October 1st, 2003

Fishy Circumstances

Lost in Translation

I enjoyed seeing Lost in Translation. It did justice to Japan, and the feeling of being a foreigner there. It was appropriately tiring watching so many very tired people. It had a good sense of rhythm, of daily life. There were lovely shots of Kyoto temples, looking elegantly mostly empty.

It was a movie which sampled as well. There were lots of little details of exactly the sort a stranger particularly notices in Japan - people reading graphic graphic novels on the subways, for example; tying prayers to tree limbs. The movie didn't explain - it didn't need to. If you didn't understand, it would only add to the ambiance it evoked.

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Fishy Circumstances

Peter Grimes

The first time I saw Peter Grimes, it was with Matt and C., somewhere west of Leeds. I was tried, I remember. I remember how literal the set was, portraying a fishing village, with a full boat modeled up on stage. I didn' t know that I'd remembered the music. When the first declarative "Peter Grimes" rang out on in the opening scene, my ears remembered. The group song "Young Joe has gone fishing" also flooded back in instant familiarity when I heard it.

Peter Grimes is an opera about being an outcast, about village justice, about fishing, and about the apprenticeship system in fishing in the early part of the twentieth system. It's about a man who may or may not have committed murder, but it's what the village believes that matters more than the true. The opera is bleak, dreary, and depressing, but the music has long stretches of amazing and engrossing harmonies. The COC chorus is massive and talented. At one point, when they're effectively becoming a mob, the sheer power of sound and numbers formed an intimidating wall along the front of the stage. There were enough that I briefly thought "There must be a hundred of them!" and pittenweemcommented immediately afterwards on how large the chorus was. In fact, I suspect it's more like a 60 person chorus. 50, bare minimum.

I was less excited about the sets. They weren't bad. I just didn't find them overly interesting. It was an abstract set, with fishing boats implied by vague shapes and poles in the background. The surfaces were all mottled in a way I often like in small-scale artwork, but wasn't used to great effect on stage. The sense of space defined by the set was generally effective, and the way it allowed the actors to make use of the stage worked. But the patterning didn't appeal so much to me.

And, given we had tickets from the 18-29 program, and that Tosca was nearly sold out (that's tomorrow), we did remarkably well on seats.