Tuesday, October 6, 2020

The magic of a paintbox

 I love paintboxes. They say so much about a person. Each has its own personality. The above is the paintbox I have been using throughout the Covid-19 isolation. It is very cheap but I like it. This box came as weekly additions to a watercolour magazine and was really good value. You can fill the pans up from tubes and the stickier the paints are the better.

I have two others and all are old. Watercolours last forever. Corvid isolation seemed a perfect time to give this another go. Watercolours if you have not tried them have a mind of their own and you never know what is going to happen. 

I had no idea just how expensive these little pans of colour have become. To buy separately about NZ$10 each! That's NZ$280 today. Paint boxes like this sell for around $300 +.

The joy is one only uses a few of these colours and a little goes a long way.

One Xmas, a long, long time ago I received a Rowney black tin paintbox as my major Xmas present and in  2018 I bought an example of the first The Winsor & Newton 1840 wooden paintbox and the paints till are useable although I don't use them.

I am not a competent watercolourist but l enjoy dabbling in the hope that one day I shall get the hang of it.

When I do something I feel comfortable with I'll share. It may be a long wait. 

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Garageband for Accompanist for singers Janette Miller

This is an excellent article on Choosing Your Vocal Coach-Pianist but this relies on finding and being able to afford this luxury. This is a big problem for singers especially like me if you cannot play the piano. It can also be expensive and sometimes impossible to find an accompanist who can play difficult accompaniments. 
I could never find one to play "The Songs of the Auvergne". My answer was to make sure I married a man who loved music and could play the piano. He was not perfect, could not transpose and was not "performance proof" but every day for 30 years we sang together. He could not manage "The Songs of the Auvergne".Then he died. I lost my husband and my accompanist. I did try with the locals but they were expensive and you have guessed it could not even start on "The Songs of the Auvergne". This was in 2002 and I thought I should never sing again either in private or in public. Then a miracle happened. Computers arrived in 2007 and Garageband. I started to play with the "loops" and one day I added with great difficulty one or two notes of my own using The Keyboard and the Piano Roll. It as not until a few weeks later that I thought if I can write out a few notes, then possibly I could write out a Schubert Song. I tried first using the conventional notation but found the Piano Roll easier. It was a success. It took me over a week but I had an accompaniment, one that did what I wanted exactly. No wrong notes, right tempo and could transpose at a click and is on hand when convenient to me. 
I have never looked back. Garageband could also handle "The Songs of The Auvergne". I wrote it out as a piano accompaniment at first but then I decided to orchestrate and bingo! It was easy. It now takes me about 2 hours to write out a song. I put up "The Songs of the Auvergne" on YouTube. Yes, it was a challenge but if I had had this tool when I was young it would have made all the difference. It is difficult when you can sing but for reasons cannot play an instrument. It means one can learn difficult roles and learn with the orchestration. I had to learn "The Turn of the Screw" for Britten at the age of 15 with no help from anyone. I then had to sing it on British TV live with only one orchestral rehearsal. That was truly scary. Had I had Garageband and could have written out my part and practised it when I needed life would have been better and my fear of performing made easier. I could not find an accompanist who could tackle this is 1959. Today one can get many classical songs as midis. You just have to know how to use them. 
Obviously, a real pianist is preferable but they are expensive and not always available but worth it if you are like me who loves to sing but needs an accompanist. Then when you find a wonderful accompanist, mine was Britten we sang Schubert together you can enjoy it. He let me sing in English and was willing to transpose when needed or even when I didn't know as he chose keys for me!

Friday, August 21, 2020

Sir Bob Elliot a tribute from a grateful patient.

Sir Bob Elliot died today

This amazing man has just died. I have to thank him for saving me from becoming a Type 1 diabetic. I never met him but about 20 years ago I was put on one of his research programmes to prevent diabetes. Both my parents and my cousin have diabetes and so I qualified for this research. When I was tested it was found that I had a six out of ten chance of becoming a Type 1 diabetic but Sir Bob thought that large amount of Vitamin B3. Nicotinamide could prevent this. 

