I’m happily settled in San Francisco. My German season is most definitely over, and so is this blog. It will remain here as a monument to my Fulbright year, but those of you who want fresh content should head to my new blog at ilanawb.tumblr.com. The posts will be shorter and less frequent now that I’m working a regular job, but I’ll provide semi-regular updates on my life as well as links to all my theater and opera reviews. (There will continue to be plenty of those, once the seasons begin.)
If you don’t have a Tumblr account and want to subscribe to my new blog by e-mail, I’m sorry. Tumblr doesn’t allow direct e-mail subscriptions. But you can use a service like blogtrottr to get e-mails whenever I post—just enter “ilanawb.tumblr.com/rss” and your e-mail address.
To wrap up this blog, I offer you some summary statistics of the year:
I attended 38 plays in four languages (German, English, Italian, and Persian)
I attended 44 operas in eight cities (Munich, Stuttgart, Salzburg, Berlin, Stockholm, Tallinn, Vienna, and Budapest)
I performed in 1 opera in yet another city (Burgos)
I danced at 13 balls (three in Munich, seven in Vienna, and three May Balls in Cambridge)
I traveled to 16 countries, counting Germany and the U.S. (the others were Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom)
I visited 10 cities in Germany and 26+ citiesin the rest of Europe (depending on where you draw the line between a city and a town)
I had 4 academic papers accepted at journals, all in very different fields (narrative psychology, feminist analytical philosophy of language, Spanish Golden Age and Romantic literature, and Italian pastoral drama)
I wrote 138 posts on this blog, which I estimate at a total of 75,000+ words
I wrote 35 opera reviews for Bachtrack and Opera Online, which I estimate at a total of 26,000+ words
3,111 people visited my blog at least once
My blog traffic mostly came from Twitter, but the second-most frequent referral route was online searches, and the most common single search term (49 times) was “Kierkegaard in City Museum of Copenhagen“
My most-used blog tags were “Regietheater” (26 times) and “WTF” (25 times)
I went to Spain to sing in an opera (Cavalli’s rarely performed Gli amori d’Apollo e di Dafne) . We had four days to rehearse. What were we thinking!? I have no clue. But there was an opera just the same! While I wasn’t entirely pleased with my performance, I had a fabulous time meeting lots of other singers (of all ages and career stages), learning how to be more Baroque (it’s all about the elegantly asymmetrical gestures), and refreshing my Spanish (many cast members didn’t speak much English). It was also very special to sing in the beautiful Teatro Principal in Burgos.
The opera’s plot is complicated, with two frame stories. In one, the god of sleep sends his minions to create dreams, and a homeless woman dreams of a nymph being turned into a tree. She asks her wise friend to help her understand her dream. The other frame story sets the main plot up as Venus’s revenge for a slight offered her by Apollo (he revealed her to her husband while she and Mars were practicing “military exercises” naked, and she is angry). She complains to her father Zeus, and he suggests she send her son Cupid to get revenge. Cupid wounds Apollo while the nymph Dafne is passing by. Dafne is sworn to Diana (and therefore chastity) and refuses Apollo’s advances. When he pursues her in spite of her refusal, she asks her father to turn her into a tree. Apollo bitterly repents the transformation he has caused, but it is too late.
In an unconnected but interwoven (and very important, in my completely unbiased opinion!) plot, Cefalo has abandoned his nymph Procri because he has fallen in love with the goddess Aurora. Aurora is married to Titone, who was formerly young and handsome. She managed to get him eternal life, but she forgot to ask for eternal youth. So he is now old and decrepit, which is why she’s running off to earth to fool around with Cefalo. Continue reading Being Baroque in Burgos→
Last night was the final concert of the year for Munich Vocal Arts Society. Our small choir sang three religious pieces, Frostiana, and the Liebeslieder for a small but enthusiastic audience. Now, it’s all over for me—by the time the choir begins meeting again, I will be back in the United States.
I am sad to bid farewell to my choir friends, but I’m not sad to be done working on choir music. That’s because I have other music to work on! I will sing the role of Procri in Cavalli’s opera Gli amori d’Apollo e di Dafne. Rehearsals start July 12 in Spain, so as soon as my score comes, I need to spend some time learning this beautiful scene. I’m very excited to get back on the stage!
Despite the fact that the calendar still says “November,” it’s decidedly Christmas season in Bavaria. Glühwein, Chirstmas markets, holiday lights—they’re all here. For church singers, this is a very busy time of year. And since I’m in a church choir, it’s a busy time of year for me, too. We kicked the season off yesterday with a lessons and carols service at the St. Ottilien monastery in Oberbayern. It’s a long way from Munich, but it’s gorgeous enough to justify the drive. The main chapel is also very resonant—an obvious plus for a carol service.
The tree-lined path to the monastery, made eerie by heavy fog
A few inhabitants of the monastery’s aviary. I’m not sure how they survive the freezing weather
A strange group of statues, presumably religious
The main church tower
Inside the large chapel
Inside the large chapel (looking to other way)
Pretty stained glass in the chapel
The altar, with trippy magenta light
Side doorway of the chapel
A cool mosaic above the door
Pointlessly elaborate doorways and windows
We have lots more services to sing in the coming month. Unfortunately, I doubt any will be in such beautiful surroundings. Fortunately, they might be in heated chapels. (We all sang in full winter attire yesterday because it was just as freezing inside the chapel as outdoors.)
(I’m also singing in the rain, but that’s just because I like to sing while I walk, and Munich has been having dismal weather lately.)
I spent my year at Cambridge swearing I would not join a college chapel choir. A free meal and some voice lessons were not worth the commitment of two rehearsals and a service each week. Of course, immediately after arriving in Munich, I joined a church choir (also Anglican) and committed to two rehearsals and a service each week in exchange for voice lessons (and no free meals). Makes perfect sense, right?
Orientation for Fulbright students was in Marburg this year. I admit, to my shame, that even when I was there, I didn’t quite know where Marburg was—only that it took five hours to get there by train from Munich. Thanks to Google Maps, you can be better informed.
It seemed a bit silly to travel so far for what was essentially a one-day orientation, but since the Fulbright Commission paid the travel, hotel, and food costs, I suppose I can’t complain.