polutrope: (sleep is for pussies)
Hi, my name is [livejournal.com profile] polutrope, and I have an insomnia problem. That's boring. What I do with all those extra hours, on the other hand, is fascinating.

(It's "read. a lot, and not all that discriminatingly." also play browser games.)

My last book was Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson, and it's the second fantasy novel I've read in a year. Various reasons: I've been spacy and not reading, actual school work, Sophocles setting up his language specifically to bother people 2000 years later, but mainly because nothing looks good. It's all spunky heroine this and stoic, but troubled anti-hero that, which is dead boring.

I picked this up in the fall and never had time or inclination, but it's really worth it. The style is readable, if nothing to write home about, and much better that most things. (I made the mistake of showing one series to my dad. Totally ruined - grammar mistakes on every page, really, and also the characters kind of sucked.) Speaking of characters, they're not great - the wife of the leader of the rebellion¹ was killed by the bad people, and our heroine is plucky, but not in an annoying way, and the non-evil nobleman could be the main character of a Georgette Heyer novel. They're likable, though, if not particularly deep.

But the world-building! He's actually thought of logistics²! There are world-differences that are integrated into the plot and aren't just "hey look they ride on giant birds and not horses this is totally not generic medieval Europe fantasy #18893. See giant birds! also they have a fantasy name in a fantasy language."

And a magic system that makes sense! god yes. It's genetic, which bothers me³, but even that's plot-related. There's a source for it that makes sense, and it's very studied and compartmentalized, which i.s great compared to all the nebulous "believe in it" magics out there.

From the blurb for the second book on Amazon, it seems like he's actually going to deal with the consequences of winning* and having to rule a huge empire with former slaves at the head, which no one does, and makes me really happy. I wanted to do it, in fact, and then realized I had no idea how.

Also the last fifty or so pages are awesome.

----
¹that sentence would be much better if English had a genitive.
²lots and lots of slaves.
³I think someone mentioned the way fantasy novels tend to romanticize royalty and The Right Birth; it's partly that. My magic system would be learned, like music or math, and like music or math one could be better or worse at it. The problem, as always, is a source. "Just take it out of the air" makes me snicker, and "Look within yourself" is painfully cliché.
*this is not a spoiler. it is a foregone conclusion, and no one's going to read it anyway.
polutrope: (fooood)
So yeah I'm kind of miserable, and Sonnambula didn't do much to beguile my cares - but then it's Sonnambula, and really I doubt that if one were picking operas to soothe one's troubled spirits, Sonnambula would be at the top of one's list. In any case I was there for Dessay, and to a lesser extent Florez; I didn't expect all that much, since I knew about the production. Maury's thoughts are most likely more coherent than mine will be, filtered as they are though the lateness of the night and the depth of my sorrow, but here goes.

As has been discussed before, I sort of hate the idea of modern productions in general; I feel that they insult both the audience and the work. This one put emphasis, pace d'Annato, on insulting the work. Certainly it has a terrible libretto, both in terms of plot and words; but I feel that if one is willing to take the trouble of putting a work on, one should have at least some affection for it.

All questions of theory aside, the concept made no sense. Alright, it's set during a rehearsal of Sonnambula; it's at once silly and over-done, but I suppose you could make something of it. Of course, it then asks the viewer to suspend disbelief from a far thinner thread than the original opera does; I'd believe that Amina can sleepwalk over a mill far sooner than a. the lead singers of the production are named Amina and Elvino; b. either everyone lives in the theater itself or in walking distance; and c. that modern people would behave like 19th century peasants. I suppose there are places where being alone in a man's room would be enough to break off a wedding, but not...wherever this was set.

Right, because the events of the opera spill out into "real life," and the performance of the opera is somehow equated with the "real" marriage of the leads. Which, I would like to note, makes no goddamned sense. Dessay's, or Dessay's character's entrance is during a "rehearsal" of the chorus the townspeople sing to Amina, but Dessay acts as though it's to her, which makes sense if she's related that much to her character, or if she's just that much of a diva. Everything's ¹ like that - you can make it make sense if you try hard enough, but it's really not worth it.

Sonnambula's a sweet piece of fluff; it doesn't make all that much sense, and it doesn't have to - but doing something like this doesn't make it deeper or more interesting.

(a couple of quick notes: writing on a blackboard in front of a couple of thousand people, as a poor man has to in the first act, will now be included in the tissue of my nightmares; Florez seems to have fixed that nasal thing he'd picked up; Alessio was very cute.)
---
¹Everything, that is, except the last scene, where they're in full Tyrolean dress. And I suppose that makes sense, it's just dumb.
polutrope: (Default)
I saw La damnation de Faust last night at the Met. As one would know if one read the Times arts section all the time, they have a new production, with video screens. Unsurprisingly enough, I was against this idea when I first heard about it.
Hurrah! )

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