Elecktra

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Electktra & Klytämnestra (sic)

Last night I saw the Lyric Opera’s Electra by R. Strauss. I’d just read Agamemnon so I was lucky to see this story, which is the next in Aeschylus’ trilogy. When Agamemnon ends, when Clytemnestra (in German Klytämnestra) kills her husband because he killed their daughter Iphigeneia to appease the gods. Their son, Orestes is outraged and wants revenge.

This opera opens with some maids gossiping about Elektra, Orestes’ sister,  has been acting oddly. Only one maid stands up for the Elektra.

The setting is stark and dystopian. A columned palace has rubble all around. Everyone’s dressed in drab grays and browns. Later Elektra comes out and laments her father’s death. She asserts that her siblings and she will dance at their father’s tomb. Hmm. I suppose that was some custom in ancient days.

Kytämnestra comes on stage and she’s quite a sight. While I picture her as a Greek goddess, what I saw was truer to the composer’s vision, i.e. a solid German woman. The costume was much like the scenery – savage, brutal and dystopian. She looked more like a monster than a woman. I found it odd that neither Klytämnestra nor her ladies had sleeves. The bottom part of their gowns, though dark and depressing, seemed to cry out for sleeves of some kind. All these noble women had frightful, garish make up.

The story continues with lots of lamenting from Elektra, who does hope that her brother can take action and get justice for her father’s death. Chrysothemis, Elektra’s sister is somewhat caught in the middle, though she doesn’t see that there’s no safety in the middle. Chrysothemis just wants to get married and have a slew of children, but in a society so soaked in blood, that can’t happen. Klytämnestra expends her energy worrying about whether Orestes will seek justice through murder.

I found this story quite gory and very German, rather than Greek. The cast was heavier and the make up and sets were also dark and heavy. The performances were excellent except that sometimes Elektra waved her arms around in an odd way.

I was lucky to see the next installment of this ancient story, but I don’t think everyone needs to see it. My guess is that Il Traviata, which is also playing, is the better opera right now.

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Cherry Orchard

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Northwestern’s The Cherry Orchard, 2019

Northwestern University does a splendid job with Chekhov’s classic The Cherry Orchard. There’s a lot of humor infused in the characters of this eccentric, wealthy family, who’s on the brink of financial disaster and must choose to either gain some needed cash by selling their prized orchard and allowing it to be developed into cottages for middle class vacationers to use or to lose it all through inaction. The horrors of such a development upset the matriarch. She simply cannot allow such a change to her sacred orchard, to her familial land, the setting of her idyllic memories. Even if it means losing the orchard she wants her memories preserved like naturalists with their dead butterflies pinned inside a shadow box.

What’s the alternative, you ask? The other option is to allow the entire estate to be auctioned off. Practical folks may think it’s better to sacrifice the orchard and keep some of the estate. Isn’t that better than losing all?

Well, the central family consisting of a mother who grew up in the home, her brother, her daughter, and her adoptive daughter, who manages the estate, along with various hangers on, just can’t bring themselves to envision the solution of allowing the new middle class to tramp around their once glorious cherry orchard.

This production featured strong acting with performers who knew how to make the most of Chekhov’s irony and wit. The costumes and minimal set let the story take precedence. I really loved the Russian folk music.

The script has some updated, but not too modern, references and quips. Some worked, others didn’t. Why mess with a master though? I do want to reread the original play because my interpretation of the characters and their response to their money problems didn’t quite jive with this production. But that’s to be expected. There are plenty of ways to look at these people.

A minor criticism would be that in general, while good, the male performers weren’t as convincing as their female counterparts at conveying age. For some reason the mother truly seemed to be middle-aged, while the men who were her contemporaries or older, seemed like young people playing a part. But that’s a small criticism.

If you’re near Evanston, Illinois, check out The Cherry Orchard next weekend.

