Posts Tagged ‘opera’

Carmen at Gosford

May 19, 2017

It’s been a long time since we watched an opera. A good friend suggested we join up and see Carmen. Of course Carmen was the one we used to tap our feet with many years ago. I could never get enough of ‘Oh Toreador’ which is one of its main operatic attractions. Off we went a couple of days ago in our Peugeot. The car our daughter returned when her stolen car was finally able to get re-registered in her own name again. There is an opera waiting to be written just about that saga alone.

The last time we watched a real-life opera was Wagner’s ‘The dance of the Valkyries’ whose whole opera, the ambitious Ring Cycle takes a complete week-end to watch. I think that takes a lot of operatic keenness which I am still working towards. Some people find Wagner a bit moody and heavy but we loved the dance of the Valkyries. Perhaps sunny Australia isn’t the place for moodiness in music. I am sure Bizet’s Carmen would fall on better and more eager ears.

The Carmen production was held at a small 400 seat theatre in Gosford’s Laycock theatre.  Gosford used to be a small sleepy village in the fifties when I used to drive my parents there in my first car. This first car was a light blue Ford V8. A single spinner. It had brown leather seats. The front seat had a build-in ashtray and held three adults. People would buy a block of land around Gosford and work towards building a nice week-end retreat. Retirees would flock from Sydney to Gosford. It had a milk bar and its own railway station. On a quiet day you could hear sheep bleat.

Gosford isn’t a sleepy village anymore. It is huge. There are more traffic round-a-bouts than people or New York City.  The theatre itself is surrounded by so much traffic chaos we felt like giving up. Helvi even suggested we might have to go home. No bleating sheep anymore in Gosford. It wasn’t just the traffic and round-a-bouts. The visual assault with so much signage, a blur of gaping car sales yards. Big McDonalds. How can people even think of eating ?  It was next to a white severe looking building which had ‘Endoscopy’ written on it. Do people have a Big Mack and then go for a colonoscopy next door? What an amazing world we live in!

The theatre remained a distant prospect. We could see it as we drove around and around. Screaming tyres. Huge exhausts belching out smoke from road trains gone berserk. My hand gripping the steering wheel of the Peugeot as if  at any moment I would be dragged to the hangman’s scaffolding. I needed a good Carmen. We finally hurled ourselves from the round-about and parked next to the Endoscopy building. It felt safe.

The theatre itself an oasis of calm and serenity. Peaceful retirees. Lots of grey hair and muffled sounds. It was packed and the performance ready to start. An electronic buzzing indicating we should take our pre-booked seats. The theatre was fully booked. Amazing when you think this was Wednesday at 11 am. The Carmen production was just brilliant. A huge cast with the orchestra well hidden below the stage. Rousing responses from the audience after each song or performance. We enjoyed it thoroughly and it was well worth the drive and manic traffic and chaos. Isn’t it wonderful that despite the spiritual barrenness of the surroundings with all that blatant exposure of crass commercialism one also get those jewels of art and creativity?

The world isn’t as bad as we might sometimes believe.

Thank you Bizet.

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How was your Pulled Pork?

March 2, 2017

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After our American friend arrived a couple of days ago we had lunch at a local pub. Our friend from California is having extensive additions and renovations done on his house. He needed to live elsewhere for the duration of this. He is renting a house in the never never of Sydney’s sprawled-out Western suburbs. In the past it would have been referred to as beyond the black stump. In the earlier days of colonisation, the black stump was a landmark used as a pointer to unmapped interior of Australia. This sunburnt never never country. The black stump, a burnt-out tree!

After arriving and perusal of menu, Helvi chose the Pizza with anchovies and my friend and I went for the brisket sandwich. My friend explained this is a traditional Jewish dish. A kind of pulled slow cooked beef. What is it about this pulling of meat lately? There is now a race on to have ‘pulled’ meat dishes on menus. Especially pulled pork. Not long ago it was the pink salt or Himalayan salt. Soon after the wooden platters or slate on which food was served. Remember the waiter going around with giant pepper grinders? That’s old hat now. We have ‘pulled’ pork or beef. Are cooks pulling on a piece of meat before cooking it?

It is all so confusing. Are people now socialising, talking about their latest ‘pulled pork platter’ at the Berlin Café? I can’t imagine asking a nice sophisticated lady during the interval at Beethoven’s ninth symphony at Sydney’s Opera house, ‘ How was your pulled pork today?’

