It’s been almost 20 years since Sandra Bullock starred in The Net (1995.) In the first 5 minutes of the movie, Sandy’s character manages to order pizza online, have a fake fireplace using her desktop, and have a weird, Siri-sounding cyber-date with someone she’s talking to in a chatroom. Now, we can still do all of those things–we order pizza from GrubHub, have a Yule log on our flatscreen TV, and sometimes awkward Skype-dates. There are a few things that have been extinct for years now though–floppy disks and dial-up connections. Oh, the floppy disks…so many floppy disks. Apparently, there are places online you can still buy them. Bullock plays Angela Bennett, a computer programmer who is sort of a hermit. But, when she goes on vacation, she meets Jack Devlin (played by Jeremy Northam in his American film debut.) Northam’s character is basically a super-sleaze set on taking her down because she go a hold of super-sensitive information. All I have to say about the Sandra Bullock/Jeremy Northam relationship is it’s basically a PSA for being careful who you talk to online. And then there’s the whole stolen identity thing. It all proves that some things never change.
Terrence McNally’s play, Master Class, is about to get the HBO treatment and come to the small screen. The stage play, made famous by Zoe Caldwell as Maria Callas, eventually went on to star Patti LuPone, Dixie Carter, and most recently, Tyne Daly in the 2011 Broadway revival. Now, it’s Meryl Streep’s turn to step into the famed opera diva’s shoes. Maria Callas was an American-born, Greek soprano, who was known for her wide vocal range and dramatic flair. She graced the world’s most famous opera houses, and eventually went on to teach a series of master classes at The Juilliard School from 1971-1972. Those master classes served as the basis for McNally’s vibrant and lively play. What I find interesting is that Meryl teams up Mike Nichols again whom she has worked with on numerous occasions. It’s going to be fun to see what the two can bring to this character and the piece as a whole. Callas was a colorful personality, so I’m sure Meryl will have no problem. She’s a legend in her own right. She also has a talent for playing real-life characters. We can tell from her Oscar-winning performance in The Iron Lady.
Actresses who play Maria Callas have a lot of source material to fall back on, and what’s better than the actual master classes at Juilliard. Below is the audio from one of her many classes. She is working with student, tenor Mario Fusco on an aria from the opera, Tosca by Puccini. Enjoy the sounds of the real Maria Callas. I can’t wait to see Meryl as Maria.
A Matinée is an afternoon performance. They’ve always been a favorite of mine as an actor. Performing on two-show days can be exhausting, but well worth it in the end. Today, I went to a 2:00 p.m. performance of Giselle. That performance just so happened to mark the NY debut of ABT soloist, Isabella Boylston in the title role. The last time I was at The Met, I saw Diana Vishneva in Manon and sat in the Family Circle–the affordable seats. Although the view is high up, I was able to view everything with perfect clarity. For a ballet, it is actually beneficial to sit high up because it makes it easier to see every variation and formation. I actually saw details that those in the orchestra or balcony seats might miss.
Giselle is interesting. It’s the story of unrequited love, and a young peasant girl who dies from a broken heart. There is a specific part in Act 2 which was amazing to see from above. Act 2 deals with Albrecht’s mourning of Giselle and his encounter with the Willis, the ghosts of women who died before their wedding day. They are lead by Myrtha, the Queen of the Willis, and Giselle becomes one of them. It was hauntingly beautiful to watch, and something I will never forget. Here is part of the Willis’ dance. It’s about 15 minutes long in its entirety, so here is just an exerpt from the Dutch National Ballet production:
The amount of grace and lightness that it takes to portray all of the characters in this show is quite difficult, but I thought that for a matinee, with the cast that was performing, ABT did a fantastic job. Before I forget, there’s also the famous “Giselle Variation.” Pay attention to the footwork… it will amaze you. Here it is performed by ABT principal dancer, Gillian Murphy, with the Royal New Zealand Ballet:
Overall, I enjoyed my afternoon at the ballet. It was well worth the time. I am glad I finally got to see one of my favorite ballets live and in person. I’ll keep a lookout for Isabella Boylston. I wouldn’t be surprised if she is promoted to principal dancer soon.