was some additional training for Robie House tours. There's a young adult book by Blue Balliett, The Wright 3, which involves mysterious goings on at Robie House, and the Trust does a special tour for kids based on the book. I'm going to do the training to give that tour as well as the regular one. I've given a couple of the regular tours already, and I am really enjoying it. One of the perks of doing this is that there is a lot of additional education available, seminars and lectures, etc.

We had one bad day last week, too, but not bad enough to stop me from going to the Art Institute for a talk about chocolate and the Mayan culture, accompanied by a couple of kinds of hot chocolate, finger sandwiches and cookies. Yum!

I tried to accomplish some stuff on Monday, but was stymied. My hair is growing out, so I decided to treat myself to some shampoo from The Body Shop. But when I got there, I discovered they're closed for renovations and won't re-open until next month! Then I went to the bank to transfer some funds for the deposit on housing for my trip to France, and they needed one bit of info I didn't have. So I couldn't do that, either. (I have the info now and will go back tomorrow.) I then went up to Gilda's Club, contending with the alternate transit routes, as the Brown Line train, which I usually take to and from downtown to the club, couldn't cross the river as the bridge is out for repairs. The CTA, however, had free shuttle buses running so it worked out, though on the way to the bus coming back, I was forced to walk past the Anti-Cruelty Society's windows and admire the kitties up for adoption.

Also for the France trip, I've decided to get some tutoring to brush up my French, which I haven't used to any extent in about 30 years! Ack! I start next week. I have a feeling that I'll be mixing up French and Italian.

Over the last couple of weeks, since my last post, there have been a lot of interesting cultural events. A big Picasso show just opened at the Art Institute, and I went to a lecture about that. Two days later, I was back at the AIOC for a curator's talk with Kara Walker, whose installation, Rise Up Ye Mighty Race!, also just opened.

In between, I went to hear Garry Wills talk about his latest book, Why Priests?, over at Seminary Co-op.

And opera! I got to go to a dress rehearsal for Lyric's production of Rigoletto, which I'm seeing tomorrow. (Fabulous soprano, not so fabulous tenor.) Also went to Die Meistersinger on Sunday, which was all around excellent. It's Wagner's bicentennial year, so the Symphony did a program of the prelude and Act II of Tristan und Isolde. Chicago Opera Theater just did a production of Philip Glass' The House of Usher, which I liked a lot. The director gave it a homoerotic slant that served the production well. In the midst of all this, it was time to renew Lyric and CSO for next year! Time does fly.

My older sister has gotten involved in a new art gallery in Cleveland, which will have its grand opening the first weekend in April, so I'm thinking of driving out for a few days for that.

It's a rather odd coincidence, but before the Pope announced his retirement, I had been reading a couple of papal-related books. Two were books on the Borgias, and it's been interesting to see how journalists doing their obligatory potted histories of the papacy have been uncritically repeating all the old unsubstantiated gossip. I also read the extremely odd Hadrian the Seventh, about a failed priest who is unexpectedly elected Pope, by the extremely odd Frederick William Rolfe (he liked to abbreviate his name as "Fr. Rolfe", so that people would think he was a priest, but, according to one book blurb, "his vices were considered spectacular, even in Venice, where he died.").

The Latke-Hamentashen debate finally happened. It's usually the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, but there was a brouhaha at Hillel, which had always sponsored the debate in the past. The Jewish fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, took it over, so it was delayed until mid-February, close to Purim. That, however, did not help the hamentashen; as always, latkes won the popularity contest!

Y'know, if I updated more often, these posts wouldn't be so long.
mojosmom: (japanese icon)
Or packing material?

I've been on a shredding binge. Honestly, can anyone think of one good reason to keep pay stubs from a job I left years ago? Or statements from a brokerage account closed a decade ago? Or bills from my cat sitter? Why did I keep all this crap?

Now I'll have room in my filing cabinet for things I really do need. And I'll be able to findthem!

I went to see Stephen Adly Guirgis' "The Motherf***ker with the Hat" at Steppenwolf the other day. A couple of Teatro Vista ensemble members are in it, so I was able to get a preview ticket for $20. (Tickets are normally more than 3-4 times that.) Good play! Very funny, but also a lot to think about. The acting was excellent.

