Monday, April 30, 2012

Mirror Mirror on the Street

I am always fascinated by the things you see laying about the streets of a city - my regular reader may recall that in Rome it always seemed to be shoes cast aside in pairs (?????) that I discovered on the street.  Here in Ottawa it seems to be furnishings that end up on the street including this lovely piece of Japonisme I saw leaning against an apartment building reflecting life around it.




A fine piece to grace anyone's living room or for that special bedroom - don't you think?  Well at least its not on black velvet!

30 April - 1894: Coxey's Army reaches Washington, D.C. to protest the unemployment caused by the Panic of 1893.



Lunedi Lunacy





With thanks to my friend Lara for this one.

30 April -1900: Casey Jones dies in a train wreck in Vaughn, Mississippi, while trying to make up time on the Cannonball Express.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday's Flowers

Despite the snow fall earlier this week and this mornings minus temperatures Spring is really on its way here in Ottawa. No honestly it is!  A patch of early warm weather has nudged daffodils, hyacinths and other early spring flowers out of the earth.  Now mind you the near sub-zero temperatures have them hiding their heads but I'm always surprised how hardy so many of those seemly delicate flowers really are.

A few weeks ago to mark International Woman's Day I sent out mimosas to the special women in my life in the form of a wonderful lithograph by J. J. Grandville from Les Fleurs Animées (Flowers Personified) a two volume set of 54 hand-coloured lithographs which propose that "Flowers are the expression of society."


The introduction to Les Fleurs Animées was written by Alphonse Karr and the allegorical texts by Taxile Delord.  Grandville's designs accompany their stories of the various flowers who have at their own request been given human form by the Flower Fairy.  They are warned by her: “Go, deluded flowers; — let it be as you propose. Ascend upon the earth, and try human life. Ere long you will come back to me.”  And in each story a flower learns the burden of living up to the attributes given their floral form by the Victorian world.  Though they are lovely in themselves Grandville's flower ladies were also a subtle bit of social satire and given that it is Grandville criticism.

However my purpose is not to engage in either social satire or criticism but to build a small garden - as I have none of my own other than a patch of balcony - on my blog.  So every Friday - and maybe if nothing much happens in  my world on other days as well - I'll post one of Grandville's lovely ladies with a short word about its origins and what it meant when Grandville published his book.

The early spat of warm means that the tulips that are the symbol of spring here in Ottawa have started to bloom a bit early - perhaps too early for the 60th annual Canadian Tulip Festival that begins May 4th.  Tulips have been part of the Ottawa landscape since 1945 when the Dutch Royal Family gifted the city with 100,000 bulbs as an expression of gratitude for providing a home for Princess Juliana and members of her family during World War II.   During the stay here the Princess gave birth to her second daughter, Margriet.  For the encouchment her rooms in the maternity ward of the Ottawa Civic Hospital where declared as "extraterritorial".  There is a common misconception that the maternity ward was declared Dutch territory.  However as Dutch nationality law is based on the principle of Jus sanguinis  it was not necessary to make the ward Dutch territory for the Princess to become a Dutch citizen.  At the time Canada followed the rule of jus soli,  so it was only necessary for Canada to disclaim the territory temporarily so that the Princess would not, by virtue of birth on Canadian soil, become a Canadian citizen. The day she was born (January 19, 1943) the Dutch flag flew from the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill and the carillon rang out to announce the good news.

A tulip bed on the Canal a few steps from our apartment.  Hopefully they haven't started to bloom to early for the Canadian Tulip Festival that begins May 4.  There are beds the entire 10 km length of the Canal and spotted throughout the city. 

The primary tulip beds are located along the Canal and as a result lawns and gardens in the surrounding area have renegade blooms popping up, no doubt from bulbs stolen and squirrelled away by Public Enemy #1 in Nora's books.  So in honour of the Tulip Festival, the Dutch Royal Family and those pesky squirrels the first flower in my blog garden is La Tulipe.   Like the tulips the engravings - because they were hand coloured - come in an array of colours.  And betokening the flowers origins there is a decidedly Turkish cast to the lovely lady and those surrounding her.