The Woman in Black

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The Woman in Black has been playing in London since 1987 and my friend has seen it four times. She invited me to see the Royal George Theater production. The play was engaging and acting was accomplished.

A man who wants to share his frightful experience with a ghost hires an actor to coach him. However, this man is so dull that the actor winds up taking the reins and performing the story himself. We see the two rehearse the tale of the man’s journey to a gothic, desolate mansion owned by a woman who’s recently died. In the course of this project, the actor comes in contact with the otherworldly Woman in Black.

The show is entertaining and whether you go with friends, your grandma or a child, there’s nothing objectionable in terms of content or language. It’s scary, but not something that would give anyone nightmares. All in all, it’s an entertaining show that I liked. I don’t see myself going again and again, but I’m glad I went.

Jane Eyre

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Hurry! You’ve got one last chance to see Jane Eyre at Northwestern University’s art center this weekend. I went last Saturday and was blown away with this production. Northwestern University is famous for its theater majors including Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Charlton Heston,  David Schwimmer, Shelley Long, and more.  Thus its no surprise that the plays they put on are top notch.

In this story of orphan Jane’s hard life, the Northwestern students’ acting was, as usual, superb. The woman who played Jane was outstanding. Her voice was lovely. I’d list the names but the program didn’t print the names of actors’ ‘with their character’s name. every cast member was spot on.

I read the novel Jane Eyre a long time ago, but remember the general plot. This production used Polly Teal’s adaptation, which is a little confusing because at the start of the play Jane is reading to a woman who appears to be mad. She represents Jane’s wilder side, but then the same woman is Rochester’s mad wife. I think if I hadn’t known anything about the story, I’d have been thrown by that part of the plot.

The simple set design was sparse but set the right tone of 19th century elegance. For the attic where the madwoman was locked up, there was a platform with one lone chair which could be lowered and raised. This was a genius way to show the attic and how the madwoman haunted life in the mansion.

I love how easy and affordable plays at Northwestern are. Parking’s a breeze and it’s close to home. Tickets don’t cost an arm and a leg.

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Tell Me Something Good

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Tell Me Something Good is a simple challenge that prompts bloggers to share a nugget of positive news or wisdom and it’s started by the creator of A Momma’s View.

  • Finally, today we’re getting the rain we need!
  • I’ve got a Skype interview for a library job on Wednesday afternoon. Today I had another interview for a part time job, just for extra spending money and am mulling over whether to take it.
  • I’ve been able to make progress on a novel that’s a girls’ adventure story. I hope to soon put the first few chapters on Amazon.com for free.
  • Quote to start your week: There is nothing on the earth more to be prized than true friendship. Thomas Aquinas

So for all of you who would like to play along and stick to the rules, here they are:

It’s easy:

Mention something that you consider being good in the comments

• Or write a post about it on your blog (please don’t forget the pingback if you do so I don’t miss out and also share the link to it in the comments below). Something good that happened to you recently, or something good you will experience in a little while, or something good you know will happen soon. Something that makes you feel good.

• Share this post and invite your followers as well.

 

Tell Me Something Good

monday-morning-inspiration-quotes-e1442491467149
Tell Me Something Good is a simple challenge that prompts bloggers to share a nugget of positive news or wisdom and it’s started by the creator of A Momma’s View.

  • I’m almost done reading The Wings of the Dove. I don’t like the book but I agreed to read it with a friend for our online summer novel discussion. I’m just glad to be finished with this onerous task.
  • I loved the film Fanny’s Journey, a tale of courage during WWII.
  • We got some rain. We need more because the the leaves are withering and the grass is brown.

So for all of you who would like to play along and stick to the rules, here they are:

It’s easy:

Mention something that you consider being good in the comments

• Or write a post about it on your blog (please don’t forget the pingback if you do so I don’t miss out and also share the link to it in the comments below). Something good that happened to you recently, or something good you will experience in a little while, or something good you know will happen soon. Something that makes you feel good.

• Share this post and invite your followers as well.