The opera composer Rossini is best remembered for two things in particular, his overtures and his reputation as the laziest composer in history. This reputation stems mainly from the fact that he retired from composing at the age of 39.  At the time of his retirement, Rossini was the most famous living composer and was at the very peak of his talent. There is a lot of conjecture as to the cause of Rossini’s early retirement.  He had a passion for food and it is often speculated that he gave up composing in order to pursue his love of the culinary arts.  To this day, there are several Italian dishes that bare his name.  Whatever the reason for his early retirement, it was at least partially due to burnout.  He had written two, three, sometimes even five operas a year for almost two decades (39 operas in total).

He had a unique way of using procrastination as a tool for inspiration.  Here, for example, are his thoughts on writing an overture:

“Wait until the evening before opening night. Nothing primes inspiration more than necessity, whether it be the presence of a copyist waiting for your work or the prodding of an impresario tearing his hair out. In my time, all the impresarios in Italy were bald at thirty.

I wrote the overture to “Otello” in a small room of the Palazzo Barbaja, where the baldest and rudest of directors had forcibly locked me up with a lone plate of spaghetti and the threat that I would not be allowed to leave the room alive until I had written the last note.

I wrote the overture to “La Gazza Ladra” the day before the opening night under the roof of the Scala Theatre, where I had been imprisoned by the director and secured by four stagehands who were instructed to throw my original text through the window, page by page, to the copyists waiting below to transcribe it. If I didn’t write the pages, they were ordered to throw me out the window instead. For “Barbiere”, I did better: I did not even compose an overture, I just took one already destined for my opera, “Elisabetta”. The public was very pleased.

I composed the overture to “Comte Ory” while fishing, with my feet in the water, and in the company of Signor Agnado, who talked of his Spanish fiancée. The overture to “Guillaume Tell” was composed under more or less similar circumstances.”

Overture to “Guillaume Tell” 1829 (William Tell)

Overture to “La Gazza Ladra” 1817 (The Thieving Magpie)

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I’ve been listening to music from Gluck’s opera, “Iphigénie en Tauride” recently.  It’s not a well known opera and it’s not one that I am much acquainted with. It is going to be telecast live in HD from the Metropolitan Opera, on Feb 26th in select movie theatres all over the world.  I am definitely going to see it!

Gluck is considered one of the pioneering composers of the Classical period (1750 – 1830). During the Classical period, composers were discovering ways of bringing a new depth of feeling to their music, through the use of melodies, rhythms and dynamics. Gluck cut the ornate layers of the grandiose Baroque style and focused instead on bringing depth of dramatic tension and feeling to his operatic music.   Despite this, his operas are rarely performed today.  This is largely due to the fact that much later on in the Classical period, the operatic works of one of the greatest composers in history, Mozart, were to outshine those of his predecessors, and bring opera to a whole new level of sophistication and brilliance of sound.   Still, listening to Gluck’s meltingly beautiful aria, “Ô malheureuse Iphigénie”, I can’t help but wonder how Gluck’s audience must have felt upon hearing this [then] completely new style of music.  Music that was far more layered, more sensitive and more emotionally honest than any music written before.

War and Non-War

February 15, 2011

I don’t want to hear anymore about peace.  Next to the word “love” it is probably the most overused and subjective word there is.  Just as the notion of “right and wrong” is determined by societal boundaries, peace is a concept that is entirely open to self and societal interpretation. The word “peace” takes on whatever meaning we give to it.  It even varies in interpretation from language to language! Everyone wants peace for his or herself, and it is always at the cost of others. People are killed in the name of peace.  Wars are fought for peace.  There hasn’t been a war in history that hasn’t been started in the name of peace.  If there were no concepts of peace, then perhaps we wouldn’t have war.  I don’t want any part of anyone’s peace!  It’s very important that we stop using this word and replace it with objective terms such as “non-war” or “non-violence”, as these are concepts that do not change in interpretation from one culture, language, or society to the next.

My Latest Artwork

February 15, 2011

For my latest set of art photos I’ve been experimenting with green screen to create fragmented images of myself.  I am currently working on animating these images to create a kind of stop motion animation.

Coming Apart

Coming Apart

And So It Begins….

February 14, 2011

It’s Valentine’s Day and contrary to my initial plan to celebrate this commercial holiday through the mass consumption of chocolate, I instead decided to start this blog.  I had been contemplating the creation of this blog for three years, but somehow I always found a reason or an excuse not to start it, until today.  I am thoroughly excited by the prospect of having my own page on the internet where I can speak about things that are important to me, but I am also feeling a little nervous at the thought of being judged by what I write and how I write it.  I’m not even sure what kind of theme or structure this blog should have.  I guess I’ll just make up the rules as I go along and see how it works out.  One thing I am quite sure of is that my mother will be thrilled that I have finally started this blog, as she has been nudging me about it for some time now.  I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if she turns out to be the only person who reads it.  I’ve started writing this blog so many times in my head, but I have never written any of my ideas down, which is a shame, because now I am not at all sure what to write about.  Should I write a little bit about who I am?  If you read the section of this blog that gives a short biography of myself, then you already know that I am a filmmaker/ artist/ writer.  If I were to give you a more personal account of who I am, then I would describe myself as a woman in her mid twenties, and, like many (or even most) people my age, I have absolutely no idea what I am doing.  I have no clear long-term goals at the moment, but there are certainly many things I want in life, chiefly, I want to live a life immersed in the arts.  Art in all its wondrous forms is the only thing that has ever interested me.  It’s really what I live for.  As an artist, my world is the world of my dreams.  And in this way, the world of my dreams is a part of my reality, it is my truth.  Filmmaker Akira Kurosawa famously said, “Art is a lie that tells the truth”.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to start this blog.  This has truly been the best Valentine’s gift I could have given myself today.

Thank you for reading! I can’t wait to share more with you in the future.