For three years I took huge amounts of B 3 each day and slowly like a miracle my platelet levels returned to normal so normal that I have a 99.99% chance of not becoming a diabetic. I kept all the lab test results so you can see it happen. Sadly this has not been taken up universally by the medical profession who were very jealous of his success and NZ hates "tall poppies" but it did work for me and I was so lucky as he has saved me from needles and injections for life. How many other pre-diabetics could be cured?
I am so grateful to this man I have never met.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Ditch Overseas Travel and Eliminate Covid 19 in UK

UK Guardian 30 July 2020

At last! The first commonsense article that I have seen about how to deal with Covid 19. in UK, eliminate it!
UK is an island like New Zealand where I live. NZ has eliminated Covid 19 and let me tell you life here is normal, very normal. NZ is now taking its holidays at home for the immediate future but no masks, no social distancing and life as normal.
The UK could do this as it is an Island and at last, even a very slow Boris has got around contemplating doing this too. A bit late but it can still be done. Do it UK! Then I can come home and visit you and you can visit me. You can't at the moment. You are all too dangerous for NZ, in the nicest possible way.
It takes about five weeks. It does mean going to abroad for holidays is out for a bit till other countries get their Covid 19 under control but the benefits are enormous. No more 30,000 deaths and masks and the inconvenience of it all. I have never had to wear a mask, I feel safe and I can go and shop anywhere. NZ just has to police those coming in as they bring it and if the UK cannot see it yet that is where the infections come from. One infected passenger is one infection too many. I realise lots of my FB friends have homes in France and Spain and have visited but one has to make a few sacrifices. NZ did this. It was tough but the rewards are worth it. If everyone is in the same boat it is not so bad.
So if elimination of Covid 19 is suggested and not just control, go for it otherwise your life is going to be ghastly for the next few years and UK theatres, sports and cafes will never get going again.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

What is Received English? Janette Miller

Received English. 

Who speaks it these days. I do but I am one of the last to do so.
The UK has lots of regional accents but the strangest of all is known as Received English which foxes everyone. It is the typical BBC English which is going out of fashion but it what I speak. In my day you had and it is "strange"!
I have only just found out.
You have to learn this accent. In my day it was taught in schools. It hides brilliantly your social class and in a class-ridden country like UK this is very useful.
Today Received English is taught in language schools and weirdly many expats children who never set foot in UK speak it too. Richard E Grant is one and Freddie Mercury. It is absolutely impossible to tell which class they belong to.
So does my accent hide my class? Yes it does. To a lower-class person I sound "posh" but to aristocrats they cannot place me, they know by the way I say "often" and "cat" I am not one of them but am I upper-middle or working class? I could be either.
So what am I? I am not sure. I was raised in what I thought was a middle-class household but my grandfathers were of the people who rose from the working class and to succeed both families spoke "Received English". I am me! 
Possibly "Trade" which was unfashionable, did not do to be a banker but now is very fashionable. Both the working and upper classes look down on "Trade"
So now you know.

2009 Falstaff Verdi Covid Live Streaming from Glyndebourne in 2020

Falstaff Verdi Glyndebourne 2009

Just watched a totally "delicious" Falstaff, 2009 Glyndebourne. This was Verdi's last opera, written at the age of 80, his only comedy and for once a decent libretto and what a difference that made. There are sections when Verdi could not resist "I'm a scale going down, I'm a scale going down"  but it is very high class, quality and according to Britten and my husband and they certainly should know Verdi's best opera and the only one either would deign to go and see. 

This production is set in Windsor in about 1947 just after the Second World War with loads of cabbages in the garden and very dull clothes.

No coupons for clothes or furniture at that time and no bottles of Scotch either. I was born in Windsor so I know and love it well and was leaving nearby in Taplow at that time and our garden was full of cabbages that none of us ate. I lived in that type of Middle-class house too so it was very nostalgic. The curtains looked rather new though. Nobody had new curtains until after 1953!

The "Falstaff" was superb. Best I have ever seen and I have seen quite a few and I liked the resetting. It worked very well. Loved the production, no clinging to the furniture, perhaps just once but on this occasion allowable.

I could even take the stuffed, puppet cat on the counter which was quite cute however there were two more stuffed cats possibly more later on that failed to amuse. Please note one stuffed cat is enough.