Within about ten minutes or so, our dishes were ready. This pub gives you an electronic buzzer which always frightens me a bit when they go off. So much now is done electronically. This pub is very popular. It means those devices are going off almost continuously with people dancing around from table to table.  With my deafness I sometimes mistake this noise with a call on my mobile phone. I now don’t take my phone with me. Even so I react. It is so crazy out there. Life so much nervous reaction which I can do without.

The patrons then walk to the counter and pick up their dishes. With the introduction of wooden plates it is an art  to walk back without spilling pulled meat or anchovies onto other diners. This is especially so during Friday nights when people go around selling raffle tickets. Most pubs do that. The tickets are raised to fund charity for the poor home-less or football clubs. Lions clubs or Father Riley, The Smith family and so forth.

After we picked up our wooden platters of food, we got stuck into it. The juices from this pulled brisket sandwich soon flowed onto the wooden platter. Those wooden platters don’t have a rim like good ceramic plates have. I made a little dike with a paper napkin. This building of dikes comes naturally. Even so, it distracts and the brisket wasn’t all that well pulled. Enfin, we continued on. Our American friend commented that it was nothing like his mother’s brisket cooking.

Is anything ever like our mother’s?

 

A nail biting walk back to Central Station

January 24, 2017

 

Almost ThereWith the submissions of my literary Magnum Opus  😉  to the State Library having been satisfied, the saga continues. The books might not equal the Finnish Kalevala, but it might well be looked  upon so by future Oosterman generations. The Kalevala is to Finland what the Sydney Opera House and cricket is to Australia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalevala

After a short but important break at Myers with feet suitably shod in Velcro strapped sandals, our epic journey continued. My refrain “I am very hungry now,” was responded by, “yes, I have heard it three times now, we will go to Queen Victoria building.” Myers is connected below groundlevel to Queen Victoria building as well as to the Town Hall subway rail station and numerous other shopping Meccas. The changes happening in Sydney are fast and furious. The speed by which people now walk is astounding, or, is it my own speed that is slowing? The Sydney below ground level is at least as large and fast as the above ground Sydney.

After arrival we climbed up out of the bowels of the underground and into the basement of The Queen Victoria building.  We climbed to the top floor and soon found a restaurant that seemed to serve food with enough customers still eating at 3.30pm  installing enough confidence we would be sold a good and hearty lunch. This top floor has such inclusive and luxurious shops, rumours have it that Lucy Turnbull ( The wife of our Prime Minister) buys her handbags and other accoutrements there. Normal shoppers avoid the top floor except perhaps those dreamers that are on the cusp of yet discovering that money doesn’t bring happiness. ( neither does happiness bring money) We just averted our eyes and only opened them to study the menu.

https://www.qvb.com.au/

We watched a recent documentary about Queen Victoria. She was quite a tyrant and a cruel women. She had nine children and hated anything to do with productivity. There is a very stern bronze statue outside The Queen Victoria Building. She looks fierce and I became a bit scared looking at it even after all those years. She had the penis chopped off from a copy of Michelangelo’s David statue.

After that late lunch with a cool beer, we made our way back to the Central Railway station. The walk of that day would have totalled perhaps 8/10 kilometres. We did not even feel tired. I suppose proof the success of that day. It was exciting. Which made me think, as I have a want to, in reflecting a move back to Sydney. But, we like living here in Bowral. We don’t get the humidity or the heat. Above all, in Sydney’s real estate world one would not get much change out of  $1.5 million for a modest town-house.

We decided to do the trip more often. The train journey takes almost two hours with the fast train a bit slower than the slow train. But the fast but slower train does have better seats and the buffet. On the way home I ordered a delicious sausage roll. It was hot and flaky. We arrived back  just after 8pm with fading light.

A good and memorable day.

Our Garden is an Opera

September 20, 2016

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The way out for discontented souls, is to settle in a beautiful garden. The sustenance that greenery gives, is at times preferable to other contacts. Respite from turmoil and Executive Committee Meeting trauma, needs again to be sought. Emanuel Kant knew that. “We have to be the active originator of experience rather than just a passive recipient of perception.”

Temporary relief might be given by a good discourse with dogs and in some cases even cats. But a good garden is for most cases the only way to regain composure and the soul becalmed. Some peace has returned in our living compound and Body Corporate front. No more thefts but we did notice the instigator of all the turmoil, the Chairperson, talking to the gardener. She was waving her arms about, perhaps in support of more residential parking embargos. Who knows and is it important compared with the beauty of our flowering Clivias?

img_0952clivias

A lovely silence since. The little sparrows are twittering about in anticipation of some breadcrumbs. The local Council has put posters up on telegraph poles warning people of diving magpie birds. Some children are wearing helmets with large angry faces painted on the back of them. Some adults look angry enough and don’t need helmets. Many also swing branches about or umbrellas. Life is not dull if you know and are perceptive to the things that might go around you.

