Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Whenever there’s a Threepenny Opera within easy traveling range, I make every effort to see it

Whenever there’s a Threepenny Opera within easy traveling range, my husband and I make every effort to see it. We went to NYC last weekend to see the production at the Atlantic Theater—the 6th (or maybe7th?) we’ve seen together. Rick was fortunate enough at the age of eleven to have seen the first New York production with Lotte Lenya.

This production got luke warm reviews but we both liked it and would recommend it. I think most reviewers have an ideal production of Threepenny Opera in their heads and no actual production can ever measure up.

The Threepenny Opera has some of the greatest songs in musical theater—Mack the Knife, Pirate Jenny, the Tango Ballad. Judy Collins first introduced me to Pirate Jenny’s song and it’s still my favorite version—although Sally Murphy who played Jenny in the Atlantic production was very good.

Although the Threepenny Opera has been generally viewed as Brecht’s satiric take-down of capitalism, I’ve never seen it that way. Sure there are those famous lines—e.g. “What is the robbing of a bank compared to the founding of a bank?” But I’ve always seen the Threepenny Opera as a cynical account of human cruelty with those on the bottom preying on those even more vulnerable, and with a savage portrayal of gender inequality at the emotional heart of the piece. The one time the caricatures become human beings is when Jenny pours out her pain at Macheath’s betrayal in Pirate Jenny’s song, followed by one of the most poignant songs ever written about love gone bad— Macheath and Jenny’s duet in the Tango Ballad.

So if you’re in NYC anytime soon, I recommend the Atlantic Theater’s production of Threepenny Opera. (of course, I’d recommend just about any production.)

Friday was our Weimar Republic day. In the afternoon we went to the Neue Galerie to see Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937.

The exhibit was definitely worth it-–although just because Hitler hated a painting doesn’t mean it was a major work of art. There were some truly awful paintings in there with the Feininger’s and Klee’s. The exhibit also included archival footage of the citizens of Munich wandering through the exhibit looking dazed, uncomfortable and uncomprehending.

Definitely worth it if you’re in NYC before it closes on June 30. And the Neue Galerie has probably the most beautiful café in NYC, a recreation of a Viennese café with pastry to die for.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Finally, I have daffodils!

February Gold

February Gold arrived in April this year but did finally arrive! The early daffodils are all blooming and my old reliable Ice Follies are popping up all over the garden. Ice Follies is the toughest, most long lasting daffodil variety I’ve come across and one of the least expensive as well.
Ice Follies

A carpet of blue scilla is everywhere. This is an amazing little bulb; it flourishes in deep shade as well as in sun, multiplies rapidly, and requires no fertilizer to return reliably year after year. Also, it is one of the very few true blue flowers--as opposed to the much more common purplish blue.
Scilla and Hyacinth on verge of blooming

In the next couple of days, my hyacinth should all be in bloom and I’m really looking forward to that intoxicating fragrance. The fragrance of hyacinth forced in pots just can’t compare to hyacinth grown in the garden.

Hidden away in shady spots, my hellebores are blooming. It's easy to overlook them and one of the great joys of retirement is that I get to really take in the beauty of the flowers. Of course the down side is that I no longer have a long stretch of gardening seasons ahead of me, but I try not to think about that too much.

And yesterday, my first tulip appeared--a tiny species tulip, pulchella. The species tulips appear with the early daffodils. They are thought to be very close to the original tulip varieties with small cups and short stems. They are much less showy than the hyper-hybridized tulips we all love and they last for a very short time, but unlike most tulips they return reliably year after year.

Tulipa pulchella,variety Persian Pearl

At last, the show has begun!