Friday 12 July 2024

Friday Face OFF -- Cardinal

For this week's Friday Face OFF link party
of art featuring faces, hosted by Nicole of

Here's a cartoony little cardinal
on a snowy pine bough
that I did in watercolours
at an art journal workshop.

I have never seen one of these birds
in real life because, alas, they
don't come this far north.

But how amazing it would be
to see that bright splash of red
set against fresh white snow
in a winter wonderland!

Let me know if you've seen one!

[Art & Photo of Art © Debra She Who Seeks, 2023-24]

Wednesday 10 July 2024

Das Rheingold (The Rhinegold)

As stated in Monday's introductory post, in May I attended Edmonton Opera's production of Das Rheingold (The Rhinegold), the first opera in Wagner's Ring Cycle.

The Plot:
An angry Nibelung dwarf named Alberich steals magical gold guarded by water nymphs known as the Rhinemaidens. He renounces Love so that he can forge a Ring of Power from the gold and rule over others. By trickery and deception, the Ring is stolen by Wotan, King of the Gods. Alberich retaliates by putting a major curse on the Ring and on whoever possesses it.

Wotan reluctantly gives up the Ring as payment to two Giants he had hired to build Valhalla, so as to avoid giving them the Goddess Freia as payment instead, which he had foolishly agreed to do under the construction contract. Freia's magical Apples of Youth are needed to keep the Gods young and healthy, so it would be disastrous to part with her. Once the Giants have the Ring, the curse kicks in and one kills the other in order to possess the Ring by himself.

The opera ends with all the Gods and Goddesses entering Valhalla, their new home in the heavens. Much to Wotan's annoyance, the Rhinemaidens can still be distantly heard far below, crying and calling for the return of their stolen Rhinegold.

[Production photo by Nanc Price]

The Staging:
Wagner's Ring Cycle has always been notoriously difficult to stage because of its many magical and mythological elements. Edmonton Opera used a modern set, contemporary costumes and giant symbolic air-filled bubbles to represent the Rhinegold. A scaled-down Edmonton Symphony Orchestra played on an elevated bridge above the set. The opera's English subtitles appeared electronically beneath the ESO's bridge, but were sometimes obscured by the giant bubbles. Innovative lighting was used to represent other magical elements. For me, the staging's effectiveness was uneven and the least satisfactory part of the production.

The Music and Singing:
I was pleased by the quality of both. An especially powerful performance was given by the singer who portrayed Alberich the Nibelung dwarf.

A number of secondary characters, arias and recitatives were omitted, bringing the length of the opera down from 2.5 hours to a little over 1.5 hours. But all the big musical moments and characters were present and accounted for!

The Ring Cycle's second opera a year from now will be Die Walküre (The Valkyrie).

Monday 8 July 2024

My One-Item Bucket List

I've never really maintained a formal bucket list. It's just not my style. Oh sure, there are things I'd like to experience and places I'd like to go. Maybe they'll happen and maybe they won't. I don't get too bent out of shape about it. Que sera sera, that's what I say. And I have already done some bucket-worthy things and gone on some bucket-worthy trips, so it's not like I'm deprived or anything.

But secretly, I do have ONE item on my bucket list.

I would love to see Wagner's operatic epic Der Ring des Nibelungen (usually referred to as "the Ring Cycle") performed live. It consists of four very long, very German operas based on Germanic-Norse folklore that is massive in scale and epic in subject-matter. The Ring Cycle concerns nothing less than Greed, Betrayal, Heroism and the Downfall of The Gods. Tolkien stole its basic plot to write The Lord of the Rings but left out all the gods and stuck in wizards and hobbits instead.

Yes, I've seen various Ring Cycle productions on film or heard recordings of them. And they're great! But I'd love to see a live production, which is not terribly easy to do without paying for major travel and tickets purchased often years in advance.

However, The Gods (or someone like them)* have smiled on me recently! My city's own Edmonton Opera has decided to stage a Ring Cycle! There will be one opera of the Cycle performed each year over the next four years. The operas will be scaled-down versions, with a lot of the blah-blah-blah parts omitted, but still with the basic plots and all the famous musical parts intact. This will make the operas easier and less expensive to stage and at the same time, more palatable to the Younger Audience (Millennials and Gen Z, not us old Boomers) that the Opera Biz is trying so desperately to attract for the future.

Hey, that's good enough for me! I often say anyway that the Great Classics of every old art form usually need a serious editor (I'm looking at YOU, Shakespeare, Dickens and Melville) so why shouldn't Wagner be subject to some judicious pruning as well?

In May, Edmonton Opera performed the first opera of the Ring Cycle -- Das Rheingold.  I'll tell you about it in my next post. I know you will all be on pins and needles until then, right? Right?

But in the meantime, here's a question for you. Answers on a postcard please**

*   phrase shamelessly stolen from Dr Spo of Spo-Reflections

** phrase blatantly stolen from John Gray of Going Gently

Sunday 7 July 2024

Loose Change, Falafels, Painting, and Sexy Vicars

I miss doing those periodic Sunday Seven summaries of miscellaneous goings-on that I started posting last year. But quite frankly, some weeks it was darn hard to come up with seven items for it! So I've decided to rename the series Weekly Roundup instead and free myself from the tyranny of a numbered format. So here are my little items for this week -- 

In December 2023, the Royal Canadian Mint started issuing coinage in the name and image of Canada's new head of state, Charles III. I finally found a King Charles toonie in my change this week -- it only took six months for one to circulate down to me, LOL!

Friends told me that M & M frozen falafels are really good, so I bought a bag to try. They are indeed delicious! With some roasted garlic hummus and small whole wheat rounds, now I'm making my very own tasty falafel wraps!

I was supposed to start a new art class this week -- painting in gouache (opaque watercolours) but alas, not enough people registered so it got cancelled. That's the problem with summer classes -- people want to do other things while summer is here and the weather is nice. Hopefully, I will be able to pick up this class in the fall or winter instead.

Anyone else watching current season 9 of Grantchester, the British cozy mystery series on PBS? I think the new vicar Alphy Kotteram (Rishi Nair) has brought renewed life and welcome diversity to the series. And it doesn't hurt that he's so handsome! (Not that I'm batting for the other team now, don't worry, but a girl still has eyes).

Friday 5 July 2024

Friday Face OFF -- Crocuses

For this week's Friday Face OFF link party
of art featuring faces, hosted by Nicole of

Here's my most recent art
(from a June workshop)
of prairie crocuses done in
coloured pencils on fawn paper.

Okay, so I can hear you all saying --

"Crocuses? WTF?
They're not faces!"

But wait, just hear me out . . . .

The first flower to emerge after a long winter
on the Canadian prairies is the crocus.

Indigenous people called it "the ears of the earth,"
believing that the crocus blooms so early 
in order to listen for the arrival of Spring.


Close enough to fulfill the
Face Requirement, I submit!

[Art & photo of art © Debra She Who Seeks, 2024;
GIFS from the internet.]