Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I have been retired for a year now, and it's been a pretty rough year. For five months I lived out of a suitcase and traveled from place to place, wearing out my welcome in several places. It's something you expect to do in your twenties, not your mid sixties. In my twenties I was a sensible married lady.

Finally I have settled down. My present life in Sacramento consists of breakfast at the Java City on Capital Avenue followed by emptying boxes. I've been getting rid of things all year, but I still have a lot of junk. Why is junk so hard to get rid of? I bought shelves at Ikea and am putting books in them. I am going to save my music library, my art books and all the books with pictures of Italy.

I like the Java City on Capital for several reasons. You can have your latte in a ceramic cup. It tastes more authentic like that. It's possible to pour the milk in the side of the cup and get the right mixture. You can drink it outside under the giant elm trees that line the streets of Sacramento. The air and the climate generally feel a lot like Italy. You can read your paper and imagine that you are in Italy.

I haven't been happy with the quality of my writing lately. It reflects all too accurately my state of mind. I was an overbearing bitch at Bechtel, something that isn't useful in ordinary life. I used to come in to work in the morning and wonder who I could torment today. I loved my job, and I miss it. I grew accustomed to great achievements, and can't find an outlet for that now. I am not destined to achieve greatness in blogging.

For two and a half years I have followed my curiosity around the world of classical music to see what had happened to it in the years since I had abandoned it. I found that many famous artists simply bore me. I cannot get any interest aroused in Magdalena Kožená, for instance, despite great efforts.

I have become fascinated by Anna Netrebko. She is overflowing with what Katherine Jenkins, the British icon, brings to the plate, plus she can act, plus her singing is interesting. For my ears Miss Jenkins' music just lays there. Even Bocelli is more interesting. Where does the taste for blandness come from?

I'm trying to think of such a triple threat from previous generations. Anna Moffo was never this exciting. I have been very impressed with the intelligence Netrebko brings to her career. When I said I knew secrets, they are all about Netrebko. Sigh. It's fun to know things, but gossip is for telling, isn't it?

It is my curiosity that has driven most of my best writing, so the question is: can I keep up my curiosity from a backwater in the California central valley. I've been to performances here, but I didn't think of anything to say about them. There is a group who do Gilbert and Sullivan called the Sacrament Lyric Opera, I think, who did HMS Pinafore. I tried to like them but failed. I went to an opera at the university and thought it was pretty good, but not good enough to write about. Maybe I'm too fussy.

I find that I often push myself beyond my actual interests. I bought a bunch of books, not because I wanted to read them but because I thought I might write about them. Good book reviews, saving specifically Divas and Scholars which I loved and could not stop writing about, are hard work. I don't want to work that hard.

I did enjoy trashing the book about equal temperament, though. If you are going to publish such an outrageous premise, you need to have all your ducks lined up. Clearly he didn't.

I want to have fun. I think some times opera should be more fun.


Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. B, I reread your blog entries about Cecilia Bartoli from last years but found only that you had the joy to hear her live in concert and in opera . How I envy you ! Or did you find these experiences depressing in some way ?

greetings jessica

Dr.B said...

Cecilia and I have been quarrelling. I have already written more about this than I feel happy writing. I criticized her in a rather tasteless way, and she has been angry. I hope she is getting over it. I love her madly.