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Archive for December, 2012

(I was fortunate to see Wagner’s complete Ring Cycle right around my birthday in April while I was studying in Vienna. The 20-plus hours of standing and experiencing one of opera’s master works was definitely worth it.)

 

Das Rheingold

I was very impressed with how large the orchestra was, but then again, this is Wagner at some of his most epic work. The music begins softly and slowly in the low instruments, emulating creation. There was a giant screen behind the actors that would be incorporated in all four works. It first projected an actual video of water flowing. I found the scenery and costumes to be very vivid. The Rhinemaidens rose up into view and rose up and down in steady waves like seaweed. Their voices blended together beautifully. The colour scheme of greens and blues brought you underwater with them in the scene. Alberich entered with a very deep and rich voice, swimming among the maidens and attempting to catch them to satisfy his lust. His movements to emulate swimming were a bit bizarre. However, his desires change as he sets eyes upon the gold that the Rhinemaidens are guarding, and he vows to forsake love in order to steal it into his possession. I was a little offended by the suggestive gestures that Alberich made with the gold. It was almost as if he was rubbing himself against it sexually.

I found it interesting and nice that the flow of the orchestral works was continuous through the scene changes, allowing the listener to not be interrupted in his or her visualizations brought forth by the music. Valhalla was set as a bright white area with settings of stones distributed throughout the stage. The costuming of the gods wasn’t very appealing to me. It looked as if they were dressed in fairly modern cocktail attire. Wotan is certainly gifted with an awesome, strong, and powerful voice. I thought Fricka’s sparkling dress was very distracting. Her voice was pretty good, but I thought her dress sparkled more in quality than her voice. The white suits of Donner and Froh looked almost like dentist uniforms. Freia’s voice was very bright and clear. When she was in her high register, it reminded me of what a colleague of mine’s voice could sound like in the future. When the giants appeared, I had to hold back a few laughs. It looked like their costumes were made out of rocks. But their voices matched the power and strength of their characters. Froh (the tenor brother) was weaker than the rest of the ensemble, and his voice really seemed to be strained. The giants demanded payment for the building of Valhalla, which was originally negotiated as to be Freia, but Wotan was attempting to find an alternative exchange for them. Loge appeared with news that nothing else could yet be found in exchange. The performer portraying him had a great trickster attitude, very nonchalant and sly. His voice is one of my favourites, as it was very smooth. It could use a little more body and power, but in the future his voice will mature very well. The giants end up taking Freia away with them and subsequently the golden apples that keep the gods youthful and beautiful. Loge tells of the theft of the Rheingold, and Wotan has the fervour and resolve to take the gold back and use that for ransom to save Freia.

As the scene changed once more everything turned red, and the orchestra morphed into a chorus of anvils to symbolize the slaving away of the Nibelungs underground. For the gold, mannequins and their body parts painted gold were used. Mime, Alberich’s brother was very expressive as well, but his voice was not very powerful. He forged the Tarnhelm which enables the wearer to become invisible or change shape at will. As I continued to hear Alberich, it seemed like his voice was directed too far back. Wotan and Loge fed Alberich’s conceit and self-worth and encouraged him to demonstrate the power of the Tarnhelm. He turned himself into a snake which was projected as a video of a snake on the screen. That seemed a little cheesy, but it was even worse how a little frog was tied to Alberich’s head and he hopped around onstage. Wotan and Loge quickly capture him and bring him to the surface.

Back on the mountaintop, Alberich is forced to give up his hoard of gold in exchange for his freedom. After much protesting, he uses the ring to summon the Nibelungs to bring up the gold from below. Wotan then asks for the ring, but Alberich refuses. The ring is then forcefully removed from his hand by Wotan as he cuts off the finger wearing it. Furious and in despair, Alberich curses the ring and whoever bears it to be doomed to eventual death. The giants then return and the exchange ensues. The gold they used to cover up the image of Freia was actually put together to form a mannequin. There is still more payment necessary, so the giants demand the ring in payment. Wotan refuses, and suddenly half of the goddess Erda appears to warn him that he must give up the ring or severely regret it. Her voice is very dramatic, and I’m not sure if I care for it. Eventually, Wotan conceded and gave up the ring as a very obvious spear leitmotif played. The giants fight over possession of the ring, and Fasolt is killed by his brother Fafner. The gods know it is time to leave, so Donner builds a thunderstorm to clear the air (in an unimpressive display). Froh creates a rainbow bridge for everyone to cross over into their new home. Loge tells of the ending of the gods drawing near and his hesitancy to follow them, but in this production he actually did accompany them. I was confused. Offstage, the Rhinemaidens mourned the loss of the gold, and there part one ended in a very strong orchestral finish.