There are many variations on the story of how the tulip (Order: Liliales - Family: Liliaceae - Genus Tulipa) made its way from Turkey to Europe.  In 1558  Oghier Ghislain de Busbecq,while serving as Ambsassador to Suleyman the Magnificant, remarked on them as a flower not before seen in Europe.  However there exists a description in 1559 of tulips flowering in Councillor Herwart's garden in Ausburg in Bavaria.  By 1573 Carolus Clusius had planted tulips in the Imperial Botanical Gardens of Vienna and later at the Hortus Botanicus at Leiden when he became director in 1593.  Though tulips had appeared in Dutch gardens before that time the flowering of Clusius's tulips in 1594 is consider the "official" introduction of the tulip into the commercial market in the Netherlands.  As hard as it may be to believe it triggered a market speculation in tulip bulbs that let to tulip mania in the 1630s and the financial collapse that followed.  To this day the tulip has remained one of the images most associated with the Netherlands and still ranks as a major industry.


Grandville's engraving serves as an illustration for the tale of La Sultana Tulipia which traces the history of the tulip in Holland and tells the sad story of a tulip that has been changed into a Dutch merchant's daughter by the Flower Fairy.  On a voyage the Merchant and his daughter are captured by Barbary pirates and eventually sold into slavery: the father as a farm labourer and the beautiful Tulipia as an odalisque in the harem of the mighty Sultan Shahabaam.  The Sultan is captivated by Tulipia's beauty and makes her his Sultana.  But sadly Tulipia proves, in the Sultan's eyes at least, unworthy of the position.
Had Tulipia's ambition equalled her beauty, she might long have preserved her power.  But she was indifferent.  Her mind was inactive.  She knew not how to sing, to dance, to make puns or to solve riddles; and these were great deficiencies in the eyes of a master so sagacious as Shahabaam.
Poor Tulipia is replaced in the Sultan's affections by an actress from the Varietes who turns out to be Rose-pompom, a sister flower who has also been given human form by the Flower Fairy.  Having fallen from favour Tulipia is soon dispatched to an ignominious and watery end.


And the moral of her sad tale is summed up thus:
For a few days the tragical end of the unfortunate sultana was the common topic - and then she ceased to be named.  No one regretted her.  Beauty without intelligence leaves few traces on the memory.

I sincerely hope that not all of Grandville's lovely flowers end up so tragically as they are added to my garden.

27 April - 1749: First performance of Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks in Green Park, London.




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Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Revelation in Movement and Music

At the end of last week's performance of Revelations by the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre I joined the rest of the audience at the NAC in the ubiquitous Ottawa standing ovation - a tradition which I abhor with all my being. But in this case the pure energy that this marvellous troupe gave off as they launched in to the joyous dance that Ailey created to "Rocka My Soul" more than 50 years ago had  me on my feet clapping and swaying along with the rest of the audience.

Indeed the whole evening, that had begun with Streams - another Ailey piece, was an energizing experience.  But the company, recently revitalized under new artistic director Robert Battle, doesn't rely on energy alone: the Ailey tradition of a solid ground in the techniques of ballet married to the modern, Broadway and ethnic dance forms was evident in all the dancing.  Ulysses Dove's Urban Folk Dance  -  two couples battle for power in a pas de quatres of tension and changing dynamics - was the strongest piece of dancing of the evening.  Linda Celeste Sims,  Michael Jackson Jr, Hope Boykin and Mathew Rushing brought an effortless sense of style and drama to the  ever shifting charged energies (there's that word again) of Dove's athletic choreography.

But the highlight of the evening was Revelations.  Back when I was working for Ballet2000 I had translated several reviews of this piece and my friend David had written about it when he saw the company in London.  This was Ailey's signature piece and uses gospel and blues to trace the role of faith in the black history of America.  No where is that sense of faith more strongly evoked than in the "Fix Me, Jesus" pas de deux.  Ailey said it was meant to convey the strength of the faith between a woman and her pastor.


As well as the dance the power and emotional appeal of Revelations is in the music. And in glancing at the programme I noticed that the arrangement of "Fix Me Jesus" was by Hall Johnson.  Johnson was a pioneer in preserving the praise songs of the slaves and raising them to the level of an art form.  He researched and arranged spirituals particularly for the various choral groups that he founded.  Perhaps the most famous was the Hall Johnson Negro Choir that sang in the 1930 Broadway production of The Green Pastures - and repeated their contribution internationally, on radio, television and in the film version of Marc Connelly's adaptation of Roark Bradford's Ol'Man Adam and his Chillun.

