Saturday, October 31, 2009

Zombie of the Opera

31 October 2009

It’s Halloween – so I’m back to spook you. To scare you. Well, contemporary art and music (& movies, dance, theatre, etc.) should be a little scary. Maybe a LOT scary. (And NO – that doesn’t mean GROSSED OUT. It’s not about cheap EXPLOITATION. In fact it’s not about CHEAP – EVER! Nor for that matter EXPLOITATION – EVER! Have I made myself CLEAR? (Or am I simply confusing the Scientologists who may be reading this?)

So – no – I’m not going to go into an extensive re-tread. Everyone here knows my story (and it’s a sad one); so let’s skip it. Yeah, yeah, yeah – I’m as exhausted as ever. So here we go. Last night (30 October) I went to the opening of conceptual art legend Stephen Kaltenbach’s very aptly timed and titled show at Another Year In L.A., S’Fear. Certainly some aspect of ‘fear’ – or certainly a kind of intimidating mystery – and of course, simply fear and apprehension of the unknown, have played prominently in Kaltenbach’s work in the past: what is hidden from view, scarcely limned through its container or shell (or title – which of course is its own kind of container). And so it was here: more explicitly (and, in one instance, theatrically) than ever. The fear – and the sphere – and the implicit mystery of geometries of two, three and more dimensions. Theatricality to one side – which I find irresistible – it’s a thoughtful and elegant show. So go. Oh – and you might bear in mind that Another Year may be moving from its current landmark Deco building on San Fernando because of some MASSIVE pile of a high school(?) that is set to rise directly across the street. (We need another high school? Why not just make the ones we already have BETTER? As in through MORE, BETTER TEACHERS? A little (or a lot) MORE MONEY??) So – one more reason to hustle over there and see the show.

Thursday night (29 October), Opera Buddy and I went to a screening of a film of the Barcelona-based Fura des Baus production of Wagner’s Die Walkure staged in the (Calatrava designed) Palau de las Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, Spain, featuring Peter Seifert and Jennifer Wilson as Brunnhilde and Juha Uusitalo as Wotan with the the amazing Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana brilliantly conducted by the apparently indefatigable Zubin Mehta. (If you’ve forgotten how amazing he can be, I can recommend this filmed opera on that basis alone.) The production is heavily video and effects-laden – with the internecine dramatics of the first two acts a bit muddied by the staging – but redeemed by the climactic (always threatening-to-never-actually-reach-climax) third act and Brunnhilde’s agony – which reduced Opera Buddy (despite her reservations about the production overall) to tears, and me (after my exhausting workday) to simultaneous catharsis and paralysis. (I comforted OB – ‘hey Dads are like that. Ya try to make them proud of your battle prowess and they end up disowning you & you have to settle for them not letting anyone fuck you but a billionaire master-of-the-universe,’ Right?) Well. (I’m telling you, it was pretty fucking GREAT.)

Earlier that day, I had the great fortune of viewing a portion of Ann Janss’s extensive and eclectic collection of L.A. and other artists – which in addition to some phenomenal Michael McMillen pieces and an entire gallery devoted to an amazing H.C. Westermann series, See America First, provided me with an introduction to the work of Steve Galloway. (As usual, I have to ask myself – was my head stuck under a rock or something?). I’m not going to go into great detail at the moment; because I have to jet out to, uh, the Silver Lake Dog Park. (You think I’m joking, don’t you? Well think again.) If you see a zombie in the dog park, it’s just me. Back in a zombie minute. (That could be a few millennia, you realize.)

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