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Last Saturday, I went to the Saint Louis Museum Of Fine Art for yet another visit to the Metropolitan Opera Live In HD. First I must confess that one of my musical passions is the wonderful operettas of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. You don’t hear them much these days, but when I was a kid they were still quite popular. Also, my grandfather had a player piano with a lot of the music on paper rolls that I would play … as long as my legs held up. Operettas on a piano roll was some of the most beautiful music ever written. And it is even better when someone with a beautiful voice is available to sing it. And that’s what happened on Saturday. The Met created a new production of Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow starring Renee Fleming and broadcast it live to theaters around the world as part of their Live From New York season. (And yes, in case you’re wondering, that’s how my dog, Mlle. Renee, got her name.)

The Merry Widow supplied everything needed for a fantastic and entertaining afternoon … fabulous sets, lavish costumes, low comedy, whirling waltzes, Hungarian dances, can-can dancers, marvelous singing and one of the world’s greatest orchestras in high-definition stero-surround sound.JPMERRYWIDOW1-articleLarge

If you haven’t been to one of the Met’s broadcasts, you should consider going. They’re shown LIVE on Saturday afternoons and repeated on Wednesday evenings in local theaters around the US … and also in almost all the countries around the world. And it’s almost as good as being in the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. (Ok, I’ve only been there once and it was unforgettable!) For more information, go here

Here’s a sneak video clip …\

By the way, Saturday wasn’t really that cold … even though the Grand Basin at the foot of Art Hill was frozen over.GrandBasinFrozenOver

And in the first photo at the top of this post did you catch the Leaping Leaper I didn’t know I had caught.JeeperCreapersLeapingLeapers




So, how could I start my Saturday trip back to the Art Museum without noting the special date on the front of the MetroBus.DSC00888


This is a date sequence that will not happen again until January 2, 2103 — 01/02/03 … a day I think I’m going to miss.

DSC00889 Anyway,  I arrived at the holiday decorated building shortly after it opened on Saturday morning because I was going to see the six-hour Live In HD broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera’s classic production of Wagner’s Meistersinger von Nüremberg in three acts with two 45-minute intermissions.


As you can see from the photo is was a classic full-scale production that totally filled the Met’s stage. And it was glorious! It’s easy to watch a six-hour production when you’re sitting in the comfortable seats of the Art Museum’s Farrell Auditorium with stereo surround sound and high-definition video projection. And there’s lots of leg room between the rows of seats!DSC00902


And I got through all three acts without dozing off!  It was a total experience of a lifetime! And as I walked out of the museum (at five o’clock) I was even able to get a photo of the Museum in its after dark illumination.


It really is a beautiful classic building.  And so is the statue of Saint Louis himself.DSC00906

Despite what you might have heard on the national news recently, Saint Louis is a beautiful and friendly place to not only live, but also to visit.

And everyone is welcome here!





Well at least for now, May has actually been acting like spring! The sun has been shining brightly, the air has warmed up and the bright yellow dandelions are fast turning into fairy puffs. FairyPuffs

And here’s how I spent my weekend!


Well, I went to my last Met Opera Live in HD of the season. Actually, it wasn’t the last broadcast of the season. The last opera is being broadcast next week Saturday, but I just saw it a couple of years ago and I’m not ready for a repeat performance yet. Anyway, I convinced  Mlle. Renee to get out of bed early so I could get up and get going. I jumped on the Metro Bus and headed for the Art Museum in Forest Park. Unfortunately, when I got to the park I discovered that my local bus was being rerouted around the park. That’s what happens on May 1. Because of the congestion caused by people going into the park with cars on Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the summer season the Metro System runs the Forest Park Trolley into the park that stops at all the tourist attractions people want to see. I didn’t want to wait for the next trolley so I walked into the park to the Art Museum. UpArtHill

This meant that I had to walk up ART HILL to get there. Trust me, it is actually easier to walk down ART Hill …DownArtHill

… than it is to walk up.  But, you do get a great photo opportunity  of the  STATUE OF SAINT LOUIS on the walk up.




I know that while the name of the sculpture is The Apotheosis of Saint Louis, his horse remains an unknown, nameless beast of burden.

The name of the opera I was seeing  was COSI FAN TUTTE by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.Cosi_fan_tutte_-_first_performance

Actual the whole title is Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti, which translates Thus Do They All, or The School for Lovers. It was an opera buffa that was written in 1790 and it has some rather out-dated views on women being fickle when it comes to matters of love and relationships. I suppose this was the comedy rage back in 1790. It really doesn’t fly these days. So while the music was fantastic and the performances by the cast were some of the best this season, the storyline was a hard sell. It’s also one of Mozart’s lesser performed works.cosi_1209-s-jpg


It was also four hours long, and the elderly gentleman in front of me was snoring rather loudly during the second act.

