23 September 2013
The other thing we got to see on the way in was the participation of an Indo-Canadian cultural group, present and giving a lovely air of authenticity to an opera set in colonial India. They lined the way into the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier in resplendent saris set off by lovely genuine smiles. This was an excellent move on the part of the Opéra de Montréal.
You might be familiar with this duet, here drawn from a performance elsewhere in concert format. I remember it from an Air Canada commercial, I believe [UPDATE: totally wrong! It was British Airways!], which sounds terribly cheap, but should be credited with making opera a little more familiar and accessible, just as Bugs Bunny did on a couple of occasions.
Sopranos Audrey Luna and Emmar Char (Ms. Char is from the Altelier lyrique of the Opéra de Montréal!) sang it with such beautiful clear voices that I never wanted it to stop. At each point later in the opera where there were bits of the song heard in the distance, I just wanted it to come back to centre stage and go on and on.
The Bell Song (Air des clochettes) came in the second act and I have again drawn the video from a concert elsewhere. Let me say that Audrey Luna really did this beautiful song justice. What an amazing voice! The song contains little parts that reminded me of sections of the Queen of the Night aria — here she is singing the bells — but I found this song much more pleasant and less jarring in its transitions. So delighted to have heard it here with this soprano first.
The story (I do like to go on about the stories) is appropriately tragic. The little party of British interlopers who despoil the sacred place in the forest by treading in it, the man who stays behind to sketch Lakmé’s jewelry (an authentic colonialist would probably just have scooped it up and sketched at home!) and falls in love with her and her voice’s beauty. It cannot be, of course, and Lakmé’s father sets out to identify the man responsible for the despoiling of the sacred place who also dared to gaze upon his daughter.
Her lover slipping away, if not yet physically, Lakmé eats a poisonous flower before they drink from the cup. They drink, and she weakens, even as she protects him from her father by informing him that they are committed to each other through the drinking from the cup. Lakmé dies, and rather suddenly for an opera, I must say!
A great start for the season.
21 September 2013
Makeover means big hairstyle changes, so l’Oréal really gets its chance to hawk its wares. Every line of theirs is highlighted and pronounced to be the perfect thing for the dreadful hair problems of the various superfans. Then there’s that lovely moment when Helen’s model gets asked if she’s been cutting her own bangs. We know the answer is yes before she says it.
Ken’s mother would probably recognize that “other person” who then emerges, just like the rest of us do. Big old tantrum, and Bradon and Alexander beat a hasty retreat to their old room and lock the door. Group meeting time the next day! First, Tim talks to a post-tantrum contrite-ish Ken and they meet the whole group. Time characterizes both Ken’s and Alexander’s behaviour as unacceptable (they agree) and announces that Justin, Bradon and Alexander will be sharing and Ken will be off on his own to avoid conflict. Alexandria opines that they have to leave the drama behind, because they owe the superfans an excellent experience. We all cry…okay we don’t. The workroom is subdued and tense.
A few comments on their own and others’ looks:
- Ken calls his own a “couch dress”
- Helen thinks Justin’s look is “so Vogue, it’s really triumphant.”
- Ken, again, thinks that even though his fan is overjoyed the judges will rip him apart because the dress is simple and the colour is hideous (fan picked it).
- Bradon is relieved to assign the bottom spots to Alexandria and Ken. Maybe Alexander, too, if he doesn’t finish.
- Ken hopes Alexander doesn’t finish so he might be safe himself.
- Justin’s fan’s signature makes his dress.
- Bradon has produced “wearable pieces, yet with refined and embellished edge.”
- Alexander thinks his fan is owning the runway, but knows he has sent an unfinished garment out, and that’s a big no-no.
- Dom is happy to see her fan look so pretty (yawn).
- Kate thinks her fan Alta is “stomping it out better than any of the models” and Helen leans over to add “That top is sick.”
- Ken is glad his fan looks so happy, but he still thinks his dress looks like a couch from the seventies (was that a bad decade for couches?)
- Alexandria enthuses that her design is “okay”. Control your enthusiasm, A!
- Helen thinks her fan looks as beautiful as she wanted to feel.
- Helen and Kate are both just happy that their fans are happy. Dom joins in on that sentiment after she and Kate are both pronounced safe.
- Justin’s: Everyone loves the signature embroidered on it as well as his accommodation of his fan’s body changes (she has lost a lot of weight and has extra skin) and her religion (she is Mormon and want to dress modestly).
