Sunday, November 30, 2014

Scene From a Feast

I asked Mr. Husband to bring back either orange or purple candles; or both—which is what he did, so used them in mismatched pairs, echoing the maple-glazed carrots and purple-red beets. Why be so damn predictable, I thought, while putting out old paperweights next to a small ice bucket with purple tulips, then cutting a pomegranate in half and stuffing it into the golden bird's cavity? Why indeed. The collision of color, crystal and spheres made me smile as did the chutney—a first for this year from the November issue of bon appétit. Savory and utterly scrumptious. 

The Menu

Mincemeat Pie with Maple-Whipped Cream


Hermann J. Wiener Dry Riesling from Finger Lakes, New York and Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup Cuvée Saint Agnés from Southern France

Friday, November 28, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing you a belated Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, from Mr. Husband and I here in Gotham, where I brought out my large Victorian Chinoiserie Copland platter and cooked up a feast. I found it at the 26th Street Flea Market about a decade ago, and as a result, started looking for other brown & white transferware (that's how it starts you know) and now have a modest collection of compote serving pieces and dishes, along with an assortment of bone and ivory handled serving utensils, some of them snapped up for nothing since moderns seem to have an aversion to anything that isn't stainless steel. (That's what 400 grade sandpaper is for, don't you know, which I keep on hand after I wash them by hand.)

What I love about this serving platter is the blue thumb print which is clearly visible on the front border and accompanied blue finger fingerprints on the back, both suggesting that the craftsman had his hands full and probably worked rather quickly. I suppose I could hang it on my kitchen wall, but it's great to pull it out of storage and see it anew. 

Wishing you a wonderful Holiday Weekend! I'll be making turkey soup

Monday, November 24, 2014

Carnegie Hall: a view not usually seen

Carnegie Hall as seen from the stage during a rehearsal—a view not usually seen. As it is, I've sung there many times over the years as a professional singer and choral artist, and it never gets old. Really. It's a thrill from beginning to end to stand on that stage which was not that long ago in danger of being demolished. This last concert was with the San Francisco Symphony which performed Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé and was broadcast live on New York City's classical radio station WQXR. Click on the link here, and you can listen to the archived performance. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Autumn in New York

Sheep Meadow

Autumn has been beautiful this year, with a lot more color than I remember for a long while with rust, umber, burnt orange, and deep gold throughout Central Park. The night before I snapped this photo (having come back from Carnegie Hall for a rehearsal—then later a performance), five feet of snow had dropped on Buffalo. Here in Gotham? We only had our first frost, which zapped the perennials out front (roses mostly) and snuffed the annuals, and made me take the air conditioner out of the window, which was creating a draft. Then the humidifier was brought out of storage, to keep the piano from being destroyed, the voice from being parched, and viruses at bay—which, my doc tells me, are more easily communicated in arid environments.

Why more people don't think about humidity in the winter is beyond me, especially those who have a feel for aesthetics, since there is nothing worse than being in a beautiful home and feeling like you are in the desert. Of course, too much humidity isn't good either. It's all about balance, which, for me, means filling the humidifier twice a day until spring. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

El Greco and a Walk Through Central Park

Mr. Husband and I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see a modest exhibit of the paintings of El Greco this past Sunday (El Greco in New York), walking through the Park on the way home, and finding fall in all its glory.

I couldn't help myself, of course, and snapped a few photos of El Greco's paintings before I heard to female voice tell another museum-goer behind me that photos were not allowed. Oops. Naughty Daniel. But in my defense, I didn't see the "No Photos" sign. Of course, I didn't look for it either, did I? But no matter. What did I see in the one large room of his paintings? Lots of green, more than I remember seeing before. 

His Byzantine iconographic figures stretch and twist towards heaven in a peculiar manner. And then there is his famous painting of Christ holding a cross, eyes all dewy and radiant. Mr. Husband said it looked like a black velvet painting. And I must say, he had a point. 

Then we crossed Central Park, making our way home to a steaming pot of darjeeling and a chocolate confection from a lovely French bakery. 

As I write this words, rain is pouring from the sky, and I anticipate going out tomorrow and seeing  trees nearly bare of leaves. 

That's when I know the long winter has started, even if the calendar says otherwise. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Pining for Rome (or Sant'Andrea delle Valle to be exact)

I took these photos of Sant'Andrea delle Valle with my iPhone while in Rome this past July, having been in Rome for a few days before joining Umbrian Serenades, and making my way to Spoleto, Italy. I'm sure I may have used these photos before, or perhaps ones like them, but no matter: they jumped out at me as I was going through my laptop, moving and deleting photos to make room for its startup disk. (Yes, that's what happens when you spill wine on your old one, and obtain a new one that doesn't have quite as much storage space: you find yourself moving things.)

I love this church, and have visited it every time I am in Rome. Puccini featured one of its chapels in his opera Tosca, which appears in the first act—an opera I've performed quite a few times in traditional and modern productions; one which was black, white and red with a huge cross on the floor; a rip off—you might say—of another (unnamed) production at the Metropolitan Opera which I saw many years ago. But I am sure those of you with opera brains can guess, no? 

Next year will be Umbrian Serenades' tenth season, and I see myself staying at Hotel Mimosa again for a few days, and visiting Tosca's church, with its golden light, saint under the altar, and reliquary doll in the chapel. But that's not what makes my heart sing, which is does every time that I stand in the space. No, that is something ineffable, more sum of the parts kind of thing; part architecture, soaring space, gilt, marble, fine proportions and unmitigated grandeur—the likes of which is hard to come by in Gotham, big buildings notwithstanding. It's the kind of place that makes you, nay, impels you to look up, mouth agape, in awe and wonder. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

All Hallow's Eve

Mr. Husband got his Dracula on again this All Hallow's Eve, scaring the kids on our block, which is closed off to traffic with cars removed—a tradition that was founded by Gwen Verdon in the 60's, hundreds of them trick or treating after the sun falls from the sky. 

I did the makeup as I always do, which brings my makeup box from the opera out of storage. Mister did protest somewhat as he was cleaning up later, saying how hard it was on his skin. "Welcome to show business," I said. "Now you know what it was like to do 8 shows a week!" The only salvation was moisturizer, and it was only partial salvation, since the face really gets abused applying and removing greasepaint. You just learn to live with it, and remind yourself that the rawness you feel is a blessing, since you—lucky boy that you are—are onstage when thousands like you are not. Do I miss the constant performing, now that I am teaching full-time? Actually, I do and I don't. While being onstage is a real kick (and I still perform from time to time), I'm quite happy with my life in the studio, which is another kind of theatre, believe me. 

Speaking of theatre: this photo was taken 24 hours after Jack was lit, by virtue of a long lasting candle which stayed lit all through the night, next day, and then into the second night. We had watched Tim Burton's "Sleepy Hollow" the night before Halloween, so, of course, I found myself carving the face one sees at the beginning of the movie. Grisly fun that. I love the film's coloration and tone. All blues and grays, washed out and monochromatic, which is how I feel now that daylight saving's time has been inflicted upon us. If the cows don't care, why do we? You don't see them depriving themselves of light which one needs as the days grow shorter.