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Buffalo's Secret Weapon


By Mary Kunz Goldman

The real winner of Saturday's Metropolitan Opera auditions is not even a singer.

It is Buffalo!

Organizer Dianne Rubin forwarded to Buzz an email from a Toronto couple, Ellen Richardson and Bruce Little, who were there to cheer on some of the many Canadian singers in the auditions.

The Torontonians wrote: "We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves -- a lovely day of singing, bracketed by two nights at a splendid B&B (the Parkside) and excellent meal at Hutch's and Ristorante Lombardo.  Buffalo is on our list of long weekend getaways now."

With which Buzz found ourself gawking at the Parkside House, pictured above, which has a friendly dog and a claw-foot bathtub and a music room complete with a baby grand piano. We want to go there! We want to stay in the Jewett Room.

Anyway, let's make a note of this Toronto twosome's comments, and make it a high note, while we're at it. We are always looking for that silver bullet here in Buffalo.

Opera could be it!

High Notes and High Drama at the Met Auditions


By Mary Kunz Goldman

Want some drama in your life? Consider stopping by the Metropolitan Opera auditions, going on all day -- until 6 p.m. or thereabouts -- at the Nichols School Flickinger Performing Arts Center. It's free! Buzz caught the first hour, sticking around until the first potty break. (It is fun to hear a Metropolitan Opera judge say "potty break.")

Buffalo baritone James Wright (above), whose candidacy was written about in The News the other day, made a very good showing. Wright, in a natty suit with his hair slicked, looked vaguely and appropriately old-fashioned. He began with an aria from Gounod's "Faust," "Avant de quitter ces lieux," and it was easy to see why. That aria had a Sign of the Cross built into it, right at the start!

Who, auditioning for the Met, would not want to call down all the blessings you possibly could? And it apparently worked. Wright was called back to sing part of another aria -- a good sign. 

All the other singers we heard were sopranos. Naturally there was high drama. Most memorable was when Maria Lindsey's accompanist stopped dead in the middle of "Volate, Amori," from Handel's "Ariodante." The situation might actually have helped Miss Lindsey, a singer from Colorado, because she got to show off her poise. She never lost her smile or her cool.

You could say she Handeled it well! 

A Strange Sight in Kaisertown


Why are we worrying about the Buffalo Athletic Club when it is Christmas Eve? 

Today's Buzz column tells the tale of a group of carolers' adventures in Black Rock. The adventure continued last night in Kaisertown. Above is a pic taken last night on a Kaisertown street corner of attorney Patrick Krey, his wife Jennifer and their two proper Victorian sons, Harry and Frank.

The carolers, who also included jazz singer Mari McNeil and Forgotten Buffalo's Airborne Eddy, sang in the Kaisertown branch library, in front of a house that looked as if it belonged to the Griswolds (nobody came out, even after three vigorous verses of "Joy To the World"), and at Wiechec's Lounge, where half the crowd filmed the singers on their iPhones and the other half looked the other way. 

Most memorable was "Adeste Fideles" in Latin at a Pakistani deli, after which the proprietor, laughing, generously offered water and pop.

God rest ye merry, gentlemen!

Turn, Turn, Turn: Your Loved One's Ashes, Made Into a Vinyl Record


Here is a new spin on mourning.

We hear in a roundabout way -- from the business site Springwise -- of a new initiative by a company called And Vinyly that allows you to eschew the traditional urn and go instead for a more emotional way of preserving your loved one's ashes. As Springwise explains it: "The service allows anyone to have a loved one's ashes pressed as a working record, where it can be accompanied by music, the sound of their voice or simply left blank -- allowing the pops and clicks to provide an audio representation of the ashes."

Already we are buried in questions!

What if the record were misplaced, could it wind up being resold at Record Theatre?

What music would you choose if it were your ashes? (Jeff Miers, The News' pop music critic, confessed he might opt for Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue.")

Could you be a 45? Could your spouse be on your B side?

What if ....

Continue reading "Turn, Turn, Turn: Your Loved One's Ashes, Made Into a Vinyl Record" ยป

Big Fat Restaurant Coupon Alert


Alert, alert, $25 coupon for E.B. Green's at the Hyatt in the print edition of Gusto today, alert.

The coupon is on p. 19.

Grab it before it goes into the recycling! 

Use it to go hear Jackie Jocko.


BPO Shatters Doughnut Record; Broadway Singer Awestruck


The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's concert this morning, the first of four Holiday Pops performances, shattered attendance records for Coffee Concert. More significantly it shattered doughnut records.

Buzz asked for the figure and it is in: 160 dozen doughnuts, donated by Budwey's.

Let us do the math. 160 times 12 is 1,920 doughnuts.