I could happily watch this again as it was so enjoyable and I probably shall. That is praise from me indeed.  Bravo Glyndebourne and a big thank you for making it available to those of us who could never get in in better days. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Metropolitan Opera New York's magnificent response to the Covid 19 Virus 2020

Metropolitan Opera New York's magnificent response to the Covid 19 Virus 2020

This virus is a tragedy for opera and opera lovers. The live performing arts have taken the biggest hit and it will take a tremendous effort to recover. The Met is doing a fantastic job. I live in Auckland, New Zealand and I am impressed and grateful at the Mets swift action and generosity. The last weeks have been a feast for me and I have watched an opera virtually every day. The Met has allowed me to "catch up" in a way that I could never have imagined at the beginning of this year. 
This week is no exception with a feast of operatic masterpieces including Gounod's "Romeo & Juliet" which is one of the few operas I have actually seen live at the Met. I am not sure if it is the same production that I saw. We shall see.
I was in New York to sell my Children's Ballet series "Dance Tales Story Ballets" made with the help of the Royal Ballet Covent Garden and the BBC but I could only afford the gallery which was tremendous as I could go every night to an opera for 10 days. In the interval, I went to buy a souvenir from the stall on the first-floor foyer and the woman who served me got into conversation. I told her about my visit and gave her my business card.
She asked where I was sitting, the gallery and immediately I was invited to watch the rest of the production from her box! It was dead centre but one to Stage Left. I have no idea who she was and she would not give me her name but it was a truly wonderful gesture, one which I shall never forget.
The next interval I was invited into the special room to see the special guests meet but really only just to look not to mingle. Pity because my project could have done with a bit of help. So Gounod's "Romeo & Juliet" has very special memories.
What happened to "Dance Tales"? Well, it was made and shown all over the world but not in the USA as I was told patronisingly by CBS and ABC that USA television only did cartoons for children! Nobody was interested in live ballet! I was suitably humbled by this experience. The series did finish as a finalist in the LA Monitor Awards for best-edited programme so it did deserve to be seen but not in USA as it appears ballet is not suitable for children. We never saw USA Tv in 1986 so I had no idea that this was the USA policy.
The three USA TV channels did love a character in my project which I have yet to present to the world and went quite mad about it. I was taken out to breakfast at The Hollywood Hotel on the strength of it. It was and is that good but that is another story.
I had no intention of writing this, this morning but now seems a good time. Please continue to review as it is so good for opera. Reviews like this take time and effort and I am, for one extremely grateful.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Separating the art from the artist" BBC World, Y-Factor Presenter Edwina Pitman

"Separating the art from the artist" BBC World, Y-Factor Presenter Edwina Pitman.


Yesterday I heard this programme on the BBC and the presenter, Edwina Pitman explained so beautifully exactly how I have felt about artists real lives and their work ever since I read the appalling behaviour, child abuse misogyny practised by Beethoven who if he did today makes Epstein look like the Archangel Gabriel!
Beethoven's unacceptable behaviour is well documented in the official court papers and in his communication notebooks so it is all true. Many find this hard to believe but the evidence is there in black and white. Read the book Beethoven and his Nephew for the whole grisly tale. You will never be able to hear the music in the same light again knowing how Beethoven got the effect.
This year, 2020 Beethoven has been worshipped again as it is an anniversary but would people enjoy the "Ode to Joy" so much if they realised that Beethoven stole his nephew from his mother, stopped composing for years and only wrote the 9th Symphony when he had won his case against the mother. The "Ode to Joy" corresponds with this tainted victory over a woman
The whole discussion brings this strange human trait into focus. It is happening all the time.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Cosi Fan Tutte on The Abuse of Women.

Still watching an opera a day and this is about my third Cosi in the Covid 19 world.
I love the music, but it is such a cruel, abusive piece. Tricking two innocent women into being unfaithful and then palming it off as a joke may have been acceptable in Mozart's day but not now. My favourite Spanish version ends in tragedy for the young women and young men. It is a horrible way to win a bet.

