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Die Falknerin

Die Falknerin Member Since 2008

Painter, musician, bibliophile...

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  • "Passion, power, and truth"

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    If you had crossed Bizet's path in 1875, the year "Carmen" was first staged, you would have met with a plump, bespectacled Frenchman who was forever nibbling sweet delicacies. But while you might overlook this unassuming person, you could not have ignored his music.

    From early childhood, Bizet possessed prodigious talent. In the Conservatoire at nine, and winning every prize going, he worked his magic on a variety of instruments. At the age of 19, he won the Prix de Rome. With innate musical taste, judgment, and imagination, he stands above his contemporaries.

    As this program points out, Bizet was no "one trick pony." He'd written most of his work before anyone had heard of "Carmen," and some of this sadly neglected work deserves rediscovery and appreciation, such as his opera "The Pearl Fishers."

    Harold Schonberg wrote, "Carmen is an opera of passion, power, and truth, infinitely superior to the carefully arranged, prettily served canapés of Gounod and Massenet. They were skilled professionals. Bizet was a genius."

    Tchaikovsky and Brahms were fans of "Carmen," too. Wagner, having heard it, said of Bizet, "At last, for a change, someone with ideas in his head!"

    All this makes it the more stunning that this perennial favorite did not meet with immediate success. "Carmen" was called "immoral," and accused of being (even worse) "Wagnerian."

    In this excellent program, David Timson brings the spectacle of "Carmen" vividly to life, with reference to many important excerpts, the fast and furious scene changes demanded by the complex action, and so much more.

    If you're fortunate enough to be going to see the opera or just want to understand it better while you listen at home, you can't go wrong with this exploration of "Carmen essentials."

    This was the first opera I heard (at the age of nine) and it left me forever in love with opera itself. My French wasn't under firm control, and I couldn't really understand everything that was happening, but that music! I have never forgotten it. Such is the power of Bizet.

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    Carmen: Opera Explained

    • ORIGINAL (1 hr and 6 mins)
    • By Thomson Smillie
    • Narrated By David Timson
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Carmen is among the most popular operas for all the obvious reasons: great characters, a gripping story, and fabulous music. But what sets it on a pinnacle is an amazing combination of three factors: a sizzling Gipsy heroine (one of the most psychologically complex and compelling characters in all theatre), great atmosphere (Spain, hot sun, the bull-ring), and the prodigality of melodic invention - one great tune after another, at least a dozen of which are the staples of Madison Avenue and the animated cartoon.

    Die Falknerin says: "Passion, power, and truth"
  • "Der Ring des Nibelung"

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    Story

    In this brief introduction Johnson takes us from the opening e-flat of the Das Rheingold to the consuming flames of Götterdämmerung. Discussions of staging, orchestration, plot development, mythic elements and more are interspersed with musical excerpts.

    Wagner designed the tetralogy to begin with the Vorabend, (a "preliminary evening") in which Das Rheingold is perfomed, followed by the succession of the operas Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung. Johnson makes an admirable presentation of each part of the cycle without excessive digression.

    Of course, countless volumes have been devoted to the discussion of meaning, leitmotif, scoring, and all things Wagnerian, should one want to look deeper. But for a brief discussion of Ring essentials, look no further.

    These operas share a somewhat daunting reputation. Even opera fans have been known to quaver before Valhalla! But don't be one of them. Listen to this book, then jump right in. Some of the most beautiful music ever written awaits you.

    More

    Ring of the Nibelung: Opera Explained

    • ORIGINAL (2 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Stephen Johnson
    • Narrated By Stephen Johnson
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (10)

    Wagner’s Ring cycle is the most ambitious work in the history of music: four operas that combine to tell a single epic story. Based in legend, it has become a legend in its own right: a supreme challenge for conductors, singers, opera producers, and indeed for audiences. But for all its grandeur and complexity, The Ring is far more accessible than many music lovers think.

