Saturday, January 28, 2006


I finally had a chance to return to the de Young yesterday. It had been in the back of my mind for a long time. I truly needed to get there and check the exhibits I didn’t see in October.

The Hatshepsut : From Queen to Pharaoh exhibit had not yet opened when I was there, and it was a must. I am totally thankful that I was able to see this great installation before its end date of February 5.

The unprecedented exhibition of over 260 objects from twenty-three museums throughout the world highlights the reign of the female pharaoh Hatshepsut, who shared the Egyptian throne for nearly two decades (1479 – 1458 B.c.); first as regent for, then as king and senior co-ruler with her nephew, Thutmose III. It is the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of art focusing on Hatshepsut and her time ever staged: presenting a vast treasure of monumental royal statuary and relief; superb sculpture representing members of the royal court; and a wide variety of ceremonial objects, finely crafted furniture and boxes, dazzling jewelry, and other exquisite personal items that tell the fascinating reign while revealing the diverse and exquisite production of the early Eighteenth Dynasty.

There were so many items that I really loved, but I believe I liked the gold jewelry best of all. It was very amazing. I had a gold ring that I recently sold, made in an unusual way, with a scarab in a setting that revolved. The gold was done in a rope-like method near the part with the swiveling scarab. In the jewelry exhibit yesterday, there were a couple of rings made the same way. I knew my ring came from Egypt, and it was hallmarked, but I obviously don’t believe that it was of the same age.

I saw so many items that made the old brain of mine start working in high gear, soaking it all up. Many artifacts were in such pristine condition that it was hard for me to fathom their age.

After I spent a few hours checking out the Hatshepsut exhibit, which is on the lowest level, where, apparently, traveling exhibits will be located, I had lunch in the café. Then I went to the second floor, to check out the Oceania and Africa sections. There were many very interesting items in that area, and I actually liked a lot of the pieces from New Guinea.

I saved my favorite American paintings for last. I had to visit them again, of course. I realized as I was walking through the galleries that I acquired a sense of peace and tranquillity when surrounded by paintings of the American masters. It was as if I was home again. It is where I belong, with art that is totally pleasing to me, with magnificent paintings of the Hudson River School and earlier. California paintings in the deYoung are truly beautiful. I can never soak up enough of this art.

Of course, when I go to the Legion of Honor, I have a chance to see European art, of which I am also a great admirer. Then I have to spend time soaking up those paintings, too.

I finally left after spending many hours at the deYoung. My feet and legs were protesting. I would have to wait for another time to visit my paintings again.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

I decided to come out of hibernation long enough to attend dress rehearsal of a play at Contra Costa Civic Theatre again.

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” showed the talents of the variety of actors who perform at the Civic Theatre. It was witty and well done. I was kept entertained through the whole performance.

It seemed to me that the actors chosen for the various parts were well suited to the people they were to play. Some of them were rather outstanding, and I will remember them for a long time.

The Civic Theatre is a “cozy” venue, and you become totally involved with the characters. Sometimes they jump offstage practically into your lap. That makes for “in your face” acting. That only happened once last night, while chasing an errant basketball, but in previous plays, the audience area was an integral part of the setting. During “Annie” a couple of years ago, the dog decided to take a walk.

I always love going to the dress rehearsals. Upon arrival, I settle into my seat, waiting for the gift of the presentation – waiting to see what surprises are in store. It is like “here, we present you with this performance, to have and to hold, for your contemplation, for your joy for the evening”. It is such a wonderful feeling to soak in a live performance, whether it be a play, a concert, ballet, or the opera, and I wish I could partake more often.

I am unable to do so. The price of tickets these days is prohibitive. Once upon a time, in Buffalo, I was able to attend anything I wanted to for zero money or a mere pittance. Of course, the main reason was that I worked for the various “companies”, as a volunteer in most cases. I only had a paid job with the Buffalo Philharmonic. More on that at a later date.

Anyway, it seemed strange getting away from ebay for a bit. I have been working so hard trying to sell all of my signed jewelry, from the 30’s to the 60’s. I am doing quite well right now, and want to continue until the bubble bursts again, as it has in the past for me. That is why I have not been writing on here. I spend all of my creative energy writing descriptions for the many wonderful and great items I am listing. By the end of the day, I am brain dead.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

I Give Up

I can not work while listening to this recording. I can't concentrate on anything else, like ebay & amazon listings. I have to stop what I am doing all of the time and listen to all of the parts of the music. I find myself holding my breath during the especially magnificent parts.

