Archive for October 9th, 2009


Kaleem Hasan’s Obama coverage is second-to-none on the net, and it’s high time he gets some acknowledgement at Wonders in the Dark. An enthralling thread has been building at Satyamshot with reactions from the Indian community and a number of other cross-cultural posters.  Since Obama first announced he would run in the Democratic primary, Mr. Hasan has been there with the most comprehensive and impassioned coverage on this monumental world figure.  No doubt this is a very happy day for Mr. Hasan, as well it should be.

Please click on above link to read press release and Satyamshot comment posters.

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by Sam Juliano

For nearly 25 years traditionalist opera patrons of the Metropolitan Opera in Manhattan have repeatedly immersed themselves in Franco Zeffirelli’s opulent production of Puccini’s Tosca, which combined a faithful reading of the composer’s score with the compositional beauty of Renaissance art.  The centerpiece set, replicating the inside of the Church of Sant’ Andrea della Valle in the first act is so meticulously detailed, that you feel you’ve been transported to Rome.  Puccini’s soaring and lyrical score was perfect attuned to such a ravishing set design, and opera goers were treated to a sensuous harmony of music and eye candy.  Singers however were always uncomfortable in such a setting, as they often felt engulfed by the intimidating sets, which in essence diverted attention from the main issue at hand:  the singing.  But opera is not for the singers, the musicians or the set designers, it’s for the devoted fans who these days are paying high prices for the right to witness live performances.  Many of these fans were dismayed, some downright hostile at the recent premiere of the first new production of the beloved opera in a quarter-century, mainly aimed their venom at the relatively minimalist sets by Swiss director Luc Bondy.  Publically castigated by none other than Zeffirelli himself, who dismissed Bondy as “third-rate,” the 86 year-old Italian icon warned against those messing with traditionist purity, and applauded the reaction of the Met faithful.

Bondy’s staging includes pared-down sets with odd color coordination, with Scarpia’s office in Act II an admitted eye-sore.  Only the simplest set of all in the final act, of the brick tower, at the stroke of dawn overlooking the tranquil water is effective from a visual standpoint.  One of the most beautiful moments in the Zeffirelli production was the scene where Cavaradossi paints Mary Magdalene, before the onset of one of the opera’s three great arias, “Recondita Armonia” a short and uninhibited flood of raw melody, typical of the verismo tradition which Puccini’s music is a prime example of.  Bondy’s long-haired portrait, where a breast is showing deliberately amplifies the more abstract approach, much as later in the fateful scene with Scarpia, the sadist is being serviced by a courtesan. (more…)

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