Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hello there in Tualatin

Who keeps searching this blog from Tualatin? I know you use Verizon internet, Yahoo! search engine, and you're a Firefox fan on Windows XP. If you haven't figured out, the Evil Baritone Blog is a little rusty. I don't post much here anymore. Turns out there are other evil people in the world, even in Tualatin, who liked to use my public words for gossip, to sour old friendships, and other general nastiness. That's why I don't post publicly on this blog.

But hey, thanks for stopping by every now and then. Feel free to drop me a line. I'd love to know who you are. ;-)

Saturday, August 01, 2009

EB is a Twitt

Yes, I have found Twitter. Look to the left sidebar and you'll probably see more frequent updates of the life & times of EvilBaritone.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Riggy, I Can't See You!

Rigoletto was back at the Portland Opera for their final production of the ’08-’09 season. Or as some of us say, “welcome home, Riggy!” Why? Because returning to perform the title role was Mark Rucker who sang in the previous production of Rigoletto in 1998.

I must say I was very proud to be a part of the opera chorus at that time and singing with one of the world’s premier Verdi Baritones is not something that another baritone takes lightly. In ’98 I was able to observe Mark in every aspect of his character integration with the show. I say ‘integration’ rather than ‘development’ because Mr. Rucker had performed the role countless times even then. I’m sure he’s got a few dozen more under his belt in the last 11 years. But watching him work behind the scenes was amazing from the first music rehearsal to just before the final curtain when he cries in agony over losing his precious daughter, Gilda.

Well, cut 11 years and I’m now in the audience ready to enjoy Rigoletto from an audience perspective on a $20 ticket (thanks to PO’s new policy of “padding the house” on certain days and sections). One thing I will say about this new production is that it was not well lit. After performing a number of operas where the lighting designer throws lights from all angles from the rafters, downstage, and offstage left and right, (and becoming near blinded in the process) this show had minimal lighting. Unfortunately, the beautiful, multi-functional 2-level set was drenched in darkness, and all the wonderful colorful costumes were just so-so in the drisly trickle of illumination. So I say to the lighting designer, "may a thousand points of light sting your eyeballs so you can know what light looks like!"

The sound, however, was astounding! Rucker…yo, what can I say? He’s da BOMB! But one thing that stood out this time around was the last scene. Remember in "Godfather III" when Michael Corleone is on the steps of the opera house after his daughter was shot, and he gave that looooong silent scream, then suddenly inhales and wails in dispair? Rucker's wail was like that. Chilling to the bone and heartbreaking.

And Gilda, sung by Sarah Coburn, brought the house down with her “Caro nome”. I’m not usually a big fan of twittery coloraturas, but Coburn made me swoon. Peter Volpe was Sparafucile and if there ever was a bass that I want to be when I grow up, it is Mr. Volpe. My favorite memory of the show is in Act II when Sparafucile tells Riggy that he’ll be at the same place every night if he needs him, and walks offstage singing a low F – still resonating in the back of the house! Gotta love a great bass!

But by far I am most proud of the men’s chorus. The men’s chorus in Riggy is tough. I mean machine gun, ratta-tat-tat type of patter singing that is not easy to coordinate with 20 men, a 40 piece orchestra, and a baton. But the men were DEAD SOLID PERFECT! I have never, even in recordings, heard the chorus so spot on. Brilliantly sung. Bravo, men!

Now the season is closed and we look forward to yet another production of La Boheme in September. I think it’s the 4th time in 15 years that they’ve done this show. Hmmm…must be a moneymaker. I’ll be looking for my $20 tic for this as well.

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The Return of Evil

So yes, Evil Baritone is still around. I’ve decided to come out of hiding once again because a) this rock is getting heavy, and b) I missed torturing my loyal readers with my insensitive slather and incomprehensible drivel. Besides, hopefully all the baddies have gone and I can blog in peace once again. If not, then they’ll have to suffer the slings and arrows as a result of my outrageous fortune.