This is why an outing to shops can just be as exciting as going to the opera. It doesn’t necessarily have to involve shopping or buying things. Nor does going to the opera needs music to be heard in exclusion to other sensational things. In my case, it is my hearing impairment, whereby I have to improvise and make sense of whatever else is going on. This sense at times might have to move away from the auditory factor. In fact, with imagination and some deft improvisation one could say, all around us is opera. Opera is a dramatic work in which music plays some role but not all. Thinking of some of Gustave Mahler’s music I am right now hearing his famous Adagietto from Symphony no.5 and it sounds as beautiful as when I had my full hearing.

That is not to say, hearing the music played live would not be even better, especially with a nicely dressed audience within the splendour of the Wiener Staatsoper.

Of course, if we accept that opera is al around us, including even, or perhaps especially at Aldi, one really needs to ramp up a willingness to let wonderful experiences be absorbed, wash over us, and take on board that even the little things can grow into big things. Last week, I think it was Friday, we were patiently waiting for the conveyer belt to bring our goods to the cashier who was seated on the special ergonomically designed seat. All cashiers at Aldi are seated on those chairs. (Please note that the personal at Woollies and Coles stand up all day behind the cash register.)

When it came to my turn, the previous shopper presented me with a mauve coloured walking stick. ‘Is this yours’, he asked? ‘No, not mine,’ I replied. It was one of those walking aids that had a four pronged foot at the end of it. I suppose it gives greater balance and security to those not so confidently fleet footed!

Now, what the drama or opera of this story is that it begs understanding and a great deal of musings, on how someone in need of this special walking aid could leave the shop, continue his/her normal live ( the mauve colour might indicate a female, but ….?) and be unaware he/she lost a vital piece of medical equipment. Did his disability miraculously got cured after paying the cashier? Did he /she walk out risen from the near lame? A more cynical person might well surmise it could be a case of someone claiming an invalid parking license, giving it convenient parking spot permits near shops.

Now, this story goes a full turn. The Chairperson, responsible for the mayhem about non problem parking issues is pretty good footed, but…I did notice she has now a disability sticker on her car.

Who knows?

https://www.amazon.com/Oosterman-Treats-Philosophical-Musings-vasectomy/dp/099458105X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1470095148&sr=8-1&keywords=oosterman+treats

Life’s Lament with Apple Crumble and Rhubarb

February 13, 2013

Life’s Lament with Apple Crumble and Rhubarb.

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There is no denying that life resembles a sort of crusty crumble. The top often hides the soft inner core, sometimes sweet, sometimes sour. It does come with risk of failure as well, especially if thrown together recklessly. I hate cooking by measuring ingredients and prefer failure to fiddling with scales and grams. I normally box the lot together and hope for the best. I live dangerously, at least in the kitchen. It’s all one can do at the age of endless advertisements on TV urging us into ‘funeral plans’ while still alive. (Please, keep off the grass)

The really lucky ones, I often think, are those able to make a living from their creative instincts. You sometimes see them being interviewed, perhaps an opera singer, a composer or a Latvian ceramic artist, world famous, who are on top of their output and are known by the all glitterati. Presidents and other despots are queuing up to be photographed standing next to them. They are running the crest of the wave and earn a good living from their art.  There can’t be a greater satisfaction than to live from one’s own creative output.  To live from what one really feels passionate about doing. Some might really want to work as a welder, run a farm or make model trains. That’s lovely and exactly what I mean. That’s what creativity involves; let’s not put too fine a point or limitation on creativity. Anything goes in my book.

Alas, this had eluded me so far but enjoying somewhat the nasty schaden Freude and consolation that it eludes most of us. The operative word that springs to mind is ‘compromise’. It’s the banana skin on the doorstep of the life of ‘l’artiste’. How to make a quid from art, that’s the question? I wonder how Shakespeare managed or old Rembrandt Van Rijn, Caravaggio? I don’t think there were any social services available then. Didn’t Mozart got buried in a pauper’s grave? He did not sign up with Aami’s funeral plan. Perhaps a rich red mitered Bishop or an aristocrat Von Richhovenvorstendom propped up the artists at that time?

Why do I get tears everytime I hear this music?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=df-eLzao63I

In any case, no President has requested or queued up to be photographed next to me, only the local Butcher years ago when Channel TV 9 wanted to do an interview about my plunge into the world of vasectomy, ‘performed’ by a female doctor aptly named Barbara Simcock. She has performed over 14 000 vasectomies so far and counting. What she doesn’t know about testicles is not worth looking at!  I once heard “Wall-nuts in wet socks”. She was ever so gentle.

