Keepin’ It Real

August 3, 2008

Soprano Rita Streich: Because Today Deserves Something Beautiful

Filed under: Culture — mary @ 1:07 am

In my opinion, Austrian coloratura soprano Rita Streich (1920-1987) was the most exquisite singer. Her voice was beautifully pure; her interpretation of text was understated and impeccable. Her voice was perfection.

This is a 1964 recital in which Miss Streich sings Franz Schubert’s gorgeous lied Nacht und Träume (Night and Dreams), D. 827.

Heil’ge Nacht, du sinkest nieder;
Nieder wallen auch die Träume
Wie dein Mondlicht durch die Räume,
Durch der Menschen stille Brust.
Die belauschen sie mit Lust;
Rufen, wenn der Tag erwacht:
Kehre wieder, heil’ge Nacht!
Holde Träume, kehret wieder!
(Matthäus von Collin, poet)

Holy night, you sink down;
Dreams drift down
Like your moonlight through the rooms,
Through the still human breast.
They listen with delight;
Calling, when the day awakes:
Come back, holy night!
Fair dreams, come back again!

Pardon my rather rugged translation. It is really such a beautiful poem, so ethereal. It is captured perfectly by Miss Streich, transparent like the dream and the moonlight.

And for a few moments there is beauty in the world.


October 2, 2007

Obama: My 9-year old doesn’t like Hilton Hotels (Are children running the world?)

Filed under: Culture,Obama!,Politics — mary @ 1:06 pm

For those who think that one can only find interesting news in serious newspapers and websites, I must say that sometimes news can be found in the most unexpected places. My example comes from the most popular of celebrity gossip mags, People.

People reported that yesterday, presidential candidate Barak Obama, appeared on the Tyra Banks Show (Tyra’s show, for the uninitiated, is filled with “gal talk” – relationships, fashion, breast exams, and battling eating disorders, to name a few of the topics – and I admit to having seen a show or two). During this interview, according to People, Obama admitted to Tyra Banks, that his 9-year-old daughter grills him to make sure that the hotels they stay in are not Hiltons:

Sen. Barack Obama took an unusual break from the campaign trail – to gaze into a crystal ball with Tyra Banks.

And what does he see in his future, Banks asked the 46-year-old presidential candidate? “I see the White House,” he replied, matter-of-factly, on her show Monday.

Obama also made clear that his wife and daughters are extremely particular on where it spends their nights.

“This isn’t a Hilton hotel, is it?” he said his 9-year-old daughter, Malia, will ask as the family tours the country – because the little one keeps up with the news and does not approve of Paris Hilton, he says.,,20091040,00.html

This just struck me as interesting. I have a daughter close to young Malia’s age, so I know a lot of kids in that age bracket. Frankly, none of the kids in 3rd and 4th grade who I know follow the news. My daughter doesn’t know Paris Hilton from Paris, France. I think she is too young to know about such things. Anyway, she is too busy pretending to be a pioneer woman or a fairy or capturing snakes and caterpillers in the yard.

What really struck me was the power we have been giving to children in our society and in our political arena. Young Malia Obama gets to have a say in what hotels the family stays in because she “does not approve of Paris Hilton”. When do children have a say in such matters? What has happened to adults that we allow children to dictate what should be adult decisions.

In the public square, we are also letting children boss adults around. Take, for example, 12-year-old Graeme Frost of Baltimore, Maryland, delivered the Democrats’ response to President Bush’s radio address on Saturday, in which he urged President Bush not to veto the renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Here is a portion of the transcript from young Graeme’s address to the nation:

Hi, my name is Graeme Frost. I’m 12 years old and I live in Baltimore, Maryland. Most kids my age probably havent heard of CHIP, the Childrens Health Insurance Program. But I know all about it, because if it weren’t for CHIP, I might not be here today

CHIP is a law the government made to help families like mine afford healthcare for their kids. Three years ago, my family was in a really bad car accident. My younger sister Gemma and I were both hurt. I was in a coma for a week and couldn’t eat or stand up or even talk at first. My sister was even worse.

I was in the hospital for five-and-a-half months and I needed a big surgery. For a long time after that, I had to go to physical therapy after school to get stronger. But even though I was hurt badly, I was really lucky. My sister and I both were.

My parents work really hard and always make sure my sister and I have everything we need, but the hospital bills were huge. We got the help we needed because we had health insurance for us through the CHIP program. But there are millions of kids out there who don’t have CHIP, and they wouldn’t get the care that my sister and I did if they got hurt. Their parents might have to sell their cars or their houses, or they might not be able to pay for hospital bills at all.

Now I’m back to school. One of my vocal chords is paralyzed so I don’t talk the same way I used to. And I can’t walk or run as fast as I did. The doctors say I can’t play football any more, but I might still be able to be a coach. I’m just happy to be back with my friends.

I don’t know why President Bush wants to stop kids who really need help from getting CHIP. All I know is I have some really good doctors. They took great care of me when I was sick, and I’m glad I could see them because of the Childrens Health Program.,2933,298593,00.html

Ah, using a child to impart your emotional message. Seems to have become the Democrats’ modus operendi in the past few years. They use a child to convey their simplistic lies. Young Graeme was covered and would continue to be covered under CHIP. President Bush has never proposed to do away with the program, but young Graeme may be too young to understand that the Democrats for whom he speaks want to increase the program to include children of families making close to $80,000 per year, which has many budgetary implications. But, how would a youngster, who dreams of being a coach, know how to differentiate the two sides in a political squabble and the sophisticated pros and cons of each side? And, worse yet, why is a child being put in the position to castigate the President of the United States, an adult?

