For better or worse, we’re all human. And we all have habits that, without malice intended, annoy our significant others, roommates, spouses and family. With Third Eye Theatre Ensemble’s production of ‘The Filthy Habit’ opening at the Chicago Fringe Festival in two weeks, I thought I’d do research on a few ‘filthy habits’ that annoy others. If you are guilty of any of the following….do be, but don’t allow it to ruin your day….
Eating Noisily: At some point in life, I know we all have had to endure the noisy eater who manages to enjoy their food in a manner not unlike pigs slurping on their swill. Chomping, slurping, swallowing, burping and ‘Ahhhing’ after taking a sip of their drink. Ideally, you’d love to point out this habit, but you don’t. You just suffer through until they finish every….last….aggravating…..morsel on their plate.
Constant Use of Mobile Phones: I believe the art of conversation is becoming obsolete. I miss those days of just enjoying each other’s company without someone checking and looking down at their mobile phone for their latest text or tweet. A study asked people how they felt after their mobile phones were taken away from them for 24 hours. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read that they felt ‘anxious,’ ‘jittery,’ ‘restless,’ and ‘panicky.’ Look up from your phones friends; you can actually see your friend in person sitting across the table from you. Enjoy the time together!
Talking Too Much: There are just some people who don’t know when to stop talking. And you know that you are not really interested in what they have to say and feel it’s not a conversation because you can’t get two words in. To have a meaningful, interesting conversation, requires listening, not just speaking. Some people overlook this simple concept.
Not Responding to Texts/Emails in a Timely Fashion: All of us know someone that falls into this category. Reasons such as ‘I’ve just been so busy over the last couple of days’ or ‘I just didn’t get the chance’ are too often cited excuses for the wall of silence. The non-responsive person usually doesn’t feel they’ve done anything wrong. Find the time to respond, even if it’s just a ‘Hey, got your message, things are crazy, but I promise I will get back to you.’ This would certainly appease any human being.
Well, this has been my rant on annoying habits. Third Eye Theatre Ensemble’s latest production is the short one act opera ‘The Filthy Habit’ by composer Peter Hilliard with libretto by Chicago’s own Matt Boresi. Third Eye is honored to produce the first opera to be a part of the Chicago Fringe Festival in the Jefferson Park neighborhood. The Fringe Festival is a 10 day celebration of theater with 50 acts from around the country performing over 200 pieces running August 31st-September 11th. Third Eye’s production of ‘The Filthy Habit’ is slated for three performances: Saturday, September 3rd at 7pm, Monday, September 5th (Labor Day) at 2:30pm and Friday, September 9th at 8:30pm. We will be at the CCJP Meeting Hall, 5320 W. Giddings.
Tickets can be purchased here: https://dime.io/events/the-filthy-habit/ Come out and join us for our first comedic production. It’s going to be a blast. Till next time….keep a song in your heart.
This year, Third Eye Theatre Ensemble is concentrating on the work of American composers. Both of this year’s productions are by American composers and the librettist of one is from Chicago. Later this week Third Eye’s summer concert is entitled “Songs of Americana”, in honor of America’s most celebrated composers. With this month’s blog, I share with you who I admire as composers.
Stephen Foster: Considered by some as the Father of American Music, Stephen Foster, born in Pennsylvania, wrote more than 200 songs, including anthems for two states. He wrote Kentucky’s “My Old Kentucky Home” and Florida’s “Old Folks at Home.” He also wrote American standards “Oh Susanna,” “Beautiful Dreamer” and “Camptown Races”…doo dah doo dah J Foster earned very little money with his songs due to copyright laws during his era providing limited protection. Unfortunately, Foster died at only age 37, sick and impoverished. When he died, a penciled scrap of paper was found that read, “Dear friends and gentle hearts.” Gladly his legacy of music lives on.
John Philip Sousa: Known as the March King, Sousa composed 136 military-style marches, 15 operettas and 70 songs, including “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” which was designated the U.S. national march in 1987 and “Semper Fidelis,” later enshrined as the U.S. Marine Corps’ official march. In 1893, Sousa helped design the sousaphone, a large brass tuba-like instrument.
Richard Rodgers: Rodgers was the first music composer to win top awards for television, recording, movies and Broadway. He won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony, as well as a Pulitzer Prize! At 17 years old Rodgers met lyricist Lorenz Hart and created some of America’s most recognized standards: “My Funny Valentine,” and “The Lady is a Tramp,” just to name a couple. After Hart’s death, Rodgers worked with lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, composing scores for Oklahoma, South Pacific, The King and I and The Sound of Music.
Duke Ellington: Edward ”Duke” Ellington started taking piano lessons at age 7. By 18, he and his band were playing for high society functions in and around our nation’s capital. Duke gained more notoriety when he moved to Harlem in the 1920s. He began attracting crowds to the Cotton Club, a celebrated jazz nightclub. He composed most of his band’s music, writing thousands of songs including “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing” and “Mood Indigo” and film scores for Anatomy of a Murder and Paris Blues. Interestingly, toward the end of his life, Ellington wrote more sacred music and tried to incorporate the worship experience with jazz. Some felt it was Duke’s end of life statement.
