Friday, April 07, 2006

Opera Woes

Via Drawn!, illustrator Maurice Vellekoop's illustrated homage A Nut at the Opera. Viewing more samples requires flash.

Derailing this post slightly, I got a call this morning about a charming woman I'd known from Chicago who'd passed away at 64 after years of lung trouble. My grandmother has recently passed away as well, but that feels very different since she was three decades older, and spent the vast majority of her life in robust health.

My Chicago friend was that warm, quirky, enthusiastic kind of person who created adventures and made you feel as if speaking (and laughing- there was always laughing) with you was the most wonderful thing she could be doing. She was an actress, an artist, a collector of Corgis and kitsch, and she'd be amused to hear me include her as a singer. She'd always raise her fist. "Altos Rule!" By the time the emphysema had worked its way with her, she was almost singing bass, but she was still croaking it out when she could, her respiratory therapy, she'd say.

The rest of her vocal group from the Old Town School of Folk Music will be performing at her memorial at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, the company she helped found way back when they performed above the haunted Red Lion Pub . They'll not only be singing Hebrew rounds for her Jewishness, but Appalachian rounds and West Virginia Hills for her down-home side. During her lengthy and serious illnesses, she was the definition of a trouper who always showed up if she could and didn't spend a lot of time grousing about herself, instead finding joy in her family and friends and being excited by her latest ambitions. Here's a very nice brief about Sarajane Avidon. Mark my words, her memorial will be SRO.

Since yesterday was less than highbrow, let me amend the low tone by sharing with you my dismay over the attire I've been seeing at the operas I've attended recently. Oh, I still love Motorhead, but I contain multitudes and all that. Anyway, Khaki shorts and Birkies? Lots of distressed jeans and sneakers with threadbare tees and uncombed hair. Sure, the NY City Opera ain't the Met, but it doesn't stink. It integrates several kinds of disciplined talent that are several kinds more than most of the people I see atttending possess. But if they have no respect for the venue or performance, I wish they at least respected themselves enough not to look like a wadded pair of frat-boy boxers jammed into the back of a spunky couch.

One college-aged woman, in addition to her dun-colored, laundry pile separates, sat with a stuffed turtle perched upon her shoulder, presumably so he could watch the spectacle with her. I know that unique plush and vinyl characters of all dimensions are being produced by various artists, and have surged in popularity. As I've noted before, I'm a fan of the Ugly Dolls and Mr. Toast. There's even a vinyl one actually called Opera Dude. However bringing your plushie pals with you to the opera when you'll be surrounded by other friends- hardly all scary lonely- is not the regressive aesthetic I'd hoped to see cultivated in modern young women.

In related recoil, A Dress A Day salutes the eminent stylogian Lord Whimsy, who says:
What I find personally distasteful is when people add to the banality of daily life by not putting anything of themselves into their appearance. When they do put thought into it, it’s often a regurgitation of someone else’s idea of style, letting brand names do the work for them when they could come up with a much more tasteful outfit at a fraction of the cost...The most tastefully dressed person in a room is now sometimes the one who has spent the least money on his or her clothes, but has expended the most thought.

Lord Breaulove Swells Whimsy's upcoming book is titled The Affected Provincial's Companion, Vol. 1: A Bounteous Selection of Essays, Philosophical Diagrams, Poetry and Other Such Theoretical Tinkerings Concerning ... Charm into this Vale of Mud and Tears Known. But at this very moment, you may already purchase his $.49 short on The Perils of Sportswear, or peruse the pith and pics at his resplendent blog or view his photo from the recent, if intimate, NYC Dandy Summit.

An astute salesman in a tony men's department was suggesting pairings of different shirts and ties. He particularly advocated one fine choice, saying, "it showed effort." The phrase was apt and persuasive. Exactly what one hopes to exude. Taste and Care. The sale was made.

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