A Google search reveals that doughnuts average out to about 300 calories each. Hmm, not as high as we had thought! We are glad we did not deny ourself. Even so, though, when you add up all those doughnuts the number is impressive: 576,000 calories consumed.

Broadway singer Michele Ragusa, Buffalo native and guest star, emerged clearly awed.

"I've never said 'Good morning' at a symphony concert before," she said.  "We're all jazzed up on sugar and caffeine and ready to go!"

The crowd roared. Michele added: "I know I am!"

It was reported that Kleinhans Music Hall sank three inches into the ground from the weight of the accumulated caloric consumption.

This is what's called a heavy program!


The Holiday Gig From Hell

A certain Buffalo singer has a gig coming up for a local business group at a local country club. The organizers request two hours of seasonal music -- but no mention of Christmas ...


... or Santa Claus ...


... or even holidays.

What to do??

Well, there's "Winter Wonderland."

"That's right," our singer friend said. "And ....?"

Yikes, even most 96.1 Joy FM standards don't qualify. "Frosty the Snowman" might be OK. And "Jingle Bells." And "Let it Snow."

Beyond that you are on thin ice. Even "Winter Wonderland" has that problematic mention of Parson Brown. Well, maybe people have forgotten that a parson is a pastor.

You could sing "O Christmas Tree" in German because "Tannenbaum" is technically fir tree, not Christmas tree. But try explaining that to your employers as they are showing you the wreathless door.


Two hours of this! Good luck with that, we told our singer friend.

Better you than Buzz!


Ho, Ho, Ho! Santa Takes Control of the BPO

Tops 003

"Jingle Bell Jam," the kids' concert Sunday at Kleinhans Music Hall, was jammed! With many unforgettable sights.  For one thing Ron Spigelman, the conductor, handed the Philharmonic over to Santa. It made us think of when the chicken conducted!

Our photo of Santa on the podium is up above, not bad considering we had our 6-year-old nephew in one hand and a candy cane in the other.

Meanwhile it was also fun to see little girls and boys of every description enjoying Victor Herbert's "March of the Toys" while sporting all kinds of offbeat finery. (One little girl wore a white ballet dress. (You could just imagine the conversation. Girl: "Can I wear my ballet dress?" Mom: "Sure.")

Also, in the Mary Seaton Room, what to our wondering eyes should appear than the longest line for Santa that Buzz had ever seen.

No kidding, this line stretched all around the perimeter!

A dad who was standing away from the line with his kids, placidly eating cookies, gets the Wise Men Award as far as we are concerned.

"They know he's not the real Santa," he said. "I tell them there are people who just play Santa. I'm not getting into this."

Derby Cupcake Ban Echoes At Kleinhans Music Hall

NocupRon Spigelman, who used to be the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's Principal Pops Conductor, was born in Australia but he is a Buffalonian at heart. He proved that at Kleinhans Music Hall this morning at the Coffee Concert, which was "Classic Christmas."

After Engelbert Humperdinck's Prelude to "Hansel and Gretel," which opened the concert, Spigelman turned to face the big audience.

"There are a couple of morals to that story," he said. "One of them is: Don't eat doughnuts! Not good for you!"

Ha, ha! The crowd, which included a lot of schoolchildren, completely lost it.

Who has not been chewing on that cupcake situation out in Derby, where a principal is banning kids' birthday cupcakes? The food police are at the gates! Spigelman, who may have read the paper, fed into that.

"And gingerbread!" he lectured us. "Horrible!"

The audience howled.

"Just kidding," Spigelman said.



Move Over, Griswolds: Buffalo Suburb Has You Beat


Let other towns settle for silent nights, for carolers singing a quiet "Jingle Bells." In the arena of Christmas celebrations, Lancaster -- pictured above in a recent News photo -- reaches for, well, the arena.

It must have started small, when the town inherited those AM&A's window displays.

But then it grew. And now don't bother knocking, Lancaster's a-rocking! A recent evening found the town's Christmasville throbbing to the beat of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, with wildly blinking snowflakes and synchronized lights.

"It definitely could be heard through the walls of Lancaster Opera House during Monday's Town Board meeting," marvels one woman who was there.  

Eventually her head began to pound too. "It gave me a headache and an eyeache."

Hmmm. If your ears, head and eyes are all hurting, that could actually give the burg a boost. So laughed one sympathetic villager. "He told me there's all of about three main Central Avenue businesses."

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which encourages this light-synching activity, must love this riot of rock and light. We get the idea most villagers do, too. But there are at least three people who aren't happy. 

Those would be Mssrs. Adam, Meldrum and Anderson.

Surely they are turning in their graves!  

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