I may do a Part II of this blog later this year. There are so many other composers I’d like to share with you…Cole Porter, Scott Joplin, George Gershwin, just to name a few…stay tuned!
As mentioned at the start of this blog, Third Eye Theatre Ensemble is presenting “Songs of Americana”; a musical journey celebrating some of America’s most well known composers. Come and hear not only opera and art songs, but also Negro spirituals, Broadway show stoppers. Here are the details:
Third Eye Theatre Ensemble Presents: Songs of Americana
Friday, July 22nd 7:30pm
Glessner House Museum Coach House
1800 S. Prairie Av.
Chicago, IL 60616
Go to thirdeyeamericana.brownpapertickets.com to purchase tickets.
After the concert we’ll have a wine reception with goodies and docents will be providing tours of the historic Glessner Mansion. It will be a joyous evening of song and community. I hope you’ll join us. Should you have any questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time, keep a song in your heart.
Above photo courtesy of exploratorymusic.net
I was recently talking with friends who are avid ‘Movies in the Park’ attendees and it drove me to write a blog about famous arias that have been utilized in the movies. So here we go.
Habanera from Georges Bizet’s Carmen is a popular piece that is utilized in scenes where seduction is involved. A predator is usually circling his or her prey, and ready to pounce. It has been used effectively in such movies as Girl 6, Magnolia, as well as Bad Santa. More recently it was in Disney Pixar’s award winning animated film Up. The original aria, written for mezzo-soprano, was at one time considered unkind — focusing on a woman’s independent sexual nature, as well as her fickleness when it comes to men. Now it is considered more gender neutral.
La Donna e Mobile, from Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto, is a peppy tenor aria that has the Duke of Mantua boasting that his wife is unfaithful, although in reality, he is the one having an affair. The aria is heard throughout Rigoletto. The Duke’s rival, Rigoletto, realizes that although he paid an assassin to kill the Duke, the Duke survived and Rigoletto’s own daughter was mistakenly killed. The blithe spirit of this aria has been in many movies, most notably The Family Man. Its star, Nicolas Cage, appropriately performs La Donna e Mobile after cheating on his wife.
Pagliacci is one of two primary examples of a style of opera called verismo — a short, psychologically realistic opera that emphasizes then-contemporary settings and situations (the other popular example is Cavalleria Rusticana, another hour-long opera that is almost always performed with Pagliacci). Composed by Ruggero Leoncavallo, Vesti la Giubba is arguably one of the darkest and most melancholic pieces of popular opera music. In the aria, the title clown has just discovered his wife is cheating on him, but must put on his make-up and perform to a circus full of people. As the saying goes, the show must go on! Vesti la Giubba is used prominently in The Untouchables in the scene where Robert De Niro’s Al Capone feigns emotion when told about the death of his enemy, Jim Malone (Sean Connery). The aria is utilized as well in Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love. It was also made famous in a vintage Kellogg’s Rice Krispies ad from the 1960’s.
While many people associate the instrumental Ride of the Valkyries (from Richard Wagner’s Die Walkure) with the movie Apocalypse Now, this exultant, soaring anthem can be found in Fellini’s 8½ and John Waters Mondo Trasho Ride of the Valkyries is about a group of women warriors (Valkyries) who are boasting about their imminent martial victory. The song is a war cry. The Wagner piece is also used in a vintage 1983 Maxell recording tape ad with the man sitting in his chair, hair being blown away by the clear sound the tape gives.
In Nessun Dorma (from Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot) brash Prince Calaf claims he will do what no other man has done by melting the heart of the cold Turandot, a cruel leader who refuses to marry anyone but the man who can answer her three Sphinx-like riddles. This gorgeous tenor aria was most famously used in the movie, The Sum of All Fears in the scene where a diplomat’s car is blown up. This aria is noted for being Luciano Pavorotti’s signature piece.
All of these scenes and songs can be found on YouTube. Look them up. I’m sure you have heard them often, but never knew what the title was.
Lastly, Third Eye Theatre Ensemble is thrilled to note that on Sunday’s 2016 Tony Awards, Stephen Karam, librettist of our fall production, Dark Sisters, won the award for best play of the 2015-16 season for his book, The Humans. Congratulations to Stephen!
It may not feel quite like summer yet here in Chicago, but I thought I’d alert you to several classical, pop and opera music festivals for your enjoyment this summer in case you’re planning your vacations.
Our first stop is the Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, NY, one of the oldest festivals in the US. Around since 1975, Glimmerglass has been dazzling classical buffs and music lovers with their wonderful staged productions. Composed of several stages, Glimmerglass has something for everyone. On the main stage this season are La Boheme, Sweeney Todd, The Thieving Magpie, and The Crucible, just to name a few. Go to www.glimmerglass.org for more details.
