Category Archives: Events

UPDATE: Postings Suspended until September, Maybe

Unless something unexpected and terribly important comes up, I won’t be posting any new items until at least September. There are a couple of reasons.

The pandemic has shut down so many of the things that make life interesting and enjoyable that I’m left with little to celebrate or write about. The museums, galleries, and theatres are closed, and I haven’t visited a restaurant in more than three months.

Because I’m in at least two of the high-risk groups that COVID-19 targets, I’ve been self-secluding since 14 March. Since I’m seriously introverted by nature, it hasn’t been as difficult for me as it has been for other, more outgoing people, but after three months, I’m beginning to feel the effects of an urban version of cabin fever. Condo fever, I guess. Even with all the books and films and music in the world only a few keystrokes away, you go a little batty after a while.

That will all end sometime in the next two months. The long-awaited renovation of my apartment, damaged a year ago when our roof-top pool dumped its contents on the floors below, is scheduled for sometime before the end of July. Everything in my condo must go into storage, and I’ll have to temporarily vacate during the two weeks when the work is being done, so I’ll be hors de combat for the duration. Putting all the pieces back together when I return will probably take up most of the rest of 2020.

So it’s goodbye for a while. See you sometime in the Fall.


Leaving you with my current favourite song, “Suck On Light” by Boy & Bear.

“Remain Indoors” — Mitchell and Webb Saw It Coming

From the British Emergency Broadcasting System’s highest-rated (and only remaining) show, here’s “The Quiz Broadcast”.

Remain Indoors

Remain Indoors

Way back in 2008 – 2009, David Mitchell and Robert Webb, of the BAFTA-winning British comedy team called, uh, Mitchell and Webb, saw the dark clouds on the horizon. To prepare their TV audience for the worst, they began to run these short segments from the post-apocalyptic “The Quiz Broadcast” on their weekly show.

Now the Quiz Broadcast has become unexpectedly relevant again, ever since The Event made it  critical for many of us to

Remain Indoors


More David Mitchell

You may have seen David Mitchell on panel shows like Would I Lie to You? where he plays a posh urban sophisticate opposite Lee Mack’s Northern lout. I’ll post some clips when I get around to it.

He’s also currently starring as William Shakespeare in Upstart Crow, the cheerful and hilarious debunking of Shakespeare’s life and works by Ben Elton, who gave the world the infamous saga of the Blackadder dynasty. Here’s a look at the real Shakespeare:

Lilac Time

Memory is the damnedest thing.

This year is the first time in more than a decade that I’ve spent all Spring in Washington, when the city is (usually) at its best and most beautiful. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen much of it this year. The severity of the coronavirus became clear just as the famous Washington cherry blossoms were nearing their peak. I didn’t get to see them, because by that time, I was self-secluding. Been self-secluded ever since.

When I was growing up, we had a lilac bush in the backyard. It’s not the one in the picture—I found that image online. But, at least in my memory, our lilac bush was quite similar, except it was fuller and the colour of the lilacs was much more vivid.

Lilacs have a short blooming season. In DC, it’s usually around the first week in May, and I usually walk over to the Dupont Circle Farmers’ Market early on Sunday morning to buy a few branches before they sell out.

They don’t last. Within three or four days, they’re gone. But for a little while, the incredible smell of lilacs is one of the most wonderful things on the planet.

I stayed at home this morning. Maybe next year….

Stream Both Versions of Frankenstein from the National Theatre (UK)

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the National Theatre (UK) has made selections from its magnificent collection of live-on-film productions available online, free of charge. Each show is posted to YouTube on Thursday at 7 PM UK time. That’s 2 PM on the US East Coast. Each show will be accessible for a full one-week run on the National Theatre’s YouTube channel.

The current program is a special treat. It’s the 2011 production of Frankenstein, directed by Danny Boyle, in which Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternated playing Frankenstein and the creature. Both actors won the Olivier Award for their performances.

National Theatre’s NT at Home series lets you compare the performances.


Watch Frankenstein with Jonny Lee Miller as the creature here.

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Watch Frankenstein with Benedict Cumberbatch as the creature here.

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Starting on Thursday: Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo are Shakespeare’s fated lovers in Antony & Cleopatra.

It’s 2020, and Billy Porter Is Covering Buffalo Springfield’s 1966 Song, “For What It’s Worth”

I have a mixed reaction to this.

Musically, I like what he did with the song, but the issues, the politics, and the culture of 2020 are so very different from those of the late 1960s that the original lyrics don’t really work anymore.

And while I love me my Buffalo Springfield, I’ve sort of come to dread hearing those two opening notes of “For What It’s Worth”, because every time some hack film director needs a soundtrack for their big 60s montage, there it is.


The Original

“For What It’s Worth” hit the US Top 10 in 1967, peaking at Number 7. The song became one of the key anthems of the sixties youth rebellion against the War in Vietnam, the draft, the Nixon administration, oppressive conformity, police violence, repressive education, and pretty much anything old.*

That’s heavy lifting for a song that was written about a clash between police and demonstrators protesting a curfew imposed on some popular clubs in Los Angeles, but the Riot on Sunset Strip became a symbol of the generational chasm of the day.

