This blog got its modest start in July 2003, and we have now published posts in five calendar years, more or less without interruption. According to the Blogger software, this is our 3,000th post, which seems like an incredible number, but computers do not lie. As a way to mark the colossal
waste expenditure of time and effort that this milestone represents, here is a look back at a few selections, some fun and others serious, from the embarrassingly large pile. Feel free to add quotes from and links to your most or least liked Ionarts posts in the comments. Thanks for reading!
Charles T. Downey, Bayreuth, Anyone? (August 12, 2003):
Last-minute round-trip plane ticket to Bavaria: $900.CTD, Lille, Capital of European Culture (December 7, 2003)
Hotel room in Bayreuth for two nights: $200.
Admission to see Wagner's home, the Haus Wahnfried: $6.
Rental tuxedo: $90.
Ticket to Der fliegende Holländer for this Saturday night: $1,600.
The chance to see the place where Richard Wagner made his fantasies real: Priceless.
As Rep. David Hobson (R-Ohio) put it, "We have more nuclear weapons now than we know what to do with." When even Republican representatives are saying that, it's clearly time to carve up some of that DoD budget to transform a few cities in North America into fabulous cultural madhouses.Todd Babcock, Bud, the Brando I Knew (July 4, 2004):
In Hollywood, urban legends flourish about as strong and fast as bad publicity. In fact, sometimes they become so strong or widely believed that they actually become bad publicity. Such is the case where Richard Gere even has to address anything involving a gerbil. But the "legend" aspect often can take the form of fortifying a movie star or icon's reputation into the realm of myth. Such is the case with Dustin Hoffman and Lawrence Olivier. When Hoffman arrived on the set of Marathon Man exhausted from sleep deprivation in order to play a scene honestly, Olivier leveled him with his eyes and decried, "Why don’t you try acting."CTD, Susan Sontag, the Iron Lady of New York (December 30, 2004):
She said and wrote these things in spite of the grave personal danger it brought to her own person, which is what I think we can call, without any irony, heroism. She prized erudition and she abhorred ignorance. Of course, she should be buried in Paris.Mark Barry, Don't Forget to Close the Gates (February 13, 2005):
It could not have been a more beautiful day on Saturday for the unveiling of the long-awaited project of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, known as The Gates. Thousands showed up throughout the day to take it all in. There were joggers, strollers (many of the kind with babies in them), police on horseback, helicopters circling above, and so much fur I fear the forests will be very quiet this spring.Jens F. Laurson, Do You Love Wagner? (June 27, 2005):
More whistling follows, and then the music is broken up until the overture continues polka-style, then joined by what seems like the drunken, expelled, and disgraced chapter of the Swingle Singers. It (reluctantly) gets one of my thumbs up -- a motion you will undoubtedly agree with, if not the choice of digit.JFL, New York Soundtrack (August 6, 2005)
To be on the safe side altogether, I walked back from 85th to Gramercy – stopped at the Lincoln Center Tower classical department and cried. It’s a temple! They have CDs that are not even supposed to be available in the U.S. And a separate room for opera – tons and tons of opera and every available Parsifal recording under the sun.CTD, Stale Ayre (December 6, 2005):
Somewhere there must be ugly actresses to play ugly characters and fat actors to play fat characters, aren't there? By extension, if you want to have someone sing crude, nasal, unpleasant sounds, please don't ask Dawn Upshaw to do it. Get someone who has an ugly voice. They are out there.JFL, Political Piano: Zimerman at Shriver Hall (April 8, 2006):
Despite some supportive hollers, the air of inappropriateness hung heavy over Shriver Hall at that unexpected political outburst. I am sure that the assorted inmates at Gitmo – terrorists, soldiers, innocents, and Mudjaheddin alike – (the kind who support regimes that outlaw Beethoven, blow up statues of Buddha, condemn converts to Christianity to death, generally unenthusiastic about womens' rights) appreciated his gift of the Beethoven sonata tremendously. At least as much as the present Polish Ambassador must have appreciated Zimerman’s venture into his business.JFL, Conducting without a Pulse: Rostropovich Survives, Dvořák Doesn't (April 28, 2006):
Churchillian-sounding faux-political speeches interpolated with totalitarian crowds cheering are played from the speakers while the orchestra runs empty loops for a while. All that is not necessarily saying that Slava! isn’t fun to listen to… it is. Much in the way that your funny, slightly trashy, crude cousin from down-south is. You just wouldn’t want him telling those jokes in good company.JFL, May I Introduce: Festa della Voce, Insult to Music (May 6, 2006)
Had he treated a physical work of art as he did Schubert’s songs (like taking a knife to a Rubens, acid to a van Gogh, or a hammer to the statue of David), he would have been arrested – and rightly so.CTD, Gaddafi: Failure or Triumph? (September 17, 2006):
I put the word opera in scarequotes above because the director of ENO has admitted in print that the very word "opera" might put off the young, hip audiences the company is trying to attract. It sounds like that was the correct instinct, since the piece barely qualifies for the honor. The work was uniformly vilified in the British press, quotes from which have been circulating in English-language news services in Europe, North America, and Australia.CTD, Genesis by Glass and Lanting (February 23, 2007):
The score is everything one expects of Philip Glass, static, pulsating, and hypnotically pleasing to the ear. It occurred to me last night that Glass is the modern counterpart of Antonio Vivaldi: his music appeals widely, is mostly programmatic and rhythmically activated, trades on formulas in easy-to-understand forms, and is characterized by a high degree of self-borrowing.Mark Barry, Kinetic in Baltimore (May 6, 2007):
This year's race, in which everyone was a winner, included seasoned veterans piloting quite sophisticated and elaborate creations, along with well-intentioned water-soluble entries.Michael Lodico, American Opera Theater's Messiah (December 10, 2007):
The Hallelujah Chorus came next – with the four singers predatorily circling the tortured, tied-up, wingless angel. Needless to say, the audience’s instinct to stand and cheerily sing along had been zapped by that point.