Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Review: The Barber of Seville

We must be getting old.

For Missus B's birthday we decided to do something different, A Night at the Opera.  Fans of the Marx Brothers (and Queen) will realize that A Day at the Races could be next...

The Dallas Opera for its spring season was rolling out Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" (only seven performances) and a chance to see almost anything at the beautiful Winspear Opera House is not to be trivialized.  This was our first encounter with baritones, mezzo-soprano's and diva's in general and it turned out to be a wonderful evening.

 "The Barber of Seville" is as much comedy as it is opera.  Before the curtain was raised we were treated to the audio from the Warner Brothers classic The Rabbit of Seville, featuring Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. Since the opera was being simulcast at Cowboy's Stadium, there were a few references throughout to football and one of the cast members even got an impromptu wave going during the intermission.

The orchestra was terrific and Nathan Gunn was excellent as Figaro.  He is blessed by a great voice and perfect comedic timing.  The role of Rosina was played by Isabel Leonard who has sung before audiences in New York and Munich.  They held the audience captive throughout the evening.

I would say we will look to go again, but stick to the major operas and pass on the lesser known "more difficult" works - you know the ones with the huge woman wearing the Viking helmet...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Book Review - "Arsenal: The Making of a Modern Superclub" - Alex Fynn

I asked for and duly received this for Christmas.  About two-thirds of the way through reading it, I was looking through the bookshelves at home and guess what?  I found another copy!  Not only did I have it, I had already read "Arsenal: The Making of a Modern Superclub".  So either it was not very memorable first go round, or my memory is shot (after all memory is the second thing to go...).

The book is faintly memorable.  It does a fine job of digging into some of the boardroom shenanigans, especially the ouster of David Dein but sheds little light on the motives of Stan Kroenke or the other fat Russian (Arshavin was the first).  A lot of the subject matter has been well covered on the blogs such as Arseblog, A Cultured Left Foot, Arsenal News Review and the Guardian's excellent football section and is not very revealing.

I would like to have seen a little more devoted to the onfield success - what Arsenal fan cannot get enough of the Invincibles 2003-04?  But why was team broken up so quickly?  And why did Wenger take Pires off in the 2005 Champions League Final, thereby practically condemning Arsenal to a loss?

Nonetheless, it is required reading for Gooners and maybe even some ardent fans of the game would find it interesting.  I mailed my extra copy to a friend in Connecticut - a fair-weather Arsenal fan who has been making noises about transferring his allegiance to Chelsea.  I know, awful.  I am hopeful "Arsenal: The Making of a Modern Superclub" will help him keep the faith.

Grade: B-