Beautiful traditional production but one could tell none of the singers was happy performing it as is shown in the commentary at the end.  They have to do this to live. The Dorabella was very unhappy when the young women are made to apologise for an indiscretion that was forced upon them  and their abusive boyfriends get off scot-free. It is an appalling piece. With hindsight, it is rather grisly to see the fawning. on the now known to be flawed James Levine. Maybe we should change the end as they did in Madrid.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

"A Room of my Own" Virginia Woolf was right about girl's education

Janette Miller aged seven
School days! They ought to be the happiest days of one's life but my first school, for me was a nightmare. The photo above brings it all back to me and at 77 I feel I have the right to feel cheated.
I have been rereading Virginia Woolf recently since I watch the wonderful Royal Ballet's production "Woolf Words" and I do so feel so related to her. In "A room of her Own" she was very annoyed, well furious, that she had been denied the education supplied to her brothers. Woolf just did not get one. She had to self educate and when I look back at this photo, you can see then in the background I was 7 and the nuns had still not taught me how to read or even add up! I was taught to believe in invisible friends by being made to stand on my desk for three hours till I said I could see a gnome sitting on the French windows. I refused! I gave as good as I got, I gave up on God at that moment as I realised that he was possibly a figment of the sister's imagination too. It took three hours of me standing on my desk before I gave way and I still regret doing that. I was amazed as everyone else in the class including sister could see him. This gnome followed me for the next 4 years.
The friend in front in this photo remembers the occasion well and has written about it saying the experience was brutal and cruel so I am not making this up. I never told my parents. I should have done as my father would have removed me as he did when I was 13. I had come first in class but because I was a non-catholic, I was the child of a mixed marriage and brought up as an RC, it would never do for a child who had not been formally baptised and the child of an excommunicated mother to win the RC prize so the nuns just lost my exam papers and instead of first I came close to the bottom of the class. My father said all my brains were in my feet and sent me to ballet school!
Fortunately, at seven years old. I managed to learn to read quite soon after this and from that moment on I was self-taught., like Virginia Woolf. My grandfather had a TV in 1947 and the BBC really went for "educate, entertain and inform". I had seen most of Shakespeare and Shaw by the time I was 10. He also had a marvellous library and my mother bless her took me to art galleries, the ballet and opera. However, I did not get any science, or sex education! I gave up on God. I was right about this as when DNA turned up I realised there was No Adam & Eve and thus NO Sin! The God of the Bible was as imaginary as Red Cap and I could prove it.
My father had gone to the best schools himself and yet had sent me to be educated by young Irish Catholic nuns. Like Virginia Woolf, I still feel bitter. I missed out on a university education which even the nuns thought I deserved. Having put me bottom of my class for religious reasons, they had the nerve to say to my father that "It was a pity that Janette was leaving for a ballet school because she was clever enough could have gone to Oxford." My father did not relent.
However, the school was an architectural delight hence my love of architecture. I should indeed have loved to be an architect or a farmer and I ended up producing opera and ballet which I love too. I now have a "Room of my own" but a bit late.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Mozart's Magic Flute and the Abuse of Women.

A stunning production of Mozart’s “Magic Flute” by The Met.

It ought to be the perfect introduction to opera as it is easy to listen too and gorgeous to watch. It is a beautiful, classy pantomime. Mozart had to do it and was not the first or last composer to have lower his artistic standards to please his philistine masters and pay the rent but and it is a big “But” the content is really unacceptable today and if it were not by Mozart it would be condemned by all the “Me Too” followers for it condones the abduction of a girl child from her mother simply because all women are evil, not to be trusted the men know best!
This attitude was common in Mozart’s time. Removing children from their mothers was an everyday occurrence. Beethoven did it successfully. He stole his nephew from his mother who had done nothing to deserve it and did not have to give him back.
Pamina loves her mother. She tells her father so but Daddy knows best even though his wife has already chosen a lover for her, of whom he approves, saved  Tamino’s life and given him his Magic Flute that will keep him from harm.
Pamina is left at the door of the Temple that would be defiled if a woman entered. She is kept in the dark about her future.  It is so humiliating and puts every woman in her place. Then her father bad mouth’s her mother in front of everybody just like Donald Trump and his daughter is told if she wants to marry then she must reject her mother and do what she is told by her husband for the rest of her life. No wonder her mother is slightly annoyed about this. I would be too.
The only good part is The Queen of the Night is the most memorable character in the opera.
If the opera were not by Mozart it would not be produced. There are many operas, operetta’s and musicals in this class and sadly most fairy tales would not cut the mustard either. Time for them to go?
Still, I have watched three different 'Flutes' in the last few weeks this is the one I liked the best but I always feel uncomfortable when it is finished. Incredible standard. I just hope that Covid 19 does not damage this wonderful company.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Bournemouth's Corvid 19 crowded beaches

