Better failed than sorry

Portraits of Vietnamese in 21C

better fail than sorry

Photo courtesy of Thanh Huỳnh

—– Đọc bài tiếng Việt —–

If you ask somebody from western Europe whether Finnish is an easy language to learn, they may shake their heads and stick their tongues out as an answer to you. Finnish is one of the most difficult languages on earth to learn. That should make one Vietnamese girl a very brave one to have taken on such a challenge. Continue reading

Advertisements

Talking Money and Tech

Portraits of Vietnamese in 21C

Một góc chung cư quận 7 nơi Mai C. ở. Hình: Mai C.

View of Mai C.’s apartment in District 7 – Photo courtesy of Mai C.

 —– Đọc bài tiếng Việt —–

From Đà Nẵng, Mai C. set foot in Sài Gòn in 1996. Overwhelmed is exactly how she felt. With so many high-rise buildings, Sài Gòn was marvelous and mesmerizing in her eyes. Swamped, a thought sparkled in Mai C.’s mind, “I’ll be working in those buildings someday.” To her, they represented something so beautiful. Throughout the college years, they were her lighthouse.

Fast forward 15 plus years. In 2013, high-rise buildings are no longer the ‘goal’ for Mai C. She is currently a Marketing and Retail Manager for a cell phone company in Sài Gòn. She lives in a luxury apartment in District 7 equipped with a spacious garage. Think about how expensive real estate is in Sài Gòn and you’ll visualize the picture. Out the door, she can leisurely take her daily river walk to enjoy the organized living quarters and clean environment in the area. From the windows of both her office and her apartment, sensational Sài Gòn is within her view. Continue reading

IU Opera Production (16) – Composer P.Q. Phan Before the Performance

The Tale of Lady Thị Kính Production Countdown

Production-21

—– Đọc bài tiếng Việt —– 

February 2014 marks the premiere of the opera The Tale of Lady Thị Kính by P.Q. Phan. These days, many people in the production team have already started to roll up their sleeves, and different departments involved at IU Opera are about to be on the brink of their full swing for the production of this opera. P.Q. Phan, on the other hand, has become ‘idle’ in spite of himself, as he has hardly anything to do with the production. Relaxed, he is slowly easing himself into an audience seat where he watches with eagerness and excitement, and probably with a little bit of anxiety, the show of his creation unfolding in front of his eyes. There, totally non-clandestine, Phan talks about his feelings before the performance. Continue reading

IU Opera Production (17) – Conductor David Effron on tempo and phrasing of Lady Thị Kính

The Tale of Lady Thị Kính Production Countdown

production-20

—– Đọc bài tiếng Việt —– 

A highly sought after guest conductor with invitations coming from around the world, David Effron has a very busy schedule. His greatest interest right now, fortunately, is with the opera The Tale of Lady Thị Kính by PQ Phan. When asked to talk about his preliminary ideas about the opera, David Effron was more than willing to share. His special interest in the Vietnamese culture coupled with his favorable impression of the country from the recent visit made this interview an exceptionally enjoyable experience, hopefully even more so for the Vietnamese audience everywhere else who read it. He started the conversation without a prompt for a question, as if he has something to get off his chest. Continue reading

IU Opera Production (18) – Stage Director Vince Liotta to decode Lady Thị Kính (part 2 of 2)

The Tale of Lady Thị Kính Production Countdown

—– Đọc bài tiếng Việt —– 

The directing and staging of an opera involve the realization of numerous complicated concepts both concrete and abstract whose genesis starts with the stage director. Before any piece of wood is cut, any piece of fabric sewn, or any brush inked, stage director is one of the very first to plunge into the work. What is the story really about? What is the best rendition of it? What should the atmosphere feel like? Etc. It is the “etc.” that intrigues any serious opera lovers. They enjoy the behind-the-scenes tour as much as they appreciate any communication the stage director is willing to ‘reveal’ before the performance. You read here first: Stage Director Vince Liotta exposing “Lady Thị Kính.”

Continue reading

IU Opera Production (19) – Stage Director Vince Liotta to decode Lady Thị Kính (part 1 of 2)

The Tale of Lady Thị Kính Production Countdown

—– Đọc bài tiếng Việt —– 

The directing and staging of an opera involve the realization of numerous complicated concepts both concrete and abstract whose genesis starts with the stage director. Before any piece of wood is cut, any piece of fabric sewn, or any brush inked, stage director is one of the very first to plunge into the work. What is the story really about? What is the best rendition of it? What should the atmosphere feel like? Etc. It is the “etc.” that intrigues any serious opera lovers. They enjoy the behind-the-scenes tour as much as they appreciate any communication the stage director is willing to ‘reveal’ before the performance. Now, you read here first: Stage Director Vince Liotta exposing “Lady Thị Kính.”

Continue reading

‘Mystery’ of Opera Singing Revealed (2) – The Training

PATRICIA STILES ON THE TRAINING OF AN OPERA SINGER

Patricia Stiles as ‘Preziosilla’ in “La Forza del Destino” by Verdi – Photo courtesy of Stiles

An in-person interview with Patricia Stiles presents a remarkable experience, especially so for a non-musician as I am, as she talked about the singing techniques with demonstrations. At close-up, an opera singer’s voice is obviously very powerful, not so much in terms of decibels as to pierce your ear drums but with the power, vibration, and warmth that inspire and lift your soul. One finds it difficult not to marvel at how wonderful it is what the human voice can do. Though this kind of demonstration is impossible to get in writing but can be made understandable with articulation the way Patricia Stiles did. Continue reading

‘Mystery’ of Opera Singing Revealed (1) – Personal Reflections

PATRICIA STILES ON TEACHING VOICE, AND SINGING HỒ XUÂN HƯƠNG

Patricia Stiles as ‘Nancy’ in “Martha” by Flotow – Photo courtesy of Patricia Stiles

With the experience of twenty years singing in Germany and more than ten years teaching at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Patricia Stiles is undoubtedly a deep well of knowledge when it comes to opera singing. She is still performing and has recently released a new album titled “Song Tapestry” in which the Hồ Xuân Hương songs collection called Spring Confession by P.Q. Phan is included.

Is it true that Asian women tend to have soprano voices? Continue reading

Composer, who are thee? – Claude Baker (3): The willingness to open yourself up to things that are unfamiliar

Anvi Hoàng: What kind of personality is conductive to having a successful career as a composer?

Claude Baker: It’s got to be a certain degree of arrogance and a certain degree of self-confidence that what you do is worthwhile. And despite what I say about being daunted by the past, you still can’t deny that there is a certain degree of self-confidence in what you do, otherwise you wouldn’t put yourself out there in the world for ridicule. It takes willingness to get performances, to enter competitions, to apply for grants and all that. It is bruising to get rejected but something in the core keeps you going to reapply and send it back out. Continue reading