After the opera I walked through the galleries trying to find a new sculpture piece that recently went on display at the museum. It was a red clay stature of the Corn Maiden by the Mississippian Native Americans  that populated this area about one to two thousand years ago. I didn’t find it.

But I did find this Pre-Columbian Mexican work.PreColumbian

And this tiny four-inch tall work from a Mesopotamian tomb from 1000 to 2000 B.C.Mesopotamian Carving 2000-1000 BC

And then there was this TORSO OF AN ATHLETE …TorsoThe sculpture was nice, but I got a big kick out of reading the descriptive blurb posted next to it.

Roman, Imperial Period
TORSO OF AN ATHLETE, 1st-2nd Century marble

Museum Purchase 6, 1937

The physique of this torso is almost too good to be true, chiseled pectoral muscles, the faint impression of washboard abdominal muscles, and an exaggerated furrow between the hip and abdomen. We see the integration of realism and the ideal in the musculature, flesh, and bone structure. For example, the furrow along the hip and abdomen leading to the genitals is an artistic interpretation of the actual anatomical structure. For the Greeks, the nude male body was one of the highest forms of beauty. For a man to achieve such a physique, he had to participate in athletics at the gymnasium, where both athletic and important civic events were held. A sculpture such as this represents not only physical, athletic, and military excellence but also desirability and possibly immortality. 


Some curator was really impressed with that torso!

And walking back down hill, I was able to see …Metal Tree

The Aluminum Tree –

Did you know that they rub bowling ball polish around the base of the tree to keep stray dogs from watering it?


One Duck a Swimming



Honoring the American Federation Of Musicians … really?

SUNDAY … I rested. Actually, I did try to pull some weeds out of the front beds,  but it didn’t agree with my spring allergies. So I spent the rest of the day inside.


How I survived leaping forward an hour, a four long Russian opera, a temp drop from 85°F to 31°F in 12 hours, and more SNOW‽

When you live in the Wicket City, you’ve always got something or other to bitch about. So, I been a bit lax in the last day or four about updating my daily status. My obvious excuse would be that nothing was happening.  But, I’d have  to clarify that comment to admit, that I really didn’t feel like making anything happen! OK, I was in a winter’s end slump, I can’t adapt to DST time changes anymore, and I think I’m getting older and crankier. Or maybe I was bitten by the ennui bug. I’m sure Oscar Hammerstein would have been able to knock out a ton of memorable lyrics to describe or explain my mood or condition. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m as restless as a willow in a windstorm really describes my condition or state of mind.

I did risk the possibility of winter rain storm last Saturday by heading over to the Art Museum’s Auditorium to attend a delayed showing of the MET Live in HD broadcast of Borodin’s rarely performed opera, PRINCE IGOR.prince_igor

Now, Prince Igor, is an opera that almost everyone reading this post would recognize. Unfortunately, they would recognize it as KISMET, because Borodin was a real whiz at writing a catchy tune and couple of guys named Forrest and Wright “borrowed” his Russian music for some Arabian Nights lyrics they had written for a Broadway Musical.  Actually, while Borodin spent over 18-years writing his opera, (He had a dual career as a chemist first and then a musical composer second or third.)  and he died before it ever was performed. His friends Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov gathered all the bits and pieces and patched it together as a finished performable opera. And for the past 100 years it reappeared in a variety of versions. Saturday’s four and a half hour version was the latest. While I had quibbles with some of the director/adaptor’s choices with this production, I had none with Borodin’s original musical and storytelling creativity.

After the opera I managed to disappear into one of the Museum’s works …DSC09277

and discover what this drinking jug …DSC09281

probably contained. DSC09282

I don’t think it was goat’s milk.

As you might have guessed, our weather has been fluctuating like a whirling dervish for the past week. A cold weekend …DSC09288

followed by a Monday and Tuesday full of sun and temps in the upper 80s! Then yesterday afternoon the temp started dropping … dropping some 54 degrees! Thankfully, I survived that, too. And the overnight snow the weather wizards had been threatening us with yesterday turned out to be a lot of rain.  Oh, well, that’s life in the Wicket City.


