Life is beautiful…

This week I got a call from my aunt who told me that she had extra ticket for a classical concert with Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Since it was on my list of things to do I accepted and thought to myself that even if I wouldn’t like it I would at least get a fun night out with my aunt. I have never been to a real classical concert before. My closest experince of such would be a few recitals in my music school. But there is something that tells me that fifteen kids butchering the far too overly used pieces on piano, violin or flute is perhaps not the best way to experience classical music.

When we walked into the concert hall we heard the musicians tuning their instruments and the conductor and soloist walked onto the stage.  I got excited but also felt a bit out of place since I had no idea how to behave in these circumstances. The conductor was Gennadíj Rosdestvenskíj and the soloist who played the first half was actually his son, Alexander Rosdestvenskíj. He played Violin concerto no. 4 by Alfred Schnittke with the orchestra. I liked his performance very much and as far as I can tell he is a great musician but I’m still not sure what I felt about that piece. It was messy and especially for the untrained ear it broke down generalized ideas of what music should sound like. Alexander did a short extra piece with his mother who played the piano. It was also by Schnittke and was a lot more fun – I can safely say that I liked that one.

After the break the orchestra played Symphony no. 8 in C minor (Opus 65) by Dmitri Sjostakovitsj. That one was powerful, exciting and I thought it was pretty good. I was getting a little tired though so in the two slow parts of the symphony my mind wandered a bit. I think you need to train yourself for this kind of culture:) Overall it was a delightful experience and I would definitely go to a classical concert again.  

Until next time…

King Lear

Posted on: 5.3.2011

In February I went to see “King Lear” in The National Theatre of Iceland. One of my favourite theatre buddies came along and we were excited to see the play and compare it to the other Shakespeare play we saw a while back “The Tempest”. I wrote about that one in my last post. This one was very long, with the break it was more than three hours but I sat through it without being bored.

King Lear is a tragedy about a king who is getting old and has to divide his kingdom to his three daugters. He decides that they will each get a share of his kingdom in portion with how much they love him. Since one of his daughters is not willing to promise to love only her father, she doesn’t inherit anything but her love for her father turns out to be greater than her sister’s.

I knew nothing of the story before I saw the play. The only thing I did know was that it was a tragedy and was written in early 17th century. I was surprised to see that I followed the text pretty well, there were one or two monologues that I didn’t understand word-by-word but I got the main idea.

In the opening scene the stage was filled with hundreds of red, blue and white helium balloons that were floating with strings some two meters in the air. I heard someone point out that the dresses of the three daughters were actually in these colors. Cordelia the youngest was wearing white and continued to do so throughout the play but the other sisters wore darker and darker outfits as the plot progressed. The balloons were used a lot throughout the play for various effects, they were used to show a party, comedy, as a hiding place, as sound-effects and even as they had all been blown up there were some limp balloons in one scene that indicated that ‘the party was over’.

I did not find the actors outstanding. The daughters were not very believable but I liked the performance of Arnar Jónsson as Lear. He was at times hard to understand but I sympathized with his characters. The play also had one of my favorite Icelandic actors, who was great here as always Eggert Þorleifsson.

The music was okay, a playback that was backed up by a live cello. I didn’t notice it being used very much for the purpose of adding something to the experience. I remember that sometimes I wondered about the lighting. It was usually great and eg. clearly indicated the difference between day and night. But there was one scene where the lights came all the way down and were very yellow and I didn’t see the point.

I cannot finish this post before I talk about the rain! There was pouring rain on the stage for full 40 minutes and it was beautiful, wet and cozy. I really loved to see that and it made this play a great experience. The only thing, me and my friend agreed on that one, was that sometimes you couldn’t hear the actors clearly through the splashing sounds of the rain. But mostly it was a great addition.

I will remember this play for a long time. It was very interesting and fun.  As with The Tempest I give the play four stars and would recommend to adults to seniors, theatre lovers.

That’s it for now

 

The Tempest

Posted on: 19.2.2011

It was a Thursday night a few weeks back and my friend and I went to the theatre. For her it was a sudden event as she got my boyfriend’s ticket as he was sick. I had had time to read a little about the plot of the play but she knew very little about it.

The play we saw was Shakespeare’s, The Tempest or Ofviðrið in Icelandic. In a few words the play is about a duke and his daughter who have been stranded on an island where no man lives but one man/creature. The duke is kind of a wizard and has a spirit who helps him make a very bad weather so his brother and other people are lured to the island.

As you may have seen in my earlier posts, I don’t need much to be impressed by theatre. I consider it a gift to be able to enjoy a good show without the need to point out all the negative things about it. This play was no exeption and enjoyed this play. I was a little worried that the text would be to difficult to understand and there would be hard to follow the plot, but I found it easy to follow.

The actors were good and the dancers were a great addition to the cast. The dancers were masqued and as a sat real close to the stage I almost felt like a part of the show when they were dancing. The stage and props looked great and seemed to be very well designed. It had been set up like a castle with a stage in the middle, and sometimes the actors were using metacognition by acting in a play in the play. Finally the costumes were glamourous and beautiful and really added to the whole experience.

