Saturday, January 23, 2010

Le peuple migrateur

I just fell in love - with Le peuple migrateur (The Traveling Birds), an exquisite French documentary that needs no narration.  Ranging from pelicans to penguins, from seagulls to storks, the stars of this film travel over vistas from all over the world.  On land, they touchingly take care of their young ones and struggle for survival under all conditions.

The film is so full of humor and wonder.  (I myself wonder, first, how migrating birds can possibly flap their wings for hours after getting no exercise for months, and how the photographers managed to have the viewer flying right along with the feathered miracles of nature.)  The soundtrack captures and enhances the movement, with humor and pathos. 

Warning: The film does contain violence!

The music includes:

One of the more poignant scenes in the film, out of many. 

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Opera Around the World

This afternoon I went to a recital of several operatic pieces, both solos and ensemble pieces.  Frankly, I could have done without the prolonged narration (in Japanese, of course) explaining the background for each of the pieces.  Perhaps it helped some of the audience appreciate the recital even more, but I would have enjoyed a simple hour and a half of singing rather than the two and a half hours it got stretched to.

Moreover, although two of my friends who sang solos are particularly good at acting, most of the staging on the group numbers was wooden with certain members of the chorus who had zero stage presence looking particularly uncomfortable.  It made me so aware of what the judges are often saying on the competitive TV shows I enjoy watching about the music and dance having to come from the heart.

Two of the pieces were outstanding, including "Queen of the Night" from Mozart's Magic Flute, and one from Donzetti's Lucia di Lammermoor (can't say which aria since the program was all in Japanese).  There was only one particularly painful performance, interestingly enough done by the Soprano with the gaudiest outfit of all.

I wish I could give the names of the soloists who did outstanding performances, but translating names from Japanese is particularly difficult for me.

As usual, I became aware of how much more I enjoy performing myself rather than watching others perform!  However, it was not altogether an unpleasant afternoon.  I just would have enjoyed being able to experience only the highlights more.