* I watched some parts of the 2-hr American Masters program about Leonard Bernstein tonight. (Wished I had known it was on earlier--I dislike when post-work open-mouthed torpor keeps me stuck on semi-crappy stuff when there's something substantive on I would prefer to watch, had I just a little more energy to go a-cruising on the remote!) Managed to miss entirely the segments about West Side Story and Mass, his pieces that had the biggest place in my childhood (I have the sense that I'm supposed to say it's Candide or Kaddish or the Chichester Psalms, but I've never really considered WSS second-rate or semi-classical or whatever--think it's astonishing music--plus those were the LPs that got worn out in my parent's living room in my youth) but managed to bawl all the way through it anyhow.
[Now that I'm feeling a little less bawl-ly, I'd like to note that that man was photographed more often than any celebrity I can think of; not only that, the photographs of him--and there were many tiers/kinds, including the super iconic face-with-two-hands-the-rest-mostly-black Conducting photos, and the sweaty intense before/after photos, the smoking/composing ones, the face-on/thoughtful/craggy-faced ones with that face that always remind me of my grandfather with that big nose and white hair, the Social photos--are unusually crucial to our experience of him as a celebrity. All that still photography is a larger-than-normal aspect of how his personality was communicated to the public, which is interesting since his fame was--somewhere, fundamentally--about sound, not visuals, not to mention all the years of moving pitchers on TV (that I never saw). But still. I find it impossible to think of him without simultaneously seeing those photos...]
There's a lot to bawl about watching the program. Apart from my personal and family feelings are all the obvious ones: his childhood, his joy, his intensity, his amazing gifts, his precociousness, his aging, the scenes of him in Israel, his sense that he didn't use his talent completely, all the agonies of being gifted, the well-worn story of his last performance at Tanglewood (I had only read it, not heard it told out loud by a participant--it was very moving plus good GOLLY do I love Beethoven's 7th), his connections with people, the fact that all the music on the program was either composed or conducted by him, when he lived and how he handled it, the overall *largeness* of his life. Anyhow, they're repeating the show and I'm going to tape it. It was hard not to yearn for a big enormous existence watching that program--I know he suffered from many demons, but he bit off such big hunks of life... Makes you want to live differently.
* So, the Met announced yesterday that it will be simulcasting operas in movie theaters next year! I think this is a pretty great idea--*I'll* go, shoot. Chairs will be more comfortable, I bet. Their choices are quite interesting--they're opening with an English-language (bleh) adaptation of Magic Flute, the Julie Taymor production. I can see why they'd choose it, but all I can think of is what a *long* movie that made when I saw the Ingmar Bergman version as I a kid and my poor sister got sick to her stomach, but we'll see. Then I Puritani (!), the premiere of Tan Dun's The First Emperor, and how fucking COOL is Placido D. for continuing to expand his repertoire...I really love him for that, Eugene Onegin (!!) with Renee Fleming and Dmitri Hvorostovsky--I actually saw them both in Onegin at the Lyric--v. pretty, The Barber of Seville (!!!) and Il Trittico (!!!!). Good golly. I wonder how casual the environment will be? It will be cool to be able to snack during the program! Whee! The Met's also doing podcasts and all sorts of stuff--I think it's a highly sensible way to push on, and doesn't seem like it's as horrid as some of the compromises opera has to make these days, like parking a Lexus in the lobby or cutting experimental works to throw in another ABC opera.
* I just received a second-hand book I ordered: The Complete Lyrics of Cole Porter. What a great thing this seems to be to have. I very much hope that I get lackadaisical face time with it--it feels like the kind of book that's just begging for you to spend two-three lazy/wandering but completely nutritious hours with it on the couch, soaking it up. So cool! And God bless second-hand--would have been $60-some without it.