Rockefeller Center Doesn’t Need Diego Rivera

Posted in Reviews on November 28th, 2011 by Will Lorenzo

Diego Rivera was commissioned to paint a mural on the ground floor wall of Rockefeller Center.  Rockefeller wanted the mural to make people stop and think.  Rivera started to paint a mural called Man at the Crossroads.  The mural depicted people drinking alcohol (Rockefeller was pro-prohibition), pictures of cells (cells depicted STDs), and Vladimir Lenin (an easily recognized communist).  All of this led Rockefeller to order the removal of the mural from Rockefeller Center, and rightfully so.  I think that it was unnecessary to completely destroy the mural, but it definitely should have been removed.  A center of capitalism with a mural depicting communism.  A mural depicting cells of sexually transmitted diseases.  This particular mural had no place in Rockefeller Center.

There were photos taken of the mural before it was destroyed.  Rivera used the money he got from Rockefeller to re-create the same mural in Mexico City, where it was welcomed.  He named this mural, Man, Controller of the Universe.  He continued to use the money that he got from Rockefeller to keep on re-painting the same mural over and over again in different places until the money ran out.

I don’t believe that it is necessary to know the history of the mural controversy when visiting Rockefeller Center.  The fact that a mural was supposed to be there does not really natter, the fact is, there’s no mural now.  It would be irrelevant to imagine a mural there, because there never will be.  Also, Rockefeller Center does not need to have a mural; it is a work of art in itself.  Millions of people walk through Rockefeller Center and I’m sure that very few of them know about the mural controversy, but they still go.  I didn’t know about the mural controversy until a week ago, and I’ve been going to Rockefeller Center my entire life.  There are so many aspects of Rockefeller Center that a person goes there to see.  There’s the statue of Atlas, the stature of Prometheus, the ice-skating rink, the flags, the RKO building, Radio City Music Hall, the beautiful Christmas Tree, and much more.  That’s the only important thing to know about Rockefeller Center, not some information about a non-existent mural.


Don Giovanni: Un’opera in Due Atti

Posted in Reviews on November 8th, 2011 by Will Lorenzo

It was a good thing that I brought my inhaler to the Met last night because by the time we climbed Mount Everest to the Family Circle, I desperately needed it.  I guess it didn’t really matter that I brought my glasses because I wouldn’t even have been able to see the stage with the Hubble Telescope.  The thing that really makes the opera better than the rest of the things we’ve done so far, is that even though the seats were beyond terrible, the opera was still fantastic.  The opera was great from beginning to end.  I assume that the only good thing about the family circle is that it actually makes the opera more believable because you really can’t tell the difference between Don Giovanni and Leporello.  The Don’s and Leporello’s performances were absolutely fantastic.  Leporello is a true buffo.  The commendatore also did a great job even though he only had a small, but pivotal, role.  There were three instances during the opera that I can use to illustrate the magnificence of this opera.  First, I would choose Leporello’s Catalog Aria.  This aria, where Leporello tells Elvira about The Don’s list of women, exhibits Leporello’s real personality and is a pivotal aria in the opera.  (Audio of Leporello’s Catalog Aria performed by the man we saw, Luca Pisaroni, can be heard here.)  Second, I would say Don Giovanni’s Champagne Aria.  This aria, exhibits the inner Don Giovanni, and although short, is also a pivotal aria advancing The Don’s character.  (Audio of The Don’s Champagne Aria performed by the man we saw, Mariusz Kwiecien, can be heard here.)  Third, I would say that the end of the opera just adds the icing to the cake.  The final scene of The Don being dragged into hell can be portrayed in many different ways, some better than others.  This particular performance included the stage floor opening up and sucking The Don into “hell” in a blaze of pyrotechnic glory.  These three components of the performance of Don Giovanni proves the true magnificence and genius of the opera that we saw.  The last thing that I can say about Don Giovanni – Bravo!  Bravissimo!