- Alexandria’s: The looks of disappointment on the judge’s faces as she explains her look tell all. That is, until Zac shares that he wrote down “maternity librarian” on his score card. Thanks Zac!
- Bradon’s: Zanna thinks the shiny bits on the dress look a little plastic and he might have considered doing the whole outfit in leather. Bradon defends his choice by sharing that the fan didn’t want dominatrix, whereupon Zac demonstrated his cool edginess yet again by making a whipping motion and sound. Too cool for school, Zac!
- Alexander’s: Zac asked if he had finished, and A fessed up. Zanna found the suit boring and then Zac demonstrated how not to give a critique with a fan in the outfit, calling it “Oompa Loompa” shaped.
- Helen’s: All the judges gush over the makeover and agree that she wanted a red carpet dress and she got it!
- Ken’s: Here’s where I was really proud of how Heidi demonstrated that you can compliment the fan and still criticize the dress. H said she had the most fun watching this fan walk down the runway and that in that sense Ken did a good job. In a fashion sense, however (see how she did that, Zac?), the colour was not great, the lines were somewhat unflattering where they were placed and her boobs could have been much better shown off. I’ve never liked Heidi more than I did at that moment.
So Ken is out. He is still calm, reassures himself that it is a major accomplishment that a self-taught designer such as he could make it this far (true dat) and sharing how intimidated he was at the beginning of the competition. If it weren’t for his mother’s asking about the “other Ken” last week, we might have put his atrocious behaviour down to that, but no. He fake hugs everyone and expresses his “love” of them and then a little flair (not a flare) on the way out: a snap to mark his exit. Now who will bring the drama?
If we thought Tim’s critiques were hard, the designers have their own comments on each other’s work:
- “Helen’s gown is like the sixties threw up.” (Alexander)
- “It looks like the dress Harriet Tubman wore when she received her freedom.” (Ken on Bradon’s)
- “Jeremy’s look is just old.” (Bradon)
- “I think it looks like a tablecloth.” (Dom on Bradon’s)
It’s always interesting to see what the designers say about their own looks as they go down the runway (in cutaways because the runway show is “anonymous”):
- Ken: “Muy bon chic.” Mixing multiple languages you don’t speak is hip?
- Helen: “No way I can lose with this look.” Because she’s on such a winning streak and expects it to continue forever.
- Justin: “Keeping it simple, but bold in the colour” Tim saved you — in the workroom this time — from going Halloweenie.
- Alexander: “Striking, vibrant, energetic…exactly what the Belk woman should be” confident, anyone?
- Alexandria: “I chose some difficult fabric. I should have gone with something less pleated and had less structure and body.” No confidence there.
- Bradon: “I take risks. That’s what my work is about.” Nobody does a plaid
shirtdress like me!
- Dom: “Exactly what a modern southern woman should look like.” Oh honey, I see a disappointment coming.
- Jeremy: “My look is not only southern, but nationwide.” Has never been to the south and has no plans to go there.
- Kate: “It’s everything Belk said they wanted. I’m really proud of myself.” Not sure I would be proud of just producing what you think the customer wants…where’s the design?
- Bradon’s: the judges ALL love it! Plaid-o-rama!
- Jeremy’s: Zac says it is not Madame, because that would be positive and hates the jacket. Nina, however, only likes the jacket.
- Ken’s: Zac calls it a “beautifully cut purple nightgown”, earning a frown from Ken and the when Heidi calls it unflattering he does another look. Heidi calls him on giving her a look and they have a silent stare off for a while. I expect him to cut one of the judges someday, probably Zac. John Thomas riffs on Ken’s assertion that it belongs at a formal wedding into “it went a little bridesmaid.”
- Kate’s: everyone loves it, except Heidi, who thinks the model looks pregnant. John Thomas is sure they could sell that at Belk’s — well, the south does have higher rates of unwanted pregnancies, doesn’t it?
- Dom’s: Stacy thought Dom’s wanting to “scale it back a little” might have gone way too far and Nina hated the colour, comparing it to hospital scrubs (good one Nina!).
- Alexander’s: more gushing from the judges about the third plaid, its colour and movement.
- Zac thought if you put Jeremy’s jacket on Heidi, you would have Air Klum, whereupon Heidi put the jacket on and did a flight attendant impression of where the safety exits are. Zac doubled over laughing at his own joke.
- Zac thought Ken’s fabric was too heavy, calling it “sweaty Betty” fabric.