MY DAILY CALENDAR FOR SATURDAY, DAY 348 OF 2013:  Guess what?  It snowed last night! And there on the breast of the new-fallen snow I beheld …






Saint Louis in the snow on Art Hill in Forest Park!



I also went to see FALSTAFF live in HD from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City!  A great production. Falstaff 2


A great performance!

Falstaff 3

And a totally enjoyable day!


MY DAILY CALENDAR FOR SATURDAY, DAY 299 OF 2013:  Well, I got up 15-minutes before the alarm went off this morning because Mlle. Renee insisted I get up and let her out. There’s nothing like a cold, wet dog nose running up your neck to your chin to get you up and out of bed in the morning. It was just a well, since today was opera day for me. So I got up, made coffee and toast, put out Renee’s kibble and water bowl refill, shave-showered, dressed and headed over to the Art Museum. With all the construction and remodeling work completed, the Met Opera Live in HD satellite broadcasts have returned to my favorite opera venue THE FARRELL AUDITORIUM at the museum. Far superior to the local megaplex where the singing has to compete with explosions, car chases and special sound effects bleeding through the adjoining theaters. The stereo sound, seating and general atmosphere is better, too.DSC07998

Today’s opera was Dmitri Shostakovich’s THE NOSE …DSC08001

The opera (based on Nicoli Gogol’s satirical short story) was first performed in 1930 in Russia, and not seen again until 1974. The Met’s production is unique in that it combines the life performance with motion picture projections.

NoseEven for an opera, the plot and storyline is rather far-fetched. A minor official goes to a barber for a shave and wakes up the next morning to find his nose missing. The nose in the meantime starts out on a life of its own … even attaining a higher rank than the man. Since my taste in opera is basically late 19th and early 20th century works, Shostakovich’s opera takes a while to assimilate. Probably, three or four days. The production was interesting though. Check this clip from the Met production to see what I mean.

Since it is the weekend, there is no origami challenge, but here’s a Mensa Puzzle.26

Squares and quadrangles don’t count.


MY DAILY CALENDAR FOR MONDAY, DAY 280 OF 2013: Well, I’ve had a very busy and exciting weekend. On Saturday, I went to the first Met Opera Live in HD broadcast of the Fall Season at the newly refurbished theater in the Saint Louis Art Museum. On the way to the theater I checked out some new art …


Chiura Obata’s Hanging Scroll Setting Sun Of Sacramento Valley (1922)


Striding Eagle – Venetian Carving – 16th Century


 And finally a gigantic wall filling painting by Roy Lichtenstein in the hallway leading to the newly refurbished Farrell Auditorium.

DSC07826The Auditorium has always been a great venue with wood paneled walls for great acoustics.  The restoration has added new carpeting, seating a new larger permanent screen and first class stereo sound system. And the video projection system is even brighter and sharper.  In other words, it was made for showing the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD satellite transmissions.Met Opera

The opera, Tchaikovsky’s retelling of the Pushkin novel Eugene Onegin was first rate. A GREAT OPENING to the opera season!

Today’s Origami Challenge – Japanese Lanterns:DSC07848


Today’s Mensa Puzzle:DSC07851


pot·pour·ri  n. pl. pot·pour·ris
1. A combination of incongruous things
2. A miscellaneous anthology or collection of observations from a cranky old curmudgeon

ITEM 1:  I am convinced that I should never be allowed to wander through the stupidmarket without an armed guardian. The reason is … I am attracted by the words NEW, SPECIAL, SAVE, TRY THIS, LIMITED TIME, and JUST WHAT YOU WANTED.  On my trip to the grocery yesterday, I went through the bakery to pick up a plain loaf of seedless rye bread when I saw this sign…


The cross between a flakey buttery croissant …

And a luscious jelly filled doughnut!DSC07766

Being a firm believer in the premise that I have never met a jelly doughnut that I didn’t like, I bought one for my Saturday morning breakfast.

THE TASTE TEST RESULTS: Less than favorable! The fried croissant was cut in half and the raspberry jelly was spread between the two halves. This allowed the expose jelly to dry out somewhat. Unfortunately, this did not stop the jelly between the two layers from leaking out and falling on your hand, lap and kitchen floor. The croissant wasn’t flakey or buttery either. It was somewhat dry and stiffly chewy. End result … it didn’t excite my taste buds, and I had to wash my hands, lap and kitchen floor. Minus FIVE on the would I buy again scale.