    Die Falknerin says: "Der Ring des Nibelung"
  • "Revenge of the bat"

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    Performance
    Story

    Why is this opera called "The Bat?" In a nutshell, two gentlemen, Eisenstein and Falke, in the costumes of a butterfly and a bat, respectively, attend a winter masquerade. On the way back, Eisenstein, taking advantage of Falke's inebriated state, abandons him far from his home. When he wakes up, he has to walk through the town in his bat costume, to his undying embarrassment and the amusement of his fellow citizens. Naturally, he wants to get his own back, and it is for this reason the opera is called, "The Bat."

    From this simple premise, the plot becomes "maddeningly complex," as the author rightly says. There are "multilayered and omnipresent infidelities," disguises, deceptions, drinking, dancing, and entirely too much carrying on. An opera featuring "Adele's Laughing Song" should be fun!

    As with so many things that seem effortless, back-breaking work goes before. While Johann Strauss II hadn't much experience writing for the theatre before he composed this, you'd never know it. He has more than a few operatic tricks up his sleeve, including the masterful use of crescendo and accelerando. The author brings attention to Strauss' use of rubato, which he refers to as "stealing time to avoid schmaltz." Some of the roles require nothing less than a virtuoso performer. But the result is accessible, light-hearted, and fun.

    A bottle of champagne to David Timson for his narration, and to you should you tackle "Die Fledermaus" during this, its rightful season!

    More

    Die Fledermaus: Opera Explained

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 19 mins)
    • By Thomson Smillie
    • Narrated By David Timson
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Die Fledermaus is one of the few operatic works to which the phrase "never a dull moment" can be truthfully applied. From the explosive opening of the famous overture - reminiscent of a volley of champagne corks - through the surging energy of the "Fledermaus Waltz" and the many comic numbers, of which the accelerando trio is the finest, up to such huge concerted numbers as the "Duidu" finale to Act II, this is an operetta which almost incarnates nostalgia. Thomson Smillie and David Timson infuse their exploration of Die Fledermaus with as much life as the operetta itself.

    Die Falknerin says: "Revenge of the bat"
  1. Carmen: Opera Explained
  2. Ring of the Nibelung: Ope...
  3. Die Fledermaus: Opera Exp...
  4. .

A Peek at Amanda's Bookshelf

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FALLS CHURCH, VA, United States 1 REVIEWS / 6 ratings Member Since 2012 0 Followers / Following 0
 
Amanda's greatest hits:
  • Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination

    "Diane Disney"

    Overall
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    Story

    "A monstrous piece of libelous junk. My parents were not the people he creates in this book, and I cannot understand why all of you who aided and abetted Gabler in writing this book, and who praise it and promote it, can do so without suffering serious qualms." - Diane Disney Miller, Walt's oldest daughter.

    It's unfortunate that Neal Gabler made so many errors in this book. A partial list of errors can be found online.

Matthew

Matthew Singapore, Singapore 12-16-13 Member Since 2013

Moving further from work extended my daily commute... thank God for Audible.

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  • "Well, that was a surprise"

    9 of 9 helpful votes

    Truth be told, I felt a little duped when I first started "I Capture The Castle". It had been recommended to me by one of those "You Might Like" algorithms, and I made the purchase impulsively (and uncharacteristically) with absolutely zero research. Almost instantly I realised “Capture” was unlike any other novel I'd read before, and I was baffled by the recommendation. I'm not drawn to novels in this genre, but all I can say is that I absolutely loved every moment inside Cassandra’s journal. I even feel a small sense of loss that I won't be spending any more time with the inhabitants of Scoatney Village, who feel so incredibly alive to me now.

