Chicago Classical Review attended our performance of Everest and Aleko this weekend:
There are a myriad of reasons why an operatic adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air should not work. And yet it does. Composer [Joby] Talbot and librettist Gene Scheer have crafted a compelling 70-minute opera adapted form Krakauer’s nonfiction book about the disastrous 1996 Everest expedition in which eight people died.
Scheer wisely narrows the scope to three mountaineers, alternating their increasingly desperate situation on the South Summit with communications with their concerned loved ones and the base camp. The large vocal ensemble in back acts as a kind of Greek Chorus, questioning the men, offering philosophical observations, and commenting on the climbers’ actions, and the fates of the many who have died attempting to reach the summit.
The Apollo Chorus delivered all the power, mystery and atmosphere of Talbot’s choral passages, directed by Stephen Alltop.
The Stage & Cinema blog also gave us a nice review.
Not to mention, we really enjoyed the works. And the performance. Plus, Scheer and Talbot came to the cast party afterwards.
The audience loved last night's performance of Everest and Aleko. Everest composer Joby Talbot and librettist Gene Scheer attended, and I had the opportunity to meet them backstage at intermission. They both reported being overjoyed by our performance. Nice.
I discovered in researching this post that the BBC Symphony Orchestra will perform Everest at the Barbican on 20 June 2020. Hell yes, I'm going.
If you don't want to wait until June, you can hear us this afternoon at Harris Theater.
In about four hours, I'll be warming up for tonight's double bill of Everest and Aleko with the Chicago Opera Theater. Chicago's last remaining classical radio station, WFMT, went to our rehearsal on Monday (when I was in London, unfortunately for me):
n this staging, both works employ a large chorus made up of over 100 members, including members of Apollo Chorus of Chicago. Their function, Yankovskaya explains, is akin to a Greek Chorus: "In Everest, the chorus serves as the voice of the mountain often or the voice of the people of the past who have climbed the mountain. In Aleko, likewise, the chorus is often commenting on the surroundings and creating an atmosphere."
In the piece "The lights have gone out" from Aleko, the chorus "creates a sense of time and place," Yankovskaya shares. "The lights have all gone out in the Roma tents. The travelers are going to sleep, and the two lovers, Zemfira and the Young Gypsy, are about to come out and have their duet. But before that happens, we hear this setting created by the chorus."
WFMT posted video from the rehearsal.
You want tickets? We got tickets. PM me for a discount code.
I didn't get nearly as much sleep as usual on this trip, compared with other weekends in London, so I'll have to figure out why before next time. But Parker and I are home now, and if I can stay up until 10pm (at least), I should get things back on track.
Of course, between now and Sunday I have two rehearsals and two performances of Aleko and Everest. I think sleep planning might be in order.
Oh, and Chicago had record cold last night: -14°C. Glad I missed it.
Twenty years ago today, I launched wx-now.com. It's now on version 4.5 with version 5 in the works (when I get the time).
The earliest view on the Wayback Machine comes from late 2000, but the design looks similar enough to the first beta version on 11 November 1999.
Hard to believe I've had two websites in continuous operation for over 20 years.
One of the pubs I've frequented in London has apparently re-imagined itself as a 19th-century public house. The Blackbird, in Earls Court, used to look like this (May 2015):
Then it looked like this (Sept. 2018):
(Notice all the building permits and the closed door.)
This morning it looked like this:
I mean, wow. That's quite a remodel. Plus, apparently they've converted the upper three floors to "beautiful bedrooms."
I'm still staying at the hotel around the corner, and not at the Blackbird. But it's an interesting shift, to say the least.
My 207-day streak of 10,000 steps per day ended, as I suspected it would, at midnight GMT tonight.
Traveling from Chicago to London takes 6 hours out of the day, and it's hard to get enough steps before 7am to get to 10k by 6pm when most of that time is on an airplane.
Anyway, I'm in the Ancestral Homeland, about to finish the book that inspired the opera I'm performing in next week.
And then there's the other opera that requires I sing rapidly in Russian, without rushing. I brought the score for that one so I don't lose out on missing Monday's rehearsal.
More later. I actually have to get in sync with GMT so I can function on Monday. Wish me luck.
It's bitterly cold (at least for November), but otherwise the weather is perfect for flying this morning. My destination, London, is just dreary today and probably will be tomorrow as well. This is what I expect; it's as it should be.
Kudos, by the way, to the TSA. The Pre-Check line stretched back almost to Terminal 2, but the screeners managed to get me through in less than 10 minutes. Color me impressed.
Next update from South Kensington.
So, 25 million (recorded) steps in 1,840 days. And I'm currently on a streak—which will likely end today because of my long flight tomorrow—of 207 consecutive days of 10,000 steps or more.
It was a lovely afternoon for a concert. We performed selections from Händel's Messiah, Rachmaninoff's Aleko, and Bach's St John Passion in the gorgeous St Michael Catholic Church in Old Town, Chicago:
Inside, just before the concert:
Our next performances will be with Chicago Opera Theater on the 14th, 16th, and 17th. Then some of us will be back at St Michael for Messiah on December 6th.
It's going to be a hectic couple of months.