The play portrays episodes from the Old Testament as seen through the eyes of a young African-American child in the Depression-era South, who interprets The Bible in terms familiar to her.  It could be claimed that Connelly's play is demeaning to African-Americans and those opinions were voiced as early as the film's release in 1936.  But I recall when I first saw the film on television many years ago I was moved and touched by the dignity of Rex Ingram as De Lawd and the magnificence of the music.  The following clip begins the story of creation - a gentle Sunday school teacher explains to his charges that heaven was just like a local fish fry - with food for all and 10 cent cigars for the men.  And without facility I say it sounds a little bit like heaven to me!


Much of the "old time religion" that flavours The Green Pastures can be seen in the third section of Ailey's journey through the faith of his people.  The Day is Past and Gone has a tongue in cheek poke at dressing up in your "Sunday best" and Rocka My Soul is redolent with the joy and power of the prayer meetings and missions he would have seen as a child in Texas.  The performance in the clip below has a particular poignancy as it was part of the celebration of his life at New York's Cathedral of St John the Divine in April 1989.  His troupe bade farewell using his own vision of  the religion that had given him comfort and strength and, as is more than apparent, joy.


In writing of Spirituals Johnson said:
True enough, this music was transmitted to us through humble channels, but its source is that of all great art everywhere—the unquenchable, divinely human longing for a perfect realization of life. It traverses every shade of emotion without spilling over in any direction. Its most tragic utterances are without pessimism, and its lightest, brightest moments have nothing to do with frivolity. In its darkest expressions there is always a hope, and in its gayest measures a constant reminder. Born out of the heart-cries of a captive people who still did not forget how to laugh, this music covers an amazing range of mood. Nevertheless, it is always serious music and should be performed seriously, in the spirit of its original conception
Johnson's arrangements were sung by some of the great African-American singers in recital and he coached Marian Anderson, Robert McFerrin and Shirley Verrett.  After his death Anderson said, "Hall Johnson was a unique genius.  For although he invented no new harmonies, designed no new forms, originated no new melodic styles, discovered no new rhythmic principles, he was yet able to fashion a whole new world of music in his own image."  Though I am not a dance expert the same could be said for Ailey in that his genius was not to invent new forms of dance but created a dance style drawing on ballet, modern, jazz, Broadway and eventually hip-hop.  He created a form of dance expression as unique as Johnson's music.

26 April - 1336: Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch) ascends Mont Ventoux.


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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sharing

Back in the old days of regular blog postings I would share some of my favourite bloggers and their words of wit and wisdom as well as random photos with a bit of theme thrown in. As I look over the old list on the side bar I see that many of my old friends no longer post regularly and in some cases not at all. Many of them have graduated to Facebook where we still are able to keep in touch with the comings and goings in our lives, if in a slightly more concise manner.

April 23, 2012 - Springtime comes to Ottawa!

However a few of my longtime blog buddies are still around, one has - to my immense joy - started blogging again and at least one of my dearest friends has begun her own blog.   Sadly one of my longtime favourites has announced she is closing down her blog.  So I'm back to sharing both favourite blogs and I thought, that given our return to winter yesterday,  I'd post a few photos of the "winter of our discontent" here in Ottawa. Now some of you may recall my "bitch slap" threat - well if one more person tells me what a "mild" winter its been this year I will personally make sure they are incorporated into an ice sculpture for next year's Winterlude - some pictures of this year's entries follow.

A recent addition to the many memorials to Canadian politicians, warriors and notables that dot the landscape of Ottawa is this remarkable statue of jazz great Oscar Peterson.  Unveiled by Queen Elizabeth in 2010 the bronze figure of Peterson, seated at his piano, observes the pedestrians and cars at the corner of Elgin and Slater in front of the National Arts Centre.  And passersby are treated to Peterson playing some of his most famous melodies.  I took this picture and short video late one evening after a January snow storm as I was walking home from the NAC.

video

My darling Jacquie Sue is still kicking ass over at Yellow Dog Granny - though with all the great things she's been doing for the folks over at the Rest Home plus old Dexter fussin' and a fumin' I'm not sure how she does it. And now that she's the youngest Great-Grandma I know she's got a budding YDG to take under her wing - Olivia is one lucky little girl. But we still get our Monday Morning chuckles, updates on the doings in West and whatever else strikes her fancy. And one of these days I'm going to accept her invite and get my butt down to West and try one of those world famous skunk eggs!


