Verdi’s Macbeth

Just saw the HD presentation of Verdi’s Macbeth with the incomparable Anna Netrebko.  Not only can she sing, but she projects herself into the role of Lady Macbeth in a manner that few actors would be able to accomplish.  Her first two arias at the beginning of the opera are undeniably brilliant.  There is still an opportunity to see the rebroadcast, so do yourself a favor and catch this memorable performance. The encore (rebroadcast of today’s live matinee) is scheduled for October 15th at a theater near you.  Don’t miss it.


And by the way, Zeijko Lucic (as Macbeth), René Pape (Banquo) and Joseph Callejas (Macduff) give equally brilliant performances, but are dwarfed by the range of emotions and artistry of Netrebko. What a performance!

Ebola, Discrimination and All That Jazz

It was only a matter of  time before the “shock jockeys” of public media would begin to spin their conspiracy theories on Ebola.   Rush Limbaugh argued that President Obama was bringing Ebola to the United States to “get even” over slavery.  Not to be outdone, Reverend Jessie Jackson suggested that “discrimination” might a motive for the sloppy treatment the late Mr. Duncan received at a Dallas hospital.   Most sane people would argue that “the truth” is totally missing from either of these biased and irrational points of view, which is probably a good reason why politics and politicians are held in such low regard by the American public.

Regardless of the antics of these spin-Meisters, it is next to impossible to be unmoved by the New York Times story of a Liberian mother who can’t pick up her crying child for fear of contracting Ebola. While I share this parent’s “worst nightmare,” I don’t feel any better knowing that many other parents can also be sharing this same “nightmare” if we don’t get a handle on this epidemic or more accurately: pandemic.

As far as I know, the only way to stop an epidemic from becoming pandemic is “isolation” or “containment” and we ought to drop this silly pretense of “civil liberties” and “American values” until we can control this deadly virus that is currently ravaging West Africa – and now other countries.  Simply read one of the many plague chronicles (A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman comes to mind) to get an idea of the horrible consequences of pandemics.  It certainly isn’t a pleasant chapter in the annals of human evolution.

I Am PilgrimI would like to be reassured by the CDC and our political leaders that they know what they are doing, but deploying U.S. military troops to West Africa to combat “epidemics” doesn’t seem to me to be an “appropriate” mission for men and women who normally carry weapons rather than porta-potties.   It strikes me that a boatload of doctors and nurses with syringes is a far more effective response.  (Editor’s Note:  I guess “boots on the ground” in Africa plays better to the American public than “boots on the ground” in the Middle East.)

For those who have read that international best-seller “I Am Pilgrim,” the risk of a pandemic is no idle treat whether terrorist-related or simply a case of bureaucratic incompetence.

I have no idea how the Ebola crisis will play out, but the more “sweet talk” I hear from political leaders, the more concerned I become.   As Ebola spreads and cases begin to appear in other countries outside West Africa (latest in Spain), I suspect that widespread panic will soon manifest itself.   For those political leaders who love to promote  Twitter “democracy,” please don’t tweet “mea culpa” when you get skewered by Twitter “outrage.”

In yet another pathetic response to dealing with this pandemic, the U.S. will pass out questionnaires and take the temperature of passengers returning from West Africa.   Seriously??  It is like applying a bandaid to a bleeding artery.

In the words of the immortal John Lennon’s Imagine:  “Imagine all the people sharing all the world.”  Hopefully, that world doesn’t include the Ebola virus.

Editor’s Note:  I am saddened to report that Excalibur – the dog owned by the Spanish nurse stricken with Ebola – has been euthanized to prevent the spread of Ebola.  Predictably, it drew 325,000 protests from animal right’s activists.


Kiku Exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden

Spent a lovely Fall afternoon at the New York Botanical Garden, checking out the Kiku exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden (see banner below).


The chrysanthemum, kiku in Japanese, is the most celebrated of all Japanese fall-flowering plants, and hundreds of meticulously trained kiku will be on display in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. Special weekend events spotlight the arts of bonsai and ikebana, as well as taiko drumming, and celebrate the importance of flowers in Japanese culture.

Sheila and I have been to several chrysanthemum exhibits, but this is the first time that the Botanical Garden staff have “flown solo” without the support of experienced Japanese specialists.  They did a brilliant job.

This is a must-see exhibit to truly appreciate these floral sculptures that are so important to Japanese culture.