And then there was Ilana Wexler, Founder of Kids for Kerry, who at 12 was given the speaker’s podium at the 2004 Democratic National Convention to tell Vice President Cheney he needed a “timeout”. When I was a child, speaking in such a manner to or about an adult would have caused to the child to be labeled fresh. Now such children are celebrities. In fact, Ilana is now being recruited by the Hillary Clinton camp to chide the Republicans in the 2008 election cycle.

I probably sound tremendously old-fashioned (and I relish that label, frankly), but we as adults need to take back authority from children. Children should not be running our families nor should they be calling out our political leaders. They still are children and need to respect adults. Also, for those who use them in the political process (and I mean USE), they are demeaning the political process as well as demeaning the children they use. Let them play ball, catch bugs, dream dreams and PLAY. Don’t drag them into adult matters that they aren’t mentally and emotionally ready to deal with. It really does a disservice to them.

July 6, 2007

Adieu, Mme. Crespin

Filed under: Culture — mary @ 7:46 pm

Another great soprano passed away this week. Yesterday, French soprano, Regine Crespin, died of cancer in Paris. She was 80.

Just as Beverly Sills could be classified as an all-American singer. Crespin could be classified as the quintessential French singer, blending perfectly text and music into a beautiful synthesis.

Here is a perfect example of the French style as displayed by Regine Crespin, a 1964 performance of Gabriel Faure’s beautiful song Soir (Evening). If you follow the subtitles, you can see how she gently shades the poetry of this beautiful song.

Here is a tribute to Mme. Crespin by Opera News, which is well worth the read:

This has certainly been a sad week for the opera world.

July 3, 2007

Adieu, Mlle. Sills

Filed under: Culture — mary @ 12:12 pm

Yesterday, coloratura soprano Beverly Sills passed away from cancer. She was one of the most beautiful people in the opera world. For many, she made the staid world of opera fun with her joyful spirit and beautiful smile.

It is hard to imagine the world without this beautiful lady in it.

Here is a small tribute to her work:

In 1966, Sills became a superstar after her portrayal of Cleopatra in Handel’s Giulio Cesare at the New York City Opera. Here she is singing “Da tempeste”, one of the arias from the opera:

Another signature role for Sills was Rosina in Rossini’s “Il Barbieri di Siviglia” when coloratura sopranos performed the role. Here’s Sills singing ‘Una voce poco fa” from the opera:

Her joyful expression in singing this area has always made me smile!

Beverly Sills was also well-known for her portrayal of Manon in the opera of the same name by French composer Jules Massenet. Here she performs the beautiful aria “Adieu notre petite table”. Her emotional portrayal is stunning:

And this is why she was one of the great ambassadors of opera, because she was just real (and just plain fun!) An opera parody with the great Danny Kaye:

Rest in peace, Ms. Sills. You will be sorely missed. You have inspired me for years, and I will always be grateful.

June 15, 2007

PC Cereals

Filed under: Culture — mary @ 12:00 am

Today Kellogg, in an move to stem the threat of lawsuit by two advocacy groups (the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood), has agreed to change the formula of many of its popular (sugary) breakfast cereals to more healthy recipes. If Kellogg fails to be able to revamp these products and still maintain the taste that makes them popular, it has agreed not to advertise to children under 12.

As part of its new commitments, Kellogg won’t market to children any food that has more than 200 calories, 2 grams of saturated fat, 230 milligrams of sodium, 12 grams of sugar, or any trans fat, per single serving. This means that Kellogg products that don’t meet these criteria can’t be advertised on television, radio, print and third-party Web sites whose main audience is young children.

One thing that struck me odd about this whole issue, is Kellogg’s agreement not to market to children under 12. How many children under 12 do the grocery shopping? None that I know of. So, in my opinion, the problem isn’t that Kellogg advertises Fruit Loops to the kiddie crowd, but that parents don’t say “NO” when junior rushes in begging for Apple Jacks during his 8 hours of television watching.

Parents, Kellogg isn’t taking our hands and making us put Pop Tarts into the grocery cart. And if Fruit Loops or Pop Tarts do make themselves home with us, our kids don’t need to eat them every day (or several times a day). If kids are getting fat, it isn’t Kellogg’s fault. It’s parents’ abrogation of responsibility. It’s tough to say “no” what seems like a million times a day, but that’s our job as a parents. Each time we fail in our responsibilities (usually because it is just hard to be responsible all the time) we allow advocacy groups and our government to step in and do the job we should be doing. Before you know it, the busybodies are in our lives for everything because we don’t have the backbone to do it ourselves. They are telling us how to raise our kids, what to drive, what to wear, what to eat and what to think. Is this what we want, really, when all we need to do is step up to the plate and do our jobs?

Just a reminder, this is what could happen in our country if we let the busybodies take responsibility where we won’t:

Doctors [In Britain] are calling for obesity to be possible grounds for children being taken away from their parents.

The British Medical Association will be asked at its annual meeting later this month to back the designation of obesity in under-12s as an act of neglect.

Before long, this will be happening here. Guaranteed.

Parents of the country: Learn to say “NO” to your children. It’s good for you, good for them, and keeps the busybodies from having an opportunity to interfere.

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