More comedy last night at Lyric, The Second City Guide to the Opera. What a hoot! A few of the jokes relating to co-host Patrick Stewart's career went past me, but other than that I loved it. I particularly liked the "first date at a performance of the entire Ring cycle" skit. It's always nice to hear Renée Fleming, and count the number of times she changes her gorgeous gowns, even though her two arias were rather disconnected from the script. John von Rhein's review is here.

Tonight, more gorgeous clothes! (Season opener of Downton Abbey.)
mojosmom: (elections)
I was a good girl and voted today. The judicial ballot was annoyingly long as usual, and I spent inordinate amounts of time on the web reading the various bar association and judicial commission reports trying to figure out who to vote for. The one race I chose not to vote in was for our Congressman. The incumbent is someone whose positions I generally agree with. However, he is suffering from a depressive disorder that has required multiple hospitalizations. While I certainly don't think that illness of any sort should be an automatic reason to vote against someone, in this case it has interfered with his ability to perform his duties, and I was also very unhappy with the way he and his staff handled the disclosure of his situation to his constituents. He had two opponents, one a Republican whose positions - where he actually disclosed them - are the opposite of mine, and the other an independent candidate who can't put together a coherent sentence. (He also has a really annoying website and misuses quotation marks constantly.) So I sat that one out.

I plan to spend election night watching the returns in the hotly-contested race in 14th-century Genoa between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines. (I'm seeing Simon Boccanegra at Lyric.) Also keeping an eye on traffic as the Prez is in town, and what I hope will be the celebration is to be at the McCormick Place convention center, right on my way home from the opera.

Has it really been two months since I posted last? Apparently so. I will not even attempt to say what all I've been doing. But a few brief highlights are in order.

Our local branch library, the oldest in the city, participated in the Open House Chicago program, a weekend during which historically and architecturally significant buildings are open to the public free of charge. I organized the volunteers to staff the branch, and had a lot of fun. Then I went and checked out several other places that were open, places that normally aren't.
Welcome to the Blackstone Branch Library

Some friends and I went up to Wisconsin a couple of weekends ago to check out the new Sir Norman Foster-designed building at S.C. Johnson company (famous for their Frank Lloyd Wright administration building). We drove by a couple of other FLW buildings in Racine, went to the Racine Art Museum, and then headed to Kenosha to the Kenosha Public Museum and dinner at a very good, upscale Italian restaurant. We had a great, if tiring, time.

This past Sunday, I went to one of the Chicago Humanities Festival events, "The Making of an American Opera", about the opera Lyric has commissioned based on Ann Patchett's book, Bel Canto. The composer and lyricist were discussing their collaboration, how the commission came about, etc. All quite interesting. Later the same day, I saw Beppe Severgnini's documentary Portland 2 Portland: A Political Train Journey Across America. Afterwards, Severgnini and two of the crew talked about the trip and some of the technical challenges of filming on a train.

I've also been to a couple of plays, some concerts, and some art exhibits.

Non-cultural stuff: a new coffeehouse opened across the street from me. I can recommend their carrot cake.
mojosmom: (Default)
Since last I wrote, I have had quite a bit of music and music-related events in my life. Georg Friedrich figured prominently in a couple of them, hence the bad pun in my subject line.

I went to the dress rehearsal of Rinaldo at Lyric, which is basically little different from seeing an actual production. Some of the singers don't use full voice, and there is always the possibility of repeats (though none occurred on this occasion). It's absolutely marvelous, and I am looking forward to the actual event in a couple of weeks.

The next day, the Apollo Chorus (140 years old and still going strong) and the Elmhurst Symphony performed Handel's Dettingen Te Deum and Mozart's Requiem at Rockefeller Chapel. Both pieces were magnificently performed, and the setting was perfect:
Dressed for Christmas

On Sunday, I went back to the Civic Opera House for their backstage tour. What fun! We got to see all the various departments (wigs, wardrobe, props, etc.), and learned lots. So I can say that I have been on stage at Lyric and in the orchestra, and it wouldn't be a lie. And I got to wear a crown:
Crowned head
(The weird head position is because it was too big and wanted to fall off. "Uneasy lies the head", as they say.) Lots more pics here.