Tokyo String Quartet: A Review

Posted in Reviews on November 8th, 2011 by Will Lorenzo

The evening started with me getting lost a wee bit too close to Harlem.  When I eventually found the theater, which looked nothing like a regular Y, it was about five minutes past eight.  The ticket-taker told me that I would have to wait for the end of the first piece before I could go in and take my seat, so she directed me to the waiting area.  In this area, I watched the entire first piece on a high definition TV with extreme close-ups of the quartet.  The sound quality was fantastic, and it was amplified.  To top it all off, I was sitting on a small couch in an air-conditioned room.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  The ticket-taker then told me that I was clear to enter the theater.  I walked into the stifling hot theater and found my seat amidst the rest of the geriatric ward.  It was more difficult to hear, harder to see, and it had to be about seventy degrees in there.  Without a doubt, this was one of those things that was worse live because of the theater conditions.  Slow classical music itself does not really interest me, live or not, but it definitely was better outside of the theater in the waiting area.  The music was so slow and it was so hot, that it was difficult not to fall asleep.  I honestly can say that even when the music got fast, and more to my liking, it ended so quickly that it wasn’t enjoyable.  The only truly good part of the performance, in my opinion, was the last five minutes of the performance, the allegro molto vivace.  Much like the Italian translation suggests, the last five minutes are cheerful and lively; therefore, it was the only part that I enjoyed.  The music and the surroundings were so depressing, that during the performance, I temporarily lost the will to live, but the end of the performance lifted my spirits, much like Christmas music, and I went on my merry way, cheerful and lively.


Who Doesn’t Believe in Outer Space?

Posted in Reviews on November 8th, 2011 by Will Lorenzo

The day after the performance, a friend of mine asked me what it was about.  I had to think about that for a few minutes, and I eventually realized how to describe it.  I told him that the performance was a peek into the mind of a deranged psychopath.  After all, only someone who is deranged would repeatedly recite the lyrics to a bad disco song throughout the entire performance.  Most of the characters in the performance seemed deranged as well, especially the split personality character.  When she had the deep voice she seemed like a serial killer, but I think it was even creepier when she had the high pitched “tame” voice.  I didn’t really understand or enjoy the performance in a traditional sense.  The only part that I found somewhat enjoyable was the part when the professor needed two of the dancers to keep propping up and straightening out his spaghetti legs; and then he would say “thank you” in his thick accent.  The fact that the stage was full of balls of tape that everyone had to tiptoe around for the entire play was strange.  It was even more strange when the guy started playing with the balls of tape and shoving things down his pants.  It was almost as if the entire cast and crew were on the stage having a happening and the audience knew nothing about it and was just told that it was a performance.  Finally, the name of the performance itself made absolutely no sense at all.  What did the performance have to do with outer space or the disbelief thereof?  Nothing.  I believe that the only way to respond to this performance is to say how one feels as an individual while sitting through it.  Personally, at first I was afraid, I was petrified, but I grew strong, and I learned how to carry on.  Did they think I would crumble?  Did they think I would lay down and die?  Oh no, not I.  I will survive.  It took all the strength I had not to fall apart, but now I hold my head up high and you see me, somebody new, and I’ll survive, I will survive.  Hey, hey.


Leporello’s Catalog Aria

Posted in More on October 31st, 2011 by Will Lorenzo

Here is a link to a YouTube clip of Ferruccio Furlanetto, generally regarded as one of the best Leporello’s, performing the catalog aria at the Met a few years ago.  Furlanetto may not be a buffo, but his comedic roles, especially Leporello, make him one of the best Italian bass singers.

Madamina, il catalogo è questo (Leporello, Ferruccio Furlanetto)


The End of the Line: A Satire of the High Line

Posted in Photos, Site Creative, Site Observations on September 26th, 2011 by Will Lorenzo