 

Die Walküre

            In the next installment of the Ring Cycle, the orchestra bursts forth in dramatic sound, emulating the coming themes. The raging of the brass and low strings reflect the storm. The stage was set in Hunding’s house. I still don’t understand why there was a tree growing in the middle of the main hall. Sigmund enters, staggering in and seeking shelter, following the projection of a white wolf across the stage. Sieglinde also enters and paces the room, following the wolf’s projection. I wasn’t quite sure what that wolf meant, but I later learned that it was the form Wotan took when traveling in the mortal world. Sieglinde was virtually bursting forth in the bosom of her nightgown costume. I think she should have been re-fitted. They experience an unknown attraction to each other as she provides him hospitality. Hunding, Sieglinde’s abusive husband, enters and reluctantly accepts Siegmund into his home for shelter from the night. Hunding really had a deep and powerful voice that projected very well. It suited his character as a brooding and potentially violent man. Sieglinde’s voice was strong as well, but it could use more body. The two men discover they are enemies and vow to fight to the death in the morning. After Hunding falls into a drugged slumber, the other two meet secretly, and Sieglinde relates her sad fate and desire to be rescued by the man able to draw forth the sword lodged in the tree. As he releases the sword into his hands, the two realize they are twin brother and sister yet still declare their love for one another in an overly dramatic display of affection.

In the next Act, Wotan is seen in the forest with a wolf pelt at his feet. I thought it was interesting how they used an actual taxidermy wolf onstage. Brunnhilde enters in all of her fiery passionate glory as a Valkyrie, but I was quickly aghast when she opened her mouth to sing. It was not how I imagined Brunnhilde to sound, lacking the power, strength, and vocal ability. Her high notes screeched unpleasantly. Wotan calls her to protect Siegmund in battle. Fricka, however, is displeased how the ill-fated lovers are going against the sanctity of marriage and forbids Wotan to interfere in any way. I found that her voice improved greatly from Das Rheingold with much more body and spirit. Brunnhilde goes against her father’s wishes anyway and warns Siegmund. She also discovers that Sieglinde is carrying his child. It does not help his outcome in which his sword is shattered by Wotan, who learns of his daughter’s disobedience, and is then killed by Hunding. With one look from Wotan, Hunding also drops dead.

The famous flight of the Valkyries thunders through the orchestra as the entire audience is filled with buoyancy and vigour. I thought the ensemble of Valkyries was outstanding. They had great vocal quality and sang with a lot of bright energy. There were statues of horses all over the stage, making it appear as if they were in a stable. In relation to the actors, they were gigantic. Brunnhilde arrives and seeks sanctuary among them, but she cannot escape Wotan’s wrath. She loses her status as a Valkyrie and is to become a mortal woman. The scene with Brunnhilde and Wotan alone is absolutely heartbreaking, the motives of sanctuary, Brunnhilde’s plea, Wotan’s farewell all strike chords in my heart. He kisses her eyes and they linger together before he puts her into a deep slumber, surrounding her with fire so that only a true hero without fear can have her. The screens project images of fire surrounding the stage in a cool effect, but it would have been more convincing if the horses had been moved and not “consumed by fire” as well.

 

Siegfried

This portion of the cycle was my least favourite. The setting of Mime’s home and forge was interesting in a sense, very industrial and similar to a factory. I wonder if Mime was directed to be a buffoon character and annoying on purpose because his voice was extremely whiny and nasal. It was revealed in class that he was supposedly portraying a Jew with his hoarding, greedy tendencies focused on money and his own personal gain. Siegfried enters, and I was a bit taken aback by his appearance. I was expecting a young and trim man and instead was met with an overweight man with graying hair. Siegfried’s personality was nothing like I expected either. He was basically a self-absorbed asshole, his only heroic trait being pompous and obsessed with himself as many heroes are. The aspect of his character that I liked the most was his musical theme. He constantly verbally abuses Mime and pesters him for a new sword which he breaks. Wotan enters after Siegfried leaves and challenges Mime to a riddle contest, their heads on the line. Mime loses, and Wotan declares that “he who knows no fear” will be his executioner. Discovering that Siegfried is to be that arbiter, Mime is resolved to teach him fear. Upon learning that Mime is unable to re-forge the broken shards of his father’s sword, Siegfried takes it upon himself to do the job and is successful. He is then led to Fafner the dragon in order to learn fear.

