Music for midterms

I’ve been enjoying this new recording of Don Giovanni. (The box has Ildebrando D’Arcangelo brooding, Heathcliff-like, on the back. I am unmoved by the scowly brow and pouty look – having opera singers pose like this always makes me laugh. But he sounds pretty nice.) I am in fact listening to it as I write this. Donna Elvira (Joyce DiDonato) has just shown up and is threatening to cavare Don Giovanni’s cor.

I had a conversation with my friend R last night. She was in London in the summer and a friend took her to a Christoph Pregardien song recital (Schumann songs, I think it was) and she admitted falling asleep halfway through it due to jet lag. I don’t blame her for that. Not because I find Pregardien or Schumann boring, but because if someone had taken me to a song recital the evening after I’d basically missed a night’s sleep I would probably have fallen asleep too.

I can listen to music and grade at the same time – grading exams doesn’t take much mental application – so I think tomorrow I may sneak in the rest of Don Giovanni as I wade through the rest of the stack of midterms that is even now lurking on my desk. I occasionally tweet the howlers, but there have only been a few in this batch – I think I’m going to be able to give at least two A’s! And one of the kids from my seminar said he felt like he was learning a lot in the class. Which is good. I feel better about the universe in general when I get confirmation that I am not wasting everyone’s time. Teaching is such a fun occupation when it goes right. (When it goes right. When it goes poorly, it’s kind of soul-destroying.)

Finally, I was thinking about Claus Guth’s Mozart productions while I was running this evening. Do not ask me why – sometimes you stare off into space at the gym, and there’s the damn forest again. (Not literally, of course. It is possible to complain about many aspects of the university rec center, but in its defense I will say that its walls are consistently in the same places, there are no falling feathers, only one or two extraneous characters and if a tree suddenly appeared in the foyer, it would be removed. Guth’s Gym this is not.) Specifically I was thinking about how Guth’s versions of the three Da Ponte operas fit together. If anyone has any thoughts on that, or on any of them individually, can you put thoughts and/or links in comments?

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