As you can see if you click through to the set, they're doing Showboat, which was, in my view, a waste of Lyric's resources. I don't go to Lyric to see musicals. It didn't help that it was miked, and not well, or that there was no chemistry between Magnolia and Gaylord Ravenal. Fortunately, their next foray into musical theatre will be outside the subscription series, so I can calm down about it.

Yesterday, they had a press conference to announce that Lyric has commissioned an opera based on Ann Patchett's book, Bel Canto, rather a natural, when you come to think about it. I am particularly thrilled that Nilo Cruz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, will do the libretto. Teatro Vista has done a ton of work with him, so I feel even more connected.

After the tour, I dashed off to the Smart Museum for a short concert of food-related music, ranging from Purcell to Schubert to Ravel to Comden & Green. The program was done as part of the events around the exhibit Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art, which I didn't have time to see that afternoon, but will go back to view.

In non-classical music events, I went to a wonderful film last night, Chico and Rita. Set in Cuba, New York and (briefly) Las Vegas, this animated film tells the story of two Cuban jazz musicians, pianist Chico and singer Rita, and their star-crossed love affair, from when they first meet in 1948, up to the present. I loved the animations, particularly the cityscapes. And the music, well, it just can't be beat. See it if you can: or

And in non-music . . .

My financial advisor decided that, since I have now been retired for several months, we should have a meeting to review my situation. All is well, all is, indeed, very well, and I have decided to transfer another account I have over to her. I've actually been thinking about that for awhile, and now it's done.

I went to an interesting lecture at the Art Institute about restoration (and faking) of old masters, and how conservators can figure out what's been done.

Today bids fair to be a fair day (it was already in the '50s at 8:00 a.m.!), so I am going to go out and enjoy the day. It's personal pampering day - I'm getting a manicure this morning and a haircut this afternoon.
mojosmom: (japanese icon)
I have just come in from clearing a few inches of snow off the car. It's supposed to snow all night, and since I have a class in the morning, I wanted to get a head start. A friend of mine is supposed to be flying in from New York tonight to see her mom and her two kids (I say "kids", but they are college grads); I hope she makes it.

Hard to believe it was 50º(F) yesterday! (Well, maybe not. This is Chicago, and it is January.

It's been a fairly quiet week. I ushered at a concert on Saturday - very nice early music, featuring a pair of cellists. Went to hear The Magic Flute last night, which is always a treat. Also went to an event at the Art Institute - a conversation between a curator and a collector, followed by drinks, noshes and a viewing of an exhibit of drawings from said collector's collection. There was one piece in particular that I coveted, "Second Roebling", by Christopher Wilmarth. I won't post the image of it that I found on the web, though; it just doesn't do the piece any justice.

Did a bit of shopping. I lost my good black gloves on the bus on Friday, so had to replace them. I was really annoyed because I'd only bought them a few weeks ago. Also did some boring but necessary bra/undies/socks shopping.

I went to the library yesterday to return one book, and pick up another that was on hold. I actually returned home with four books; it's so nice to have the time to sit back and read.

I finally worked out exactly when I'm going to head off to the BC convention. I'm going to go to Glasgow first, and then Dublin. I bought my airline tickets today and booked a hotel in Glasgow, and am waiting to hear from someone who might share a room in Dublin before I book that (though I'm not going to wait too long). I had to change a couple of theatre tickets here, but that was no big deal.
mojosmom: (Default)
Seriously, three movies in the last week.

1. The Women on the 6th Floor

Some guy thought this was an Almodovar movie. No, it's not. It's French. Maybe it was the Spanish women in it that confused him. Plot: stodgy middle-aged Parisian financier and his very social wife hire a Spanish maid. The "6th floor" refers to the fact that the maids (almost entirely Spanish) who work in the apartment building live in small rooms on the building's 6th floor. By happenstance, the guy goes to the 6th floor and is shocked by the conditions in which the women live. He starts to get involved in their lives, and (surprise!) also starts to get discontented with his life. Because, of course, the maids, despite their poor living and working conditions, despite the fact that they are separated from their families, are full of joie de vivre and he isn't. And if the plot sounds trite, the ending is triter.

