Frank’s Fax Facts and Reviews
Vol.. XIV No. 1
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Spring Has Sprung
After the complete lack of anything even resembling winter last year, we actually had a few days in which I was able (at long last) to wear some of my winter wardrobe. Now, with the first day of spring behind us, the weather seems still to be confused: my azaleas, which were not cut back this fall, were never more gorgeous. The fresh green leaves with the Pride of Mobile blossoms still make a most agreeable picture! I wanted to capture this sight on film, but alas, my cameras have not captured a single photograph so far. My oldest (which was always so easy to use) has a started roll of film inside, but nothing is working right. I try to move the film to the next number, and the thing seems dead! And my two expensive cameras (one from George is magnificent- another I bought for myself, and never learned how to use). I might do better if I could buy film for my 75 year old dollar “Brownie”, from Kodak that my sister, Josephine, gave me in the 1930’s!
My Carolina jasmine’s yellow blossoms, added to the white azaleas, and two giant Wisteria bushes, with their non-edible clusters of grapes, make for a beautiful sight indeed.
Draft Dodgers Anonymous
Operas and Operettas
German opera houses are different from those in the US in one significant way: you are not allowed to be seated after the performance begins. These people take their operas seriously! I was all for this practice, until I happened to arrive late (for an unusual afternoon performance of Wagner’s Parsifal, on Good Friday.) The reason I was late was that the only soldiers excused from duty on this Holy Day, were those of the Jewish Faith. I was so irate that I walked into the room full of officers, and said that I could not understand why one sect would be excused because the day was called Passover, and I would not be excused to see an opera that does honor to the Christian religions. I finally convinced them to let me off (the fact that I was a musician, and wanted to see an opera that I might never again have the opportunity of seeing, otherwise) must have touched their hearts.
By the time I was able to get to the Opera House, the orchestra was playing the Overture. I had my ticket in my hand, and attempted to enter the theater. I was stopped by one of the ushers (who always have programs for sale, for a small fee). I tried (with my limited German vocabulary) to explain why I was late. I knew he finally gave in and allowed me to “Break the Law” and not miss any of the work I had been so determined to see. And when you miss an act of Wagner, that’s a large part of a full day!
I made it a habit, after that, to be on time, or not to go that night. There was usually another opportunity to see the opera later on.
That first year I had spent at Michigan State, one of the required courses for my degree, was a class on Musical Literature. The teacher was a darling old gentleman who apparently had just two suits of clothes. But he always looked wonderful; and those suits were always as fresh looking as if they had just been purchased! I was already familiar with lots of the recorded music we listened to, but there were still enough new materials to make the course well worth its time. Dr. Barbour had taught George once or twice, and he seemed to expect me to be just as good as my brother had been. So, I was “knocking myself out” trying to surpass George!
The first quarter, we covered all types of composers, but the middle quarter was dedicated solely to Wagner’s Ring of the Nebelungen Cycle. Dr. Barbour loved teaching us everything he knew (which was legendary) about this monumental work. He had been to the Festival at Bayreuth in the 1920’s, and described everything about those performances that made me determined to get tickets for the entire Ring (four connected operas plus a fifth evening devoted to Beethoven’s Choral Symphony) as soon as I got my bearings in Karlsruhe.
There was, on the first floor, an American Express office that I asked George Caravasius if I might be able to get the tickets for this festival. He said it seemed very likely, so the second week of my stay there, I went in and found that not only could I buy my tickets there, but they even asked if I would like them to book me room in a private home in Bayreuth. I had never considered that possibility. I asked the clerk if that was the usual procedure, and he assured me the cost, alone, would make it desirable. “The hotels in and around the city are rented months in advance; and I can put you in a lovely home, for about a tenth of what a hotel room would cost. And, they serve a continental breakfast every morning!” It would be necessary to rent the room for five nights, and with the tickets (the cost was a mere ten dollars a night). Add to that, my train fare and two more meals each day, and it was by far the most expensive thing I had ever attended!
As my train wound its way through the countryside surrounding Bayreuth, I was filled with delight! I was falling in love with Germany! I loved the people. They were all so friendly; always. They were also the cleanest folks I had ever met. Even the woods, through which I loved to walk on my way downtown, where immaculately “manicured” (or so it seemed to me), There was not the usual wild look that was so prevalent in Mississippi!
As I got off the train, I saw a line of taxi cabs. I took the card on which I had written the name and address of my host, and asked the driver if he knew where my room was located. He smiled broadly, as he nodded, “Ja vohl!” When I walked up to the front door of the charming house that was to be my home for the better part of a week, I began having second thoughts about the “What if Factor”. I could have saved myself this anxiety. The two women who were my hostesses, acted as though I was an old friend, from my arrival until my reluctant departure.
The room, itself, was perfect. The bed was comfortable and everything was immaculately clean and pretty. To make it perfect, I had my very own bath room!
It was Sunday, and tonight I was going to see the famous Opera House that Wagner had worked so long and hard to have built. It was certainly impressive, with fantastic acoustics. The huge stage was filled with the orchestra and the chorus, plus the soloists for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Up to this point, I had never heard a full performance of the work, so I was excited, to say the least.
To be continued
Dogs have owners. Cats have staffs.
(Legend on Ginger’s water dish)
Old Movies Trivia Quiz #75
1. I Confess is the absorbing tale of a Catholic priest who hears a penitent’s confession to a murder, and is suspected and tried for the crime himself. Anne Baxter is the former sweetheart of the priest, played by which popular actor?
2. Sunset Boulevard is the story of a once popular movie queen, played by Gloria Swanson (who came out of retirement to make the film). Who was the young actor whose life she tries to dominate?
3. Corvette Summer was the story of a young man (played by which actor?) whose car is stolen, and who spends the rest of the film trying to retrieve it.
4. In Amadeus, who was the Oscar winning star who played jealous composer, Salieri?
5. What choral work was Mozart trying desperately to finish, before his untimely death?
6. What popular (at first) comedians made their hit musical comedy Buck Privates?
7. What trio of singers sang“Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” one of the biggest pop music hits of of World War II?
8. You’ve Got Mail (recently) and The Shop around the Corner (1940) were both based on the same story line. This was the second version, and starred Judy Garland and Van Johnson (with Judy’s daughter making her screen debut in the final scene). What was this charming film version called?
9. What actor played The Earl of Chicago? He had a daughter who made a big hit on TV playing a witch?
10. Notorious was an RKO film. Directed by Which famous director, who also had a successful Television career? In the movie, Ingrid Bergman gives Cary Grant the screen’s longest kiss, up to that time.
Answers to last week’s Trivia Quiz #74
1. James Cagney, the tough-guy dancer of Hollywood, was in Doctorow’s Ragtime.
2. Betty Hutton was “Annie Oakley” in Irving Berlin’s Annie, Get your Gun,
3. Doris Day, also, played a similar part in the film Calamity Jane which featured the song, “Once I had a Secret Love”.
4. Clara Bow was the star who was called the “It” girl. Think silent films,
5. Clark Gable was about to wed Carole Lombard when she was killed: selling war bonds.
6. “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” (completes the title)
7. Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) were the favorite married couple solving crimes in MGM comedies. The Thin Man series.
8. Back Street, made into 2 different films, was based on a book by Fannie Hurst. And it was made a third time! I erred!
9. A version of Sadie Thompson, by W. Somerset Maugham starred that gorgeous redhead, Rita Hayworth (Miss Sadie Thompson)
10. Aldo Ray was the handsome, raspy-voiced, blond actor in God’s Little Acre, Miss Sadie Thompson” and Pat and Mike.