Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I don't really own a monogrammed shirt...

An unexpected perk of non-stop weekend rehearsals: One of the chorus guys (D.E.A.) spontaneously created this caricature of me on the big white board in the lecture hall that we're "converting" into a theater. I think it's a pretty good likeness, although I'm not sure if I'm conducting or executing some sort of dance move. That's interesting because I'm about as experienced as a conductor as I am as a dancer. Anyway, this is pretty much what I look like when I'm not in Springfield.

There are also some more photo-realistic pictures of the rehearsal process over at the Doctor blog - we're T minus 4 and counting.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Doctor Karaoke #6: Music is the Master of all Medicine

One of my favorite of the unlikely rhymes in my Doctor translation is the first one in the chorus below. This music is sung by a group of musical healers who are brought in by the "doctor" to help cure the poor, mute Lucinde. I'm running off to rehearsal, but you can read a bit more about it here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Doctor!

So, I was driving up to school this morning, thinking about a presentation I was going to be giving to a large class (about 150 students) - a presentation, you'll be shocked to hear, about The Doctor in Spite of Himself. As I drove, I thought to myself I should mention how long ago it was written. I knew it was premiered in 1858, so after doing the math I suddenly realized we've got a Sesquicentennial on our hands! I don't know why this hadn't occurred to me sooner. That could've been the hook to get international media attention. It's too late to make much use of this information now, but I'm definitely going to plan another production for 2058, and I'll be ready to take full advantage of the coincidence of earthly orbit and digital numerology.

Anyway, we're entering the frantic homestretch, so my blogging continues to be Doctor-focused. Speaking of which, a synopsis is now available over at the Doctor Blog. As part of the "green" emphasis associated with the opening of our new Science Center, we're not going to be printing programs for these performance. All the relevant info (cast, synopsis, orchestra members, etc.) will be projected before the show, during the Overture and Entr'Acte, and during Intermission. Still, here's your chance to get the story straight before coming to the performances. And they're free and sure to be delightfully entertaining, so why wouldn't you be coming?

FUN STORY: Since we're performing in a brand-new Science Center auditorium that isn't really designed for theatrical productions, I had a meeting with one of our Physical Plant directors yesterday to talk about storage space, dressing rooms, etc. Mark, the guy I was meeting with, was being quite helpful, and we'd already settled on some perfect storage options for setpieces, chairs, stands, etc. We were trying to resolve the more complicated dressing room issue when Jim, another Physical Plant-er who I didn't know, happened by and said to Mark, "Is this Mike?" We answered affirmatively (although, technically, I strongly prefer Michael) and Jim said, "Yeah, I'm supposed to meet with you. I can take over from here." Mark thought this sounded great since Jim apparently knows the building much better.

So, I follow Jim down the hall and he takes me first into a women's restroom. "OK," I'm thinking, "he's going to show me what this room offers as a dressing room option." We go in and he starts complaining about how the contractor has messed up several details. Interesting enough, although the nature of the tile doesn't have much to do with my situation. Before I know what's happening, I'm getting a very detailed description of how the grout is the wrong color, not filled in properly, etc, at which point I finally think to ask just who he thinks I am. "You're the contractor, right?" From there, it was just good laughs all around - anyone who knows me well will get a special kick out of the idea that I might be mistaken for a contractor (this is all I know about Grout), although I have contracted my own orchestra for the show, mostly by strong-arming students. That sounds kind of like what contractors do. Even scarier is that I'll be conducting that orchestra, but that's a story for another day...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ray Loring

We lost a wonderful colleague this past weekend with the unexpected death of composer Ray Loring. He was a remarkably humble man, who inspired a lot of students in just a couple of years on our faculty - although he had a very successful career as a composer (including regular work for shows such as Nova), he wore these impressive accomplishments quite lightly, always seeming more interested in the potential of his students. Hearing many of these students talk about him today was heartbreaking but inspiring and made me realize how great things can be achieved very quietly and inconspicuously. As problematic as the last 50-60 years have been for composers in terms of finding audiences and appreciation, there's something gratifying about knowing this man of wide-ranging gifts and interests who made a career that he found satifsying and that enabled him to be such a model for the young composers he's mentored.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Doctor Karaoke #5: Youth and Love

The beginning of the semester and ongoing prep for The Doctor in Spite of Himself have silenced my blogging lately, but another karaoke tune has gone up over at the production website. To be honest, this was one of the more difficult translation challenges because, rather than quick-witted dialogue/commentary, Léandre's little serenade features some particularly purple poetry. So, for a brief time in the summer of '05, I too became a particularly purple poet. It was surprisingly fun, and it's a beautiful tune, here sung by tenor Wesley Lawrence, now a doctoral student in opera studies at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

If you're curious, here's the original French, followed by the English.

Est-on sage, dans le bel âge,
Est-on sage de n'aimer pas?
Que sans cesse l'on s'empresse
De goûter les plaisirs ici-bas;
La sagesse de la jeunesse
Est de savoir jouir de ses appas!

L'amour charme ceux qu'il désarme;
L'amour charme, cédons-lui tous:
Notre peine serait vaine
De vouloir résister à ses coups!
Quelque chaine qu'un amant prenne,
La libertè n'a rien qui soit si doux!

There's no knowing while youth's ongoing,
There's no knowing if love is wise.
Time's unbending, Youth's contending
For those pleasures that time soon denies.
Youth is ending, the wisest spending
Spends the time knowing joys that youth supplies!

Love that charms us always disarms us.
Love that charms us, Oh, let it win!
All is straining, vain complaining
When Love strikes us again and again.
Those refraining from Love's constraining
Find the freedom not as sweet as Love's sweet chains have been.