I'm making the film sound worse than it is. I actually enjoyed most of it, because the acting's good and it's funny.

2. Mozart's Sister

René Féret imagines Nannerl's experiences during the Mozart family's trip to Paris. "Imagines" being the operative word. Look, I know that fiction about real people - whether in a book or film - is bound to take liberties with the truth. Oddly, I found it less annoying that he invented a friendship between Nannerl and the youngest daughter of Louis XV, and a gender-bending relationship with the Dauphin, than I do that he had the Mozarts arrive at Versailles during an event that occurred ten years before Wolfgang was even born, had Louise de France a mere child in the Convent of St.-Denis when in fact she entered it at the age of 33.

The thrust of the film, though, that Nannerl was denied the opportunity to develop her talents as a violinist and composer because of her sex, was well-done. Again, though, the film shows her burning her compositions and states categorically that (after the Paris trip) she "never composed again". Yet surviving letters to her from her brother from a later period make clear that he, at least, was supporting her continuing efforts in that direction.

I'd suggest a reading of Jane Glover's book, Mozart's Women, as an antidote to Féret's wilder imaginings.

Nevertheless, the settings (they were allowed to film at Versailles!), costumes and (of course) the music, were gorgeous!


Last and best, a film of a performance of Puccini's Turandot at the Teatro Antico di Taormina. Now that was a performance! Francesca Patanè as Turandot, and the extremely hot Darío Volonté as Calaf.


Dec. 5th, 2011 02:11 pm
mojosmom: (Default)
The holiday season is now in full swing, with lots of shopping opportunities. The Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust has a shop in The Rookery, a Burnham and Root designed office building with later renovations by Wright. They had an event a few days ago with choir, champagne and sweets, and tours, so how could I pass that up? I used it more as a photo op than a shopping op, though:
University of Chicago Motet Choir
(More pretty pics here.)

Yesterday, my friends Barb and Patrice, a bookbinder and potter respectively, had their annual open house cum sale. I enjoyed their gingerbread cake and hot cider, and bought a nice garden journal for my sister and a small, lidded casserole dish for me.

Saturday was the Hyde Park Art Center's auction, "Party with an Artist". It was fun, and my neighbor Marva, also a potter, had a piece up for auction. (I'll be going to her open house/sale next weekend!) There were several pieces that intrigued me, but starting bids on most were a bit rich for my blood. However, I did successfully bid on one, an abstract (not my usual!) piece called "Among the Rafters":
Among the Rafters, Holly Cahill

As I was leaving the house to go there, I saw three boxes of books sitting by the dumpster. My initial excitement faded, however, when I realized that they were almost all out-of-date economics textbooks. However, I did retrieve two Harvard Classics volumes: Charles Dana's Two Years Before the Mast, and Twenty-Four Years After, and a volume with bits of Plato, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius.

One of the things that I decided to do once I retired was to join The Saints, an organization of volunteers for the arts, to do some ushering. I did my first event on Saturday, at a performance of Amahl and the Night Visitors by the Chicago Chamber Opera, at the main library. That opera is one of my earliest television memories, being the very first show I saw on the first television my family owned. It was stage-directed by Menotti's son, Francis, and choreographed by Dame Libby Komaiko. I sniffled, as always.

In other things operatic, we went to Ariadne auf Naxos at Lyric on Friday, and enjoyed it tremendously.

Today, I dug up my rosemary from the planter on the back porch, put it in a pretty pot, and brought it indoors to sit on my kitchen window sill:

Apropos of nothing, just because she's cute:
Table décor
mojosmom: (Music)
I had an appointment last Wednesday to get my teeth cleaned and examined, and since my dentist's office is right across the street from Millennium Park, I decided to go downtown early and enjoy the open rehearsal for that night's Grant Park Symphony concert. How lovely to sit in the sun and listen to Mozart and various Strausses! Conductor Carlos Kalmar was quite relaxed:
Conductors Lean Back Everywhere

It was Austrian week at the Grant Park Symphony, and Thursday evening they performed Franz Schmidt's oratoria, The Book with Seven Seals, a musical setting of Revelations. It was a beautiful night, perfect weather for an outdoor concert. Yesterday evening, I was fortunately at an indoor event, because it was storming off and on. I went to the Cultural Center for a performance of Astor Piazzola and Horacio Ferrer's very surreal and beautiful tango opera, Maria de Buenos Aires.