One of the most popular features of Winterlude, after the 10 km skating rink on the Rideau Canal, is the International Ice Sculpture Contest. The first weekend of the annual winter festival was perfect for viewing some spectacular pieces of ice carving.  Unfortunately by the time we got to them the second weekend and an evening or two later many of the details had been eroded by a turn in the weather.  But there were still spectacular.  Many had an Inuit theme to them though there was a odd bit of commercialism.  And a sidebar to my friend Marco - that's what would happen to your Samsung smartphone if you came to Canada in the winter!







You may recall that in January I headed over to London for a few days to see Dame Edna in her first - and sadly given her announced retirement, last - panto and to spend a few days with some friends.  Though time was tight I was able to have a lovely meal with my dear friend David - after having been royally entertained by his diplomate at the Garrick Club.  It was good to see David again, howbeit briefly, and even better to see that he has taken up blogging again at I'll Think of Something Later.  David has been my guide to so many things through his blog and my meetings with him and his current postings are once again giving me untold delight.  Wonderful to have you back caro!


When we lived in Poland we were lucky that we had a great group of people at the Embassy, not always a given - a group that 12 years later many of whom we see for the occasional lunch, dinner or breakfast.  And one or two who have remained close friends - almost family actually.  Among the later is my darling Bev.  It would take a book to tell her story - she always seems to be on the run not from but to danger.  In the past 10 years I've lost count of the places she's lived but I know Islamabad, Kabul, Darfur and Colombo are on the list.  Currently she's living in Bangkok - thats when she's not on the road to all manner of exotic places with strange sounding names like the up coming tour of  Nepal, India, Beirut, Bhutan, Kuala Lumpur, Sri Lanka, Nairobi.  Now my Bev is a person who does everything with passion and commitment both work and play and her latest passion is physical training.  And she loves sharing her passions and what better way than through a blog.  Her adventures as she checks out gyms and other cool sports stuff can be found at The Diesel Diva.  Welcome to blogdom darling good to have you with us.





Sadly Lotus Green over at Japonisme has announced that she is closing down her blog.  I've always enjoyed visiting her and being entertained, educated and often astounded by the wonderful wedding of image, word and sound.  She will be missed.

And what could be more Winter than a "Mountain of Lost Mittens" - this fun sculpture was actually made up of mittens that had been left in various places in Ottawa.
So enough of winter now - it is now almost the end of April and spring could make a more permanent appearance if it so desired?????

25 April - 1849: The Governor General of Canada, Lord Elgin, signs the Rebellion Losses Bill, outraging Montreal's English population and triggering the Montreal Riots.
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Monday, April 23, 2012

Lunedi Lunacy Italian Style

And the lunacy continues unabated! Da Sodoma a Hollywood is one of the oldest GLBT Film Festivals in Europe. Founded in 1986 as a small and daring "gay themed" event in Torino it is currently celebrating is 27th year.


And I'm sorry but even straight people in Italy would be horrified by this breach of La Bella Figura!

23 April - 1635: The first public school in the United States, Boston Latin School, is founded in Boston, Massachusetts.

Lunedy Lunacy

As I noted last week it was the birthday of our own dear Queen - the 39th Monarch to rule in England since William the Conqueror did his little bit of invading in 1066. Thanks to Shakespeare I've been able to remember all those Tudor kings and Queens and with the Hanover gang all you have to do is think George. But the rest well...

Fortunately the good folks at Horrible Histories came up with this little ditty to help you remember who came after whom, as it were!


Okay everyone: William, William, Henry, Stephen, Henry, Richard, John ....

23 April 1013: Battle of Clontarf: Brian Boru defeats Viking invaders, but is killed in battle.

Lunedi Lunacy

Spring in Ottawa.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

March Macabre

The tweets, blogs and sites that deal with the gossip around films were awash this past week with the first photos of Anthony Hopkins as that master of implied horror Alfred Hitchcock. I have to be honest and say I didn't find he look all that much like Hitchcock and he looked even less like Sir Anthony.  Apparently this is all in aid of a movie that's currently being made about making a movie - not just any movie mind you but that 1960s classic of subversive terror Psycho.   This was the film that had an entire generation avoiding taking a shower like..   well death.

It wasn't until I read the entry on Wikipedia that I realized the behind the scenes drama involved in making the film.  The studio bosses felt that the material was just too strong for the sensibilities of the American public and Hitch had to fight to get it made.  Even then he had to finance it himself and in order to cut costs filmed in black and white and utilized the studio team he had working with him on his weekly TV series.