Here’s a 1967 performance of the song by the original members of Buffalo Springfield, all of them looking impossibly young and thin and pretty.


*I find it amusing that the Boomers, whose unofficial motto was “Don’t Trust Anyone over 30”, are now widely blamed for everything wrong in the world by the under-30 Millennials, and that most Boomers don’t really care all that much about what Millennials think of them or of anything else.

Plus ça change….

Stjepan Hauser’s Wonderful “Alone, Together” Concert in Arena Pula

For anyone who missed it, and anyone who just wants to see and hear it again, here’s Stjepan Hauser’s beautiful “Alone, Together” performance in the 2000-year-old Arena Pula in Croatia.

The concert was “dedicated to the amazing efforts of all the frontline workers around the world and to pay tribute to all that is good in humanity.”

Track list:

00:10 Benedictus (Karl Jenkins)
08:06 Air on the G String (J. S. Bach)
12:55 Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana (Pietro Mascagni)
16:21 Caruso (Lucio Dalla)
21:51 Nessun Dorma (G. Puccini)

Half of 2Cellos Is Better Than None

I’ve posted many times about 2Cellos, the classically-trained Croatian cellist duo who perform brilliant cover versions of rock and pop songs.  After their exhausting 36-show tour last year, Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser decided to take a break and “pursue their individual careers”. They plan to reunite for a 10th-anniversary tour in 2021.

In the meantime, we have this:

Video No Longer Available

Stjepan Hauser is giving a special live performance TODAY, 27 April 2020, at the Arena Pula, in his hometown in Croatia. (Sorry for the late notice. Depending on when you’re reading this, you may already have missed the live version, but you’ll probably be able to find it on YouTube later.)

The performance, titled “Alone, Together” will begin at 7PM CET, which is 6PM in the UK, 1PM in the US East Coast, and 10AM on the US West Coast.


Bonus

Here’s 2Cellos’ performance of Bach’s “Air on the G String”. Beautifully done, but I must confess that one of the reasons I’m posting it is because  Dorothy Parker wanted it played at her funeral. She was amused by the title.

…And If Opera Isn’t Your Thing, How about High School Musicals?

The Metropolitan Opera isn’t the only great musical institution that has been shut down by this rotten virus. The pandemic hit the US just as high schools around the country were preparing to stage their Spring musicals. The resulting cancellations have broken the hearts of thousands of drama club kids who have worked for months on what should have been one of their happiest and most memorable high school experiences.

Tony Award-winning actress Laura Benanti* did something to make things a little better.

The response was huge. You can watch some of the videos and read encouraging tweets from dozens of theatre people on her Twitter feed. You’ll find even more snippets at #SunshineSongs.

Nicely done, Ms Benanti!


*She also won the Drama Desk Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award. Twice. Each.

If you haven’t seen her on stage, you probably know her from her spot-on imitation of Melania Trump on late-night TV.

A Gift from the Metropolitan Opera

Metropolitan Opera House

Metropolitan Opera House

Met to launch “Nightly Met Opera Streams,” a free series of encore Live in HD presentations streamed on the company website during the coronavirus closure

Because of coronavirus concerns, the Metropolitan Opera has canceled all performances through 31 March 2020, but there’s a silver lining: Each night for the duration of the closure, starting Monday, 16 March 2020, the Met will stream encore presentations from the award-winning Live in HD series of cinema transmissions on the company website for free. Learn more here.

All “Nightly Met Opera Streams” will begin at 7:30pm and will remain available via the homepage of metopera.org for 20 hours. The homepage link will open the performance on the Met Opera on Demand streaming service. The performance will also be viewable on all Met Opera on Demand apps.”

Here’s this week’s schedule:

March 16: Bizet’s Carmen
Conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, starring Elīna Garanča and Roberto Alagna. (Originally broadcast January 16, 2010.)

March 17: Puccini’s La Bohème
Conducted by Nicola Luisotti, starring Angela Gheorghiu and Ramón Vargas. (Originally broadcast April 5, 2008.)

March 18: Verdi’s Il Trovatore
Conducted by Marco Armiliato, starring Anna Netrebko, Dolora Zajick, Yonghoon Lee, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky. (Originally broadcast October 3, 2015.)

March 19: Verdi’s La Traviata
Conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, starring Diana Damrau, Juan Diego Flórez, and Quinn Kelsey. (Originally broadcast December 15, 2018.)

March 20: Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment
Conducted by Marco Armiliato, starring Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Flórez. (Originally broadcast April 26, 2008.)

March 21: Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor
Conducted by Marco Armiliato, starring Anna Netrebko, Piotr Beczała, and Mariusz Kwiecien. (Originally broadcast February 7, 2009.)

March 22: Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin
Conducted by Valery Gergiev, starring Renée Fleming, Ramón Vargas, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky. (Originally broadcast February 24, 2007.)


With my goldfish-like attention span, I’ve never gotten into opera. I think I might give it a try this week.