The battle with the dragon was a bit odd. There was a screen that showed a giant lizard’s eye in which Siegfried ventured into, so you could see an image of the fighting Siegfried in the reflection of the eye as he waved and stabbed his sword, eventually stabbing and defeating him. He exits the cave with the Tarnhelm and ring in hand. With the taste of dragon’s blood, he is able to detect that Mime is trying to poison him and proceeds with killing him with the sword as well. He also learns the language of the birds. A beautiful voice echoes offstage, emulating a bird’s song. It was so exquisitely beautiful. She tells of a maiden asleep on a rock which intrigues Siegfried and inspires him to find her.

At the mountain, Siegfried and his grandfather (unbeknownst to him) meet and exchange words that quickly annoy Siegfried. Sometimes I really wanted to smack him because of his attitude. He even breaks the spear of Wotan and nonchalantly continues on his way. The final scene between Siegfried and Brunnhilde was extremely drawn-out, probably because of the drama that Wagner exudes. She was wrapped up with so many pieces of fabric that it was almost like unraveling a mummy. I found it well-staged as the timing between the orchestra and process of revealing Brunnhilde was in nearly perfect synchronization. Siegfried kisses her awake, and she is at first startled and reluctant to be possessed by someone. Their bantering back and forth and chasing about the stage was a bit cheesy. Finally they commit to loving one another, and the curtain closes on their heated embrace.

 

Götterdämmerung

            The final installment begins in an almost garden setting with little pine trees across the stage. Three women, the Norns, are onstage pulling string and winding it about the trees in a progression while they sing. Their voices were beautiful, but I don’t understand why Wagner felt it necessary to re-iterate the entire story thus far that had previously been performed. It seemed redundant. Maybe it was for the people that only desired to see the conclusion. Then Siegfried and Brunnhilde venture forth from the cave together. Brunnhilde sends him off to seek adventure, and Siegfried gives her the ring of power as a token of his love while she gives him her horse.

The next Act introduces an entirely new set of characters and location, the Gibichungs dwelling by the Rhine. Gunther is the lord of all of them, accompanied by Hagen, his half-brother and advisor who is actually the son of Alberich. You can guess his type of character based on his parentage. Hagen believes it best that Gunther finds a wife and his sister Gutrune finds a husband, suggesting Brunnhilde and Siegfried for them. He also gives Gutrune a potion that will enable Siegfried to lose his memory of Brunnhilde and fall in love with her instead. His ultimate goal is to get his hands on the ring of power. None of the voices in this grouping really stood out, in my opinion. All were pretty strong in their own ways but didn’t live up to my expectations. Siegfried arrives and is sucked into their lifestyle, drinking the love potion and forgetting Brunnhilde, swearing blood brotherhood to Gunther, and agreeing to venture to the fiery rock to win Gunther a wife.

Meanwhile on the rock, Brunnhilde is secretly visited by one of her sisters who warns her of the transpired events with Wotan and his shattered spear, along with his stacking of branches of the World Tree around Valhalla, waiting for the world to end. As her sister exited, she received many “Bravas” and applause from the audience. If she had a higher voice classification, I almost think that she would have made a better Brunnhilde than the current casting. Siegfried soon arrives under the guise of Gunther with the Tarnhelm and claims her as Gunther’s wife, taking away the ring. It made me uncomfortable how he forced himself on her and practically raped her, thankfully keeping the sword between the two of them as they slept.

In the next Act, Hagen in a half-dream state is visited by Alberich who urges him to kill Siegfried and acquire the ring. Alberich has the same oily and coercive voice as ever, and it is very effective. Siegfried arrives with Brunnhilde, and the war trumpets are sounded which surprise the soldiers upon discovering there is no battle but a wedding celebration. Brunnhilde’s tragic demeanor was powerful, and I admired how her strength in character grew. She was surprised to see Siegfried on the arm of Gutrune, wearing the ring and realizes that it was he who betrayed her, not Gunther. She publicly denounces him and accuses him of seducing her. Siegfried denies it, and an oath is made over a spear, whoever is found to be lying shall die by it. Hagen, Gunther, and Brunnhilde plot the death of Siegfried, and Brunnhilde reveals that his weakness lies in his back. They plan to murder him during a hunting trip.

