Friday, September 28, 2007

The sacred and profane

My spiel for the Weill theatre show has always been : 'well, I wrote this piece so I wouldn't have to do the songs in recital: that is, so I could put them into some kind of dramatic context.' Which, since they're all music theatre songs, is where they came from in the first place. I've always felt that they had more power in some kind of theatrical framework...and in the many, many times I've done the show its been proven true...

However, on Sunday, Alissa Duryee (who played for one of the original incarnations of Whiskey and the version we did in NYC) and I did the songs strictly 'a sec'. In classic recital pose, hand on the piano, in the wonderful space of the American Church in Paris, we sang through the whole repertoire from the disc and from the show. And... I have to admit that it was nice... I wasn't thinking about staging, I wasn't thinking about the next lighting cue, I could spend all my energy thinking about the songs and what Alissa was doing with them, and responding to her ideas.

What was wonderful for me was that the idea behind the show is how much of Weill's work is about more than just a great song... he wasn't just a song huckster. Instead his work goes back and forth between earthy and spiritual and political. In the show I talk about how some of his songs could be sung in a Cabaret, or a Cathedral... so after many, many years in the Cabaret, it was nice to give them some time in the Cathedral...

I'm here, Its Cathy, I've come home

Honestly all I could remember of Wuthering Heights was that rather screechy song by Kate Bush with the catchy hook. But it didn't prevent me from enjoying a night at the absurdly, insanely, wonderfully over the top Opera Garnier. Gold and glitter and cherubs and gargoyles and more gold and glitter and a whole bunch of chandeliers (and then some more glitter). Such an amazing building.

The ballet was a contemporary work, I think from 2002, so it was a blend of the Paris Ballet's perfect classic technique with a contemporary dance language. Sometimes an uncomfortable blend, but mostly a success. I lost track of what the plot might have been in the middle of the 2nd act, but it didn't stop me from totally enjoying the dancers swooping around (and above - there was a fair bit of flying apparatus used) the stage.

There's a strange Ad around for the Ballet - I can't remember if its in Paris or Toronto, that shows the male lead of the Ballet and says 'Pound for Pound, when he's dancing he's stronger than an elephant'. I'm not sure why that would make you want to see the ballet, but, I admit, watching them you're stunned by the incredible strength and athleticism of these dancers. They're just amazing.

There's a nice video at

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bigger than life

what can I say... finally got Lisa on stage.... she was, of course, a huge success

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sublime Contradictions

I don't think I can adequately describe how utterly French are the towns around where we have our barn and little farmhouse. In our tiny hamlet there are really only three family names in the whole village and the folks refer to each other through three generations of connections.... 'Pierre's Thierry's Marguerite'. The nearest town of any size, Corbigny, has a little winding market street that has cheese shops, butchers, bakeries, wine shops... and on the edge of the town an old roman road still pokes its flagstones out of the grass. So these places have been around for a long time and feel so deeply French.. multiculturalism hasn't exactly made a lot of inroads here. It is amazing down here...but occasionally you just would die to see a larger mix of people and backgrounds on the streets

So it was with a sense of sublime discombobulation and satisfaction that we stumbled upon a parade that was held to publicize a festival of the arts in another little village nearby. These guys were the Rajasthan Gitane Orchestra. As near as I could understand from the little bit of information they are a branch of the Gypsies that still live in India.

They walked, and danced through the centre of town playing brass band instruments. I guess they are a heritage from the British military marching bands of India. The two drummers had managed to turn themselves into a sort of Tabla for two...but played on marching drums. They were quite amazing and obviously were enjoying themselves immensely... probably just from watching the expressions of complete astonishment on the faces of the villagers.

They played a short set in the local park and then drifted away. Leaving the village as calm and unperturbed as before.... but maybe ever so slightly less 'french'...

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Ah...the fall: spent the last few days in Burgundy pulling fruit from the trees and grapes from the vines... I wish we had the know how to make wine from the grapes, but the juice is amazing, so we just cook them down and live on pure purple anti-oxidants for a couple of weeks

it's been a funny summer here (hasn't it been everywhere) and so everything is ripening early.

We won't be down again till the end of september, so we took everything off the trees early in expectation that it will be overripe when we get back.

The entire kitchen had become purple by the end of the grape experience...