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September 11th, 2011

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Don Giovanni: A review

December 17th, 2011

I was impressed at how well the orchestra and opera singers were keeping up with each other. They were able to match each other down to each individual word and note. It showed how much effort and time was spent trying to perfect the performance and it made me gain newfound respect for them. I was also surprised at the last scene of the opera where Don Giovanni was dragged down to hell. Throughout the entire opera, I kept wondering how that scene would play out. While debating about it in my head, I finally convinced myself that they would probably skip that scene since it would be difficult to have real fire on the stage. It was at the same moment that stage cracked and fire appeared while Giovanni was being dragged down to “hell”. However, I wasn’t the only one that was surprised. I found that once that scene came on, everyone around me became wide-awake. Out of the whole performance, it was the most exciting and unexpected scene.

I also found that watching the opera, as opposed to just reading it, gave a better glimpse at the characteristics of each character. For example, Don Giovanni represents pleasure and greed. Giovanni’s only goals in life are women and wine. He refuses to back down or change his ways as evident when he chooses hell. He ultimately doesn’t care about the feelings of the people, such as Leporello and the women he played, that surrounded him. Leporello is essentially Giovanni’s shadow as he represents the polar opposite of Giovanni. The idea of Leporello being Giovanni’s shadow is further supported by the resemblance between the actors of Leporello and Giovanni during the opera and the twins that were casted to play them in the clip we saw at the library. Leporello represents restraint, poverty, cowardice and failure with women. The women in the opera portray fickleness. For example, Donna Elvira moves between hating and loving Giovanni. In the beginning of the opera, Donna Elvira wants revenge on Giovanni but after some coaxing she goes back to loving him. Zerlina, on the other hand, alternates between Maestro and Giovanni. Donna Anna doesn’t stay true to her word and keeps giving excuses. In the beginning of the opera, she refuses to marry until she gets revenge for her father but at the end she still refuses to marry because she needs a year of mourning. Don Ottavio represents loyalty. He is devoted to Donna Anna and swears to get revenge for her, even if it means killing a friend.

Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique Review

December 17th, 2011

Watching the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique provided a different experience than the Tokyo String Quartet. While The String Quartet only had four players (two violinists, a violist and a cellist), the orchestra had about twenty players just for the violin alone. Having a balcony seat during the orchestra allowed us to get a clear view of each player’s techniques and styles. As a result, I found it mesmerizing to see so many violinists moving their bows together in unison. This is in contrast to the Quartet where each individual plays a separate role in the music piece without guidance. In contrast to that, the orchestra had a conductor present. Since we had a balcony seat, the conductor’s back was always facing us but we were able to get a clear view of his movements. I found it interesting to watch him move his body along with the music. Unlike the quartet, his movement was no longer limited to just his head movements. Here the conductor was able to move his head, hand and body fast, slow, left, right, up and down to the music. Another difference between the two performances is that the orchestra had woodwind, brass and percussion instruments in addition to the strings. Since the orchestra had a larger variety of instruments, they were also able to produce more sounds. I thought that it was a nice edition to the music. Perhaps I’m biased because I used to play in a band or it could be due my need for variety because I get bored easily.

Personally, because of these differences I enjoyed the orchestra more than the string quartet. I felt that the style of music in the orchestra was closer to the type of music that I listen to. I think that the addition of the band instruments gave the music a more modern feel, deviating from the traditional classical music with just the strings. Compared to the quartet, I found that the music played by the orchestra was more upbeat and dramatic. After all, they were easily able to go from quiet creeping sounds to loud and lively music. A random thought that came to me during the orchestra performance when the quiet creeping music was playing was Tom and Jerry. It’s a cartoon that I watched as a kid about a cat and mouse that are constantly at each other’s throats.

Removal of Man at the Crossroads: Right or wrong?

November 27th, 2011

Upon seeing “Man at the Crossroads”, I think that the removal of it was the right decision and ultimately Diego Rivera is at fault. He blatantly painted an offensive image of John D. Rockefeller, an active supporter of the Prohibition and a Baptist, drinking gin and surrounded with prostitutes in low cut shirts. As a further insult, Rivera also included a picture of Lenin. This was extremely problematic because Rivera essentially portrayed the Rockefellers, a prominent American family, as if they were against the Prohibition and in support of communism during the Red Scare. Personally, I’m not against artists using their work to depict their political views but it was wrong for Rivera to create a false image of his employer. In addition, he tricked the Rockefellers by having them approve a “fake” sketch of the mural, only for him to completely change it once he started working. But, I thought that it was interesting for Rivera to blatantly include images of alcohol and communism without even attempting to hide it. It makes it seem as though he was purposely trying to provoke Rockefeller and it makes me wonder whether Rivera actually thought he would get away with it.

