Watching Bizet’s Carmen while ‘sheltering in place’

I am not a fan of opera, having seen only one live performance in my life. It was a long time ago when I was in Germany and we were taken as a group to see Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman. My reaction? Kind of meh. But I decided to take advantage of the New York Metropolitan Opera’s decision, during the time when they are shut down due to the pandemic, to broadcast recordings of their past live streams of operas for free with a new one every night. (See this post for details).
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A boon for opera fans

If you are a fan of opera, New York City’s Metropolitan Opera announced that they will, starting tonight and continuing for the duration of their closure due to the pandemic, live-stream, free of charge some of the recordings they have of past performances, no doubt to keep people entertained while they are restricted to their homes.

Since 2006, the company has been transmitting live performances to movie theaters via satellite as part of a series called The Met: Live in HD; now the Met will be streaming those performances for free, one per day, for the duration of the closure.

Each opera will be available on the Met’s website beginning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern and will remain available to stream until 3:30 p.m. Eastern the next day. They’ll also be available through the Met’s Opera on Demand apps.

You can see the first week’s offerings here. Tonight will be Bizet’s Carmen.

The Monkees are touring again

The popular band from the 1960s are starting a new tour on April 3rd. Here is a live performance of their big hit Last Train to Clarksville from their 2019 tour.

The song is catchy and upbeat. What I did not realize until very recently is that “And I don’t know if I’m ever coming home”, the last line of the chorus, is an indirect reference to a soldier about to be shipped off to Vietnam, which gives it a much darker meaning

Paul Simon explains to Dick Cavett the origins of Mrs. Robinson

I consider Paul Simon one of the best rock guitarists and songwriters of his generation. I have been learning the guitar for about forty years with little progress to show but I keep trying and the Simon and Garfunkel oeuvre is what I often work on, especially the song Mrs. Robinson from the film The Graduate.

The lyrics of his songs abound in non-sequiturs and can take weird turns. In this 1970 interview with Dick Cavett, Simon explains that he writes lyrics in a stream of consciousness mode, putting down whatever comes into his head at that moment, with only a minor effort at producing a coherent narrative, hoping that some meaning will emerge later. He gives Mrs. Robinson and the cryptic line about Joe DiMaggio as an example of how he writes.
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John Denver’s Country Roads in minor key

Thanks to modern technology, one can do things that one could formerly only dream about, such as taking a pop song and changing it from a major to a minor key and vice versa. Major keys tend to be used for upbeat songs while minor keys are favored if you are trying to achieve a more melancholy sound.

Via Rob Beschizza, I came across what such a transformation sounds like when you do it to one of the best known John Denver songs, Country Roads.
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Teach your children well

The family of Parker Mustian clearly had not heard that great song by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young (see below). PZ brought this young man’s story to my attention.

Parker Mustian, a 16-year-old former student at Cardinal Newman high school in Columbia, South Carolina was arrested by local law enforcement officers last month after he appeared in a pair of racist “public service announcements” that were circulated among students at his school.

Mustian is further alleged to have threatened to “shoot up” the Catholic school following his expulsion last month.

“Howdy, I’m Parker Mustian and I hate black people,” the teen begins in the first clip. “They’re the worst. They’re stinky and they just suck. They’re just bad people.”

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This is Spinal Tap – again

Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer, the three guitar players in the 1984 cult film that featured the loudest rock band ever (it went up to 11), are actual musicians and a few days ago, the trio performed live with Elvis Costello at the Tribeca Film Festival at a screening for the 35 anniversary of the film. (The drummers in the band had a habit of dying mysteriously.)

Here’s the trailer for the original film from back in 1984.

Yo Yo Ma gets political

The world famous cellist is noted for his genial personality and his untiring efforts to use music to promote understanding between the peoples of the world. He has not been overtly political but he just brought his Bach Project to the sister cities of Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, playing at the border. There were also performances on the Mexican side. He also spoke decrying the building of a border wall.