This was a very fun night, moderately long play and really fun to watch. I give it four stars and would recommend to adults to seniors, theatre lovers but I wouldn’t advise any group to limit themselves because it really is for almost anyone.

C U L8ER

Due to my new job as a teacher and a trip to Århus in Denmark I haven’t read or blogged as much as I wanted for the last couple of months. But I’m back now:) Recently I finished reading my first book by John Connolly. I think that normally he writes action novels, crime and thrillers but the one that I read was something else. It’s called The book of lost things and I would say that it is a children’s book for adults. By that I mean that it has everything that we loved about books as children but intended for adults and not kids.

The story is about David who is a young boy that goes into a crack of a wall because he hears the voice of his mother but finds himself trapped in another world. He needs to find a way out again and in the process he has to face all sorts of challenges and weird creatures.

The story was written beautifully and it was very fun to read. The descriptions of things, characters, creatures or landscape were detailed and added a lot to the story and made it more real even though it is a pretty wild fantasy. My only critici

sm

is that there were a few unfinished things in the story, like David’s mental illness that is almost only part of the beginning of the book but isn’t used at all in later chapters. For my part I always need explanation of everything to believe it and I felt that I needed more explanation regarding this world and why David got there. Was this all just a dream or what?

I recommend this book for teenagers and adults that can imagine that “it could happen”, even though it’s pretty out there. I give it 4.5 stars because over all it was wonderful!

 

What a disappointment! 600+pages of NOTHING. Then something happens and you start to get excited but oh wait… there is more NOTHING… AND what little that does happen is semi creepy… in a bad way! The plot… or lack there of… is really thin. And sometimes I was grossed out even by some images the plot presents. I really had to force myself to keep reading. The one thing I liked was how Stephenie Meyer wrote from other perspectives. It’s like the first book all over again, nothing happens. But at least in Twilight it was acceptable up to a point because the fantasy world had to be properly introduced. This is just sad… I am really not looking forward to seeing the film, I lost all interest. (But I probably will see it – it can’t be as bad as the book)

I am too annoyed to review this more. I’ve started reading the next book on my list “The book of lost things” and I can already see that it’s review will be a lot more positive one! 1 star

On December 30th I went to the theater (Þjóðleikhúsið) with two of my closest people (who also happen to be my most devoted readers). As an Icelandic teacher I was really excited to see this particular play Iceland’s Bell by Nobel winning author Halldór K. Laxness. I haven’t read quite as many of his novels as I should but this one I did read a few summers ago. Well… I almost read it all… it took a long time and I returned it to the library before I could finish but there wasn’t much left.

The story is set in the 18 century and is about the fairest Icelandic maiden and her love for a man who loves her back but they cannot be together because of the other love, or passion, in his life. He is obsessed with collecting every single old book or manuscript in Icelandic and travels around the country and the world to find them. The maiden marries a drunk and then a priest and the man marries a rich woman who can support him financially. The story of their lives weaves around an odd person, a poor farmer and a thief who these people never would have met under normal circumstances but never fails to serve as a comic relief.

Now, on to the play! It was AMAZING!!! The music was live and complemented the setting of the play perfectly. The use of the stage and props was well executed. The dialogue was relatively easy to follow but as I was sitting rather far from the stage I had to listen carefully to hear some of the actors. That was my only real criticism and I will try not to buy those seats again. Another thing though was that it was a bit long – but i’m not sure where they could have shortened it. The costumes – which are something i rarely notice – were fitting and I fell deeply in love with the costumes of the maiden. I now want a whole wardrobe based on the Icelandic national costume.

The actors did an amazing job! They were believable and in character the whole time and every single one of them added to the experience. I especially loved the performance of Ingvar E. Sigurðsson as the old farmer who spoke with an accent the entire play.

The book collector is based on a real Icelandic legend who saved many of our greatest manuscript. Some of them were lost in a fire in Copenhagen and this fire was of course also in the play. I literally had tears in my eyes in that scene thinking about what was lost in the real fire.

I was very satisfied and almost want to go see the play again! 5 stars without a doubt!

Happy New Year!

Inception

Posted on: 26.12.2010

Just finished watching Inception. I bought it but made a decision to save it when I was told that the novel I am working on had vague similarities with the idea of the film. I wanted to finish writing my own plot and drain myself of my ideas before they were influenced by another idea. A bit like the plot of the movie actually;) As it turns out the movie is nothing like my story. There are two very small similarities but the concept is very much different. So I can breathe again:)

The movie was absolutely mind-blowing! It felt like a sci-fi but there was action and some fantasy and drama. A little romance would have been a good addition I think.

It took awhile to understand and get with the plot but when you did it captured your mind and kept it throughout the film. And it did not ruin things to have at least three extremely hot male actors to look at! In my head the plot was very well explained and didn’t leave any unanswered questions, apart from the obvious one that is:)

The best movie I have seen in a long time! 5 stars 🙂