Archive for the ‘Giacomo Puccini’ Category

dragonpunchis SOUNDTRACK: JOYCE EL KHOURY AND BRIAN JAGDE-Tiny Desk Concert #196 (February 20, 2012).

joyceI don’t listen to opera, although I don’t dislike it.  I’m amazed at the power of these singers’ voices.  It was interesting to watch this duo up close like this because you could really see them emote the story (especially in the duet).  So even if I had no idea what was going on lyrically (which I didn’t), I could get a sense of how they reacted to each other.

Here’s some background:

Soprano Joyce El-Khoury and tenor Brian Jagde are young, fresh-faced opera singers at the dawn of promising careers. El-Khoury has already appeared at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, while Jagde has sung roles in smaller houses here and in Europe.  Miloš Repickný joined the two singers at our trusty electric piano.

For this Tiny Desk performance, she reprises her role of Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi by singing the hit aria “O mio babbino caro,” in which she pleads with her father to let her marry her boyfriend. Listen for El-Khoury’s immaculate control of dynamics. Her soft, pianissimo notes are silvery and well-supported by the breath.

Jagde steps up next for a number from Puccini’s Tosca — the opening tenor aria, “Recondita armonia” — in which he muses about Tosca, his “dark-eyed mistress.” It takes a lot of work to sing it right, and Jagde produces the requisite drama and decibels.

The two hard-working singers end with the deliciously romantic duet which closes act one of Puccini’s La Bohème. “We’ve just fallen in love,” Jagde notes. “It happens really quickly in the opera.” As their two powerful, love-struck voices intertwine, the sounds of Puccini reverberate off the walls of the entire fifth floor — a good day in the office.

The first piece [Puccini: “O mio babbino caro” (from Gianni Schicchi)] is sung by Joyce and her voice is wonderful.  Its starts a little quiet but really soars by the end.  It is only 2 minutes (which is something of a surprise).  It’s amusing to hear her speak in such a plain American voice after wailing in Italian like that.  Brian then speaks.  He begins with a wonderful Italian pronunciation of the song they will sing and then reveals himself to have a standard American accent as well.  He tells us a bit of the plot of the song [Puccini:” Recondita armonia” (from Tosca)].  He is painting in a church–a beautiful blonde goddess.  And he compares her to Tosca, who is completely the opposite.  And then that quiet voiced guy opens his mouth to sing.  The power in his voice is incredible.  And just before the end, he wails an amazing note.  This piece also lasts only 2 minutes

The final piece [Puccini: “O soave fanciulla” (from La Bohème)] is a duet. He says that they are in love and about to go out together but they have to look at each other one more time. They sing beautifully together.  I can’t imagine his big powerful voice singing right next to her ear (and being romantic at the same time).  They act it out very well.  There’s even a moment where they look about to kiss but she pulls away to keep singing—it’s good convincing acting.

[READ: February 12, 2016] Dragon Puncher Island

This sequel to Dragon Puncher is just as funny as the first.  The Kochalkas got a new cat who takes a starring role.

The story opens up with Dragon Puncher and Spoony-E by the seaside (filmed in Maine).  Spoony-E is bragging about his spoon-wielding abilities (even though his spoon is broken).  Finally Dragon Puncher tells him to be quiet.  And also to stop calling him mister as she is a girl cat.

But when Spoony E stats saying “who’s my pretty little kitty,” Dragon Puncher gets mad and punches Spoony-E!  Spoony is caught by the new kitty, a green bubbly creature called Monster Slapper.  And Monster Slapper doesn’t take kindly to this small, furry and, frankly, smelly creature. (more…)

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doubelSOUNDTRACK: JOSEPH CALLEJA-Tiny Desk Concert #344 (March 24, 2014).

Jcallejaoseph Calleja is an opera singer.  This puts me at a huge disadvantage in that I have nothing really to say about him.  I like some operas and have even been to one, but I have no real experience with the tenor voice.  And his is quite amazing.

So I’ll just include what NPR does.  Calleja is from Malta (although his English is perfect).  He is 36 and is one of opera’s biggest stars.  Evidently you can hear that his voice has matured since his early recordings.

The one thing I can include is that he makes a very funny joke in which he says that instead of playing the third song, they are going to do two hours of Dutch and Flemish operas.

What he really sings is : Tchaikovsky: “None But The Lonely Heart” ; Tosti: Ideale ; Puccini: E lucevan le stelle (from Tosca).

[READ: June 25, 2014] Double Happiness

I read this book several hours after reading Fleep and didn’t realize it was the same artist (I hadn’t noticed the name on Fleep).

There are some similarities in style between the two (Fleep looks a  little more “professional.”).  But Double Happiness had a lot more characters and a much more complicated plot.  Nevertheless, the main character bears a passing resemblance to the guy from Fleep (his head is a circle and his hair is much the same).

The main character is Tom, a Chinese American living in Boston.  He takes the bus to San Francisco (ugh that sounds awful) where he meets his “cousin” Jackson.  Jackson lives in San Francisco (they’re not really sure how they are related) in a rent-free establishment.  So Jackson tells Tom to absolutely stay with them while he’s in S.F. (it’s something to do with a business trip, but those details aren’t too important).

When they arrive at he flat, Tom meets Jenny, Jackson’s girlfriend, and her sister Ji Lian.  Everyone is super nice to him.  But soon they start laughing at his Chinese failings–he can’t use chopsticks very well and he doesn’t speak Cantonese or Mandarin or whatever they are speaking.  (It turns out to be Hokkien).  Tom has a minor breakdown as he explains that he has never fit in anywhere.  In Boston he was the only Chinese person in tiny suburb and now he can’t even fit in in a Chinese community. (more…)

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