Bournemouth! My family loved Bournemouth. I got taken there every year by my grandparents and I hated it but I did learn to play croquet and table tennis. My parents hated NZ and retired there! Bad choice as they learned to hate it too but, wow I never saw the beaches like this before. 
This comes from having a lockdown and stopping this lot from going to Spain! In desperation, they have all come to Bournemouth. I cannot for the life of me understand why Spain wants them back!
Watch this space for another spike of the virus in two weeks time. 

It even shocked Germany!

How to grow Slipper Orchids in Auckland

The second orchid of the year is my magnificent Slipper Orchid with 17 slipper orchids. Three are hidden.
This year it has excelled itself after a few disappointing years where it has produced just seven or eight and once five.
I have had it for 18 years and was given to me by a neighbour who was about to die. It is her memorial and I think of her every year when it flowers
To get them to flower well is very difficult but this year I found the right place for it to thrive. 
In Auckland, it goes like this. It likes the morning and early afternoon sun outside for the summer and no watering just the occasional shower.  Keep it dry. It does not like being disturbed so no cutting for friends or repotting as it will sulk for years. A small feed and watch for slugs all the time as they eat the bugs. This is the moment I would reach for the slug pellets if I had them. 
Water from February on, that is autumn here The moment it starts to flower usually in June, bring indoors and enjoy for a couple of months.
Next year it will possibly rest and it will be back to seven but aren't they gorgeous.
The secret of a nice garden is "never move!" Stay in the same place and learn what flowers for you. Takes about 45 years but what a reward.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Sad Tale of Patch the bunny

"Patch" of Northcote Point NZ

I have acquired a bunny! 
I do not want a bunny but it seems the bunny has decided it likes me. His name is Patch and it is a really sad story. A few months ago some very thoughtful neighbours decided they no longer wanted their pet bunnies and as they were moving let them go!
Bunnies however cute are not wanted in NZ and one is only allowed to keep them under special conditions however NZ being sensible if they are spayed and people do not object they can live wild if they can!
This bunny has been eating my young plants. A well ago it ate my new expensive young rhubarb and a few others and I am afraid I was as enraged as Mr MacGregor of Peter Rabbit. I used to chase them out but about 10 days ago two nasty red setter dogs who were not on leads caught Patch's mate and killed it!
Bunnies are not supposed to have feelings but this one lingered saw where is mate was buried and tried to did her up! It was heartbreaking. It is winter so I have decided to feed the bunny. At first, he ran a mile as he knew I would chase him but gradually over the past few days he has responded with rabbit pellets and carrot and he let me stroke him.
So now I have three tuis, two doves on with a sore wing and a bunny! I am not supposed to have animals but he is so cute.

Monday, June 22, 2020

"Satyagraha " a Corvid19 treat from the Metropolitan Opera

Having had a go at "Akhnaten" at the Met yesterday I thought I would have a go at "Satyagraha " today. Both operas are by the minimalist Philip Glass. Having now experienced two of the most fabulous staged productions I have to admit my husband was right. It is like watching grass grow.

The little trailer is about 4 minutes long and really that is it but the whole opera takes nearly 3 hours. A few cords, a very basic vocal line mainly grunts and without the brilliant production a very boring evening. I cannot see these operas ever being given a concert performance! This one is made even more incomprehensible as there are no subtitles on purpose. Even Wiki did not come up with any useful programme notes. Act I was a few simple chords and grunts, ditto Act 2 but in Act 3 we got a couple of scales and lots of sellotape.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Ghost of Versailles Metropolitan Opera 1992 Director Colin Graham

I have waited a long time to see the original  1992 Metropolitan Opera, New York production of The Ghost of Versailles and it was worth it. What I did not realise is that the director was Colin Graham who was the director of my first opera "Noyes Fludde" in 1958 at Aldeburgh. We children, well Michael Crawford used to call him "He of the tight trousers"! I was so lucky to hit Colin as a director when I first started as he was punctilious and controlling down to the last eyelash. His 45 minutes of "Noye" was packed with intricacies. It took him 6 weeks to perfect.