The Rhinemaidens make another appearance in the next Act, still mourning the loss of their gold. They look a little amusing in their swimming caps. Siegfried comes across them, and they try to persuade him to return the ring to the river, warning him of treachery and death befalling him. He ignores their warnings of course, because of his pompous attitude. Rejoining the hunters, he tells stories of his youth and receives another potion which restores his memory. He recounts his discovery of Brunnhilde and their kiss which leads Hagen into stabbing him, saying that his oath had been false with Gunther. Siegfried’s death was perhaps the most tragic scene and musical portrayal in the entire cycle. I was almost moved to tears by the feeling evoked from the orchestra. Brunnhilde’s immolation scene was just as powerful, and I believe that her voice improved over the course of these productions, although it occaisionally became painful as she held the high notes. She sets fire to Siegfried’s funeral pyre and rides into the flames herself to join him. The ending montage was extremely powerful. The screen images of flames engulfed the stage once more in pulsing and revolving waves. Two nude figures (as far as I could tell) where shown embracing, which could have symbolized that advent of a new world and love beginning. Waves of water also surrounded everyone as Alberich attempted one last time to procure the ring that had now been returned to the Rhinemaidens but failed and drowned. Water and fire merged together as one in an amazing musical finale that I will never forget. I will certainly want to see this cycle again in the future. It is worth the hours of standing.

 

Brunnhilde

 

❤ Me

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Selfish

I admit I was
Too selfish and self-centered
To realize you cared

It’s a two-way street
And I need to learn to drive
On the other side

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-Me

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Can’t Be Tamed

My spirit
Like my heart
Can’t be tamed
No matter how hard you may want to try

Times like these make me want to give up
Altogether
For every time that I may slowly start
To open my heart for someone
Something happens that dashes my hopes to the ground
Shattering my expectations into a thousand pieces

This is what makes me want to rip my heart out
Hide it away
Lock it up in a chest
Tossing it into the sea
And burying the key

I won’t stop seeing men
Not for you
I won’t wait anymore

If you prove you’re worth it
Maybe I’ll consider you again
But for now I’m living in disappointment

20121218-131045.jpg

-Me

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(In honor of the midnight release The Hobbit film, I wanted to share my favorite verses from The Lord of the Rings. I had a little trouble with the formatting, but I hope you enjoy the beautiful verses nonetheless.)

A Elbereth Gilthoniel,
silivren penna miriel
o menel aglar elenath,
na-chaered palan diriel
o galadhremmin ennorath
nef aear, sí aearon,
Fanluilos, le linnathon
Nef aear, sí aearon!

‘O Elbereth Star-kindler,

(white) glittering slants-down sparkling-like-jewels

from firmament glory [of] the star-host,

to-remote-distance after-having-gazed

from tree-tangled middle-lands,

on-this-side [of] ocean, here [on this side of] the Great Ocean,

Fanuilos, to thee I will chant

on-this-side [of] ocean, here [on this side of] the Great Ocean!’

 

O môr henion i dhû:

Ely siriar, êl síla.

Ai! Aníron Undómiel.

Tiro! Êl eria e môr.

I ‘lîr en êl luitha ‘úren.

Ai! Aníron…

‘From darkness I understand the night:

dreams flow, a star shines.

Ah! I desire Evenstar.

Look! A star rises out of the darkness.

The song of the star enchants my heart.

Ah! I desire…’

Bealocwealm hafað fréone frecan forth onsended
giedd sculon singan gléomenn sorgiende

on Meduselde þæt he ma no wære

his dryhtne dyrest and mæga deorost.

Bealo…

‘An evil death has set forth the noble warrior
A song shall sing sorrowing minstrels

in Meduseld that he is no more,

to his lord dearest and kinsmen most belover.
‘An evil death…’

Ú i vethed nâ i onnad.

Si boe ú-dhanna.

Ae ú-esteli, esteliach nad.

Nâ boe ú i.

Estelio han, estelio han, estelio,

estelio han, estelio veleth.

 [Es]teliach nad, estelio han.

‘Not the end [it] is the beginning.

Now it-is-necessary [that] don’t-fall

If you don’t-trust some-thing.’

 ‘Not the end [it] is the beginning.’

