Blowing up pianos – Cats Park Your Love is a Sin

Watching this video is tough for someone who loves music, musical instruments and antiques. trip pop Russian band Cats Park destroys a gorgeous old C. Goetze signed black upright piano. When the paint started to flow I thought it might just by water based and wondered how they would clean it off. How wrong I was.

If Hollywood can blow up cars and buildings (less and less, more and more done purely in CGI), indie music videos should have the right smash old pianos in the pursuit of art.

Apart from the death of the piano, a quite beautiful and simple video. Like most good videos, there's a single strong image and it's followed through consistently. We create and then we destroy. There is no permanence. Echoes of Shelley's Ozymandias. Even truer in emotional terms. The closest couples often become the most bitter enemies or the most estranged souls on the planet.

Blowing up pianos - Cats Park Your Love is a Sin Continues »

Marchenwelt Ballett at Vienna’s Volksoper: A Fairy Tale Evening

Volkoper plays an interesting role in the arts life of the Austrian capital. Viennese love both their operetta and their comic ballet and Volksoper must feed this sweet tooth.

Often the works are either historic pieces or imported. This year Volksoper ballet director Vesna Orlic and Staatsoper dancer and choreographer Andrey Kaydanovsky have collaborated on a new program called Marchenwelt or Fairy Tale World. The two parts are unified by dramatic Russian music, first Modest Mussorgski’s Pictures from an Exhibition and then Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scherezade.

1001-Nights-Genie-in-Volksoper-audience-1200
Boris Eder’s brilliant turn as the Genie stuck in a lantern in Orlic’s 1001 Nights

Kaydanovsky has contemporised The Ugly Duckling for his fairy tale. His version includes high fives, industrial agriculture and sport hunting with rifles. And why not? Fairy tales should be timeless.

Marchenwelt Ballett at Vienna’s Volksoper: A Fairy Tale Evening Continues »

Elio Gervasi’s Solo with Guests (Part Two) in Vienna’s Odeon Theatre

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As the final show of this summer’s ImPulstantz, Vienna was privileged to welcome the premiere of a new work by underrecognised but brilliant Elio Gervasi. One of the first choreographers to bring modern movement to Vienna, his improvisational influence spread wide. Gervasi, like many creative geniuses, is often a bit gruff. Strong movement is his native idiom not redundant words and empty promises. After blooming at the end of the nineties and start of the noughts, Gervasi’s company was one of the first dance companies to fall victim to the city of Vienna’s heavy arts cuts starting in about 2004. For several years, Gervasi worked in miniature with either principle muse Leonie Wahl or at most a quartet of dancers. Most of the others, including Homunculus are no longer here at all.

Elio Gervasi’s Solo with Guests (Part Two) in Vienna’s Odeon Theatre Continues »

Staatsoper Nureyev Gala: Kourlaev and Tsymbal Shine in Mayerling

Galas are often long affairs. And this one was no exception. Manuel Legris was fortunate to be mentored in his early dance career by Rudolf Nureyev during his reign at the Paris Opera. There is a Nureyev gala in Paris and now there is one in Vienna. I still question whether it makes sense to so honour someone who recklessly infected others with HIV but I do understand Legris’s attachment to the teacher who gave him so much.

The evening opened with a fine excerpt from La Sylphide with full decorations, with Maria Yakovleva in the eponymous title role and Masayu Kimoto as her partner. While La Sylphide is always easier to watch in its entirety both were very good and the corps-de-ballet looked good too. An auspicious start.

Staatsoper Nureyev Gala: Kourlaev and Tsymbal Shine in Mayerling Continues »

Nietzsche and Marriage

I'm really not sure why anyone would be interested in the comments on marriage of someone who never married, successfully or not. That covers both Nietzsche and myself. Even my ex has 11 months more experience of marriage than Nietzsche and I do together. Discounting the comments of divorcees makes even more sense (clearly they don't know what they are doing).

Lou Andreas Salomé, most famous for not having married Friedrich Nietzsche Lou Andreas Salomé, most famous for not having married Friedrich Nietzsche

Still, not having married, one has more time to think about the ramifications and principles of the affair. Once you are in the water, there is naught to do but swim. Unmarried Friedrich Nietzsche had a quiet obsession with friendship in marriage, putting more value on conversation than love making:

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Laura Marling is just the start

If you've read uncoy before or worked in the offices at Foliovision, you'd know I have a penchant for female singer songwriters and good taste in the same. One day I was looking for Charlie Fink, I needed his profile picture for a project. And ended up with the peculiar frontman from Noah and the Whale on the Guardian.co.uk. I was looking for a different Charlie Fink but read enough of the article to hear that the wrong Charlie Fink had dated an amazing songwriter/singer Laura Marling. Go to the clouds now with some of her tunes off of Once I was an Eagle.

Laura Marling is just the start Continues »

Celebrating Sacre in Graz

In Graz the 2013 season was dedicated to the work of Nijinsky and the Ballets Russes. The crowning achievement is a three piece full evening of Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy and Igor Stravinsky with full orchestra.

A sumptuous rendition of Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis & Chloe opens the evening. As substantial a stage as is the Oper Graz, the orchestra pit is full to bursting while the female voices take up the the left upper lodge. The male singers are in the wings backstage. The musical performance is worth the price of admission on its own. Combined with ballet director Toulon’s complex visuals, this is an extraordinary work. Majestic dancer Bostjan Ivanjsic takes centre stage as Daphnis. The role is a complex one, exploring a young man’s sexuality – first timid, then more aggressive. He throws himself into a pool on stage and comes out soaking wet and fully nude, challenging the slightly bourgeois Graz Opera audience with full frontal male nudity.

Celebrating Sacre in Graz Continues »

Humanity, Mortality and the Dalai Lama

stunning nature
nature vs humanity: in the very long run nature must win

When asked what surprised him most about humanity, the Dalai Lama answered:

Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.

Apparently the Dalai Lama never said this. What a pity if he didn’t. This is our life. We lose our time pursuing matters of little consequence, preening before our peers and dreaming of irrelevant wealth. Long term stress-related cancer claimed Steve Jobs as surely as it will claim you or me, if we don’t live better and balance our lives better.

One of my best friends and my long term creative partner died in a car crash on his birthday a week after mine, just before he hit thirty. My life was changed, his was ended. This is mortality.

On the other hand, since we are all in an inevitable rush to the finish line, what does it matter if we labour out our existence and pushing to the top of the ant pile? If we are going to be dead soon we may as well work hard while you have the chance.

Or to pivot one more time. Since we don’t live long, what does it really matter what we think or feel in our nanosecond?

To put some perspective on matters, life on earth is 450 million years old and has been nearly snuffed out three times before our epoch. Those 450 million years are just a short day in the history of our solar system which is approximately 4.5 billions years old and has another 6 billion years to go before the sun extinguishes itself, burning through all the helium.

Humanity, Mortality and the Dalai Lama Continues »

Review: Maria Yakovleva as La Sylphide

As some of you might know, I recently wrote a long front page article about the struggle to be prima among the ballerinas at Vienna's Staatsoper, started by Ludmila Konavlov (print edition for now, will appear under my profile Alec Kinnear). In that article I wrote about Maria Yakovleva and it occurred to me that I hadn't seen Yakovleva in a leading role in a classical ballet since her first years in Vienna. I'd recommended her as an ideal Sylphide and decided to test my recommendation.

Yakovleva is now in her prime as a ballerina at 27 years of age. It's always a joy to see a dancer with all the strength and beauty of youth, but with solid experience. The non-ballet public often makes the mistake of going to see celebrated dancers when they are past their prime. The time to see Yakovleva is now.


Maria Yakoleva, Masayu Kimoto and Andrey Kaydanovsky in the tragic final scene
of La Sylphide at Vienna State Opera 7 April 2013: 
Yakoleva's final moments are truly touching

Returning to the young Yakovleva, her early faults were too much attention to her footwork and not enough attention to her emotions, as well as too strong a reliance on what is indeed a charming smile. In modern works, recently she's overcome her urge to charm with strong expressive dancing. Yet in the title role of La Sylphide, Yakovleva continues to charm but without entirely bewitching. There's some secret part of her which she does not give to the stage. This is not to say Yakovleva is not entirely delightful as she effortlessly dances through even the most challenging sequences.

Review: Maria Yakovleva as La Sylphide Continues »