ITEM 2: Mayhem and possible murder in the kitchen cupboard. While I was using my Swiffer Wetjet to clean the leaked cro-san-nut jelly off the kitchen floor … (if an 80+ year old lady can on TV, so can I) … I discovered Woody on the kitchen floor.DSC07768He had been living on the top shelf of the kitchen china cabinet. He apparently leaped or was pushed from his shelf sometime during the night. Possible suspects who share the shelf include …





and this motley crew … known to be gremlins, demons or werewolves.


ITEM 3Just received the last publication from the Saint Louis Art Museum …SLAM

The cover features Setting Sun Over Sacramento Valley by Japanese-American artist Cuira Obata. It is a new gift to the Museum and it will be on display with three of his other works for a special exhibition.

The Museum also announced that the Metropolitan Opera LIVE In HD satellite Broadcasts will return to the newly refurbished Museum Auditorium in October. I first started going to the opera showings there in 2008, but because of the construction work at the museum I had to switch to a local movie house for the past two years. I bought my tickets for the first half of this season last week. First opera coming up is Tchaikovsky’s romantic Eugene Onegin with a finale that takes place in a blinding snowstorm. You definitely will be hearing more on this topic.Bill's  Move2 1

ITEM 4: In case you were wondering, I was considering a second photo for Friday’s Weekly Photo Challenge. It was a photo I’ve featured in the blog before showing a colorful mural created by kids and displayed in the entrance to the Wash U Metro Station.Kid Mural

It also qualified as SATURATED.

ITEM 5: Observations From A Cranky Curmudgeon – while I am quite fond of a steaming cup of Earl Grey tea for breakfast, I today decided that iced Earl Grey tea is not my glass of tea.





DSC05777 Well, since I mastered my weekend learning lesson on Saturday, I decided to use what I learned last week (Kite Base) to illustrate my Saturday afternoon visit to the opera via the Met’s Live In HD theater broadcast of Wagner’s Parsifal. Here’s the review I posted to my opera group.

Parsifal … loved the performers and their performances, but thought the tempi was a tad slow at times. (Sure, it only ran on for six hours.) However, I absolutely desisted the director-gone-rampant production. The post-apocalyptic scorched earth set with never-ending cloud projections was the dreariest I’ve seen since the new Tosca. And I won’t even go into the pool of blood covering the stage. And didn’t anyone else think the knights lumbering over the top of hill in act 3 resembled something out of Night Of The Living Dead. Attendance at my theater was down to about a fourth of the usual. After performance chatter was about 85% negative. ParsifalHistoricTraditional setting of the opera.parsifalAct1Setting for the new production.Parsifaltoday The pool of blood covering the stage.

And here is my origami visualization of the opera …ParsifalSwanSwan swimming in the pool of blood.


Well, since I never had a sister I never had to worry about getting into her diary. And if I did have a sister, I would advise her to make like Leonardo d.V. and use backwards writing (mirror writing) like I did. BTW, the guest chicken is named the Hubba Bubba Birdie.


OK, I’ll give you a clue on this one.  is the letter in the green box where the two words cross.


Esquire Saturday, I took a trip over to my favorite movie theater. The listing of films on the marquee looked like it was going to be a variations on a theme day. But my attraction wasn’t even listed.

I was there to spend the afternoon with Wolfgang …SatAftWolf

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart that is, or actually one of many operas he wrote. You really can’t go wrong when you spend the afternoon with the music of Wolfgang and I had never heard today’s production La Clemenza di Tito (AKA, The Clemency of Titus) before.


wamActually, it was the last opera he wrote. He fell ill during its premiere in Prague in September of 1791 and died on December 5 of that year at the age of 35. Yes, he was young, but remember he was composing music and performing since before he was five.

I didn’t know much about the opera, other than one of main male characters was played by a woman. That happened a lot in operas written during the eighteenth century. And when they didn’t put a woman in pants in the role they used a castrati which was basically a gelded tenor which really makes my knees lock when I think about it. What I didn’t know about this opera was that two of the main male characters were played by women. And since the opera is set in the early days of the Roman Empire about 79 AD neither of the two women in a pants roles were actually wearing pants. In Roman warrior style both of their costumes consisted of leather breast plates, strap kilts and boots. (OK, for one brief moment I did giggle briefly thinking about a band of Lesbian bikers.) But both of the sopranos were outstanding, and they dominated the stage with their vocal performances.Tito

Basically, the opera was a melodrama set in ancient Rome and most of the plot was telegraphed. But the production, the performances and most important the music  was some of the best I’ve seen and heard this season. My Live in HD rating five stars ☆☆☆☆☆ and five high notes ♪♪♪♪♪