 ‘[It] is necessary don’t that.’

 ‘Trust this, trust this, trust

Trust this, trust love.’

 You trust some-thing, trust this.’

Héo naefre wacode dægréd

Tó bisig mid dægeweorcum

Ac oft héo wacode sunnanwanung

Ðonne nihtciele créap geond móras

And on ðaere hwile

Héo dréag ðá losinga

Earla ðinga ðe héo forléas.

Héo swá oft dréag hire sáwle sincende

Héo ne cúðe hire heortan lust.

‘She never watched the morning rising,

Too busy with the day’s first chores,

But oft she would watch the sun’s fading,

As the cold of night crept across the moors.

And in that moment

She felt the loss

Of everything that had been missed.

So used to feeling the spirit sink,

She had not felt her own heart’s wish.’

Ngîl cennin eriel vi 
Menel aduial, 
Glingant sui vîr 
Síliel mae. 

Ngîl cennin firiel vi 
Menel aduial, 
Dúr, dúr i fuin

Naenol mae.

An i ú nathant

An i naun ului

A chuil, anann cuiannen

A meleth, perónen

I saw a star rise high in the
Evening sky,
It hung like a jewel,
Softly shining.

I saw a star fade in the
Evening sky,
The dark was too deep and so light died,
Softly pining.

For what might have been,
For what never was.
For a life, long lived
For a love half given

Orthannen im vi ól
Coll e dû

Or hiriath naur

Na rovail mae sui ‘waew

Man prestant i ardhon?

Cerithar aen illiad dim úthenin?

In a dream I was lifted up.
Borne from the darkness
Above the rivers of fire.
On wings doft as the wind.
What’s happened to the world?
Is everything sad going to come untrue?

ArwenLOTR

❤ Me

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The Titanic

(I wrote this in 2004 for my 8th grade Literature and Composition class. First is an original short story, and then a report.)

 

A Night Engraved in Memory

Every jarring motion that the precarious lifeboat made, as it lowered into the inky blackness of the Atlantic Ocean, jolted straight to Katherine Evan’s heart.  Her eyes locked with a dark-haired handsome twenty-year-old man.  The man seemed to be holding back the fear that entered his eyes just as the water seeped slowly into the “unsinkable” ship, Titanic.

“My love for you will never cease, Katherine; remember that,” he called, his voice cracking.

Katherine then knew what she had to do.

“Goodbye Mother and Josephine.  I apologize, but I must take another boat,” she said.

Her mother emitted a shrill, piercing shriek and held onto her left foot as Katherine grabbed hold of the railing of the massive ocean liner.  The high-buttoned shoe dislodged itself from her foot and plunged into the welcoming sea.  As she tumbled onto the deck, the young woman yanked off her other shoe.  What use is having only one bloody shoe? Katherine thought with frustration.  Her gaze searched for the young man.  Gone.  No terrified, remaining passenger wore his face.  She fervently ran and searched for him.  No one knew of him.  Up and down several stairs she scrambled.  When she reached the deck she started from, she knew that she must get onto a boat.

“Excuse me, sir.  Where are the lifeboats?” she asked a steward, fearing she already knew the answer.

“I apologize, Miss.  They’ve all gone,” the steward replied.

~*~

April 14, 1912 3:29 p.m.  I must say that today has the most beautiful weather I have ever witnessed with this magnificent voyage on the Titanic.  The sun shines like a beaming smile with a tease of a breeze brushing against my cheek.  Unfortunately, this vacation hasn’t been enjoyable in the least!  I’ve sat around sipping tea, listened to men boast about their money, and watched my little brat of a sister as she races about the decks the entire day!  What fun!  Today she’s dragged me onto the steerage deck of all places!  I long for an adventure and a man who will actually listen to my ideas. I’m not a bloody display doll!  Could life get any worse…  Katherine abruptly closed her diary as her sister ran up to her.

“Sissy, Sissy, Sissy, look at what I can do!” her sister Josephine cried as she twirled around and around.  “I can dance!”

“That’s just great, Josie,” said Katherine.  “Be careful; the last thing I need is a seasick sister.”

Suddenly, the bored eighteen-year-old recognized the familiar bulging and retching of her sister that she had witnessed more times than she needed to.  Katherine shouted for her to hurl over the railing, but her sister didn’t stagger over to it fast enough. A man with his cap over his face rested on a deck chair, unaware of the approaching child.  He jumped to his senses as Josie got sick all over him.