Besides maintaining the image of the Rockefellers, I feel that if Rivera’s mural weren’t taken down it would ruin the majestic atmosphere of Rockefeller Center. After all, it serves as a symbol of the legacy of the Rockefellers and essentially a reminder of the possibilities of the American dream. It represents their idealized self and allows them to escape the realities of life, suffering and hardships. Here, in Rockefeller Center they can forget their everyday life and bask in the fruits of success. But, having a picture of the Rockefellers drinking gin and supporting communism would tarnish this image of perfection and replace it with one of a lawbreaker and a rebel.

Outer Space: A review

November 5th, 2011

My initial reaction to “I don’t believe in outer space” was confusion. It took awhile to realize that it was the same actress portraying both the meek woman and the snaring more demanding voice. I thought it was two separate individuals until I realized that she was the only woman on stage. Perhaps, it’s because I’m not use to seeing one actress portraying multiple roles. Also, I found that it was hard to focus on just one aspect of the play because there were so many things going on at the same time. There were too many visual and auditory stimuli assaulting my senses all at once. For example, at the start of the play there was the actress portraying two roles, a guy creeping around the stage, two men doing ballet with each other and a man lying on the floor on stage simultaneously. Since there were so many scenes going on at the same time, by focusing on one scene I end up getting lost in another. If I focused my attention on the ballet dancers, I ended up losing track of the words that the woman was saying. Throughout the whole play, I found myself trying to find a way to connect these seemingly random scenes to no avail. But, I think that the ending summed up the whole play. I thought that perhaps the random events represented life, one filled with constant activity and energy. But, when a person dies it all disappears like the voice of the woman and the light at the end of the play.

I thought that the film had a Fluxus aspect to it. It was a deviation from the traditional ballet performances and plays. It didn’t have a clear-cut plot line that the audience can follow and had multiple scenes occurring on stage at the same time. Even the ballet dances were a deviation from the norm. For example, in the beginning of the play there were two males dancing together, with one of them performing the role of a female. In another instance, one of the ballet dancers stuffed balls in his pant before continuing to dance. It was quite an odd action. I would think that while performing, no dancer would want unnecessarily cumbersome objects on the body. Wouldn’t those balls in his pants hinder or make his movements awkward? Was there a purpose for it? Perhaps, he wanted to enhance his assets (for the particulars of his piece) or simply to provide comic relief.

One particular scene that stood out to me was when the man clothed in all black came onto the stage. It was partly due to his clothes, which was different from the other actors and actresses. But the main point that stood out was that his speech had rhyme. I thought that it was interesting that among the seemingly random events, his speech was the only thing that had a form of structure or order to it.

Boardwalk Voices

September 26th, 2011

Walking along the boardwalk

There are phrases such as

Please keep our beach clean


Please don’t litter

Trash here

Mamma loves Sanna

Welcome to Coney Island



New York Rules


Empire State College

Brooklyn New York 2011

Written on those rusty chipped metal garbage cans

Each vividly decorated in

Red, blue, purple, orange, green or yellow paint

With images of the sea, sun, fish, clouds and more

How did they get there?

Why bother painting on them?

Is it so that we can throw out garbage in style?

As I was pondering these thoughts

I received strange looks

From those passing by


Walking along the boardwalk

Past the garbage cans

Are the mural paintings

Filled with pictures of

Fish, sharks, turtles, jellyfish, sea stars, coral reefs

Even human shadows

And the big bold words of

New York Aquarium


It just makes you wonder

Are these paintings

Coney Island’s way to

Raise environmental awareness?

Express New York Pride?

Or even familial love?