Best thing? All this music was free.

In other things, there were white peaches at the farmers market on Thursday. I bought half a dozen, and puréed three of them for Bellinis. Yesterday, I went, as I do every year, to the Midwest Buddhist Temple's Ginza Festival, for chicken teriyaki, taiko drumming, crafts and other fun things.
mojosmom: (Chicago)
I think winter might be really and truly over. (Having said that, it will probably snow.)

Yesterday, it was 60-ish. I went off to my AAUW meeting, a wine tasting, so what if it was only 11:00 in the morning? Well, maybe 11:30 by the time we started pouring the wine. Then I headed over to the Chicago History Museum, just a short bus ride away. See, my courtroom partner is a Civil War re-enactor, and he let slip that his troop was going to be participating in an event there. Naturally, I said I'd have to stop by with my camera, which got him all flustered and embarrassed. But when I got there and found him, he was quite the actor. He posed for me with a rather inauthentic empty plastic the vodka bottle, which was highly amusing, because he never drinks.
Ricky (a/k/a Henry Simonton)
(My partner is the guy standing up.)

In the evening, I went to a lovely concert of 16th-century Italian vocal music, with three fantastic sopranos, a harpsichord, and a variety of violins and lutes.

Today, it was at least eighty, and sunny, and gorgeous. I was inspired to heights of cleaning, mostly because I want to get the place straightened up before I leave for Washington. This afternoon, I went to a rather curious opera, Death and the Powers, by Tod Machover, with a libretto by Robert Pinsky. It's got robots performing an opera within an opera, about a very wealthy guy who dies and goes into "The System", which he has invented to immortalize himself through technology. I kind of liked it, but I don't know. When an entire page of technology notes precedes the synopsis, I have to wonder about the priorities involved.

It was a short opera, just one, 90-minute, act, and because it was such a fabulous day, and the Park Grille's outside seating area was open, I treated myself to dinner there. Salmon tartare, risotto con pomodori secchi e salsiccia, and a sweet potato chiffon (like a mousse) for dessert.

I also managed to finish two books this weekend, Laurence Cossé's A Novel Bookstore, about a shop that sells only good novels, chosen by a secret committee, and James Cain's Mildred Pierce, which contains one of the best passages ever: "Are you insinuating that my daughter is a snake?" "No -- is a coloratura soprano, is much worse."

Now you must excuse me because it's time for the new Upstairs Downstairs!


Oct. 26th, 2010 07:17 pm
mojosmom: (Default)
Okay, now that I've calmed down from last night's excitement, I'll talk about what I did this weekend.

Friday night we went to see Carmen at Lyric Opera. Carmen was "meh", Don Jose got better in the second act, and Escamillo was excellent.

Saturday was the University of Chicago Humanities Day, which is always chock-a-block with interesting programs. I went to hear: Justin Steinberg on "Dante's Right of Way through Hell", Martha Feldman, the keynote speaker, on "Castrato De Luxe: Blood, Gifts, and Goods in the Making of Early Modern Singing Stars", and a panel discussion on "Robie House, 100 Years New", with Katherine Fischer Taylor, Donald Hoffmann and Geoffrey Goldberg. I had signed up for "The Hews of Modern Babylon, June, 1941" with Orit Bashkin, but I really needed to do some grocery shopping, because Sunday was going to be very busy. So I went to the grocery store (and the Hyde Park Cats bake sale!), between the keynote and the Robie House panel. At that last, they announced that there would be a reception at Robie House, which is just one block from where the event was. So I went to that, then went home to dinner, and then back to Robie House.