    I've subsequently done a little research on the book, and I can see it featuring on lists like "Classics All Young Girls Should Read" etc... This makes me a little embarrassed, as I'm a middle-aged man. I suppose I can understand some dismissing this as a “charming little girls book"—it is a tad heavy on young romance, first loves, stolen kisses, exciting marriage proposals (Dear God, I'm cringing as I write). But what a pity if they did pigeon-hole it that way; it has way more to offer. It is witty, thoughtful, clever and genuinely laugh-out-loud funny at times. And the characters are so deeply drawn, I guess I didn’t mind all the accompanying histrionics.

    I should say that I did live in the UK for many years, so I know my nostalgia for the English countryside enhanced my enjoyment. My favourite quote: “It came to me that Hyde Park has never belonged to London - that it has always been , in spirit, a stretch of countryside; and that it links the Londons of all periods together most magically - by remaining forever unchanged at the heart of a ever-changing town.”

    Loyal fans of the book have admired this audio version, and I totally support all praise for Jenny Agutter. This is a flawless narration and I can’t imagine a better way to enjoy this book.

    Oh and—by the way—I think I’ve now realized why the algorithm recommended the book to me in the first place. I had “Cold Comfort Farm” listed as a favourite, and it’s only now that I’m starting to see the synchronicities between these two novels.

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    I Capture the Castle

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Dodie Smith
    • Narrated By Jenny Agutter
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    (121)
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    "I write this sitting at the kitchen sink" is the first line of a novel about love, sibling rivalry, and a bohemian existence in a crumbling castle in the middle of nowhere. Cassandra Mortmin's journal records her fadingly glamorous stepmother, her beautiful, wistful older sister, and the man to whom they owe both their isolation and poverty: Father. The author of one experimental novel, and a minor cause celebre, he has since suffered from writer's block and is determined to drag his family down with him.

    Matthew says: "Well, that was a surprise"

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    Michael Jackson's reign as the King of Pop is celebrated in the latest biographical audiobook from Bluewater Productions. The newest addition to the publisher's critically acclaimed library features a foreword by artist and friend of Jackson's Giuseppe Mazzola. The life of the world's most popular entertainer was infused with fantasy and tragedy. His discography is legendary. His legacy is complicated and unparalleled.

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  • Playing to the Gallery: Helping Contemporary Art in Its Struggle to Be Understood  by Grayson Perry Narrated by Grayson Perry

    Playing to the Gallery: Helping Contemporary Art in Its Struggle to Be Understood

    • ORIGINAL (2 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Grayson Perry
    • Narrated By Grayson Perry
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    It's easy to feel insecure around art and its appreciation, as though we cannot enjoy certain artworks if we don't have a lot of academic and historical knowledge. But if there's one message that I want you to take away it's that anybody can enjoy art and anybody can have a life in the arts - even me! For even I, an Essex transvestite potter, have been let in by the artworld mafia.

  • Not to Be Missed: Fifty-Four Favorites from a Lifetime of Film (






UNABRIDGED) by Kenneth Turan Narrated by Todd McLaren

    Not to Be Missed: Fifty-Four Favorites from a Lifetime of Film

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Kenneth Turan
    • Narrated By Todd McLaren
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    Kenneth Turan discovered film as a child left undisturbed to watch Million Dollar Movie on WOR-TV Channel 9 in New York, a daily showcase for older Hollywood features. It was then that he developed a love of cinema that never left him and honed his eye for the most acute details and the grandest of scenes. Not to Be Missed blends cultural criticism, historical anecdotes, and inside-Hollywood controversy. Turan's selection of favorites ranges across all genres.

  • A Fan's Guide to Rod Serling (






UNABRIDGED) by Justin Murphy Narrated by Ron Herczig

    A Fan's Guide to Rod Serling

    • UNABRIDGED (16 mins)
    • By Justin Murphy
    • Narrated By Ron Herczig
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
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    Rod Serling, the creator of The Twilight Zone, is possibly the greatest writer in television history. His work has been seen by many around the world for the last half century. This audiobook aims to give the casual viewer or Serling enthusiast some insight into the legendary television scribe's career and probe into how and why he got the reputation he has.

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