It was just an ordinary day.  I was taking a stroll through New York City when I came across an entrance to the High Line.  I had heard about the High Line in the media and from my friends, but I had never actually been there before.  As I passed by the entrance on 14th Street, I decided that I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  Everyone always talked about the beauty and the peacefulness found atop the heavenly High Line.  It was my turn to experience it.  I walked up the stairs and I thought to myself “Wow! This is really –!”  I hit the ground like a ton of bricks.  A German tourist (I know this because he was speaking German and holding a map of New York – and no self-respecting New Yorker needs a map of New York) walked into me like he was Secret Service and I was John Wilkes Booth.  As I’m recovering, standing up from being knocked down, he didn’t even stop to apologize for nearly knocking me into a coma.  But I just shrugged it off and kept walking along the High Line.  One can say the High Line is like a pinball machine.  As I walked, I was getting knocked around like a human pinball, one person smacked me into another, and he smacked me into a third, and so on.  I now had a splitting headache and I saw the exit stairs.  I was so thrilled as I walked toward them.  Then, all of a sudden, a group of about 100 speed walkers walked into me from behind like a stampede and carried me like a wave all the way past the exit stairs.  Now I’m enraged and I begin to run to reach the next exit, when I see a bunch of children playing in the grass.  This seemed genuinely peaceful, like a scene from a movie.  Some of the children were playing by the edge of the High Line, when I began to think to myself, “Huh? The rails are pretty low; the Park’s Department should –!”  One by one, the children started climbing over the edge of the rail, plummeting down to the ground below them.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I started running again for the next exit when I saw what I feared the most.  Walking towards me was a group of yuppie Manhattanites, with their bow ties and top hats, walking sticks and tuxedo tails, and like always not a care in the world and a complete disregard towards others.  I soon found myself on the ground once again, now being trampled by the next hindrance on the High Line.  When they finally walked past me, I got myself up, brushed myself off, and ran for the exit.  I could see it … it was so close.  Right at the top of the exit stairway, there were a group of pirates!  That’s right, pirates.  I figured that they were pretty harmless, when all of a sudden, a guy walked by and one of the pirates shanked him in the back.  As the pirates started to walk down the stairs, I ran by again hoping that the next exit would be close by.  I ran, bruised, bleeding, and concussed.  I ran, and I ran, as fast as I could.  I hit a fence.  I turned around and I saw it.  I was so proud of myself.  I had made it to the end of the line.


Coney Island and The High Line

Posted in Photos, Site Essay, Site Observations on September 26th, 2011 by Will Lorenzo

Conceived more than 100 years apart, Coney Island and the High Line are two New York City sites which are both products of their times, reflecting different ideas about recreation, culture, and society.  The two locations are very difficult to compare, because I believe that they are somewhat different.

Both of these attractions offer its visitors an escape from the world around them.  The High Line takes its visitors above New York City, giving them a bird’s-eye view of New York.  It contains a handful of artwork dispersed throughout the walkway.  The High Line also includes benches along both the edge of the el and near the old train tracks, now overgrown with foliage.  It also contains a viewing gallery, where people can sit and overlook the New York traffic as it drives by underneath them.

Coney Island takes its visitors away from the busy streets of Brooklyn and propels them into an entirely different world.  Coney Island houses the boardwalk, a peaceful walkway along the Atlantic Ocean.  The area also contains parks, ballparks, and amusement parks, and notably an aquarium.  It’s the home of the original Nathan’s Famous and also is the end of the line for five of New York’s MTA subway lines.

“The most peaceful high place in New York right now is a stretch of viaduct called the High Line.” (Gopnik).  This is the way that Gopnik described the High Line, as opposed to the way that Gorky described Coney Island as a place where people “become a particle in a [gigantic] crowd.” (Koolhaas 68).  My personal experiences have brought me to believe that, today, these descriptions are reversed.  According to what I saw, Coney Island is a peaceful place to go; whereas, the High Line is a place where one gets lost in an enormous crowd of people, and peace is the last thing one can find.

I found that when I was at Coney Island, most of my time was spent on the Boardwalk.  I went on a Saturday afternoon, and I found the Boardwalk to be a very peaceful, relaxing place to be.  I was intrigued by the old parachute jump outside of MCU Park, due to its immense size and finding that it was composed of symmetric and repeated geometric shapes.  I feel that it is like the Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn.

I found that while I was on the High Line, most of my time was spent shielding myself from other people and tourists around me.  The High Line was anything but peaceful.  It was jam-packed with people, trendy and rude locals and tourists alike.  I felt like I was playing touch football, I would get slammed into from the left and as I was flying right, I would get slammed into from behind.  It was so full of people that I could barely walk unencumbered.  I do feel, however, that the High Line would be a potentially calm place to be, less the immense crowd.

Both the High Line and Coney Island were the opposite of what I expected to find.  Perhaps my off-season visits gave me a wrong impression of the sites.  Reading articles and seeing pictures of the High Line, people expect it to be an empty, peaceful place.  Maybe the High Line is different on a Saturday afternoon than at other times.  Likewise, people expect Coney Island to be a jam-packed, boisterous place, with crowded beaches and the hugely popular Mermaid Parade.  But in late September, it is a calm, fun place to be, with thinning crowds.  I hope to one day return to the High Line to find that empty, peaceful place, and to go to Coney Island during the peak of Summer and be greeted by a large, rambunctious, but fun crowd of Brooklynites.


Gopnik, Adam. “A Walk on the High Line.” The New Yorker May 21, 2001: 44-49. Print.
Koolhaas, Rem. Delirious New York. New York: Monacelli Press, 1994. Print.