Sunday, April 24, 2005

Musical entertainment

Despite pressures of work, I saw a couple of good things this weekend. First of all, a sort of musical revue called Flight, done by David Jackson (a family friend) at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. It's shaped as the story of how a black kid in West Philadelphia fell in love with the Broadway musical and went on to have a career singing & dancing on Broadway, performing in shows with his idol Tommy Tune and many others. David's a warm and attractive performer with a lovely voice and it's a very enjoyable evening--includes some interesting historical stuff as well as a nice mix of songs (my favorites are the Duke Ellington Orchestra ones).

On Saturday, thanks to the generosity of a former student with an extra ticket, I saw one of my very favorite things in the world, The Magic Flute at the Met. It was quite excellent (barring only a weak performance in the part of Sarastro, who was singing so flat it was almost unbearable). The dancing Julie Taymor animals are really incredible--the dance with Papagena is quite extraordinary--the female singers are particularly strong, too, with Pamina making a strong showing as well as the Queen of the Night (can't remember anyone's names, can't be bothered to link). The music of this opera is the most magical thing in the world, it is really quite an experience. I saw the David Hockney production years ago--could it be more than ten years ago?--and the sets for that were gorgeous but I think this one adds up to more of a whole. It is a fable of enlightenment that resonates with my academic stuff too; an excellent, excellent evening.

I've been listening to some good other music recently, will post soon. Meanwhile I will just express my perplexity that there is no equivalent for "light reading" when you're talking about music. Light reading, trashy novels, these are on the whole celebratory phrases, and I think you can say something is "eye candy" without it being necessarily disparaging. But "easy listening" is always an insult--I wonder when it came into use as an actual genre category?--and if you said "ear candy" it's sort of like "bubblegum pop," you could deliberately use it positively but its natural affiliations are all negative. Is there any phrase that I'm missing that would work as a musical analog?

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