Archive for April, 2010

Bob Mould at The Cactus Cafe

Bob MouldUnless you’ve been under a rock for the last four months, you’ve heard that UT announced it would be closing the Cactus Cafe at the end of the summer. It appears that public outcry has caused them to reconsider that decision. As far as I can tell, the two proposals gaining interest now are either that it be run by the students or by KUT. They continue to take feedback until May 7.

I’ve apparently been under a rock because I didn’t realize until yesterday morning that Bob Mould was in town for a two night stand at the aforementioned Cactus Cafe. I quickly checked with The Wife and that tickets were still available and got myself down there for the second night. I’ve only been to the Cactus a couple of times, but I had not doubt that it’d be a great intimate venue for Bob’s solo show and given the uncertain future, it may be my last chance to see the Cactus in its familiar glory.

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Hansel and Gretel: not just for children

There were a lot of children at the first-night performance of Hansel and Gretel on Saturday, and they did stay right through to the end, not taking advantage of the intermission to leave, which is a good thing, because the last act was very much the best one.

The orchestra in the pit was illuminated by a spotlight for the entire overture (the opening was at too slow a tempo, a lot of us thought), before the curtain rose on the first stage vignette of the evening. The sets and lighting were wonderful throughout, and voices were strong and musicianly.

We all know some version of this story. In this one, there’s no woodcutter, no forest, and not a single breadcrumb. For the purpose of this production, Central Park in New York is the woodsy location, and the witch is a creature of the late nineteenth century.

The stage busines and choreography were a treat; theatrically and musically all was a pleasure to see and hear. I don’t believe that Austin Lyric Opera has ever performed this opera.

I found the English translation to be facetious and distracting, perhaps because as a child I was in a choir that sang the dance, the “little man” song, and the song of guardian angels (“when at night I go to sleep”) in a different translation. The little bits of German that are heard seem to suit the music best. It is certainly true, though, that the English text does go well in the last act, which is wonderful. I don’t want to spoil any part of that, and no part of it should be missed.

Three performances remain: Wednesday, 28 April, at 7:30 pm; Friday, 30 April, at 7:30 pm; and Sunday, 2 May, at 3 pm (call 472-5992 for more information). As always, there are supertitles displayed above the stage in order to assist in understanding what is being sung. Although every part was performed well, I consider the witch to have the star turn. Austin is fortunate indeed to enjoy a live performance of this classic.

Cathedral of Junk, shrine of recycling, target of code-enforcers

“But is it art?,” asks today’s WSJ (“A Junk Pile Grows in Texas,” byline Ana Campoy). Austin’s code-compliance people have been active on a number of fronts lately, and the Cathedral of Junk is one of them. In today’s front-page article for a national readership, accompanied by on-line pix and a video, Austin is described as for decades “a college town with abundant cheap housing” and “a magnet for hippies, slackers, and musicians looking for a care-free existence.” Eeyore’s Birthday (today, by the way) and the Spoke come in for a mention. Some people think that the Cathedral would have continued unmolested were it not for the continuing gentrification of its neighborhood. When it comes to changes in the old-time modest neighborhoods, what I notice are teardowns, “remodeling” that leaves on corner of the old house, paid lawncare, housecleaners, newcomers who don’t ride the bus and so don’t care if century-old transit routes are abolished, and people who pick other people’s flowers.

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