My so-called social life

I know I have squandered
most of my own life

in a haze of trivial distractions,
and that I will continue to waste it.
But wherever I was going, I don’t care anymore,
because no place I could arrive at

is good enough for this, this thing made out of experience
but to which experience will never measure up.

Tony Hoagland, Honda Pavarotti

pollosThe quotation is excerpted from the poem that was included in Donkey Gospel © Graywolf Press. It was sent to me by a friend, Grace, who lives in New England. She found it on the Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor.

Chance Encounters

A week or so ago I saw a notice on the SMA civil list that some bed linens were for sale. As a friend from California is coming to visit in March, I needed the linens for her visit. I arrived in the woman’s neighborhood too early to knock, so I wandered down the street and ended up in the Plaza Pueblito where I meandered from shop to shop and I ran into D, whom I had met at the Opera Gala. She was shopping for something to wear to a fund-raiser; we chatted a bit and then I went to buy the bedding. L, from whom I bought the bedding, mentioned that she had gone to La Boheme, so I asked her opinion of the performance. She, too, thought the singing was terrific. In the course of conversation, she mentioned that when she first came to San Miguel six years ago she did everything, was out many nights, took Spanish lessons, volunteered. Now she rarely goes out and is quite happily a stay-at-home.

Orquestra Barroca Mexicana

Saturday was warm all day and a full moon was about to reveal itself, and with that phase of the moon came a stillness in the air. No breeze. Televisions in our little complex could be heard droning American talking heads, one after another, sounding the same regardless of topic. Dogs were barking more than usual and that meant some – but not many – dog owners did, too, in hopes of quelling the noise.

On my walk that evening to El Centro the man-who-has-two-goats headed to the tienda down the hill just ahead of me, his goats following him, snacking away at any plant including bougainvilla and neighbor’s young trees. The man went into the tienda and was unaware of the goat’s hunger, but a family whose plants were being devoured came out en masse and shooed the goats away. A pickup truck turning the corner did draw the goat man out of the tienda, obviously afraid the spitting goats might end up on someone’s spit.

Saturday night the Mexican Baroque Orchestra performed Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons at Teatro Angela Peralta. Included on the bill was Purcell’s overture to Dido and Aeneas and the Dance of the Blessed Spirits from Gluck”s Orpheus and Eurydice. They also performed Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto and “Tambourines,” “Menuet” and the “Danse des Sauvages” from Rameau’s Les Indes Galantes. Teatro Angela Peralta was perhaps as much as 90-95 per cent full.

During intermission I began to feel the insularity and smallness of the ex-pat community as I recognized several people, knew a few names, had met a few people in the audience, waved across the crowd at others and was now able to chat with acquaintances instead of strangers during the intermission. Whether one uses 160,000 or 60,000 as the population of San Miguel, unless one makes inroads with the Mexican community, then one actually lives in an ex-pat community of 6,000 or 16,000, which is small-town living.

Full Moon

Sunday, the day of the Oscar presentations, the day/night before the full moon, was particularly noisy. There was an amplified concert somewhere nearby, and while there was no viewable presence of it, the volume was so loud the percussion and bass vibrations could be felt, window panes kept time, and vocals penetrated into homes so that people had to crank the volumes of their televisions up so that they could hear the inevitable and the lamentable. The concert lasted form two in the afternoon until eleven at night. Cats fought in the early morning. Throughout the night dogs were sensitive and let all passersby know they were not to bug them. Daylight Monday came none too soon.

Monday night was the evening of the circle Cena. I had wanted to make a Tres Leches Cake to take, but I’ve yet to find an oven thermometer (I did find a source for measuring cups and spoons, however – at Espino’s) so I bought a cake at Pasteleria San Sebastian on Canal. It was far better than anything I might have created. Espino’s also had a cocktail shaker set, which I was surprised to find, and perfect for Margaritas.

Concurso San Miguel

Concurso San Miguel 2013 took place last night. This annual event brings the best young operatic talent in Mexico to San Miguel in hopes of winning prizes and support for their careers.  The singing was uniformly excellent and I can’ t imagine the judges having an easy decision in deciding who would receive the prize money.

More Mexicans were in attendance at Teatro Angela Peralta than at other events I’ve attended. Family loyalty was evident as each performer received loud applause and “Bravas” or “Bravos” from certain segments of the audience. I watched one family cheer their soprano, then they turned to their cell phones and other electronic devices for the next performer. The states of Jalisco, Mexico, San Luis Potosi and Sinaloa were represented as was Mexico City. The 12 finalists had been chosen from 175 entrants.

The Concurso is a program of Opera San Miguel, an organization separate from Pro Musica, which puts on most of the symphonic and chamber music concerts as well as the recent La bohème performances. At intermission I saw very few of the faces that I see at Pro Musica events.

Dance of the Blessed Spirits

During the later portion of his life, Christoph Willibald Ritter von Gluck transformed opera. While working in Vienna and Paris during the mid-18th century, he made the drama more important than the star singers and did away with recitative sections that broke up the action, thus creating a more flowing, dramatic style.


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