Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

From The Economist’s moving and evocative obituary of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, who died on May 18th:

AS HE rubbed the horses down in the bitter cold and slush of the Eastern Front in 1943, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, then 18, sang songs into their ears. Brahms’s “Four Serious Songs”, perhaps, or a Bach cantata, both of which he had been learning before he was ordered to put on a Wehrmacht uniform. He himself never said what they were. But fans of the century’s best baritone suspected, indeed hoped, that they were from Schubert’s great, sad “Winterreise”, the Lieder cycle he made his own. He had sung it for the first time in public shortly before he left Berlin, interrupting it when the RAF strafed the street and the audience dived for the cellar, then resuming at the song called “Rückblick”, “A Backward Glance”. As he led the feeble horses out into the snowy Russian waste, humming and dreaming of the love and music left behind, he was the very figure of Schubert’s desolate winter traveller.

Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 3 “Water Night”

I didn’t have the bandwidth to learn another piece of music, but my friend Loren did. Or perhaps I just felt shy about singing for a webcam and uploading it to Youtube. It consists of 3746 videos from 73 countries, and will be mastered for installations at venues across the world with HD video and surround sound to create an immersive and visceral audience experience.

More info about this piece:

Sondheim & Lapine’s Passion, Directed by John Doyle, Will Play Off-Broadway in 2013

Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Tony Award-winning Passion, the musical of romantic obsession, will return to New York City in 2013 in the intimate setting of Classic Stage Company’s 199-seat home in the East Village, the not-for-profit company announced on Jan. 13. Tony Award winner John Doyle — who gave fresh life to Company and Sweeney Todd on Broadway — will direct.

CSC has been acclaimed in recent years for its productions of plays by Anton Chekhov and for David Ives’ Venus in Fur and New Jerusalem, works with roots abroad. Passion, a 1994 Tony winner for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book, is drawn from Ettore Scola’s Italian film “Passione d’Amore,” and concerns an ugly, broken, grasping woman named Fosca who pursues a handsome soldier, Giorgio, who is already in love with beautiful but married Clara. The musical had a relatively short life on Broadway, but has since gained stature as a unique musical rumination on the nature of love.



R.I.P. Ken Russell

Ken and Lesi Russell

This is a picture I took of Lisi Tribble and Ken Russell when he appeared at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s “Russellmania,” their comprehensive retrospective of his work (July 2010). The Russells and Vanessa Redgrave did a post film Q&A at the screening of “The Devils.”

Russell passed away yesterday. You can read Shade Rupe’s eulogy of Ken Russell at Indiewire. My other photos from that night are here.

What I’ve been reading

I do a lot of reading during my commute, using my iTouch and Instapaper. It’s a great way to “clip” an article or text to read offline. I’m also loving the stories I find through Longreads, which highlights the best long form stories on the web.

A few stories which I’ve found interesting:

Sing for Your Life, NY Times: A feature on the Metropolitan Opera Council auditions.

A High-Tech Library Keeps Books at Faculty Fingertips—With Robot Help (Chronicle of Higher Ed)
“At the University of Chicago’s new library, 70 students have summer jobs filling a chilly subterranean bunker 50 feet beneath the main reading room. Their mission: Load a million volumes into a machine-dominated warehouse that most library patrons will never see.”

Dirty Business: Raj Rajaratnam, Preet Bharara and the Galleon Trial, The New Yorker

What Big Media Can Learn from the New York Public Library, The Atlantic.
“The library isn’t floundering. Rather, it’s flourishing, putting out some of the most innovative online projects in the country. On the stuff you can measure — library visitors, website visitors, digital gallery images viewed — the numbers are up across the board compared with five years ago. On the stuff you can’t, like conceptual leadership, the NYPL is killing it.”

Baffled at a Bookcase (London Review of Books)
“I have always been happy in libraries, though without ever being entirely at ease there. A scene that seems to crop up regularly in plays that I have written has a character, often a young man, standing in front of a bookcase feeling baffled. He – and occasionally she – is overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that has been written and the ground to be covered. ‘All these books. I’ll never catch up,’ wails the young Joe Orton in the film script of Prick Up Your Ears, and in The Old Country another young man reacts more dramatically, by hurling half the books to the floor. In Me, I’m Afraid of Virginia Woolf someone else gives vent to their frustration with literature by drawing breasts on a photograph of Virginia Woolf and kitting out E.M. Forster with a big cigar. Orton himself notoriously defaced library books before starting to write books himself. This resentment, which was, I suppose, somewhere mine, had to do with feeling shut out. A library, I used to feel, was like a cocktail party with everybody standing with their back to me; I could not find a way in.”

Privacy and social media investigation: how I tracked down an entire family from one tweet (Joanna Geary)
“Last Saturday I presented to students taking part in the brilliant Young Journalist Academy…The topic was “New Media” (not my title) and the primary aim was to get them up and running with their own blog and learn to publish online…However, I also knew it would be the perfect opportunity to gauge just how aware a group of bright, 16 and 17-year-olds were on the issues of web privacy and of just how easy it is to track down information about people online.”