Monday, December 19, 2011

A CHILD'S CHRISTMAS IN WALES, STORYTELLING IN NEW YORK (c) By Polly Guerin

As great holiday music celebrates the Christmas season there’s but one very special sentimental journey back to simpler, innocent times of wonder and fantasy and that is the epic poem/story, A Child’s Christmas in Wales, by Dylan Thomas, which was produced recently by the Chelsea Opera Company with the Chelsea Opera Chamber Orchestra under the baton of the brilliant Maestro Carmine Aufiero. Here’s the scoop!!!
DYLAN THOMAS Just a year before his death in 1953 noted poet Dylan Thomas recorded A Child’s Christmas in Wales, a classic that has become one of the all time holiday favorites and his most recognized story. New York City composer Matthew Harris’ choral cantata poignantly captures the Christmas spirit and the humor in Thomas’s ageless story. Its sentimentality tugs at our hearts with nostalgic yearnings to go back and remember what a childhood was like in that seaside village in Wales.
ONE CHRISTMAS WAS SO MUCH LIKE ANOTHER Many of us can relate to Thomas’s opening lines, “One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.”
FIRE, FIRE, FIRE!!! “Nobody could have had a noisier Christmas Eve” leads us through a merry chase as the excitement, clamor and gong ringing cause such a ruckus that the firemen arrive in their shining helmets, standing among smoke and cinders and dissolving snowballs. Adding to the absurdness of the situation, Miss Prothero says to the firemen, “Would you like anything to read?”
THE UNCLES reminds us so much about uncles at our house. Thomas recalls, “There were always Uncles at Christmas. The same Uncles. They sat in front of the fire, loosened all buttons, put their large moist hands over their watch chains, groaned a little and slept.” But there were aunties, too. “Auntie, Bessie, who had already been frightened twice, by a clockwork mouse, whimpered at the sideboard and had some elderberry wine. After some hilarious antics in the snow and a fantasy hippo enactment the children head home.
SINGING CAROLS Thomas waxes nostalgic, “I remember that we went singing carols once, when there wasn’t the shaving of a moon to light the flying streets, and always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang Cherry Ripe, and another uncle sang Drake’s Drum. It was very warm in the little house. I got into bed, I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.”
This endearing story referenced here is only an abbreviated sampling of the sentimentality that Thomas conveys through his recollections. It gives us pause to wonder and reflect on the similarities in our own Christmas celebrations replete with eccentric family members. However, most of all we may all feel better for having vicariously experienced this very quaint Christmas tale. It’s the kind of story that deserves reading to a new generation of children and grownups who will be carried away to a seaside village and A Child’s Christmas in Wales.
You can order the Dylan Thomas "A Child's Christmas in Wales" through Amazon. To read more about Chelsea Opera go to www.chelseaopera.org.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A FASHIONISTA'S FESTIVE HOLIDAY(c) By Polly Guerin

While dashing around town Fastionistas take time to pay homage to the great designers, view a virtual tour and scan the windows for the sheer magic of the season. It’s the Best of New York my friends, the very best in New York City, the fashion capital of the world. Here’s the scoop!!!
THE GREAT DESIGNERS, PART ONE The Museum at FIT presents the first of two consecutive exhibitions featuring masterpieces from the museum’s permanent collection of more than 50,000 garments and accessories. From Alaia, Balenciaga, Chanel, and Dior to Westwood, Yeohlee, Zoran and Xuly-Bet the exhibition recently opened, pictured here, features approximately 50 garment from many of the most important designers of the 20th and 21st centuries. New acquisitions include the late Alexander McQueen’s elaborately embroidered black silk coatdress and Tierry Mugler’s fantastical metallic bustier and fishtail skirt and enjoy a closer look at Mariano Fortuny’s exquisite, embossed velvet dress. Through May 8, 2012. FREE at MFIT, Seventh Ave. at 27th St.
www.fitnyc.edu/museum. Mark your calendars The Great Designers, Part Two will be on display May 23 through Nov. 10, 2012.
VALENTINO’S MODERN FASHION MUSEUM celebrates with a virtual museum, the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum, a downloadable desktop application the first of its kind from a designer of Valentino’s caliber. The site focuses on 50 years of Valentino’s work in three-dimensional technology that makes the experience seem almost like a real museum visit replete with natural Roman sunlight, video interviews with some 300 dresses and iconic images of everyone from Jacqueline Kennedy wearing Valentino when she married Aristotle Onassis to Julia Roberts accepting her Oscar wearing a vintage gown by the Rome designer. In this pi0neering move Valentino wanted everyone around the world, and in particular students, to have access to his best designs, even if he himself isn’t a tech-savvy designer. Discussions are still underway to establish a brick-and-mortar Valentino museum in Rome.
JOAQUIN SOROLLA and THE GLORY OF SPANISH DRESS The Queen Sofia Spanish Institute on Park Avenue with curator Oscar de la Renta who got the idea for the show from “Vision of Spain,” the Sorolla mural commissioned in 1911. Sorolla had spent years traveling through Spain to chronicle the native dress, some of which he purchased, amassing a sizable collection and many of the pieces shown come from his archives. Oscar shows some Sorolla works alongside the clothes that inspired them and in turn modern fashion. Among other designers represented: YSL’s Stefano Pilati, Ralph Lauren and Carolina Herrera and a remarkable 2009 couture wecding extravaganza from Christian Lacroix with flamenco references.
THE QUEEN OF JEWELS Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry goes on the block at Christie’s tomorrow with the storied La Peregrina pearl necklace, which is estimated to fetch $2 million to $3 million at auction decidedly the showstopper. When Richard Burton bought it at auction in New York for Elizabeth Taylor he paid $37,000. To put it mildly it will be interesting to see who the next owner of the most fabled of natural pearls turns out to be. On view today. Christie’s on 49th Street.
www.christie.org.
Ta Ta darlings!!! Polly’s going to see The Great Designers, Part One, you should too. Fan mail welcome: pollytalk@verizon.net. Visit Polly’s Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and click in the right-hand column the link to her Blogs.