Colin is the perfect director for this production which is packed with special moments and he pulled it off magnificently. He was really never truly appreciated in UK opera circles even by Britten who overlooked him on many occasions. I remember congratulating him on a particularly wonderful "Orpheus" at The Royal Opera House. His sad reply was "They haven't asked me to do anything else!" which was really all our loss as he was a truly great opera director as this production is evidence.

Still, this is a worthy finale. He ended up for a while as a monk is a strange cult in the Bible belt USA but left after a year. I am so glad the Met gave him this 20h Century grand opera. He gave them their money's worth.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Four Children and It" - Independent Film Julie Baines BBC World 2020

Four Kids and IT produced by Julie Baines

I listened to Julie Baines the producer talking about her film Four Children and IT on BBC World this morning and how it took 8 years of her life. It was fascinating and informative. Like the BBC interviewer, I was touched by her enthusiasm and tenacity. I have loved this story since I was a child a long time ago. I remember seeing it on BBC children's TV in black and white.

Because of Covid19, this film has been denied its theatre exposure. That was just such bad luck but as I live in New Zealand and I also live next door to an art cinema I may get the opportunity to view.
For her sake, I do hope so as without it the backers may not get their money back.

Was this a wise choice because another film version Five Children and It was made in 2004 and rather well too looking at the trailer. E Nesbit published the story in 1902 and it would have been out of copyright. That is 6% of the budget saved.

You can tell a lot from a trail. Gone are the days when the audience just had to take what was given. The audience is now an expert and very choosey.

Casting is crucial too and it has to be right. I think Russel Brant is one of the greatest Shakespearean comedy actors ever but even in the few shots in this trail you can see this is not his forte and Michael Caine's voice is not right either.

Will I go? Although NZ is supposed to be Corvid19 free I am still anxious but I wish her the best.

It doesn't help when Julie Baines does not have a Wikipedia entry either. Nobody has thought in the film world to give her one, you cannot write your own. No male producer would put up with this.

The world needs people like her to have dreams even if they don't always work out the first time as the may the second.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

"Candide" Bernstein Glasgow Opera BBC production 2018 YouTube

Found this last night! I have never seen a staged production only very good concert versions but they still were concert versions. This one filmed by the BBC is all I need. Wonderful staging, singing and acting and believe me "Candide" needs very professional performers. Bernstein oversaw this production and is sitting in the audience with minor Royalty so it has his mark of approval.
I never realised it is so long and I haven't finished it just yet. It is about 2hr 45 min.
The design features oversized furniture. I used huge furniture in my production of "Die Fledermaus" in Wellington and Auckland. Not sure it was right for me. The scene designer did not tell me that the furniture was oversized until too late and I was not happy as it makes the actors look like puppets and my characters had to be larger than life but that oversized furniture in the correct context is fine here as the characters are in fact the puppets of fate. Never be employed as a director if you can help it. For me, it was a horrible experience from which I have yet to recover.

Miles, my very knowledgable GP husband Oriel Oxford, always thought that as an opera composer Bernstein was very poor G&S and one can see that here in the numbers for Dr Pangloss of which there are quite a few. Bernstein was really a fantastic musical composer and this is a musical style which is still going strong today in "Hamilton". I love musicals by the way and performed in many but they are different from opera.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Glyndebourne Opera appeal for donations Corvid19 2020

I love opera and have been going to The Royal Opera House since I was 9. I used to queue for tickets all the time I lived in London and could always get it but never to a Gala as I was not on the list. You had to on the list for getting Gala tickets. I did go to A Gala because I was in the ballet. The point is I could get in, to Covent Garden but Glyndebourne Opera? No never. Glyndebourne did not want the likes of me. Aldeburgh? Yes. Glyndebourne? No. "Not even for ready money" as Oscar Wilde put it so succinctly.