Welcome back, Jack!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Frankly, Aretha – OUCH!

Aretha Franklin Croaks

I had the pleasure to watch the historical inauguration broadcast on every TV station known to mankind on Tuesday. I thought I would discuss some of the musical issues that concerned me. Particularly the atrocious rendition of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” performed by Aretha Franklin just before President Obama was sworn in.

Was anyone else horrified? I know Aretha is the Queen of Soul and is a goddess among the hall of fame R & B singers, but DAMN! Her pitch was spread out and random like she threw darts at a musical staff. Breath control was non-existent. Example: “My Coun (GASP) try ‘tis (GASP) of thee”.

Oh, and the pre-recorded chorus arrangement was ridiculous. “Let freedom ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring….”

I can’t imagine she was nervous. She’s been singing for over 40 years. And I know it was 15 degrees and all. But maybe a younger more classically trained singer like D.C. native Denyce Graves would have been a better representative of the stature of the day. And besides, it would have been recompense for singing at Dubya Bush’s second inauguration four years ago.

US Military Band Lip Syncs

And did anyone else notice that “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band was lip syncing during the pre-inauguration music? I couldn’t believe it! The cameras closed in on the percussionists and they were moving sticks but not beating anything! Then looked more closely and realized that nobody was playing.

But ok, I can sorta forgive that one. Having personally experienced marching band in sub-freezing temps I know how bad a band can sound. And the best and most disciplined band in the country needed to remain “warm” for the actual playing of ‘Hail to the Chief’ when the time came, so they piped in recorded music for two hours. But why did they need to pretend as if they were playing along to Sousa marches?

And lastly, as far as music went, I’m very impressed with the Obamas for standing front and center and actually PAYING ATTENTION to the bands as they marched past in the parade. I had the honor of marching in the inauguration parade for Bush Sr. in 1989. He, and all other Presidents I’ve watched in the parade since, were lounging somewhere unseen by the marchers and paying little attention, as if they had something better to do like run the country or something. But I’m proud as a former marching band member that Obama paid particular attention to each band. Yup, Obama rocks!

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Regarding CATS

The two lights of my life, Goonie and Bobo, were born into a musical and operatic family. Both their parents are professional stage performers. Their grandfather is a 35 yr retired drama teacher. They are bombarded on a daily basis with parental singing (sometimes yowling on a bad day), or musicals and opera on CD. They really have no choice but to appreciate and become singers themselves someday.

Either that or truck drivers.

They can sing along with The Wizard of Oz. They even know all the lyrics to “We’re Off To See The Wizard…”, although it took me well over 30 years to figure out that patter.

One day I went to pick them up and they met me at the door all excitable about this “new” show that has a bunch of cats singing. They described how the cats live on a big trash heap and jump around the stage while singing about their curious 9 lives.

“CATS?” I asked. “CATS is your new favorite musical?”

“YES!” they squealed with glee.

Now most everyone I know despises the musical CATS. It has no redeeming value as a musical other than hot dancers in colored tights and fur. They think that Sir Lloyd Webber’s music is simple and non-creative (read: it sucks), the plot is non-existent, and they could better spend their time doing three hours of sewer maintenance than watch this show.

I’ve had the complete CD for 20 years, however, and a fan for even longer. I know what a Jellicle Cat is.

So I joined in my daughters exuberant joy and promptly ripped and downloaded the CATS soundtrack onto my iPod. We listen to it every time we’re in my car together. We celebrate the mischief caused by Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer, we hum along to the magic of Mr. Mistoffelees, and rock out with Rum Tum Tugger.

We listen to it again. And again. and again…….

I’m finding that this musical has no redeeming value without the hot dancers in colored tights and fur. I’m believing that Sir Lloyd Webber’s music is trivial and consists of clustered notes tossed together like a salad. And dammit! Where is the plot?

