Last night's audience was less tubercular, for a mercy, but gracious me did they wander! I mean they got up and wandered around the concert hall, re-seating themselves periodically. It was like the musical chairs Messiah. Except that because Maestro Kramer is relentless, they never really had time to get seated before the music started again. 

Cut for wandering audiences (gone astraaaaaaaay), and thoughts on deportment )

Seriously Worst. Audience. Ever. 

I know the Messiah is an entry-level oratorio: it attracts audience members who don't typically attend concerts of classical (or Baroque, if we're being persnickety) music. People who cough during the recitatives. People who don't know about wax-paper wrapped cough drops, and crinkle their wrappers. People who bring fidgety children. People who haven't really steeled themselves for three hours of sitting still just listening. 

I'm grateful that lots of different people come to hear this oratorio, even if, like twice-a-year churchgoers, they go just to complete their seasonal experience. They've paid for their seats, and they have a right to the best performance I and my fellow musicians can provide.

What I don't understand, though, is how an entire audience can contract catarrh at the same time, and how they can all be afflicted with uncontrollable coughing during the recitatives and the quiet parts of the arias. 

And that was the least of the problems posed by this audience.

It started with an ill-timed, extremely loud hiccup during one of the rests on "Comfort Ye"** (the opening aria). The tenor sang "Cooooooooooooooomfort yeee my people," and an audience member went "HIC!" 

Such things happen. The soprano beside me and I shared a wry grin. 

But, as it turned out, that was just the beginning. 

Honestly, if this were another age, I'd think someone with a lot of money and connections had some sort of vendetta against one of the performers, and had paid a claque of some sort. 

There was the person in the front row, centre, orchestra, whom the first cellist asked to leave. Turns out the individual was using a cell phone during the performance. The cellist, who is seated at the edge of the orchestra, left his seat, and had the man ejected. 

About three movements later, the man's tall, rather revealingly clad date got up and made an elaborate production of putting on her coat and stalking out. Rumour has it that she said something or possibly gestured rudely at the audience before she made her exit, but I witnessed only the departure. 

And that was still not the worst the night had to offer.

Sometime during one of the baritone's solos, in the second half, the condition of one of the afflicted audience members seems to have worsened: the individual made a loud retching sound, clearly audible to the choir, orchestra, and soloists. Being a pro, the gorgeous rich-voiced, Andrew Foster-Williams continued and seemed unfazed. In the choir loft, I wondered if maybe someone had it in for him. I have never heard such a noise come out of an audience member (or a performer, for that matter!), and that includes the time that a young lady directly behind me was taken quite ill quite suddenly, and had to be pretty much carried out of the performance by her chaperon. 

I continued to wonder about the possibility of ill will, as it happened again during Mr. Foster-Williams' performance of "The Trumpet Shall Sound." The heads of the entire audience swivelled to locate the noisemaker; however, I did not see who it was. 

Apparently neither did anyone who could help the distressed audience member to someplace where they might perhaps receive medical assistance. If indeed someone had it in for Mr. Foster-Williams, they must have also had an animus against Susie LeBlanc, as we were treated to the same horrible sound during one of her solos (I think it was "I Know that My Redeemer Liveth," but I couldn't swear to it). This time, the entire audience heard it too. I dunno: maybe someone came to last year's modernized performance with Andrew Davis and really, really liked it, and now really, really resents this year's much smaller, more intimate, Baroque-inspired performance, and was determined to sabotage opening night? Or maybe the audience member was quite ill, but really desperately wanted to hear "Worthy Is the Lamb"? I do know that the other audience members were not entirely pleased with the un-scored additions to the performance. 

Once we sang the final Amen, the rest of the audience seemed determined to make up for their more vocal members. They applauded. They stood up. And one member, somewhere above me in one of the balconies, howled like the ghost of a sad werewolf, for about five minutes. This was a novel expression of appreciation, but at least it was well timed.

So that was the first (or possibly the third, if you count rehearsals) Messiah. I'm not sure how the next ones are really going to compare with that one for memorability. 

* or Possibly Seven, Depending on How You Count

** Links for reference to performances other than ours 

 Apartment-hunting record:

Apartment 1
Neighbourhood: "The pocket"—Jones and Gerrard-ish (nice and close!)
Level: Basement.
Bike storage: Backyard, probably 
Rent: $900 incl.
Landlords: Seemed sane and cool 
Number of rooms (excluding bathroom): 2 (Not ideal, as I'd prefer not to work in my living area, but manageable)
Verdict: Applied, haven't heard from landlords; they probably went with someone else. 

Apartment 2
Neighbourhood: Little India on a cul-de-sac
Level: Basement.
Bike storage: None
Rent: $750 incl.
Landlords: Seemed nice enough
Number of rooms (excluding bathroom): 2 
Verdict: AUGH. Filthy. Ceilings low. All chopped into weird-sized rooms. Kitchen tiny. NOT A CHANCE. Left quickly. 

