Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

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Archive for May, 2012

“Madama Butterfly” by Giacomo Puccini at Seattle Opera

Posted by glennled on May 31, 2012

Cio-Cio-San

“No more Puccini!” I told my wife after the Seattle Opera’s performance of Madama Butterfly at McCaw Hall on 20 May. “He’s just too powerful. He gets too close, the way he writes about romantic love. The music just rips your heart. It’s too much.” In the back of my mind was the memory of a very similar feeling when we attended Puccini’s La Boheme in 2007 (see http://www.seattleopera.org/discover/archive/production.aspx?productionID=44).

The final version of Madama Butterfly premiered in Paris, France on 28 December 1906—106 years ago—and premiered by Seattle Opera on 15 March 1966. It now ranks #8 in the Operabase list of most-performed operas worldwide (see http://operabase.com/top.cgi?lang=en&). People have always liked beautiful tragedies.

My wife and I talked over Madama Butterfly as we enjoyed a wonderful dinner at the Modello Italian Restaurant in Magnolia (see www.mondelloristorante.com). The whole event was my birthday gift to her.

The story occurs in Nagasaki, Japan at the turn of the 20th century. Madama Butterfly is also known in the opera as Cio-Cio-San. When she “weds” B.F. Pinkerton, an American naval lieutenant, and converts to his religion, she is renounced and abandoned by her family.  She is a geisha and comes with the house he leases, but he has the option to cancel the whole arrangement on a month’s notice. His long-term plan is to take an American wife. Meanwhile, he enjoys bliss with Butterfly.

“Throughout the first Act,” I told my wife at dinner while sipping my Sangiovese, “I was thinking, ‘Cad! Cad!'”

Eventually, his ship departs, and he has the American consulate continue paying the rent. Three years later, Cio-Cio-San is running out of money. She spurns a marriage proposal from a wealthy Japanese man, certain of Pinkerton’s love and eventual return. Sure enough, his ship again sails into Nagasaki, but he has brought his American wife. He then learns that his Butterfly bore him a son. His American wife offers to raise the son as their own. Pinkerton is overcome by remorse and is unable to confront Cio-Cio-San. She gives up her son and commits jigai, the ritual suicide for  Japanese women which is performed by plunging a knife into the neck.

“Early in the third Act,” I told my wife, “I was thinking, ‘Coward! Coward!'” Later, Pinkerton even calls himself that. Puccini is just too much. The pathos is extraordinary. So—aaarrrgghhh!—yes, we’ll probably go again to another of his operas. But his heroines always seem to die in tragedy. “He who has lived for love, has died for love.”—from Il tabaro (The Cloak), 1918.

Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini, 1858-1924

Hmmm…today, I received a mailer showing that in August, the Seattle Opera will perform Puccini’s Turandot. Isn’t the fabulous, soaring tenor aria, “Nessun dorma” (“None Shall Sleep”), from that opera? I looked it up. Yes. And the Turandot orchestration calls for three trumpets in F and six onstage trumpets in B-Flat—how can I miss that? I am the moth drawn to the flame. In “Nessun dorma,” once again, Puccini makes one’s heart ache and eyes brim. Just watch and listen to Pavoritti sing this aria: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTFUM4Uh_6Y&feature=related.

Seattle performance photos are by Elise Bakketun, courtesy of the Seattle Opera. Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

Posted in Professional Concerts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Photo Gallery—5th through 9th Grade Bands in May Concert at Skyview Jr. High in Bothell

Posted by glennled on May 26, 2012

The two elementary bands were joined at their final concert of the 2011-12 school year by the 8th-9th grade band on 15 May at Skyview Jr. High School in Bothell. The elementary students come from Fernwood, Crystal Springs, and Canyon Creek elementary schools. The concert was conducted by Mr. Shawn McGinn, Director of Instrumental Music. I am his assistant for elementary brass instruction (trumpet, trombone, French horn, and baritone).  The concert left the parents, relatives and friends in the audience excited about the benefits to and growth of these kids through playing music! We hope many will go to a summer band camp. Here are selected photos from the concert. Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

Posted in School Concerts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

“To the Color” at Pacific Little League Opening Day in Lynnwood

Posted by glennled on May 22, 2012

Imagine–it was Pacific Little League (PLL) Day on Saturday, 28 April, at Lynndale Park near Lynndale Elementary School. There were games, a fun Parade of Players onto Harry H. Moore Field, and a ceremony. The organizers honored the nation’s military during the ceremony by inviting all military personel (active, reserve, retired and veterans) to join the players on the field to honor and thank them for their service. “We want our players to understand how important these men and women are to us,” it said on the PLL website (see www.pacificlittleleague.com).

Seventeen military personel came onto the field and stood along the 3rd base line. The color guard of VFW Post 1040 of Lynnwood hoisted the American flag on the center field pole, as the post bugler (me) sounded the bugle call, “To the Color.” Jaymie Studioso then sang the “Star Spangled Banner,” and Captain Barry Crane, USN, gave the opening prayer. Capt. Crane is Deputy Region Chaplain for Navy Region Northwest and North Sound Church lead Pastor. The color guard of three veterans then joined their 17 comrades on the field.

Next, Capt. Crane assisted seven little league ball players in reading a tribute to military men and women written by Mike Schindler (see photos to left and below).  Spider Avdeyev read, “Only one percent of Americans answers the call to serve our country [in the military].” Nick Avdeyev read that the U.S. military is comprised of paid volunteers. Presley Denkinger read a tribute to the Army, our oldest military branch, responsible for land-based military operations since 1775. Gabe Avdeyev read about the Navy, the battle fleet tonnage of which is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. A statement about the Marine Corps, a Navy component which has served in every American armed conflict, was read by Jordan Sims. Then Baylor Denkinger read about the Air Force, the most recent military branch and the most technologically advanced air force in the world. Finally, Madi Sheldon read the tribute to the Coast Guard, our oldest continuous seagoing service, responsible for enforcing U.S. law in 3.4 million square miles of ocean.

Founded in 1965, the Pacific Little League now involves more than 800 boys and girls between 5-18 years old playing baseball and softball. In the past 48 years, this volunteer-based organization has provided services to over 20,000 boys and girls in the greater Edmonds/Lynnwood area, impacting an estimated 10,000 families. The Echelbarger Fieldhouse was built in 2000 with more than $300,000 in donated funds. Lights were added to Fields 1 and 2 in 2001, and to Field 3 in 2005. Ventilation, gas grills and ovens were added to the fieldhouse kitchen in 2005. The Pacific Little League paid for all facilities by “Capital Improvement Fundraising.” No taxpayer dollars were used. See www.pacificlittleleague.com for more information on the teams, divisions, tournaments, and game schedules.

Photos are courtesy of the Pacific Little League. Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

Posted in Ceremonies & Celebrations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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