I think I hate this musical.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

I am NOT a headboard

I’m a Bond fan. I’ve seen them all. And I was skeptical about Daniel Craig as the new 007. Even after Casino Royale I was not entirely impressed. However, I watched the new Quantum of Solace on opening night and realized that Daniel is a Bond to be reckoned with. The new film is a sequel to Casino so I had to go back and rent that DVD to pick up what I missed in the sequel. Then I had to go back to the cinema to watch the exciting edge-of-my-seat Quantum just one more time.

Well, even after weeks in the cinema the theater was nearly completely full. I had a choice to sit in the very front (no way) or in the very back. I chose the back. Bad choice.

The only seats available were next to a couple of teenagers cuddling in the corner, so I sat right next to them. I thought to myself, “they better not start sucking face during the movie!” But, alas, teens will be teens. And I, too, was once a teen who would suck face during in a crowded theater during a movie. However, I never went so far as these two ill-fated lovers.

After the first couple of big action scenes there of course needs to be some dialogue to move the plot along. Well, that was a perfect opportunity for the young frizzy haired, droopy pants wearing stallion to make his move. The face sucking commenced, and I thank my disciplined concentration skills that I was able to continue focusing on the movie.

After a little shoulder to shoulder smooching the couple progressed to leaning, I reckoned so as to get a little better leverage. Leaning transformed into nearly prostrate with the young gentleman’s (I’m trying to be nice here) frizzy greasy head inching closer and closer to me.

Oh, shit, I thought. I’m going to have to embarrass these kids and tell them to get a room. But I found myself hesitate as I was trying to live vicariously through this intimate couple since I’m single and haven’t sucked face in a while myself. And it was fun recalling the joyful intertwining moments during a flick with a girlfriend back in high school.

Well sure ‘nuff, the horny adolescents stretched out enough that I was acting as surrogate headboard. “That’s quite enough!” I thought. But as I turned to begin my fatherly lecture about movie manners the girl finally wizened up and put the emergency brakes on their hot-n-heavy endeavor. Whew.

But then they commenced to whip out their friggin’ phones and began texting a mile a minute. AAARRRRGGGHHHH!! Is there no consideration with today’s teens?!

I’m never going to have a teenager. My girls will have to jump right into adulthood. I’ve decided.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

I Will Survive

It seems just when I thought that no human being who has even a smidge of common sense would read this blog, and even after ignoring this outpost dutifully for weeks at a time while I struggle through life's challenges, there are still dozens of hits for the Evil Baritone Blog each week from all around the world.

That's right. Last week I had visitors from Canada, England, Austria, Estonia, Spain, Germany, Portugal, and of course plenty from here in the states from New York, Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, Las Vegas, Seattle, Memphis, Georgia, California, Texas, Virginia, Mississippi, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, and Rhode Island.

First I'd like to thank the first time visitors who stop by here from a search engine pull for keyword searches like, "hang on sloopy", "women cross dressers", "Papageno Red Bull", "Ricola mystery cougher", "female baritones", and my favorite, "hunky baritones". You'll see that this blog does indeed have a wide variety of subjects, and I'm not ashamed to write about my own cross dressing (for stage work only -- don't get any ideas!)

Secondly, for those of you who return to the blog, why do you keep coming back? I know I have failed to keep you posted and I appreciate those loyal readers who look for new posts week after week. So I thank you.

The truth is the Evil Baritone has not had much happiness to write about for a while. 2008 has been a tough row to hoe, as the old farmer's saying goes. Divorce was finalized. Self esteem is low. Friends are scarce. Dates are scarcer. And after 20 years of having no trouble getting employment and promotions, I now am entering seven months with a lack of work.

So I chose not to post my sob stories over most of this year. Do use dragging everyone down. But I see that people expect the adventures of a real, living evil baritone, even if it is one who cross dresses for his art. So I will resolve to keep up this blog for your sake.

Meantime, if you've scrolled down this far, enjoy this: