My Favorite Opera: The Barber of Seville at Seattle Opera

Daniel Sumegi (Basilio)/Kevin Glavin (Bartolo)/Marc Kenison (Ambrogio)/Margaret Gawrysiak (Berta)/Will Liverman (Figaro)/Andrew Owens (Almaviva)/Sofia Fomina (Rosina). Jacob Lucas photo c/o Seattle Opera

I think The Barber of Seville might be my favorite opera. The only thing that detracted from my enjoyment when I watched it last weekend was that every scene made me think, “I wish I’d brought my kids.” Because every single scene is so delightful, so funny, so beautiful, I hated for them to miss it. Even though my kids have already been to the opera before, I left determined to come back with them before the production finishes. Continue reading

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Doe Babies Forever

October is a favorite month, filled with birthdays, anniversaries, and that bestest of holidays, Halloween. But in a few more weeks, the winter gloom will start to sink in, the holidays will start to feel like pressure, and I’ll start thinking about early bird tickets to summer festivals. I’ve taken my kids to lots of them, but nothing compares to Doe Bay Fest, where grown ups are almost as welcome as the kids.

Stank Baby

That time my daughter’s friend from rock camp pulled her up on stage at a music festival. That day at Doe Bay they danced, but earlier that summer she taught my girl the importance of Stank Face. For those who don’t know, it’s the ugly face you make when you’re getting down and the music is more important than looking pretty.

Adra Boo, then of Fly Moon Royalty, is still a favorite at Doe Bay (playing music at the fest and teaching at the writing camp). She also writes for The Stranger, and perhaps most importantly, mentors young women in music through Rain City Rock Camp.

American Dream Inversion

Nina Yoshida Nelsen and Hae Ji Chang in the world premiere of An American Dream. © Philip Newton c/o Seattle Opera

Seattle Opera is one of Seattle’s biggest, most “establishment” arts organizations, but they are appropriately progressive to our left-coast city, relative to other major opera companies around the country. American Dream is the perfect example. I’m a little late in talking about American Dream, since I attended the very last performance. I think it’s still worth talking about it, even though the performances are over, because it completely inverts the typical opera experience. Continue reading

FOMO, the Multiverse, and Doe Bay

Doe Bay

I was reading Neal Stephenson’s book Anathem when my family made its annual pilgrimage to Doe Bay Fest on Orcas Island. It was a hard book to get into in the middle of summer, but sometimes what you read and what you live integrate in the strangest ways.

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Madama Butterfly at Seattle Opera

Sharpless (Weston Hurt) shocked by Pinkerton’s appalling behavior. Philip Newton photo c/o Seattle Opera

At Seattle Opera’s panel on race and representation in Madame Butterfly, one of the younger speakers asked why anyone would even bother trying to redeem such an opera. The obvious answer was, “The music!” but a part of me felt a little guilty for perpetuating one of those “classics” that should be allowed to die as its cultural relevance fades and its artistic merit is proven less significant than its novelty. I felt even more guilty that by taking my 13-year-old Asian daughter to see it, I could be inflicting harmful stereotypes on the very person they could most affect. I think those were legitimate fears, and could have been valid if Seattle Opera had presented Madame Butterfly without comment. But in the context of the local discussion they have started – wow! What an opera! Continue reading

Young Blood

I don’t normally put pictures of other people’s kids on the internet, but these pictures are three years old and these boys are probably big enough to beat you up by now. At Eistnaflug in 2014, this group of kids was always hanging around the venue – sometimes sneaking inside it, too, since the festival was still 18+ back then.

In the documentary Eistnaflug DVD, they talk about how the festival has introduced a generation of small-town kids to heavy music, and I remember people talking about some local boys who had formed a band called Blodstafir in tribute to Iceland’s famous export band Solstafir. At the time, I wondered if it was the same group I’d seen recklessly skating in front of the venue, looking like they’d ride straight into the water of the fjord at the bottom of the hill.

I imagine that if I go back to the festival in Neskaupstadur in a couple of years, I’ll look up at the stage and find out.