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Clark Gable says: 'Siddown'

I know, I just posted about Gounod's "Faust"... it's two posts down .... but I found this and, I mean, it just needs to be seen.

Jeanette MacDonald is singing Marguerite in "Faust" and Clark Gable is in the box looking down on her admiringly and adoringly.

Everyone is watching her with delight!

Then this one gentleman gets up to leave: "I didn't go to the opera to see the opera."

Clark Gable: "Siddown."

This is from the 1936 movie "San Francisco."

I am always interested in how music goes in and out of fashion. In the story I did on Buffalo Opera Unlimited's "Faust," being performed this weekend, Tim Kennedy talks about how "Faust" was very popular in the 19th century and into the 20th but was kind of neglected in the era following World War II. People said it was too sugary, or sentimental. Or romantic. Or something.

If anyone tries to tell you that now you know what to say.


-- Mary Kunz Goldman

Dread of "Dredd" Isn't Necessary. A Strong Stomach Might Help Though

For purposes of space and timing, we're putting my review of "Dredd 3D" on line in the Gusto Blog today. Like so:

Two and a half stars.

Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey and Wood Harris in Pete Travis' new cinematic reboot of the British comic strip after Sylvester Stallone's 1995 version of it ran afoul of the comic strip's creators.

By Jeff Simon


"It's sink or swim" the Chief Judge tells laconic Judge Dredd about his newbie female partner in "Dredd 3D." "Chuck her into the deep end." Says Judge Dredd to the chief judge with the absurdly robotic delivery that actor Karl Urban uses throughout the movie "It's all the deep end."
Think Ah-nuld, sans Austrian music in "The Terminator" for Urban's delivery. Or maybe even Clayton Moore in "The Lone Ranger."

The deep end, according to British comic strip co-creator John Wagner, is where the Sylvester Stallone version of his creation should have been pitched in 1995. As the original strip's writer (Carlos Ezquierra was the artist), Wagner has given this cinematic reboot his blessing.

Continue reading "Dread of "Dredd" Isn't Necessary. A Strong Stomach Might Help Though" »

Opera fans start Halloween early

I had fun writing about Buffalo Opera Unlimited's production of Gounod's "Faust," tonight and Sunday at Buffalo State College's Rockwell Hall.

Above is a dandy performance of the horror-filled Church Scene that I found on YouTube. Marguerite, who is now pregnant with Faust's child, is trying to pray and is instead dogged by demons. This is a horror story, you know?In the clip I posted, Bryn Terfel is the devil.

It is terrible at about 9'20" when she screams and faints.

And you have the organ going and everything! It is creepy, how the film shows the organist. Just thinking out loud here, I wonder if real-life organists mind this kind of thing. Especially with "The Phantom of the Opera," organists and the organ get a bum rap.

Speaking of "Phantom" it is no accident that "Faust" figures in that story. Christine has been chosen to sing the role of Marguerite.

I am anxious to see how Buffalo Opera Unlimited deals with the scene in the video up above. David Butler, who designed the sets, said, "Wait till you see how the demons appear!"

I have a feeling they will pull out all the stops!

-- Mary Kunz Goldman



Carolina Chocolate Drops correction!

In my preview piece in today's Gusto regarding Thursday's Carolina Chocolate Drops show at the Town Ballroom, I stated that the coming gig would mark the band's Buffalo debut. I've since learned that the group performed at Ani DiFranco's Babeville on July 20th, 2011. My bad!

- Jeff Miers


Live chat with News Music Critic Jeff Miers

'How to Train Your Dragon' at First Niagara Center

Dragon puppets5
Hiccup, played by actor Riley Miner, interacts with "The Nadder" one of the larger-than-life animatronic stars of Dreamworks' How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular which features six performances at First Niagara Center through this weekend, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012. (Photo by Derek Gee / Buffalo News)

In a few short hours, the national tour of "How to Train Your Dragon" will begin its four-day stay at the First Niagara Center. Here's my Gusto cover story on the show from last week. And make sure to check out Derek Gee's video (and his great picture of the dragon, above) on the show's advanced puppetry:



The Thursday Theater Roundup


"The Mystery of Edwin Drood," through Oct. 7 in the Kavinoky Theatre. ★★★★

From the review: "This is a sharp production of a smart show. It exalts the love of storytelling in a way that treats its actors, audiences and source material to a satisfying, complete night of theater. Dickens should be proud, if even a little jealous, of the way his life's final mystery finds its resolution." --Ben Siegel

The cast of "Crowns" at Paul Robeson Theatre. Photo by Sharon Cantillon/The Buffalo News.

"Crowns," through Oct. 7 in the Paul Robeson Theatre. ★★★½

From the review: "More than a dozen gospel songs, traditional rousers, are sung: 'Wade in the Water,' 'We're Marching to Zion,' 'That's All Right,' "I'm on the Battlefield for My Lord' and more, plus a stunning, 'inspirational and memorable interpretation of 'His Eye is on the Sparrow' by Denise Smith. 'Powerful' doesn't do it justice. Ethel Waters and Whitney Houston would be proud." --Ted Hadley

Continue reading "The Thursday Theater Roundup" »

Video: Critics' Corner with Jeff Simon and Jeff Miers

Rumors of our demise, as Mark Twain famously said, have been greatly exaggerated. And so after quite a few weeks in which Miers and I were kept out of our Critics' Corner chats by malfunctions and office responsibilies, we're going to be back at 1 p.m. in one of our favorite places --talking to News readers about whatever is on your minds.

So come one, come all. We've missed you. If you've missed us--at least a little--we'd like to hear what's on your minds. (And even if you haven't, we'd still like to know what's on your minds, whatever it is.)

So join Jeff Miers and I here at 1 p.m.

--Jeff Simon


Jarnot to discuss her biography of poet Robert Duncan at Talking Leaves tonight

Lisa Jarnot, author of “Robert Duncan: The Ambassador from Venus” (University of California Press), will read from, discuss, and sign copies of her new biography of the visionary Black Mountain College and San Francisco Renaissance poet tonight (Wednesday) at 7 p.m. at Talking Leaves Books, 3158 Main Street in Buffalo.  The event is free and open to the public.

Jarnot's biography traces Duncan's life and art across a broad cultural template, from his birth in Oakland, California in 1919 and his upbringing in a Theosophist household through the Depression era, to his emergence as one of America's great postwar poets and a central figure in what came to be known as New American Poetry of the 1960's.  The book also examines Duncan's role as a public intellectual, and as openly gay man living in the rapidly changing cultural landscapes of San Francisco and New York City from the 1940's until his death in 1988. 

Jarnot, a Buffalo area native and UB graduate who also studied a Brown University, is the author of four much-praised full length collections of poetry, "Some Other Kind of Mission" (Burning Deck Press, 1996), "Ring of Fire" (Zoland Books, 2001 and Salt Publishers, 2003), "Black Dog Songs" (Flood Editions, 2003) and "Night Scenes" (Flood Editions, 2008).  During her years at UB and Brown, she edited two small magazines--No Trees (1987-1990) and Troubled Surfer (1991-1992)--that became and remain important documents of the poetics of that era.
City Lights Books will publish her “Selected Poems” in 2013. 

--R.D. Pohl

Live chat: Book Club with author Erik Larson and reporter Charity Vogel

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