Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Don't stand during the Messiah

I have decided this year that I am not going to send any Christmas Cards. I believe this is an anachronistic and wasteful practice that is contributing to global warming, the destruction of the Amazonian rainforests, the propping up of inefficient postal systems, the extinction of Koalas and the popularity of Sarah Palin.

As I write a Blog four times each week (sometimes five if Merisi hounds me) I will reward the readers with Christmas Greetings closer to the event. Those who do not read the Blog can make their own arrangements but don’t bother looking in the letter box for a card from Wien to bright your otherwise dull and stultifying existences.

If you are looking forward to a card from me then you have confirmed my long held suspicions about you.

Of course I expect cards. As someone who has bored you witless with 278 Blogs I expect some sort of reward and the thought of you writing a card to Badger in Wien and then coughing up for the significant postage is a small reward for my efforts.

I received from William an invitation to join Google Wave. It’s a bit hard to explain – sort of like real time chat but with the ability to do much more. It is in beta so there is a lot of development to be done but it looks like fun.

Like all new web developments it is designed for younger people so someone like me spends an inordinate amount of time trying to do the most simple tasks. For example – it took me two days to work out how to bookmark my Wave page – and the solution was blushingly simple. I will plod along and get the hang of it.

I had a chat with Lenny on Wave and he pointed me in the direction of some excellent YouTube videos – one of which I will share with you cat aficionados.

Spaghetti Cat

Cate and I saw the Messiah last night (no it is not rapture time – we went to see the performance at the Wiener Konzerthaus conducted by Emmanuelle Haim). It was very different to those which we have seen in the past – but sensational.

There was a choir of 20 – compared with 600 to which we are accustomed in the Sydney Opera House – but those 20 sang their hearts out and lacked for nothing.

The Baritone (correction:Bass) looked like a gangster and was busting out of his suit - as was the pregnant Mezzo-Soprano (correction Soprano) but gave an excellent performance. He went very red in the face a few times and I thought he might pop a valve – but he came through nicely.

And the Soprano (correction: Alto) was a man (and therefore a Countertenor) – and not a particularly good looking one. I had trouble with this for a while and spent a long time wondering if they still have Castrati here.

Emmanuelle is a bit distracting to watch as she conducts like she has Tourette Syndrome so I focused on the bass drummer who apparently spent the entire evening reading the sports section of Der Standard (when I say the whole evening he did rouse himself during the Hallelujah Chorus and the closing bits).

We met Richard who writes about music at:


(which has nothing at all to do with waltzes – Viennese or otherwise - so try not to be too disappointed when you get there).

We were his guide as to when to stand up but this did not happen. No one stirred at the start of the Hallelujah Chorus so we stayed glued to our seats – which did seem rather strange.

Deadliest Catch is a ‘reality’ show about crab fishermen in the Bering Sea. It is not the usual type of ‘reality’ show in that it is actually a real documentary.

Cameramen go out on the boats and watch crab fishermen work their clackers off, catch crabs, freeze, survive mountainous seas, icebergs, ferocious winds, giant killer octopuses (OK I made that one up) - and drown. It is strangely compelling to watch this and the best time to do it is when the weather outside is appalling - preferably sleet and howling winds.

Cate and I will sit in front of the fire with the cats and watch this and wonder why we are so lucky. I might finally get the last two panels of my Koala quilt done and ready for the Sydney Royal Easter Show in 2010.


  1. Delightful to meet you and Cate last night and thanks very much for the plug. You've saved me the trouble of writing a review of this concert for my Blog with your fine words.

    I remain confused by some of the terminology though. Wikipedia (to which I bow in all matters of fact) tells me that Messiah is scored for soprano, alto, tenor and bass. And those were the voices given in the printed programme as well. I didn't buy one as I had no money left after spending €10 on two small glasses of fizz, so I sneaked a few quick glances at the one of the woman sitting next to me. I would have thought the pregnant woman was the Soprano, the gangster the Bass (it's a shame the gangster wasn't the Soprano, that would have been quite funny) and the worried-looking bloke with the high-pitched voice the Alto (or countertenor, seeing as he was a man). But maybe that's just me.

    I have got Google Wave as well but I haven't worked out a use for it yet. It says in the introductory video that you can use it to organize a Barbecue, but I'm not planning one of those.

  2. No you are quite right and I am quite wrong and I should have looked at the program. The problem is that I can't always (well never actually) tell the difference between the voices. I bow to your research on this matter. It sounds like Google Wave may be useful only in summer but I will check and get back to you.

  3. "All we like sheep have gone astray" - I wonder how the oratorio sounds in German. I only ever heard it in English, at the annual "Messiah" audience sing-along at the Kennedy Center, with professional soloists, the opera orchestra and a 200 member choir. Very moving, year after year, and it's free.


  4. It was all in English so would have been entirely familiar to you - but you would not have been able to sing along.