by wjw on January 30, 2008

I haven’t been visible here much, have I?

It’s that working-two-jobs thing. I’m writing the novel, and I’m doing the Other Job that I can’t talk about (yet). It focuses the time budget wonderfully. I simply ignore everything that I’m not being paid to do.

Which includes blogging, unfortunately.

Yet Kathy and I managed to drag ourselves away for a few hours for a concert by Kitka. Who are a Balkan women’s chorus, though they seem not to actually be from the Balkans. They’re mostly American singers who were attracted by the vocal style, which involves a full-bore chest voice projected over, say, seven or eight leagues.

Some samples of the music may be found here.

It wasn’t merely a concert, it was a sort of intense musical theater, with a series of musical dramas taking place, with a bare stage, some very effective lighting, and a minimum of props. The nine singers were ably supported by two cellists and percussionist Loren Mach, who was freakin’ brilliant.

Songs were from the Rusalka Cycle, a series involving rusalki, who are the spirits of women who die before their time and who, like Greek water-nymphs, have been known to lure swimmers to their doom.

The music was very effective, not least because of the astounding volume of the nine singers blasting away in such a small space. The drama was intense. The acting was good. I really wanted to know what was happening.

But I didn’t know. The singing was all in Ukranian or Bulgarian, except for the one song in German, and a few humorous anecdotes in English about the sort of adventures you have in Ukraine collecting folk songs.

I made my best guesses as to what was happening onstage, though. “Okay, the woman’s killed herself, possibly because her boyfriend jilted her, although I’m not sure because that happened several songs ago. All the other rusalki are really pissed, though since they’re already dead I don’t know why.”

The production ended with an intensely dramatic rendition of what I can only call “Music from the Balkan Spoon-Dropping Festival.”

I talked with other members of the audience afterwards, and they were as confused as I was. Even the guy who spoke Ukranian didn’t know what he’d just seen.

To which I can only say, Hey, program notes are good things.

I’m an intelligent viewer, and a pretty good listener, but if you’re going to stage a musical drama in a foreign language, I need a little help. I ask you to meet me, if not halfway, at least a little way. One little mimeographed sheet of notes would be all it would take.

If you want me to take away everything from a song that these very talented performers are putting into it, tell me what the song is freakin’ about.

How hard is that?

Nadine February 1, 2008 at 6:23 am

That particular song, if it’s the one I think it is, was actually the basis for Giselle-that story is the ancestor of the Wilis.

Ralf the Dog February 11, 2008 at 5:47 pm

Dubjay said, “…It focuses the time budget wonderfully. I simply ignore everything that I’m not being paid to do.”

Many people would love to upgrade our writing skills. If someone were to set up a private board where we could post stuff we write, would you be willing to rip what we write to shreds and give us a few pointers from time to time? I know I would be more than willing to pay you for this service. I am sure others would as well.

I would not want this to become a distraction for you, (I want more books!) Just a small bit of time every week.


dubjay February 11, 2008 at 10:10 pm

Ralf, I critique other folks’ manuscripts two weeks out of every year.

Check out

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