Visiting Coney Island and High Line

September 26th, 2011

Coney Island and the High Line are products of different centuries and yet serve the same purpose of being a resort. I think that New Yorkers can be essentially described as “…a reservoir of people existing under conditions that require them to escape occasionally.” (koolhaas 30) Constantly being part of the hectic lifestyle associated with the city life and surrounded by buildings and technology can be suffocating. It’s no wonder that New Yorkers want a place of escape, where they can just relax and take a break.

Although Coney Island and the High Line each have their own distinct background, they both serve as a form of relief from the city life. It’s a place that people of all ethnicity and ages can enjoy and it’s not only limited to New Yorkers. Every year, these locations also attract thousands of tourists who are looking for entertainment. It’s a place where families can spend quality time with each other. They can take a stroll together and look at the scenery or just take a moment to talk to each other. It’s an opportunity for them to enhance the parent-children relationship, something that they might be too busy for at home. It’s a place where couples can meet and get to know each other better. It’s also a place where people can go by themselves and take pictures. These places allow people to unwind and take a break from their city life. Although both Coney Island and the High Line serve as a resort, there are differences in how they entertain their guests.

The High Line, built in the twenty-first century, embraces the city life and incorporates the ocean, traffic and tall buildings into the scenery. The background is constantly filled with sounds of traffic and construction. As you walk along the High Line, you are able to see both sides of New York, the past and present. If you start at the beginning of the High Line, near 17thstreet, there will be worn down and abandoned brick buildings and various construction projects. This is perhaps a representation of what New York used to look like, before new designs were introduced. However, once you reach 25th street the view changes drastically. Instead of the brick buildings there are now glass buildings, glass elevators and marble flooring. This provides a representation of modern New York, the result of technology and advancements.

In addition, the High Line is tailored to meet the taste of different people because it’s an assimilation of various environments. For example, there are beach chairs with flowing water on the floor that mimics the beach for those that enjoy spending time there. There is also a large grass field for children to play catch, do cartwheels or roll around on. It even has empty platforms for people to express their creativity in forms such as plays. People also express themselves through abstract and realist paintings of the city architecture. These paintings are available for sale on the High Line. The High Line can best be described as “… a series of manipulations and transformations performed on the nature “saved’ by its designers.” (koolhass 23) After all the majority of the High Line, down to its infrastructure is artificial. For example, the High Line is built on an elevated railroad track that’s held up by steel structures, all man made. The plants on the High Line are also planted and organized by the designers. There aren’t even any natural animals on the High Line. Several pigeons were on the rooftops of buildings near the High Line but there weren’t any on the High Line itself.

Coney Island, on the other hand, is built in isolation from the city life. The only evidence of the city is the tall buildings in the distance, but besides that it’s just the ocean, sand and amusement parks. The background in Coney Island is filled with sounds of the ocean waves and screams and laughter from those on the rollercoaster rides. Unlike the High Line, Coney Island creates a more historic atmosphere that evokes childhood memories. It’s filled with arcades, roller coasters, flee markets, street performances and carnival games that make you nostalgic.These types of entertainment are more interactive with the audience and evoke more intimate emotions such as fear, excitement and joy. Even the food there, such as Nathan’s and cotton candy, contributes to the festive carnival atmosphere in Coney Island. Aside from these, there’s also the beach where people can swim, sun tan and build sand castles. People can also go further down the boardwalk to go fishing or crab hunting. Both the beach and fishing provide a full escape from both the city and technology. In both these activities, people can revert back to the old times and use simple equipment for enjoyment. Both these activities can be enjoyed by family members of different generations because it’s one of the few things that hasn’t changed with time. Unlike the High Line, Coney Island is focused more on the arts. The walls and even the garbage cans along the boardwalk are filled with paintings of the sea life. The garbage cans, in particular, express environmental friendly phrases such as please don’t liter and New York pride.

Although both the High Line and Coney Island have different forms of entertainment for the audience, they both serve as a resort for those that want to take a break from the city life. They are places where people of all gender, ethnicity and age can enjoy. However, it seems that Coney Island is no longer being faced with the problem of “ …inordinate number of people assembling on the inadequate acreage…” (koolhaas 35) While walking throughout Coney Island, the place was practically deserted. Most of the arcades and even parts of the amusement parks were closed down. It seems that Coney Island has lost its popularity as people seek other forms of entertainment, such as the High Line.


Works Cited

Koolhaas, Rem. Delirious New York. New York: Monacelli Press, 1994. Print.