Monday, December 5, 2011

A CHILD'S CHRISTMAS IN WALES and HOLIDAY MUSIC By Polly Guerin





Holidays in New York ushers in glorious concerts all around tinsel town. From A Child’s Christmas in Wales to Chanticleer and a French Christmas choristers rise up singing the joys of the season. It’s the Best of New York, my friends, the very best of music festivities to cheer your heart. Here’s the scoop!!!
A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES Matthew Harris’s cantata for chorus and orchestra, presented by the Chelsea Opera, brings to musical life Dylan Thomas’s classic and entrancing Christmas story that tugs at the heart of all of us who are reminded of our own treasured memories. With "A Child's Christmas in Wales" we are all brought together in the beauty of word and song in music that brims with humor, poignancy and high drama as we follow the recollections of Christmas past in a seaside town in Wales: the useful and useless presents, drunk uncles, firemen, hippos, carol singing to ghosts, and “looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow.” A special performance of “Walking in the Air” form the Snowman with Benjamin Perry Wenzelberg rounds out a glorious evening. ONE PERFORMANCE ONLY, December 16, at 8 pm. At Christ & St. Stephen’s Church, 120 W. 69th St. (B’way & Columbus). Gen Adm 20 adv/$25 door; Snr/Stdt $15 adv/$20 door. www.ChelseaOpera.org.
A CHANTICLEER CHRISTMAS A sumptuous blend of voices rings in the holiday season with profound, peaceful and joyous music in concerts in front of the Metropolitan Museum’s Christmas tree and Neapolitan Baroque Creche. Dec. 11, The Vienna Boys Choir performs Austrian folk songs and waltzes, classical masterpieces, popular songs and, of course, holiday favorites, an all-female cappella ensemble celebrates with a special performance of ancient, traditional and modern works on themes of love and music, Dec. 20th a touch of tradition, a dash of jazz brings a measure of cheer with the Burning River Nutcracker, Dec. 23 Judy Collins, one of folk music’s most celebrated icons takes the stage with seasonal favorites and classic hits. For full schedule go to www.metmuseum.org.
A FRENCH CHRISTMAS The Canterbury Choral Society, under the baton of the legendary founder and Conductor, Charles Dodsley Walker celebrates the season with Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s “Messe de Minuit pour Noel,” and Francis Poulenc’s “Quatre Motets pour le Temps de Noel. Soloists include Kathleen Kelly, soprano; Joan Fuerstman, mezzo-soprano; Sherry Zannoth, soprano; Tomas Mooney, tenor; Philip Smith, tenor and Ralph Braun, bass-baritone. The enchanting Treble Choir is from St. Hilda and St. Hugh's School from St. Michael’s Church. December 18th at 4 pm, Church of the heavenly Rest, Fifth Avenue at 90th Street.
JOYEUX NOEL! Celebrate Christmas with a French twist. The St. Ignatius choirs are featured in this vibrant holiday presentation of French masterpieces for the season, including Saint-Saens’s Christmas Oratorio, excerpts from Poulenc’s Quatre motets pour le temps de Noel and favorites by Biebl, Adam, Bach/Gounod, Busser, and carols for all to sing. Sunday, December 11th and December 18th at 4 pm. At the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, 980 Park. Ave. http://www.smssconcerts.org/.
Ta Ta darlings!! I’ll be singing in Chelsea Opera's "A Child’s Christmas in Wales." Looking forward to seeing you at St. Stephen's Church, Dec. 16th. Fan mail welcome at pollytalk@verizonl.net. Visit Polly’s Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and in the right-hand column click on the links.