Showing posts from August, 2012

Richard Strauss's "Salome"

Saw the Met's 2008 production of Salome at the Summer HD Festival last night. Really wanted to hear it after reading about the rapturous response of the audience to the opera's premiere in Alex Ross's book The Rest Is Noise, and after loving The Rosenkavelier heard at another Summer HD Festival.

Karita Mattila was an electrifying Salome. She was no girl, but her girlish manner was very much a part of her interpretation of the daughter of Herodias. In her depiction, Salome was a spoiled and wilful child of privilege, a seductress already confident of her alluring power over men. All of which made her attraction to Jochanaan, the desert prophet, so much more unlikely and yet inevitable. She must have what she could not have. Compared to the indecisive Herod (Kim Begley) and her washed-up mother (Ildikó Komlósi), Salome was unstoppable because she was willing to die to get what she wanted. As she sang, the mystery of love is stronger than the mystery of death.

Juha Uusitalo s…

Adventures incited by WL

Last Friday, after having dinner at Buvette (French and Italian tapas place in Greenwich Village), I watched the film Teddy Bear with WL, DM and BCH at Film Forum. Directed and co-written by Mads Matthiesen, the movie followed a shy bodybuilder's search for love. Dennis had to leave the house in the Copenhagen suburb that he shared with his possessive mother for Thailand where he found true love after a series of mistrials.

The ensemble acting was terrific. Kim Kold was an endearing boy in a superman's body. Elsebeth Steentoft brought a frightening intensity to her role as the dominating mother. She was the emotional blackhole that nothing could fill. As true love Toi, Lamaiporn Hougaard was sweet but not saccharine. Her spirit rippled across her face when she was crossed.

WL invited me to hear Taka Kigawa play "The Art of Fugue" last night at (le) Poisson Rouge. Kigawa sounded jerky at the beginning as if he was slightly nervous. The playing was somewhat detached. &…

Freedom and Recognition

TLS August 10 2012

from Christopher Bertram's review of Rousseau and Freedom, edited by Christie McDonald and Stanley Hoffman, and four other books on Rousseau:

The common thread that runs through his work is the question of how to satisfy our most basic human cravings for freedom and recognition in a world of interdependence. Rousseau was obsessed with the idea that as our needs multiplied beyond the point where we could satisfy them using our natural powers, we had become dependent on cooperation with others to get what we want, a theme explored most famously in the Discourse on Inequality. This dependence on others fosters a deformation of the self as people turn themselves into the characters they believe others will find attractive or useful. But we are all playing this game together, an the sense that the love and respect that others show us may just be feigned for instrumental reasons, a sense that derives support from what each of us does ourselves to bend others to our wi…

Hong Kong and Bali

It was a good idea to travel elsewhere while visiting Singapore. GH and I flew to Hong Kong on August 13 for four days, and then to Bali immediately for another four days. Four days are not really enough time to visit both, but that time was all we had. Visiting these two places one after another accentuated their differences for us.

Hong Kong I remember for its crowds. The streets and the trains were crowded throughout the day, even as late as nine pm. Causeway Bay, where we stayed in a boutique hotel, felt like a real neighborhood, different from the downtown on Hong Kong island and from the fancy hotels in Kowloon, though not far from both on the efficient MTR. Hong Kong was well-organized, but organized in a seemingly more haphazard way than Singapore. It had the energy of private enterprise, not the predictability of Singapore's large-scale government planning. A colossal integrated development like Marina Bay might not ever happen in Hong Kong, but people initiative would en…

Two Readings in Singapore

This was the longest time that I have ever spent in Singapore since leaving it. I will probably come back to this month from time to time, but I just want to remember, for now, the two readings I did there. Paul Tan from the National Arts Council referred me to Paul Rozario at The Arts House. Paul R. was extremely friendly and helpful in setting up the reading, which took place on August 4, in the former Ministers' Lounge in the old Parliament House. William Phuan, the director of The Arts House, was present throughout the evening too.

Photo by Lianguo

I was surprised and glad to see Robert Yeo in the audience. I have known his poetry since secondary school, but had never met him properly. It was fun to go out afterwards with him and Alvin Pang, who kindly agreed to moderate the Q&A, for supper at Adams Road Hawker Center. I was especially pleased to see a number of ex-students from Chua Chu Kang Secondary School turning up. They must have learned from Facebook and elsewhere t…