That night, there was a site specific installation of multi-media artwork there, called Projecting Modern, by Luftwerk, a collaboration between Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero. It was fantastic! They used projected images, light and sound, playing off Wright's use of light and angles. It was mostly on the third floor of the house, where the bedrooms are, an area that is not normally open to the public, even on the guided tours. I wasn't going to miss that chance!
Closet/dressing alcove, master bedroom, Robie House

The weather was gorgeous, warm and soft, so there was much hanging out on the balcony with glasses of wine and noshes. And more light projections:
Projection - eaves

Sunday was the Chicago Humanities Festival Hyde Park Day. A few years ago, they decided to have a day of events in Hyde Park, a couple of weeks before the main event. This year, I volunteered. First, because I thought it would be fun, and, second, because volunteers get two free tickets for every program worked. My stint covered two programs, so that meant tickets to four CHF events! Even though they are cheap anyway, when you go to a bunch it can add up, so volunteering is a good deal. I was at the Oriental Institute, mostly ticket-taking, and helping set up and clean up, but got to sit in on a panel discussing rare medical texts. It was most interesting, with a doctor, an art historian and a special collections librarian talking about the books from their different points of view.

Then I dashed up north, getting stuck in Bears (football) traffic on the way, for a reception that followed a performance of 26 Miles, a play being produced by Teatro Vista in collaboration with Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. (One of the great things about the Chicago theatre scene is the way so many of the ensembles do collaborate.) It was held at a nearby wine bar which has a roof deck, and since the weather was again fabulous, we mostly hung out outside. They had food, too, so I didn't need to worry about dinner.

So that was the weekend.
mojosmom: (Gautreau)
I went over to Betty C.'s house to help stamp/address postcard invitations Teatro Vista's benefit on April 12. About halfway through, we realized that a whole slew of the address labels didn't have zip codes! So rather than risk them not being delivered, we split up the pile and I've spent a fair bit of the evening looking up zip codes and making an errata sheet so we can update the mailing list.

I was a bit tired, as I went to the opera last night, The Marriage of Figaro, and it's a long one (but excellent, so well worth it). I took a friend home and didn't get home until nearly midnight. Unfortunately, I had to get up way early as it was my weekend to cover bond court. I was going to take a nap before going to Betty's, but didn't, so took a short one before dinner.

In real exciting news, I took my car to be emissions tested yesterday. I passed.

It's been a busy week for me. On Tuesday, I went to the Newberry Library for their Associates Night. There was food and drink, and a talk about Shakespearean drama (with actors), and the bookstore was open and having a 20% discount for members.

Then on Wednesday, I went over to International House for a presentation of kyogen plays by the Shigeyama family, assisted by some adorable little kids from a local elementary school playing the part of mushrooms. It was tremendous fun, the only downside being that my camera batteries were dead so I didn't get any pictures.

On Thursday, I went to the Hyde Park Art Center for the Not Just Another Pretty Face salon. This is a project they do every couple of years to match patrons with artists. They discussed the process, showed slides of some of the artists' work, and also talked about the cost. Some of the artists, particularly the more established ones and those who work in certain media or on a large-scale, would be way out of my league to work with. But there are some, including some whose work I like, that I could afford. I'm thinking this might be a fun thing to do, it'll help the Art Center (they get 50% of the cost, and there's an exhibition), and I've always wanted to be a Medici! ;-)

Best part? All three of the above events were free.
mojosmom: (Steinlen cats)
Well, a week and a half anyway.

No traumatic or terrible reasons for it, just a bit lazy, and trying to catch up with reviews over at my other blog.

I've been busy with Teatro Vista board/committee meetings. We're planning a benefit in April and I'm on that committee (though it unfortunately falls during the time I'll be in Europe!).

I saw my first "Live in HD" Metropolitan Opera broadcast last Saturday. Friends have raved about them, and so I decided to take advantage of the rare opportunity to hear Placido Domingo sing baritone, in the title role of Simon Boccanegra. I had the libretto from when Lyric did it years ago, so read it ahead of time, a necessary thing because the plot is incredibly convoluted, even for opera! I loved it! The opera itself was grand, but it was worth going just for the close-ups. I loved seeing the details of the costumes, and you could see them sweat! During intermission, there were interviews conducted by Renée Fleming, but what was even more interesting was that they showed the sets being changed. The Met stage crew deserves every penny they get. It was like choreography. The only thing I missed, that you get when you listen on the radio, is the Opera Quiz. One of the perks of my Opera Guild membership is advance ticketing for these, and I expect I'll use that next season!