“Oh my goodness!  I’m terribly sorry!  My little sister didn’t mean it!  It’s nothing personal…” Katherine ranted.

“Calm down.  I’m fine.  It hasn’t made contact with my bare skin, so I should survive,” the man said.

“Well, it’s best for you to go and bathe,” Katherine suggested.

“It will most likely be a few days.  Only two bathtubs for the passengers in steerage exist on this ship,” the man said.

“Ugh!  Come with me,” Katherine exclaimed and dragged him away without his consent, leaving Josie behind.

The pair didn’t stop until they reached a gilded, first-class door.

“Hurry!  The tub should be filled with warm water.  I’ll keep watch,” Miss Evans said.

“But…”

“Just hurry!” she said and pushed him through the door.

~*~

Later that evening, Katherine waited in her bed until her parents’ whispers faded and her sister’s grunts and snores became overpowering.  She creaked the door open and tiptoed out into the hall.  Her feet seemed to sink a few inches into the fluffy carpet.  Stopping a stewardess, she asked for the whereabouts of the steerage dining room.  The stewardess warily told her and hurried away to replace sheets on a bed.  When Katherine strode through the entryway of the dining room, shouts and laughter met her ears.  Everyone danced about the room or sat on tables eating.  Spotting the familiar raven hair and chocolate eyes, Katherine sauntered over to the man she had met earlier that day .

“I believe that I have told you my name; you have yet to tell me yours,” she said coyly.

The man hastily rose and bowed extravagantly.

“My name is James Barrett, but you may call me James,” he said.  “What brings you to a dining room with such humble furnishings?  Were you seeking the amusement of watching people of a lower class than you?”

“Excuse me!  I have better manners than you assume!” she exclaimed.  “I was afraid that I would break one of those plates with gold edges if I dined there!  If you must know, I wanted to see you again.”

“Well, I am honored,” James said and bowed again.  “Would you care to dance with me, or will your parents have my head?”

“I haven’t the slightest care for my parents’ opinions!” she exclaimed and dragged him onto the dance floor.

“When your mind is set, it’s engraved in stone, isn’t it?!” James panted.

Katherine felt his strong, muscular arms enfold her waist.  For some strange reason, it felt right.  They discussed their passions and dreams for what seemed like hours.  She had never felt this way about any man before!  What the feeling was suddenly flashed in her brain like lightning.

“This may sound crazy.  After all, we’ve only just met!” she said nervously.  “What I’m trying to say is that I’ve fallen in love with your spirit.”

“That’s just too bad,” James said, his eyes glittering excitedly.  “I happen to have fallen in love with everything about you.”

After meeting in a passionate embrace, Katherine stared into his eyes and memorized every detail of him.  In a few days, she would never see him again; this night would only be a fleeting memory.  Little did she know, that time would come sooner than she thought.

~*~

James Barrett woke up sprawled on a rough, wooden bench inside of a tavern.  He was an extremely fortunate male steerage passenger to have been able to hop onto the last remaining lifeboat.  No one inquired about the class of any survivor.  Another day without Katherine would torment his soul.  He could not get her scent of spring flowers out of his mind.  A tall, gangly boy waved a newspaper and shouted that a list of the people who had not survived the sinking of the Titanic had been printed.  Scurrying out the door with a half-asleep foot, James bought a copy.  His eyes hungrily read the list, devouring every name.  His heart jumped to his throat and froze as he read the name… Katherine Evans.

 

Titanic

 

Report

1490 people died that morning on April 15, 1912 (RMS Titanic Inc 1).  The Titanic crashed and sank only four hundred miles away from the coast of Newfoundland (Ballard 20).  It was nearly at its destination!  Only 711 passengers were rescued.  That was thirty two percent of every one onboard (RMS Titanic Inc 1)!  What was it like on this unforgettable ship?  Why did it sink?  Most people thought it was unsinkable and wouldn’t listen when asked to get on a lifeboat.  Some thought that “the Titanic was jinxed because she had a mummy in the hold, a mummy that carried a curse with it.” (Sloan 19).  Whatever reason it was, the ship sank, and there’s evidence on the seafloor to prove it.  A woman’s high button shoe was discovered there (Kamuda 2).

