Saturday, July 30, 2016


I love love lists: the authors who have written about whales in Moby Dick's Cetology chapter, the f*cked-up misogynist's library in Darconville's Cat. Joyce is chock full of them, and there is Joan Didion's packing list from the White Album. But for absolute richness of tongue-loving collisional beauty, it's hard to beat those in Kharms. I loved setting them, I love hearing them song or recited, and the phrases connect to so much of my life: the Song of the Sirens, small smooth-haired canines, artworks without theoretical foundations, the lack of persuasiveness of mathematical proofs, a perfect sound.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

UKSUS 2016 announced!


Aug 30
Tue 8pm
   Aug 31
Wed 8pm
Sep 3
 Sat 8pm
Sep 4
 Sun 2pm
Oakland Metro Operahouse, 522 2nd Street, Oakland CA

Directed by Jim Cave • Conductor Bryan Nies
Design Lynne Rutter

Timur Bekbosunov • Laura Bohn • Nikola Printz
Bob Ernst • Roham Sheikhani

accompanied by the orchestra
Beth Custer • Rob Wilkins • Joel Davel • Diana Strong
John Schott • Ela Polak • Lisa Mezzacappa

A phantasmagoria of delights, the music jazzy, racous, but bitterly sweet,UKSUS is the latest by Erling Wold, composer of Certitude and Joy, A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the VeilQueer, and Mordake. 

UKSUS is an autobiography of Daniil Kharms and the OBERIU in the Soviet Union of the 1930s, a narrative told through their stories and brief lives, as the OBERIU - The Association for Real Art - maintained their love of words and nonsensical art to their deaths in Stalin’s Great Purge, Kharms starving to death in a psychiatric hospital in 1942 after his arrest at the hands of the NKVD.

Kharms was known for decades in Russia as a writer of books for children, even though he hated children and imagined their painful deaths, until his adult works, secreted away by a friend, were rediscovered and reclaimed by a new generation of troublemaker artists who have run afoul of the authorities. Pussy Riot claimed the OBERIU poets, saying they "remained artists until the end, inexplicable and incomprehensible, and the librettists, artistic descendents of the group, met working in the Moscow theater of Kirill Ganin, who himself was arrested for artistic hooliganism.

Oakland Metro Operahouse is about a 20 minute walk from the 12th Street BART station, and there's a lovely parking garage just across the street.

Other questions: 


Friday, March 25, 2016

How does one own the things one discovers

One of my pet annoyances is announcements by friends of things just found, which they hope to be first to show you: posts of clickbait articles and RIPs to just-dead celebrities being two of the most grating.

But I am here to confess I am the worst offender. And my likes and dislikes aren't simply joined to the ephemera ebbing and detriting on the waves of the social networks, easily posted and as easily ignored. No, mine are crafted into Great Works of Art - Operas for God's sake - that take years of toil and untold piles of euros and dollars and scribbling, writing and rewriting and marketing and pushing and asking for money and then berating singers for not getting it right and reducing them to tears, and after that the premiere and the lights and the hushed silence of those who have paid for the experience to listen to What I Have to Say about this Thing I Found.

So, at the beginning of last year, after the English language production of UKSUS, I decided I just wasn't going to do it anymore. The silliness of it all became frighteningly apparent, as when the clouds open and the rays of the sun come a'shining through. Stop showing off, I said to myself, stop seducing people, stop ruining other people's perfectly good novels and stories with your tepid attempt to adapt the unadaptable. Does one really need approbation and its associated sycophants? Isn't it enough, I asked myself, to simply read a book one loves and to bathe in its language, and maybe to put it on a special golden shelf with a bit of glitter, and to dust it carefully from time to time?

And so this I did, for many months. And I became everything I had never been before: a layabout and a slugabed, one who spends her days watching videos on p-adic numbers, who whiles away the night on the meaningless drivels of the day job, and in between the jack off and then the jack off again. And in between I would read and read about Donald Trump and any else I could find that would deepen my depression, and it was during one of those wallowings that I came across this interview with Mark Leyner, whose books are in fact on that special golden shelf. He interviews like he writes, which is to say brilliantly. My favorite quote:
Now I feel like a completely alienated and marginalized person who traffics in some form of discredited esoterica.
Yes, this is me as well, although Leyner's esoterica is much in the pop world, whereas mine is modern opera and a never-ending fascination with the intricacies of the Christian Religion, cf. Synodus Horrenda.

But now a year has gone by and I've forgotten almost all the resolutions I made.  Except for the seducing part. And I'm doing another production of UKSUS in August at the Oakland Metro Opera House, and I seem to be starting another project as well, an Umbrellas of Cherbourg for the modern fascist age.

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