Alfred Hitchcock Presents was part of a legendary Sunday night line-up on CBS in the 1950s - it began with Lassie saving people and ended with Hitchcock bumping them off!  Though he seldom was involved with directing the show, for over ten years he served as a slightly sardonic host for a half-hour - later expanded to an hour - of murder and suspense.  And for ten years we were treated to  introductions that became as classic as many of his films.  As the lumbering first cords of Charles Gounod's March funèbre d'une marionette sounded the camera faded in on a simple eight line caricature - drawn by Hitchcock - of that unmistakable profile followed by Hitchcock himself in silhouette lumbering, like the music, on to the screen and eclipsing the drawing.  Then he'd turn and in that purse-lipped, plummy almost lisping voice wish us a "good evening".  What followed were satirical or mocking jabs at the sponsors, network and general state of the Union as lead-ins to the commercial breaks.  There were times when Hitchcock's brief appearances were more memorable than the episodes themselves.

It was during a discussion on the upcoming film with my colleague Lara that the topic of Gounod's little piano piece - part of a larger unrealized suite - came up and as often happens with our discussions it led to a Google search.  As well as quite a few of those Hitchcock introductions we came across this fun piece of animation.  Created by Eric Fonseca - he scripted it, created the puppets and decor and filmed it - back in 2006, its almost like something out of Edward Gorey as directed by Alfred Hitchcock.  The perfect combination for a March Macabre!



This remarkable piece of animation was the first effort of Eric Fonseca and took him a year to make. He followed it up with The Fall of the House of Usher - a full length stop-animation feature that he completed in 2010.  A preview of what looks like an fascinating take on Poe's tale of terror can be found here.


22 April - 1970:  The first Earth Day is celebrated.

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Buon Compleanno Roma

According to the accepted calculation my beloved Roma is 2765 years old today. Though the actual year is much disputed almost all traditions agree that the city was founded on April 21, the day dedicated to Pales, the goddess of shepherds.

Though the music is a bit overblown the images on this slideshow capture so much of what I grew to know and love, though only my own photos could capture what I love most about the city - the people I care about so deeply there.


Happy Birthday Rome - I'm sorry I can't be there for the party but you know I am there in my heart.

21 April - 1926: Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born at her maternal grandfather's London house: 17 Bruton Street, Mayfair.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Lunedi Luancy

Back in the Plasticine era - okay maybe not that far back 'cause that would have meant kindergarten - but back while I was in Junior High I developed a passion for Shakespeare. My father had taken me to my first Shakespeare play when I was ten - an adventure in a tempest to see the play of the same name that I really must recount one day (that man was a saint!).  My sister-in-law, always one to encourage an eager young faggot in training mind gave me a worn copy of Tales From Shakespeare by Charles Lamb and his sister Mary.   This rather odd brother and sister team  retold the stories much adapted to the sensibilities of children of their period - no bawds or bawdiness for the Lambs!  It had some interesting Arthur Rackham illustrations and served as a good introduction but I soon graduated to the real stuff.   I plowed my way through the canon from All's Well to Winter's Tale. Now that's not to say I understand a good deal of what I was reading but being in those days a fairly good actor I gave a passable imitation of literary precocity.

By the time I hit the first year of high school, as my fellows were struggling with the authorized for Ontario school's edition of Macbeth, I was trotting around with a copy of the unexpurgated version where the Porter "did bepiss" himself.   My English teacher was not pleased when I asked why we had skipped an entire scene which obviously would have had them rolling in the aisles of the Globe - and sent my classmates snickering.  I had to serve a "library" detention for my youthful  inquisitiveness or perhaps because I was being an obnoxious little show off????

And in that same library there just happened to be a critical study of "The Works" that gave a decidedly different twist to Shakespeare's Tales.  In fact in his introduction to Twisted Tales from Shakespeare Richard Armour promised that:
Shakespeare's best-known plays are presented in a new light, the old light having blown a fuse; together with introductions, questions, appendices, and other critical apparatus intended to contribute to a clearer misunderstanding of the subject.
Some of the humour was sophomoric but as with any good satire it was based on a thorough knowledge of the plays and much of the humour depended on the reader knowing their Shakespeare.

