Felsenmusick - The Weblog of Daniel Felsenfeld
The Web Log of a Certain Daniel Felsenfeld: Composer, critic, avid reader, aspiring
bon vivant, capricorn, shadowy figure, advice for the lovelorn

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Another Sad Day

Today we mourn the death of film director Robert Altman at the age of 81. His most recent movie, A Prarie Home Companion, is nothing short of a masterpiece, one in a long series of them. His quick-talking ensemble pictures changed cinema: movies like Short Cuts, Nashville and The Player are all favorites of mine, and he even braved opera, collaborating with William Bolcom. We lose so many great future films by his passing, but his words from years ago continue to serve as personal inspiration: when asked if he was upset to not have been nominated for an Academy Award, he said (if memory serves): "I think we all should stop trying to win awards and start trying to make better films." This spirit is a loss indeed.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A New Opera, Sure to Wow Fox News

I am not sure if this is a sign of the apocolypse or the dawning of a new day--I guess that will depend on the piece--but apparently Bill O'Riley's sexual escapades, gloriously one-shot reported in the "liberal" press, is to be given operatic treatment. Chalk this one in the same corner as the Springer-descends-into-hell opera, the thinly-Veiled-Lewinskygate opera, and we might just have a trilogy waiting to happen.

An old curse reads: may you live in interesting times.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

It's Not Just for Karita Mattila Anymore

Opera is sexy, or at least some of the singers are, so says this article in the Chicago Herald Tribune. Apparently they are sticking more than their necks out for art. Of course sex sells, and of course everyone is trying desperately to sell opera, so this was all inevitable, but of course (and you knew this was coming) it leads one to wonder: why not, rather than try to dress up the old (or undress it, as the case may be), do something that's new and interesting? Of course there could be plenty of sex--opera has always had a tremendous sex appeal, no question--but why not make it up to the minute, rather than this sort of girlie-mag short-shrift?

Stop me if you've heard this one before.

Dead Mouse

My apartment is, apparently, a rodent graveyard. One in the kitchen, another somewhere putrifying in the walls. I've been away for too long now, and only now, after massive cleaning, scented candles, packs of incense, chemical deoderizers, and a whole host of remedies just this side of voodoo, is it habitable. David Rakowski thinks I should write a protest song--any ideas?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006


Another mood-upper for me was receiving, at long last, my copy of Louis Andriessen and Elmer Schoenberger's book The Appolonian Clockwork, recently (and mercifully) re-issued by the Amsterdam University Press. I wrote about this a while back, apropos of Kyle Gann's rave about it, and now am finally well into reading it. Found one hysterical quote (in a book full of quirky insights and funny brilliance), apropos of Stravinsky's final large work, the Requiem Canticles:

"Requiem Canticles is the Requiem for the Requiem. After that, every composer that writes a liturgical Requiem for large choir and orchestra, preferably in his old age, will seem like a taxidermist. He will be stuffing a skeleton with ersatz meat and then be putting a black top hat on it. Then he will say: here, this is a man. But he will be wrong. It is no longer possible. Stravinsky's Requiem Canticles is Berlioz's Grande Messe des morts, shrivelled to an aphorism."

Pre-Election Jitters

With our President Self-Designate at his lowest approval rating ever--35%, I believe the lowest approval rating a president has ever had(?)--and elections looming, I still worry. Democrats are ahead, but their lead is shrinking rapidly, sadly, making for easier-to-steal races in close places. Usually, I try to only think about this, and especially do what I can to resist blogging, lest I just become Yet Another Liberal Blogger, but the thought of two more years of anything like this malaise-y quagmire gives me howling shivers.

Thankfully, I am also listening (again) to Harmonia Mundi's new recording of three Stravinsky pieces: Les Noces, Mass and Cantata which is a thoughtful, beautifully performed release (I'll not say any more about it, so as not to spoil my Time Out review of same), but for some reason, Stravinsky's dry-yet-somehow-lush settings of anonymous poetry from the 14-1500s is making me calm more than anything else could. Who knew?

Thursday, November 02, 2006


In searching for a synopsis of Delibes' Lakme online (don't ask), I came accross a German site which had it, and availed myself of the "translate this page" function. Hilarity ensued:

"Market place in an Indian city. A great deal people pushes itself in the multicolored Gewühl of the city; also officers with their ladies are represented; Bayaderes dance and sing. In the beggar garb Nilakantha with Lakmé moves by the quantity; revenge-addicted he hopes that the Fremdling may itself betray at the sight of its daughter, so that it can punish it. Gerald is actually recognized by Lakmés singing on the angebetete beautiful one attentively and of Nilakantha as a Missetäter. The quantity gets lost, Nilakantha with it is away-torn, and Lakmé, with Gerald alone, warns it of it the threatening danger. Too late. Already Brahmanen closed a circle at it; from Nilakanthas Dolch met, falls Gerald down, however, when the enemies in the Pagode disappeared, by Lakmés servant Hadji is taken away, which she intended for its rescue, because also she loves Gerald."

ADDITION: In pursuit of yet another "Translate This Page" (again, don't ask), I found out that, when translating from Spanish, Perry Como turns to "Perry Like."


"Music is a beautiful opiate, if you don't take it too seriously." --Henry Miller