The cost to build this enormous ship 1912 was 7.5 million dollars, but today the price would be 400 million dollars.  During construction, there were 240 accidents and eight deaths (Stewart 7,8).  Titanic’s maiden voyage would be the fifty nine year old Captain’s last job before he retired (Harmon 28).  Little did he know, he would go down with his ship?

Titanic was a floating, grand hotel!  There were thirteen honeymoons on the voyage (Sloan 85).  First class dining was elegant and exquisite.  They ate on china plates with twenty-two karat gold edges (Kamuda 4)!  A typical dinner in first class had about eight or nine courses (RMS Titanic Inc 1)!  The ship did have its drawbacks though; 710 steerage passengers had to share two bathtubs (Stewart 20).

On Wednesday, April 10, 1912 at approximately 12:00 pm, Titanic left Southampton, England on its journey to New York.  It hit the iceberg at about 11:40 pm April 14, 1912 (Stewart 5, 22).  The ice field was seventy-eight miles long (Ballard 20).  With twenty-eight out of the possible sixty-five passengers, the first lifeboat was lowered into the water at 12:22 am.  By approximately 2:15 am the next day, all of the lifeboats had left the Titanic.  The ship Carpathia arrived to save the survivors at 4:10 am (Stewart 24, 26, 29).  It docked in New York on Thursday, April eighteenth on a rainy day (Sloan 55).  No one is ever likely to forget this tragedy of the early twentieth century!

 

Works Cited

Ballard, Robert D.  Exploring the Titanic.  New York:  Scholastic/Madison Press, 1998.

Harmon, Dan.  The Titanic.  Philadelphia:  Chelsea House, 2001.

Kamuda, Edward S.  “Titanic Past and Present.”  Titanic Historical Society, Inc.  2004.                                       25 March 2004  <http://www.titanic1.org/articles/titanicpastandpresent.asp>

RMS Titanic, Inc.  “FAQ.”  RMS Titanic, Inc.  2004.  24 March 2004  <http://www.titanic-online.com/index.php4?page=faq>

RMS Titanic, Inc.  “Tabulation of Lives Saved and Lost.”  RMS Titanic, Inc.  2004.  24 March 2004 <http://www.titanic-online.com/index.php4?page=376>

RMS Titanic, Inc.  “Titanic.”  Titanic.  2003.  25 March 2004  <http://www.search.eb.com/titanic/01_01.htm>

Sloan, Frank.  Titanic.  New York:  Franklin Watts, 1987.

Stewart, David.  You Wouldn’t Want To Sail On the Titanic!  New York:  Scholastic Inc, 2001.

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Faust — Gounod

(Another opera review from when I was in Vienna, Austria!)

 

It was very refreshing to finally hear a French opera at the Staatsoper with it being my other degree. I really did enjoy this production of Gounod’s Faust. The opening was very dramatic and daunting in the orchestra which set the mood perfectly for what was to come in the plot. The curtain opened to the old man, Faust sitting in an armchair mourning his waste of life on scholarly pursuits and fervent desires for an opportunity yet to shine with vigour and love. Right from the beginning the tenor sounded strained, and the higher he climbed the more I cringed. He really incorporated the sob vocal technique which brought more character and drama to his arias. At one point, his voice did break. After two failed attempts at suicide, he renounces both science and faith and summons the devil. Méphistophélès was the most attractive man I had ever seen on the Staatsoper stage out of all of the productions I went to there. In my opinion, he had the best voice of the cast. So deep and rich, like velvet chocolate. It was a plus to see him without a shirt and in that black leather. His acting and stage presence was very well-thought out and embodied. He tempts Faust with an image of the saint-like Marguerite and offers him a second chance at youth with himself at Faust’s beck and whim in exchange for his soul in Hell to serve him when his death comes.

The next scene is in the town square where the military men meet to prepare for war with first a rousing drinking chorus. Valentin, Marguerite’s brother prepares to leave and sings a wonderful aria entrusting the care of his sister to Siébel, a young and endearing boy also in love with Marguerite. Valentin certainly merited the fervent applause after his song. Satan then approaches the crowd, provides them with wine and sings a song about a golden calf. The others suspect there is foulness and devilry in the air, and Valentin stands up to Méphistophélès, only to have his sword shattered. Faust enters the scene and declares his love to Marguerite who rejects his arm out of modesty. I was not impressed with her voice at all. It was very weak and not fully developed. I could barely hear her over the orchestra, and her French diction was not very precise at all.