More on Verdi

I actually listened to the Requiem for a third time yesterday. I took my CD player to bed with me and laid there with the headphones on, mesmerized by the music. It is basically impossible to tell you how magnificent this performance was - how it makes you feel when listening. Rodney is right - I have never heard a better performance of this piece. (And the huge audience was so quiet!)

Friday, January 06, 2006


So we had our last Wednesday rehearsal of the semester for Chapel Choir today, and since we only had two songs to rehearse in two hours, Rodney (our director) let us spend the beginning talking about the Requiem. Patty, one of our star sopranos, said she's had nothing but Verdi stuck in her head for months (this made me feel better, because I thought I was the only one...I've been singing in Latin down the hallways for a full 10 days). Rodney said - get this - it was the BEST VERDI REQUIEM HE'D EVER HEARD (in person).

The only way for you to understand the way this made me feel is to also understand how I feel about Rodney. I am in awe of Rodney. I can't decide whether to love him or be terrified of him. The image that springs immediately to mind is the apes and the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey, though I know that's not right for many many reasons. If Rodney told me I had a good voice, I'd go audition for American Idol. If he told me I had a bad voice, I'd go pretend to be a lemming and drown myself. That's just the way it is. (As it is, he tells me I can't read music, but that's a skill failing. So I've just stopped auditioning for stuff because of it.) I'm afraid to talk to him, because I might annoy him (which in turn makes me annoy him even more, I think, because it means I sleep through a lot of Sundays and never apologize for it, but, uh, that's just part of what makes me...crazy?).

Anyway. BEST VERDI REQUIEM. And that we were so good the orchestra and the soloists drew emotion off us. That you could hear every consonant in every part of the Chapel (you try enunciating in a building with a 7-story-high vaulted ceiling and then MAYBE you'll understand how big a deal that is). That it was the most emotional and best-felt oratorio Chapel Choir'd done.

But now, after that, I don't know how I can buy recordings. There won't - you can't - you don't feel a recording. You'll only hear the bad and superficial parts. The part in the last Libera Me, where I was singing so hard my chest was vibrating and I still wanted to put out more sound because I wanted to make it better, greater, more glorious - you can't hear that. The whole Chapel full of people leaning in and holding their breaths at the first sob of the cello - that'll just register as so much less ambient noise. The part in the Agnus Dei where at least one of us was so moved she burst into tears - can't hear that either. The fact that I, normally the town fuckup, was so carried along by the flow that not only did I not make a single mistake or wrong entrance (!) but didn't even need to look at my score for a good 75% of the oratorio (!!) - well, nobody knew that but me. And you, now.

But I -- oh god, you guys, you don't know how depressed I was that no one came, because I was so tired and so sick and had sung two services that day and we still managed to do the most beautiful, beautiful thing I've ever been a part of, and no one was there to see it.

I went out to the bus stop, hung my head, and tried not to cry.
posted by Allison @ 8:27 PM 18

I am listening to the Verdi Requiem on headphones. I have to stop at points and just listen, shivering with the magnificence of it all. This is the most fantastic recording and I have awaited it with anticipation for a long time. This is a 2 CD set from a live performance at the Duke University (North Carolina) Chapel, April 2005. It is with the Duke Chapel Choir, the Duke Chorale, the Chamber Choir of the Choral Society of Durham, and Duke Orchestra with Rodney Wynkoop, Conductor. This consists of a few hundred voices, and they fill the chapel with an incredibly resounding, almost overwhelming performance.

Allie is in the Chapel Choir, and she took this CD set home to NYS for me at Christmas time. I just received it in the mail today from her mother. I had wished at the time of the performance that I could go to Duke, and now I finally have a chance to at least hear the results. Usually I watch and listen to the Chapel Choir on the Chapel website, when they record the Sunday morning services. I have also seen the Messiah, before this past Christmas season. One time I happened to catch it live, and that was a great feeling, watching something that Allie was singing in and seeing them all in “person”. The Messiah is not available from December 2005. But, Allie was sick and could not perform anyway. She didn’t want to spread her germs to the other singers, and she also did not want to damage her throat.

This is the second time that I have listened to the Requiem today. The first time I had it on the small stereo with no headphones. I had to check it out now and see how it sounds. It is absolutely splendid, and it has made the tears flow so far. I get goosebumps. I am still on the first disk. I wish many people could find out about this recording.

Maybe I’ll contact my local classical music station. I listen to that station every day. If any of my very tiny audience out there could find a copy of this recording, I highly recommend it.