Apartment 4
: If you're a developer or real-estate agent, this is "Upper Beaches North." If you're a normal person, this area north of Danforth between Woodbine and Main doesn't really have a name. 
Level: Basement
Bike storage: Landlord will build a wee enclosure by the entrance
Rent: $750 incl
Landlords: NICEST PEOPLE EVER. They made me tea! They promised to build me a bike enclosure. 
Number of rooms (excluding bathroom): 2 (kitchen and living area)
Verdict: Sigh. I wish I could be happy there, but I'm not tall and the ceiling height made me miserable. The kitchen was tiny with a foot of counter space. The entire apartment had three tiny windows. The landlords were super-nice, and I wish I could rent a different apartment from them, but this place would make me sad. 

So, unless I hear from the landlord of #1 or #3, I'm still looking for either an apartment or a roommate who can move into Dictionopolis. 

I purely hate this. I hate learning what some landlords consider fit for people to live in—I know people typically don't rent out apartments out of the goodness of their hearts, but I wouldn't let someone I despised live in the first place. I hate feeling like I'm being auditioned for a place to live and knowing that there are people with full-time jobs who want the same apartment that I want and look like better tenants on paper. I hate not knowing where I'm going to move to or when I'm going to move. And of course I hate the thought of packing everything, moving everything, and trying to make everything fit into a new place. 

Sigh. Okay. Tantrum over. 

Next step: 12-page co-op applications, plus continued phone tag with other landlords. Also, e-mail Landlords #4, and tell them I can't rent their place, even though I'd love to go cycling with them sometime. 

[personal profile] sabotabby posted some of the spoils of our not-very-suitable-decoration phototreck. I was confident that we hadn't captured the extent of weird seasonal decorations even in our kind of boring neighbourhood, but took a break to get ready for the various festivities.

Turns out that there's more in our very neighbourhood:

Exhibit 1: The Underinflated Penguin

A 6-foot-tall inflatable Christmas penguin, standing and waving outside a little urban house. The penguin wears a Santa hat decorated with holly, and is waving cheerfully. Because it is a bit under-inflated, its head is tilted at an angle reminiscent of a spinal injury. The penguin is illuminated by Christmas lights and the glow cast by a wicker-and-Christmas-light deer in the garden beside it.

It's not that I'm opposed to decorations. But I do like some sort of consistency. And I really generally don't like inflated things that are not balloons. Underinflating your penguin causes it to look like it needs the services of a chiropractor, or maybe an EMT unit with a spinal board.

Exhibit 2: On Second Thought, Inflated May Be Preferable

Hanging limply  the porch of a little urban house, an empty, too-small-looking Santa suit, complete with beard, but NO FACE.

Okay, hanging empty stockings I understand, though you're supposed to do that indoors, on the mantle of your fireplace, or, if you don't have a fireplace, wherever you can hang a stocking. I'm not sure what an empty Santa suit conveys. Are they waiting for St. Nick to fill his own suit with his jolly self? (Hint to the denizens of this house: that suit is TOO SMALL.) It looks more to me as if they killed Santa and are hanging his pelt outside their home as a trophy, or perhaps as a warning. Eep.

On Christmas day, captainmushroom and I went for a walk and hit Unsuitable Decoration Mecca.

Exhibit 3: The Upholstery Shop

A storefront window. Above the window, the sign for the shop says UPHOLSTERY. On display are an upholstered couch surrounded by an assortment of tchotchkes: a cadaverous dummy wearing a tinsel Christmas-tree headdress, several superhero dolls and action figures, a framed portrait of Henry VIII, a church. On the couch are a Ken doll, a gargoyle with reindeer antlers, a nutcracker, and another framed Renaissance portrait (I'm not sure of whom.)

Oh man, I don't even know where to begin with this place. It's just AWESOME. Here are some details:

A detail of the left-hand side of the Upholstery Shop window. In the window are a cadaverous dummy wearing a suit and checkered tie, topped with a headdress made from a conical tinsel Christmas tree. Seated on the dummy's extended left arm is a Robin superhero doll; on its right arm is Lisa Simpson. In the foreground is a small model of a church, completed with steeple. Straddling atop the church is a female superhero. Beside the church, and much taller (about 2 feet tall) is a toy soldier figure.

The cadaverous zombie guy is a permanent fixture of the window, as are, I think Lisa Simpson and Robin. The tinsel headdress is seasonal.

A close up of some items arranged on the couch: a model of an overstuffed armchair. Seated in the armchair is a Ken doll in a white suit. Seated on the couch in front of that Ken doll is another Ken doll in its underwear. Behind the chair is a model of Chuck Norris in a Santa hat. Norris's face is plastic, but his body is quilted. Flanking the armchair are a blonde Ken doll in a sparkly top and a Barbie doll in what appears to be a Space Adventurer's suit. In the forground the head and shoulders of a rather phallic toy soldier are visible.

