Monday, October 15, 2012

A Morales and Bryan Halloween!

As I am still in the middle of my Doctoral Comprehensive Exams (5 of 10 completed so far!), I have prepared another Halloween-flavored recording of mine from this past year.  This recording was made with a small chamber choral ensemble while I was at Yale's Norfolk Chamber Music Festival.  It is one of my favorite recordings, especially because of how great us tenors sound.  We call ourselves (the top three tenors) the Three Monteverdi Tenors - mainly because we spontaneously broke into the tenor trio from Monteverdi's Vespers one day.  I hope you enjoy the recording and I hope your soul is scared into repentance.

Happy Halloween!

Don't forget to watch my Bach and Bryan Halloween post from last week as well!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Using Opera to Vote for President

This week begins one of the final stretches toward my Doctorate.  I am beginning my Comprehensive Exams.  Of my many exams, one of the most nerve-racking tests occurs this week - the listening exam.  Essentially, I am given 9, 2-minute clips of music from pieces spanning the entirety of music history and must be able to write about them all, giving the genre, composer, date (within a decade or so), and as much information about it that I can provide.  There is relatively no way to study for this, other than to make some possible test-taking tactics (or perhaps go to school for a decade!).  The broadness of this is extreme and they rarely include "famous" pieces or "famous" composers.  The pressure is intense - I must pass this to get my Doctorate.  So, within that stress, I am taking some time out to relax and think about something else.  What better to take my off opera than politics!  So, I will consider who I will vote for in November, only it is hard to separate anything in my mind from music at this point.  That's why I will let music and more importantly, opera, dictate who I will vote for.

Here are my voting options for where I live in Overland Park, KS:

  • Kansas Constitutional Amendment exempting the taxing of watercraft the same way as other property.
Opera Vote: YES

Elsa (from Lohengrin) shouldn't be penalized for praying to God for a Knight.  When he delivers a Knight, her hero comes with a boat pulled by a swan.  Really, who could expect something like that!?  Even though I'm not sure of the ownership rights of that complex issue, I would rather be safe and give the Knight, God, or Elsa (whomever owns the thing) an exemption for their swan-pulled "recreational vehicle".  What we should be doing is taxing those pagan witches whose curses turn people into swans.  Amazingly, Kansas probably has the perfect electorate to pass a Curse Tax or any other laws firmly grounded in superstition!

  • Shall John P. Bennett, District Judge, be retained in office?
Opera Vote: YES

The Kansas Commission on Judicial Performance notes that, "His professional goal is to manage the domestic violence docket to provide timely case progress."  He would surely receive most of the non-bass/baritone operatic character vote.  There are too many operatic bass/baritone villains out there that STILL haven't been convicted after several hundred years!

  • Shall James Charles Droege, District Judge, be retained in office?
Opera Vote: YES

Not much is known about him (or his opera interests) but he shares the same last name as Drew Droege who directed last year's New York International Fringe Festival's Best Ensemble - Jersey Shoresical: A Frickin' Rock Opera.  So, yeah...

  • Shall James F. Vano, District Judge, be retained in office?
Opera Vote: YES

"Judge Vano acknowledges that he gets frustrated with practitioners who think they do not need to follow the rules of practice, and recognizes that some parties have little patience with efforts to fully explain the proceedings to their opponents." - KCJP.....In other words, if he was a voice teacher, he would make you sing on solfege and use 40 different vocalises.  This vote will be close within the opera community, and violently argued between the smart singers and lazy singers!

  • All the rest of the judges....
Opera Vote: YES

Honestly, if they don't have D's or R's next to their name, it's hard to choose.  And who doesn't love Dr. Blind in Die Fledermaus?  All the judges get a pass (for now).

  • For State Board of Education: Cindy Neighbor (D) or Steve Roberts (R)

Cindy Neighbor is a wonderful person, but she didn't make this youtube video - and our arts-hating Governor Brownback needs some Republicans to smack him upside the head.

  • For District Attorney: Steve Howe (R) or _____

That's right, I'm writing my wife's name in.  Steve Howe recently prosecuted 32 misdemeanor charges against Planned Parenthood on abortion claims.  Operatic Soprano Divas are NOT going to allow men to determine their personal health decisions.  Seriously, what would Tosca be like if she actually submitted to Scarpia after Vissi d'arte?  The political lesson from Tosca:  DO NOT rape the Diva.

  • For State Representative:  Nancy Leiker (D) or James Todd (R)

There is very little information on Nancy Leiker because she doesn't have a campaign website, BUT that is still better than James Todd, who has a website - one page long - that includes only three policy positions:  Employment, Education, and Efficient Government.  First up, Employment: "On of the primary goals of government at all levels is to facilitate business. To often, government gets in the way of business growth by imposing regulation and taxes. Kansas need to continue to become more business friendly." (  Sorry James...three sentences, three HUGE grammatical errors.  In opera terms, if you're not a tenor, then it's not OK to make stupid mistakes.  I'm actually afraid to read your comments on Education, so I've heard enough.  In other words, "you should find some other rep to work on...perhaps a character role instead of Wotan."

  • For State Senator: Jim Denning (R) or Lisa Johnston (D)

Unfortunately for Jim Denning, artists cannot vote for those so openly backed by Governor Sam Brownback who made Kansas the first state in the country not eligible to receive grant money from the National Endowment of the Arts last year.

  • For United States Representative: Joel Balam (L) or Kevin Yoder (R)

Kevin Yoder has not voted with the opera political agenda in the past, but he is an arts lover and runs a yearly art competition for the House of Representatives.  Joel Balam, whom I know little about, describes his education as the following:  "Joel Balam holds a Bachelor degree in Communications from Trevecca Nazarene University; a Master’s degree from Baker University School of Professional and Graduate Studies; Certification for Clinical Pastoral Education, Overland Park Regional Medical Center. In the Summer of 1992, Balam travelled to France on an Educational Tour. He visited historic places and national monuments, including the burial place of William the Conqueror and the WWII Memorial and American Cemetery at Omaha Beach." Words to the wise - In an opera audition, (1.)  Don't describe your education with a vacation you took 20 years ago.  (2.)  Do not include pastor certificates from places that aren't religious institutions...oh, I mean music certificates from music institutions.

  • For Presidential Electors for President and Vice-President: Baldwin and Martin (F) Johnson and Gary (L) Obama and Biden (D) Romney and Ryan (R)

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