I enjoyed the mezzo-soprano’s voice and her portrayal of the Siébel. In the third act he leaves a bouquet for Marguerite on the bench, and Faust creates a competition out of it, sending the Devil after a more impressive gift. He returns with a box of exquisite jewelry. Marguerite finds them and is enthralled by their brilliance. Unfortunately, the “Jewel Song” was very lackluster for me. I don’t think she was strong enough for this role. Faust and the Devil appear and put their charm on the women. I was really surprised when the Devil actually reached down and actually put his hand on the older woman’s breast as he was creating the illusion of romance. Faust and Marguerite finally kiss and declare their love to one another; the Devil is happy to see his plans being carried out well.

In the next act, we discover that Marguerite has been abandoned by Faust, carried his child, and is now a social outcast. But Siébel stands by her. Valentin returns with his company and learns of his sister’s faring, rejecting her outright. He seeks revenge upon Faust, but Méphistophélès guides Faust’s hand, leading to the death of Valentin who curses Marguerite to Hell.

The following act brings us to a prison cell where Marguerite is chained for having killed her child. The Devil helps Faust go to her and attempt to free her, but she refuses his aid, leaving it up to God and the angels to judge her. She rejects Faust and the Devil, fainting. The Devil tries to condemn her but finds her protected, so instead he drags Faust down to Hell. Marguerite rises and walks forward into the brilliant white light in the midst of Heavenly music.

I thoroughly enjoyed this production, but I almost felt that there wasn’t sufficient closure in the staging.

 

Yes, this is a picture of the gorgeous opera star that was Mephistopheles when I actually saw it in Vienna! So handsome!

Yes, this is a picture of the gorgeous opera star that was Mephistopheles when I actually saw it in Vienna! So handsome!

 

❤ Me

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(Continuing on with my unedited second grade journal, misspellings and all.)

July 31:

One day Jan went out to recess. She saw lots of things that she could exercise on. First she asked if she could play kickball. They said yes. Jan could play it very good. Then her team won they shouted for joy. then she went jogged on the nacher trail. She saw birds and rabbits. Then she went and played on the jungle gym. She raced kids. But she won every time. “This is fun,” the kids said. So she went to play soccer. “This is fun to,” she said. “Yea,” said the kids. Then suddenly Jan made a goal. Everyone on her team cheerd. Then the bell rang. It sure was a great day. So she went in for spelling.

 

August 4:

My best friends are Resha and Ashley. Resha has black hair. She has brown eyes. We like to play at recess together. Ashley has brownish goldish hair like mine. She has green eyes. I like to go to her house. We have fun together. I let her spend the night on Saturday. On the same night we went to the vipers game together. And I sit with her on the bus. Resha and I write notes to each other. My friends are the best!

 

August 6:

Today is picture day. I got my picture taken. I know I’m going to be pretty. It took a long time for me to get my picture taken. I like to get my picture taken because everyone looks nice. I got to have my own combo. Picture day is fun!

 

August 6:

One day my friends and I were going to her house. Then a bully sneaked up on us and stole her favorite book. When we got to her house my friend looked in her backpack. “Jenna you stole my book,” said my friend. “No I didn’t!” I screamed. “Yes Yes Yes No No No” we said. “You better leave or I’ll call your mom,” said my friend. “Fine I will,” I said. And I stormed out of the house. Later at home I said “I’m never going to play with my friend again,” I said. “Why,” said my mom. “Because my friend said I stole her favorite book and I didn’t,” I said. “Remember that you are a detective? I was thinking if you could probbly solve it,” said my older brother. “okay I will,” I said. So I started down the street. Sudnly I saw a bully with my friends book! I couldn’t belive it! “Stop thief!!” I screamed. “Come and get it,” said the bully. So I ran and ran but the bully got to his hideout befor I got there. I couldn’t find the bully’s hideout. “I’m never going to find it,” I said. Then I saw a sign that said “If your not a bully then keep out.” I read out loud. “Come and get me,” I heard again. Then I sneaked in the window and saw the bully reading the book. “Hand over the book,” I said. The bully was so scared that he ran home. “I’ve done it again,” I said. So I went down the street. On my way back to my friends house I saw my big brother. “So you solved the mystery,” he said. “I have to return the book back,” I said. When I got to her house I said “A bully really did,” I said. “I know I saw him in the newspaper with my book,” My friend said. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m sorry to,” I said. So we went down to the park.

 

(To Be Continued…)

❤ Me

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