Quilted-body Chuck Norris doesn't wait for Santa. Quilted-body Chuck Norris is Santa. You better watch out!

The bottom left corner of the Upholstery Shop window, containing a small red sign saying XXXmas, and a photo of a very buff shirtless dude in a Santa hat. More permanent fixtures in the window include a tribal-style mask, some geraniums and fake flowers, and Canadian flag.

More decorations in the window: a Norman-Rockwell style picture showing two small children, one dressed inexplicably as a cowboy, peering through the banister of the stairs as a pyjama-clad fellow kisses a fellow dressed as Santa, under the mistletoe. Beside this is a small painting of very buff, shirtless guy reclining and wearing red trousers and a Santa hat. On the other side of the Rockwell-style picture is a portrait of Henry VIII. In the foreground is a small model of an upholstered chesterfield.

There's really nothing unsuitable about the Daddy Kissing Santa-Claus picture, except for the Rockwell-esque style, but somehow I think my mom would find it objectionable. No, I have no idea what Henry VIII is doing there.

A close up of the Daddy Kissing Santa Claus faux Rockwell picture.

You need to see the Daddy Kissing Santa picture up close to fully appreciate its delicate, nuanced portrayal of the holiday spirit.

A close up of the church montage. A small model of a quaint country church, completed with steeple. A snowman is placed beside the church. An action figure of a superhero is on the other side. Straddling the church is a female superhero. A Santa Pez dispenser stands outside the door of the church.

I don't even. All I can think is that no Christmas idyll is really complete without random superheroes.

And finally, the saddest Christmas gargoyle I have ever seen:

Obscured by reflections in the windows, a stone (or faux stone) gargoyle crouches on the upholstered couch, its hands wrapped around its knees. On its face is an expression of deep sadness. It has been adorned with red felt reindeer antlers.


This is a continuation of something I started on Facebook last night for [ profile] kchew 

Trolls vs Non-Trolls on Toronto City Council )

The small garden in front of my house. A patch about 2 metres long by one metre deep, growing end-of-season lilies (leaves only -- the flowers are long gone), 2 rose bushes in mediocre health, a spill or orange nasturtiums, some lavender, and two bushy sage plants. On the steps to the house are pots of herbs.

Two woman were walking ahead of me up my street as I was coming home from the library.* As they walked past my house, one of them bent down and broke a leaf off my sage plant.**

"Hey!" I called to her back, "Hey! That's my plant you just damaged! That's my garden!"

"It's only half a leaf," she said.

"It doesn't matter," I explained, "This is a very busy corner. If everyone took a leaf as they walked by, I'd have no plant left! How would you like it if I went into your garden and picked your plants without asking you?"

"I don't have a garden, but if I did, I'd give you the plants," she said, apparently thinking I was being unreasonable.

"Stuff," I said, "Listen, lady, I went to a Catholic school. If you think I can't recognize an attempt to shame me, you've never known anyone who had a nun for a principal. Just don't go picking people's plants."

"Do you want the leaf back?"

"No, enjoy what you stole, please. Just don't go damaging people's gardens."

She shrugged and walked on.

You know, on Friday, the Cremini Kid and his dad were over. The Cremini Kid was looking at my nasturtiums and asked me if he could try a petal (he likes nasturtiums on salad). I said "Of course!" Because the seven-year-old Cremini Kid knew to ask. He recognized that as the person who planted and tended that garden, I might have other plans for my flowers. Because the seven-year-old Cremini Kid has some basic socialization and because his dad is doing a good job at teaching him about getting along in a community.

My garden is not a big garden. It fronts directly on to the sidewalk on a very busy corner—there's no lawn or fence separating it from the casual passer-by. So my poor garden sees a lot of abuse. People throw their rubbish into my plants. People steal plants. People barf on my lilies.*** I think all of these actions are signs of moral turpitude and the general unsuitability of the perpetrators to community life. I mean how difficult are these basic principles:

don't take stuff that isn't yours without asking;

clean up your messes and don't leave your rubbish or bodily emissions on other people's property; and

stay the heck off my lawn?****


Bushy, lush tip of a branch of a healthy sage plant. Three or four leaves have been broken in half, and their ends removed.

* Whither I had betaken myself to escape the siren song of the arboreal armageddon (read chainsaw shrieks and woodchipper gronching noises) taking place directly across from my house.
** The very sage plant that grew from the tiny sprig of sage left when someone ripped the entire sage plant out of my garden this spring. Said sage plant is now a large and healthy specimen, with many tasty leaves.
*** Yes, this really happened. I leaned over to smell my lovely, just-bloomed rose, and noticed that my lilies had quite a different odour. Sigh.
**** Or tiny front garden. Unless I invite you to frolic there.

Mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi is the sort of candidate my dad would have voted for: his proposed policies are ideologically right-of-centre, pro-business, pro-suburb.

The Empire Club apparently loves him.
Cut because Toronto is not the centre of the universe. It's just where I happen to live. )


zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)


RSS Atom
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags