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This past week or so has been incredibly busy and social and I haven’t had much time for blogging. Even before the craziness of Oscar weekend started, I headed out to the War Memorial Opera House with La Javanaise to see a delightful ballet program.

I had purchased tickets for Program 3 as an addition to my story ballet subscription. It was primarily due to this picture of the jellyfish from Le Carnaval des animaux in the ballet program:

I just thought this costume was absolutely gorgeous. And, indeed, the aquarium segment, whose music will be familiar to anyone who has seen Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, was probably my favorite. If you are not familiar with the piece by Saint-Saëns, it consists of 15 segments representing various animals, starting with the lion. I listened to it as a child, and this ballet would be great for children as there was lots of humor in it. In fact, the music itself was composed as a joke and contains a number of clever musical references. Except for “The Swan” segment, Saint-Saëns would not allow it to be performed during his lifetime.

The other feature of the program was the world premiere of Francesca da Rimini, based on Tchaikovsky’s tone poem, which in turn is based on a character out of Dante. Although I adore Tchaikovsky, I was never very much interested in this piece, but I did like the ballet. I’m not quite sure why there were zombie frogmen in it, but the lengthy adagio pas de deux was beautiful.

Even though I sort of wanted to turn around and see this program again, the rest of the weekend was spent viewing the remaining Oscar films I hadn’t managed to get around to yet. In 24 hours, I saw three more films: The Descendants, Hugo, and The Tree of Life. Although I liked The Descendants more than I thought I would, none of them impressed me and I’m quite content that The Artist took home the big trophy. As did I, since I managed a narrow victory over @FyodorFish in the Oscar pool.

Hugo was a bit of a disappointment really. It looked gorgeous (although I still don’t like 3D) and in that sense was a vast improvement on the book, but the pacing seemed completely off to me. Frankly, I was bored.

Of course, not as bored as I was when watching The Tree of Life, which, again, looked beautiful, but felt completely devoid of any meaning or true emotion. As I wrote to my sister, it was like bad Kubrick. And I don’t like Kubrick. I only really got interested at the end, when Malick seemed to be saying heaven was Goblin Valley in Utah, with a smidge of Death Valley. Now that’s a sentiment I can get behind.

I really wish I had seen Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy instead of either of these.

Ah, well, live and learn.

In any case, I discovered some good cocktails out of it. And now have crème de gingembre for all my ginger liqueur needs.

In a final blaze of Tchaikovsky, last night I attended the symphony to hear one of my favorite pieces, the Violin Concerto in D major. Attentive readers may remember that last year around this time I recommended skipping Black Swan and seeing the film The Concert instead, which is based around this piece. I had no idea who Arabella Steinbacher was before this performance, but I loved her playing, which had an extremely smooth and deep tone—there were times she almost sounded like a cello. The immediate standing ovation after the first movement was surprising (generally there’s not even clapping between movements), but well earned.

Brava, Arabella!

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