Both cats have been to the vet, Marissa yesterday for her annual check-up and a couple of shots (three-year rabies and distemper, so she won't have to be poked for awhile more). Lilith went this morning. She has been having pooping issues, going outside the box (though not all the time) and very loose stools. Bloodwork is being done, stool sample checked and pills have been prescribed. So we'll see.

I went by the library to return a couple of books and, of course, browsed the "New Books" shelves. I noticed a book with the intriguing title The Web that has no Weaver, which turned out to be a book about Chinese medicine. And was authored by a guy I knew in college, and had acknowledgements to two other guys I knew in college!

I had yesterday off (Lincoln's Birthday is a holiday in Illinois, so I've got a four-day weekend! Yay!), and went up to the northern 'burbs to meet with my financial adviser. We hadn't run the retirement numbers for a couple of years and, as I am approaching that time (the two government pension systems I've been under are reciprocal systems, and due to the fact that I took a pay cut when I left my last job, I'll need to retire out of the system by November of next year to maximize my pension.), she wanted to do it again. The news is very good. Between the pension and Social Security, both of which have annual COLAs, and decent investments, I don't need to worry and can actually relax about the whole thing (barring anything unexpected and horrendous, of course).

Had a taste for Thai food so I stopped off at a place I like and got cucumber salad and curry noodles to go.
mojosmom: (Default)
I was watching RAI-International, which is broadcast here for several hours on Sunday mornings. When I turned it on, they were showing a soccer match. Italian soccer players are adorable! That was followed by a segment about a production of Zelmira at Pesaro's Rossini Opera Festival, starring Juan Diego Flórez, one of the hottest tenors around.

I feel as though the new year actually starts tomorrow, as I head back to work for the first time in 2010, and also start up my Italian lessons again. I spent the past week doing my regular coaching at the Appellate Defender's trial advocacy program, and enjoying it as much as always.

As always during the first week in January, we got hit with a snow storm. I'm glad I was taking public transportation instead of driving! In fact, I hadn't taken the car out in nearly a week, as I didn't need it, so Friday afternoon when I got home, I bundled up and went out and cleaned several inches of snow off it. It really wasn't so bad, as it was the light, fluffy snow, and I had no trouble at all getting out of my parking space.

It also wasn't as cold as they were claiming it would be yesterday (being so close to the lake mitigates the temperatures), so I did the grocery store/post office/drugstore run. Then I came home and was productive. I took the Christmas stuff down to my basement storage locker, and actually made significant headway on cleaning out a closet. I had a couple of boxes full of paperwork that I hadn't even looked at in years, so I tossed a bunch of it, and the boxes, which had become unnecessary.

Then I made soup for dinner. I used chicken stock as a base, and added chopped leeks, mustard greens and carrots that I had sautéed in a combination of butter and olive oil until fairly soft. I puréed about a third of the vegetables and added that back (this makes the soup thicker). At the end of the cooking time, I also added some milk. I used salt, pepper and thyme for seasoning. It was very good, and hit the spot on a cold day.

I had tentative plans for today to meet a Bookcrosser who was stranded here due to weather in Europe. Her Thursday flight to London from JFK was cancelled, so they booked her out of O'Hare Friday, but that was cancelled, too, and she wasn't going to be able to get out until Monday! When she posted that in the forums, I couldn't help but feel sorry for her. Having to sit in an airport hotel in a town where you don't know anyone for an entire weekend, while not as bad as being stuck at the airport itself, would really suck. So I took pity on her and volunteered my company. However, she was able to find a flight yesterday with one empty seat, grabbed it, and is now home.

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity is going to New York! It will be at Second Stage Theatre from April 27-June 20. It may go to Broadway if all goes well. My friend, Eddie Torres, will once again be directing. Casting hasn't been announced, but if they're smart they'll use the Chicago cast. I'll be in New York in early June for my college reunion, so I will definitely go see it again then.
mojosmom: (Default)
The partying and overeating, that is.

Yesterday, I went to a Teatro Vista meeting - the board, staff and ensemble met with a woman who has been doing market research for us. It was very illuminating. The meeting was punctuated with food and wine, and followed also with food and wine.