The obvious answer would have to be that I am and never will be any of those giants, or even lesser ones, perhaps at best just a pigmy of an artist, worse, a kind of garden gnome of an artist, decorating a suburban garden with a white painted worn Chevrolet tyre around the bed of limping petunias and a leaning zinc alume fence as a backdrop for failure. Oh the ignominy of it all, what fate?

Space and the lack of storing all my paintings forced me into downsizing and decided I would branch off in putting words in a certain order.  My first word, if I remember correctly, was ‘exorbitant’ which I liked and followed this up quickly with another one called ‘exhortation’. Both have a nice ring to it, don’t you think, almost musical? It’s the vowels each time followed by the consonants, that does the trick. I am not sure of many words yet, and possibly, that’s the best way to be when writing. Words are inter-changeable and can also be deleted.

It never occurred to become something, I mean building a career in something. I don’t know; I could have been a bank director or dentist or a corporate accountant. Luck had it I managed money making fairly easily but not in monotonous jobs. I did work in a bank and offices for a while but the yawning ennui was mind numbing, sapping the spirit. I just never had much of an ambition or was driven to make myself into having a job of any importance. I always portrayed myself into the future, doing it year after year and came up with an apocalyptical ‘the horror, the horror”.

Perhaps I should have studied. I imagine going in the morning to Harvard University with a nice satchel casually slung over my shoulders, being greeted by other students and hurling myself in front of a politician’s car in some show of vehement protest. Sometimes I think it would be nice to have had a PHD. Dr Gerard Oosterman sounds nice (with Cum Laude). Too late for a career with the Police or Customs or flying a helicopter, swooping down on Kim DotCom in New Zealand.  Now, there is a man passionate about his art, (fleecing multi nationals) and he is making a nice living.

As for the apple and rhubarb crumble, a huge success. Nice and tart, not too sweet.

Just like real life.

Libiam ne’lieti calici

March 14, 2011

Libiam ne’lieti caliciPosted on March 13, 2011 by gerard oosterman

 

Over 900 people traipsed within an hour or so through the bush, all in single file. Some held hands, others held bundles of fold-up chairs or were jointly carrying eskies. They did this walk through native bush but followed a track. Here and there, there were areas roped off with a sign”re-generation taking place”. It seemed they all needed to arrive deep inside this bush-land at a certain time. The chairs and eskies indicated a stay of some length and the holding of hands had more to do with old age rather than romance. Indeed, some had hand-held guidance aided by a walking stick in the other hand as well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcKdnkGBSgA

The variety of fold-up chairs, eskies and shade hats, and umbrellas, plastic sheeting and large wine bags either indicated some sort of senior cult preparing for  mystery bush dance  meeting or a large communal  final love-in. None looked as if sex was in the offering, nor likely as if they could break into a wild forest dance. It all looked rather sober and somewhat sedated. No shrieking or renting of the peaceful bush by coarse oaths.

Opera in the Arboertum

None smoked, none were disorderly, and they just plodded on. They finally arrived at some clearance and it became clear what this was all about. People were checked for tickets and some that were without, put down the money and bought, not just tickets, also programs. The clearance in the bush, being somewhat remote had a sign Arboretum. They all seemed to know what to do and spread sheets, unfolded their chairs and put down wine bags and opened eskies. Some of the very old were gently lowered into some more comfortable camping chairs with arm rests and for extra softness, pillows.

 I noticed on the left a number of blue coloured plastic constructions with “Loo-mobile” and large phone numbers displayed on the doors. There was already a small queue being formed. Most in the queue looked towards the sky or talked somewhat hushed as if the real purpose of it all had nothing to do with urgency of bowels and/ or bladders after a long and strenuous walk.

Right smack in the middle on some pallets was a grand piano. Has anyone ever seen a piano in the bush? Well, we did and not just a piano. Many people dressed in black but mainly young,  arrived with a large variety of musical instruments. I also noticed a number of very sophisticated loud speakers on tri-pods in between the trees and a kind of machine with many sliding up- and down levers that I used to see at recording sessions, when for a short time I worked for a Swedish advertising agency, a hundred years ago.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Funp7JTWp2A

Well, this was clearly a setting for an opera. Some women and men were clearing throats and voicing loud sounds, violin strings were tensioned, bows tightened and a short man with an apron was tuning the grand Steinway.

We had arrived at our destination of an opera at the Pearl Beach Arboretum. This was an extraordinary setting for a great afternoon. Music and champagne flowing and kookaburras listening.

 What a week-end.