New York City Blog Dec. 22- 28

The Metropolitan Opera’s Orchestra performs at Carnegie Hall throughout the year. The Sunday concerts I attend begin at 3 p.m. and end around 5:30. It’s a perfect afternoon, followed by early supper in one of the nearby restaurants. Peter Mattei, the great baritone, sang Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen. This was followed by Mahler’s Symphony No. 7. Long, isn’t it? I was struck by how so many movie musical scores are indebted to this piece.
Christmas is like the Mahler symphony: long with bits of lovely melody. I had a delightful morning, sitting in bed and reading
Martha Gellhorn on Cuba, eating Pat’s delicious lemon bread and half listening to the BBC’s Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.

K & M's beacon on Cambridge
K & M’s beacon on Cambridge
Later, off to K & M’s for the annual Christmas party. It was especially mellow and loving this year. The large Christmas tree in the front parlor shines down on the Brooklyn street. Long may it do so.
Bad movie #2 in two weeks: The Invisible Woman. It was utterly predictable. Did all the actors phone in their parts? Dickens’s wife suffered but not as much as I did.

New York City Blog Dec. 15 – Dec. 21

New York City Blog Dec. 15 – Dec. 21 :

I love the Christmas season in New York City: the music, the festivities, the fervid air of exchanging and changing presents. The Metropolitan hosted the Salzburg Marionettes presentation of “Alice in Wonderland”. It’s the Theatre’s 100th birthday and the puppeteers did themselves proud, as did the many well behaved children in the audience. To lapse into cliches and mixed metaphors, we were rapt – from 9 to 90 – with the usual suspects, Alice, the White Rabbit, the Caterpillar who sang wonderfully off key, and the Cheshire Cat. Afterwards, we stood in front of the enormous Christmas tree with the Neopolitan figures. Bethlehem has been stolen by the Italian artists. Don’t most of us think of that city on the far east coast of the Mediterranean as Italian? We continued to the Venetian Glass by Carlo Scarpa Exhibit in the Lehman Wing.The inventive ways the glass were shaped and decorated are beautifully displayed. The lighting is dark and dramatic, like Venice at nighttime.
Neopolitan precepio
Neopolitan precepio


In the Robert Lehman Wing at the Met
In the Robert Lehman Wing at the Met

At BAM on Dec. 19 to see “The Nutcracker” music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky and choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky. Sarah Lane and Joseph Gorak were wonderful, BUT the set of the party in the mansion looks as if the owners were in bankruptcy and the lighting was too dim. What happened, Jennifer Tipton? Before the performance we had dinner at Junior’s. Such fun. It’s the Brooklyn of the 1940 -1960 era. Photos of movie stars of a certain age decorate the walls. My chicken pot pie could have fed a family of four …. buffalo. My friend’s intention of ordering a salad morphed into a Reuben sandwich. Who can blame him?

New York City Blog: December 8 – December 14

It’s a giddy time of year, isn’t it? Christmas and its contenders crowd the calendar with parties, concerts, sing alongs and … traffic. I had reserved a car from 777 to take me from Manhattan to Brooklyn and it was canceled twenty minutes before I was due to leave. The reason given? No cars. “No problem,” said the 777 rep as she hung up. What a way to run a business.

“All that Glitters” is one of the lovely Christmas events. It’s held at Judson Memorial Church. Stanford White’s building  is decked out in Victorian lights that suit its late nineteenth century architecture. The West Village Chorale, led by Michael Conley and Elena Belli, outdid themselves. They shifted effortlessly (after a mere one million hours of rehearsal) from traditional carols to fourteenth century Irish music, to Benjamin Britten’s lovely Ceremony of Carols and then on to Hollywood numbers such as “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. Director Conley excused himself for not including Hanukkah music by pointing out that most

A murky snapshot of a wonderful event, "All that Glitters"
A murky snapshot of a wonderful event, “All that Glitters”

contemporary Christmas carols were written by New York Jews i.e. “The Christmas Song” and “White Christmas”.

New York City Blog Dec. 1 – Dec. 7

It’s been a week filled with architecture, music, and art. On Sunday, I joined Francis Marrone’s Divorak in Love walk for the Municipal Art  Society. Among the MAS regulars, Francis’s walks are fabled and usually sold out. He’s animated and infuses his talks with knowledge and delicious details. From 1892 to 1895,  Divorak lived on East 17th Street. The house was demolished by Beth Israel, in spite of the fact that the New World Symphony was composed there and the late Czech prime minister Havel petitioned to preserve it.

The one and only Ruby Rims standing in front of lots of teddy bears
The one and only Ruby Rims standing in front of lots of teddy bears
Ruby Rims and Friends is an annual cabaret event held at Judson Memorial Church. I went to the first of two performances. Such fun! Ruby was in full regalia: slinky gown,  a shedding boa and quite a hairdo. Some of the highlights were Ruby, of course; Lennie Watts belting out “Schadenfreude” from avenue q and Sidney Myer’s “Santa Bubba”. The

photo is in glorious/nauseating salmon pink.
 I made the mistake of going to The Great Beauty this week. I have a weakness for all things Italian except Fellini. Aside from La Strada and I Vitelloni, I think his movies reek of superficial mystery and lots of pretentiousness. Hello, Paolo Sorrentino, the director of The Great Beauty. What a bore. It’s filled with all those elements that make Americans’ mouths water: bespoke clothing, Roman architecture, luscious apartments, an arrogant leading man, a long winded script about the meaning (zzzzz) of life. The only thing worse than Fellini is warmed over Fellini.
Clover Vail in her studio
Clover Vail in her studio
To the good stuff: Clover Vail’s studio. Clover is a wonderful artist who paints in watercolor and in acrylic and sculpts. Please, do not judge her work from my lousy photo.

New York City Blog Nov. 24 – Dec. 1

“The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits.” Who said this earlier this week? Pope Francis, that’s who. In his 2013 encyclical, Evangelii Gaudeum (Joy of the Gospel), he lambasts our obsession with wealth. “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.” He says that the death of an elderly woman from hunger isn’t news, but the drop of a few stock market points is. Way to go, Pope Francis. He’s one of the bad boys of Roman Catholicism, the Jesuits.
Have you ever sat through a performance and felt that it was one of the most exciting experiences you have ever had? That’s what happened last Sunday at Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society (CMS) five p.m. concert. Pianist Alessio Bax sailed and thundered through Liszt’s “Après une lecture du Dante, fantasia quasi sonata”. More! More!
Thanksgiving is such a piece of baggage. I got off easily this year, responsible for only two dishes: Citarella’s wonderful shrimp and my tried and true onion dish.Invited to a dear friend’s Brooklyn apartment, I met three of her four children. All of them have their mother’s wit which made for a very amusing time.