Shortly, I will be going to the home of friends who are, respectively, a bookbinder and a potter, who have an annual holiday sale of their work, accompanied by goodies.

I try to be restrained, but it's not easy!

Friday night, we went to see Lyric's production of Katya Kabanova, with Karita Mattila in the title role. I liked it a lot, although some of the directing was a bit one-dimensional. Mattila was marvelous and Liora Grodnikaite, who sang Varvara, was also excellent.

Oh! And I discovered yesterday afternoon as I was driving to Cecilie's house and listening to WFMT that there's an opera based on Brief Encounter! It's by André Previn, and the singers were Elizabeth Futral (who I'll see shortly in Merry Widow) and Nathan Gunn. I tuned in after it started and thought, "gee, this libretto sounds really familiar", then, "That sounds an awful lot like the plot of Brief Encounter" and then, "Hey! It is Brief Encounter!" Nothing like having a favorite old movie turned into an opera.
mojosmom: (Default)
The partying and overeating, that is.

Yesterday, I went to a Teatro Vista meeting - the board, staff and ensemble met with a woman who has been doing market research for us. It was very illuminating. The meeting was punctuated with food and wine, and followed also with food and wine.

Shortly, I will be going to the home of friends who are, respectively, a bookbinder and a potter, who have an annual holiday sale of their work, accompanied by goodies.

I try to be restrained, but it's not easy!

Friday night, we went to see Lyric's production of Katya Kabanova, with Karita Mattila in the title role. I liked it a lot, although some of the directing was a bit one-dimensional. Mattila was marvelous and Liora Grodnikaite, who sang Varvara, was also excellent.

Oh! And I discovered yesterday afternoon as I was driving to Cecilie's house and listening to WFMT that there's an opera based on Brief Encounter! It's by André Previn, and the singers were Elizabeth Futral (who I'll see shortly in Merry Widow) and Nathan Gunn. I tuned in after it started and thought, "gee, this libretto sounds really familiar", then, "That sounds an awful lot like the plot of Brief Encounter" and then, "Hey! It is Brief Encounter!" Nothing like having a favorite old movie turned into an opera.
mojosmom: (opera)
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I don't even have to think about this one. Maria Callas. And, if I can have two, also Giuseppe di Stefano. If I can have three, Tito Gobbi. And the opera is Tosca!

And then Carlo Broschi (Farinelli), because I'm very curious about what a castrato sounded like.
mojosmom: (opera)
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I don't even have to think about this one. Maria Callas. And, if I can have two, also Giuseppe di Stefano. If I can have three, Tito Gobbi. And the opera is Tosca!

And then Carlo Broschi (Farinelli), because I'm very curious about what a castrato sounded like.
mojosmom: (Music)
Thursday evening was the first in what will (I hope) become a regular series at the Chicago Cultural Center: Chicago under the Dome. Preston Bradley Hall is often used for concerts, but these events have some cabaret seating in addition to the regular rows of chairs, and beer and wine! This concert was Jim Gailloreto's Jazz String Quintet, with Patricia Barber sitting in on a few numbers. She was the big draw, of course, and the room was full.

Also full, on Friday night, was Millennium Park's Pritzker Pavilion, for the Stars of Lyric Opera concert, which has become a yearly event and is always packed. I got there around two hours before the concert began, and got a decent enough spot on the lawn. There is a seating area, which opened right about the time I got there, and people were already lined up all around the lawn to get seats. The first half featured singers from the Ryan Opera Center, the artist development program run by Lyric. The big guns (Deborah Voight, Vladimir Galouzine and James Morris) were in the second half. Morris had my favorite piece of the night: a very shiver-making "Credo" from Verdi's Otello.

There was at least one diehard Wagnerite in the crowd:

Today I had a couple of meetings. An Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers board meeting in the morning, followed by a member tea of a new chapter of the AAUW (American Association of University Women) that I have been sucked into. That was at a very hotsy-totsy place, the Women's Athletic Association, which is situated in a landmark building on Michigan Avenue that may have the last elevators in Chicago that actually have elevator operators!

June 2017



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