Because of Mr Armour's little book I discovered that there was a wealth of memorable lines beyond the Tomorrow and Tomorrows, the Where For Art Thous and the Quality of Mercies.  I mean where else, other than that original unexpurgated text of the Scottish play, would I have found and remembered:
Aroint thee witch, the rump-fed ronyon cries! 
Which leads me to today's Lunacy.   As well as being pretty handy with blank verse and the odd rhyming couplet Shakespeare was pretty good at the snappy put-down.  Every one of the words or phrases in the lists below are taken from one of "The Works of".

The game's a pretty simple one:  Take one word from each of the three columns below and preface it with "Thou":


The combinations are almost limitless and just think how you will stop friends, foes and families in their tracks.  I mean who could possibly find the appropriate retort to:  Thou pribbling unchin-snouted skainmate?  Damn did that man know how to write!

And if you'd like leave me a comment with your insult of choice.

16 April - 1346: Dušan the Mighty is proclaimed Emperor, with the Serbian Empire occupying much of the Balkans.




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Sunday, April 15, 2012

MIB*

*Missing In Blogging

I realize that as of late I've been not just remiss but downright negligent in my blogging - posting sporadically over the past few months and then not at all for the past two weeks. The excuses are many and probably spurious so I will dispense with them. The reasons are fewer but of a more personal nature. I can confidently say that one of them is laziness: lately I have been struck by a severe case of indolence - sadly not of a romantic Chekhovian nature but born out of something perhaps a little darker. 

When I look at all the files, photos, brochures, programmes, books and memories from the past few years I realize I have a lifetime of things to write about.  However I am finding that though the ideas are there both the ability and the will to write coherently isn't.   I have approached things with a sense of loss and, dare I say it, regret bordering on avoidance.  A colleague told me it would take a year for me to get over leaving Italy - it appears she was right. I am still regretting my departure - on so many levels - and find I am pining for what was. Perhaps sensibly Laurent returned to Rome for a brief visit last month and has realized that though you may return you can never go back! A lesson it would seem I have yet to learn.

It is not that life here in Ottawa has been without good things. We have reconnected with our oldest and dearest friends and spend high days and holidays with them. We have a lovely apartment overlooking the Rideau Canal and located within walking distance of most things in town. I enjoy going to work in the morning - for the moment I have a good job and work as part of a team in the best sense of the word.  I have the Hounds from Hell - as annoying as they can be - the joy of coming home at the end of the day to a hero's welcome or just sitting quietly with Nora or Nicky - and sometimes both - curled up on my lap.  I have a caring and loving partner who puts up with all my many mood swings.

In the past few months cultural opportunities in Ottawa, though not as rich as what I have experienced in the preceding four years, are very much present.  In a fine season the NAC orchestra  has presented an exceptional reading of Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky and Angela Hewitt breaking our heart with her Ravel.  The Cantata Singers gave us a lovely welcome to Christmas and along with the St Lawrence Choir soared in the Rachmaninoff Vespers just before Thanksgiving. The theatre season has had its ups and downs.   The ups were memorable: Blood on the Moon - a one-man tour de force by Pierre Brault based on the trail of James Patrick Whalen was an exceptional performance as was Ronnie Burkett's latest puppet show Penny Plain.  Dark and threatening as advertised it was definitely not a show for children but confirmed Burkett's place as a Canadian National Treasure.  Equally dark was the Brecht- Weill Three Penny Opera but in this case Opera de Quatr'sous as it was part of the French theatre seasons.  It had an audacity that as I remarked to Laurent "only a French company could pull off."  The appeal of Marie Chouinard as a choreographer and and her group as dancers was lost on me but coming up this week is the Alvin Ailey troupe doing, amongst other things,  Revelations which I have been wanting to see since my friend David wrote about it last year.  And the coming year is promising good things for music, dance and theatre if sadly nothing in the way of opera.

I found myself at the peak of melancholy Easter weekend and as I enjoyed lunch with one of my oldest friends in Ottawa, and someone who has brought so much to my life, I found I was longing to somehow combine my "family" in Rome with my "family" in Ottawa.  Much like Macheath in the ballad "how happy could I be with either" - though happier with the richness of both.  But deep down I realize that is greedy on my part.  And though I still have my friends and loved ones in Rome it is time to move on, as painful as it may be.

So how do I move on?  With all the good intentions in the world I'm planning to start blogging again - a vow easily made but perhaps less easily kept.  I am hoping that sharing my undiminished passions for what I have seen and loved and see and love will make the closing of a chapter less melancholy and help me understand the good fortune that I have around me.  

April 15 - 1755:  Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language is published in London.
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