If your plans are to head a bit further north up the east coast, there is Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Tanglewood is hosting a wide range of acts from cellist Yo Yo Ma to Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys to country great Dolly Parton. Tanglewood has been in existence since 1934. Go to www.bso.org/brands/tanglewood for more details of their summer series.
Let’s head out west now to Santa Fe Opera’s summer series. Every July and August since 1957, opera lovers have been drawn to the magnificent northern New Mexico mountains to enjoy productions by one of the premier opera companies in the US. This summer the festival includes classics such as Don Giovanni, Romeo and Juliet, Capriccio, La Fanciulla del West and Vanessa. Don’t miss out on visiting this gorgeous venue made of adobe, which blends so beautifully with its natural landscape. Go to www.santafeopera.org
Of, course, I’d be remiss if I did not include our own Ravinia Music Festival, on the north shore, in Highland Park, IL. This is the summer home for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Still standing tall, since 1904, Ravinia Festival started as an amusement park to draw people to this area north of Chicago. People from all over Chicagoland and beyond come out to relax, soak in the great weather, feel the comfortable Lake Michigan breezes, and hear fine music from diverse acts. This summer brings performers such as the Julliard String Quartet, Chanticleer, rocker Chris Cornell and James Levine will conduct a concert with the Symphony Orchestra. I assure you, it’s a wonderful experience. Go to www.ravinia.org for a complete calendar of summer festivities.
And last, but certainly not least, Third Eye Theatre Ensemble will be a part of the wonderful late summer festival, The Chicago Fringe Festival. Running August 31st –September 11th, theater lovers will be flocking to the northwest side neighborhood of Jefferson Park to see 50 different acts perform in various venues in that area. There’ll be roughly 200 performances over the span of the festival and Third Eye will have 3 performances of the comedic opera, The Filthy Habit by Peter Hilliard and local librettist Matt Boresi. More details to come as we receive more information. Please keep up with Third Eye at www.thirdeyete.com. Come out and see us this summer!
When the brainchild of Third Eye Theatre Ensemble decided to host a fundraiser this month based on the title of Peter Hilliard and Matt Boresi’s The Filthy Habit, the opera we’re performing for this year’s Chicago Fringe Festival (running August 31st-September 11th, 2016), I decided to do research on opera in the 1920s. I was surprised to discover that arguably some consider this decade to have produced some of the most wildly creative opera ever!
Arnold Schoenberg explored expressionism in opera as early as 1909, with his 30 minute monodrama, Erwartung (translation ‘Expectation’, first performed in 1924). Like expressionist poets and painters before him, Schoenberg abandoned the traditional way to represent his protagonist’s mental turmoil, as she searches for her lover and discovers his corpse. Other examples are Paul Hindemith’s Sancta Susanna (1922), where he used experimental variations to portray a nun’s descent into madness. In 1926, Kurt Weill used pantomime in Der Protagonist. What is considered the most successful expressionist opera is Alban Berg’s Wozzeck, which has particularly strong elements of realism, and sets the hero’s mental disintegration against a background of varied musical structures.
In the mid 1920s, Neoclassicism was in vogue with operas by Ferruccio Busoni (Doktor Faust), which was a response to medieval puppet plays about Faust. Hindemith scored the macabre Cardillac, which is based on ETA Hoffmann’s story about a goldsmith who commits murder rather than parting with the work he loves.
An exploration of this nature cannot be spoken of without mentioning the influence of popular music of this era on opera. This was called Zeitoper (literally ‘opera of the time’) and showcased operas that featured contemporary settings, jazz and cabaret music along with satirical plots. Examples would include Max Brand’s Maschinist Hopkins, which includes a chorus of machines and a ‘Black-Bottom’ jazz number. Hindemith’s Neues vom Tage (translated-‘News of the Day’) deals with divorce. Weill’s Der Zar lasst sich photographieren (translated-‘Tsar Has His Photograph Taken’) features a pre-recorded Tango and Foxtrot. And lastly, Ernst Krenek, brought fantasy to Zeitoper in Jonny spielt auf (translated-‘Jonny Strikes Up’) about a jazz violinist who steals a violin from a classical virtuoso to herald in the ‘new’ age of jazz. It was quite the spectacle featuring a singing glacier, an onstage car chase, and a train accident.
So there you have it, a glimpse of opera in the 1920’s. Please join us on Saturday, April 23rd, for a fundraising event, ‘Filthy Habits’, hosted by Tealula-Tea Boutique and Tasting Bar (which that night will be turned into a speakeasy), 11 S. Fairview Ave. Park Ridge IL 60068 . All the proceeds go to Third Eye Theatre Ensemble. Starts at 7:30pm. Jazz era music and naughty frivolity exudes! Admission is $35 and tickets can be purchased at www.eventbrite.com. It will be the bees knees kids! Hope to see you there!