- “Brava” (Zac)
- “Edgy yet easy” (Nina)
- “Classy but also sexy” (Stacy)
- “A great coming and going dress.” (John Thomas)
In the end, Dom is also pronounced the winner, meaning that her save me dress will also be produced and sold at Belk. That sort of cheapened Bradon’s win, but he’s probably just lucky that they didn’t take his win back! Down to Ken and Jeremy. Jeremy is sent home for being boring (true enough) and Ken is kept, either for the drama he is likely to produce (to the delight of viewers like you and me) or because the judges were afraid he might leap off the runway and cut someone. You know who. Next week’s preview promised the former (the drama), so I can’t wait to see that!
15 September 2013
When they get to the workroom, there are garments on their dress forms. Time explains that they are examples of items from Heidi’s New Balance collection for inspiration, but that the contestants are not allowed to cut them up! I suppose when you have spent weeks getting people to create fashion from anything that doesn’t move, you do have to be explicit about what cannot be sacrificed to the challenge. Everyone seems quite thrilled to be making active wear, which is a whole different animal from sportswear, which itself has very little to do with sports. I fear I’m starting to get the hang of all this fashion talk.
- Helen’s outfit is boring; she really ought to get to work on the jacket part
- Karen’s first look inspires all sorts of contorted expressions from Heidi and then she says the model will look like a trashy Martian
- Ken’s looks like a scuba suit
- Alexandria should charge on ahead with the drop-crotch (aka “poopy”) pants because Heidi loves them
- Justin is almost unable to say anything because he is intimidated, star-struck and tongue-tied. His ASL interpreter had an easy time of that encounter.
- “Girlfriend, don’t try to tell me what to do with my outfit!”
- “Hashtag: I’m going home” (this Twitter device does not translate well to the spoken word)
- “I’m in Worry Town.”
When Heidi tells the contestants that the judges are really all over the place this week she is not exaggerating. When we see a parade of stretchy leggings aping the colour swoops of Heidi’s own collection and someone calls that fashion, that person is exaggerating. (There’s my entry in the Bitchstakes!) There is definitely some bandwagon one-upmanship on the comments, especially for a couple of the looks.
- Nina: “It looks like she went running, ran into a bear and she had an accident in her pants.”
- Michael: “Pleasure me pockets.” (This caused the model to laugh, annoying the otherwise calm designer.)
- Michael: “She looks like she’s going to a buffet on a cruise and could put cookies in her pockets.”
- Zac and Michael later compete in naming foods the model might be consuming (and hiding) in her outfit.
- The model chimes in with her own dislike of the outfit (did she forget that her fate is tied to the fate of the designer?)
14 September 2013
The scene is an outpatient dermatology clinic, where I have been going for quite some time for various problems, including condyloma (anal warts). I assiduously follow up to ensure that I am treated and in the hope that the problems will not develop into things more serious. In the course of my frequentation of this outpatient clinic, I have seen many, many residents, students in training to become dermatologists, and they have come from a great many backgrounds.
In that context, I had to confront my own prejudices when the female resident wearing a hijab called my name. I thought to myself that this observant Muslim woman was not going to like me or the task ahead of her as she examined and treated me. I couldn’t have been more wrong. What I got in this visit was a professional who treated me with compassion and without judgment. I made a point of telling her supervisor that this visit had been the least traumatic and difficult for me, that she had done her job with the utmost of professionalism.
That is not only socially unacceptable, but legally unacceptable.
10 September 2013
How about the rational decision-making that we see on other fronts? The federal government might abandon its references to research and scientific facts when it comes to health and the environment, but I continue to count on the professionalism of our government structures here to go with what is right, not which way the wind happens to be blowing. We all paid for the Bouchard-Taylor Commission on reasonable accommodation a few years ago and its recommendations were the result of a great deal of thoughtful reflection. What happened to those? First off, an immediate resolution to keep the crucifix in the National Assembly, symbol not of the founding of Québec, but of an unholy pact between the Church and the State in the 1930s that succeeded in repressing the majority population for decades. Now this, an affirmation of intolerance with large exceptions for the folkloric status of the once-powerful church.
A couple of quizzes maybe?
It’s kind of difficult for many of the other choices to determine what might be fashion and what the expression of religious belief. I am about as threatened by the transparent rain bonnet as I am by the hijab — no, scratch that: the rain bonnet is scarier in its tackiness!
Bouchard and Taylor called for the neutrality of institutions and the freedom of individuals. Let’s go with that instead.