Now in the midst of the Corvid19 catastrophe for the Arts Glyndebourne needs me to make a donation by offering its productions online on YouTube for a month.

It is such a pity that with so much to offer Glyndebourne has been such a horrible place to visit. Every time I visit I am met with a feeling that Glyndebourne has to put up with me but would rather be left alone. I am not the type or class that is welcome at Glyndebourne. I am actually upper middle class in the scheme of things but with touches of Trade. I married on Oxford educated GP and even he was not good enough for Glyndebourne either He went to the opera once a week either ENA or Covent Garden but he too never got tickets for Glyndebourne.

The last time I visited was with an ancient aunt who was dying who lived in Brighton. I live in New Zealand and as she lived in Brighton she wanted to visit Glyndebourne but unfortunately had never been able to buy tickets. It seems she and I were not on the list of preferred customers and as she had never seen it so I drove her as a treat. It was out of season so I drove in at the gate so she could get a better look. The huge car park was empty.   As I stopped the car a well-dressed woman who was obviously someone in authority strode over to the car and tapped on the window. "Get out" she screamed in her very upper-class English voice. I timidly said that my aunt just wanted to see the opera house even from a distance. This was met with "Get out. We are not open! Go away! We are closed" So we did. We did feel like naughty children from the village who did not know our place. We certainly got the message that we were not wanted. I was so embarrassed that I had put my aunt in such a position. It was very hurtful and not necessary. I had tried to book tickets for many years with no luck. It was almost impossible to get tickets. You had to be on the list of approved. I was certainly not. The only time I went was by myself when I was given a ticket. It is rather a lonely place by oneself in the long interval with just an apple. The only time I bought tickets was when the box office made a mistake and advertised for one day only that tickets were available from the Glyndebourne office so I dropped everything and went down to book. It is a long 54-mile drive from London. When I got there the box office was not open and I was greeted with horror but as it was advertised they had to sell me two tickets as it is the law. The ad was changed the next day to keep the riff-raff out.  I now live in Auckland so going to Glyndebourne is out of the question. Now with the larger house and more tickets to sell, I hope they are more welcoming. This production looks rather good but it is only because of a catastrophe at the end of my life that I am allowed to see one. Now it sadly seems that Glyndebourne is willing to accept my money that it has rejected for most of my life.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Cellist - a ballet featuring the tragic life of Jacquline du Pre, Royal Ballet 2020

When I was at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama I never realised that the life one of my colleagues would be made into a ballet performed at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as we sat drinking tea out of huge white china cups in the local Fleet Street workman's cafe. In those days Jacquline du Pre had very short cropped red bobbed hair but she was already "special" and it was no surprise that she won the Gold Medal for musicians in the same year that I won the GSM&D Production Prize and Michael Jayston won the prize for Drama. We were a very talented lot but this would have surprised us all.

I am not sure what she would have made of it but I was surprised and delighted at the result even though I think the true story which was not all roses for her and her family could have been even stronger if this could have been postponed a couple of years until all the supporting cast could be portrayed more realistically. Regretfully the ballet leans on sentimentality which is not a bad thing as it touches us emotionally at the moment of performance when not a dry eye in the house seems fitting but later one when one gets a grip on oneself I always feel slightly annoyed as I did after watching "Song of Bernardette". Du Pre's life, glittering career though it was and full of promise, ended up in tragedy for all of us.

Lovely choreography, dancers were wonderful as usual and splendid production. Well done! Took some courage to mount this.

PS. I was glad to see that the Royal Ballet gave the young dancer who played the youthful Du Pre the correct curtain call. She deserved it but also could have deserved a bouquet too! The Royal Opera House should have a few spares on these occasions. Fonteyn used to have a standing order at the local florists for her bunch of pink roses, not red, from her missing husband. I feel sure the budget could run to it.

Well worth watching!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

David Hockney and the Camera Obscura of 1420

Saw this BBC documentary a long time ago in 2011 and I found it again by accident today in 2020. This documentary made me appreciate just how brilliant David Hockney is.

Ever since I saw this type of painting in my youth, my mother always included a sojourn at the National Gallery when we went up to London by tube, I was fascinated by the problem of how the artists did it. The intricate lacework on the ruffs seemed impossible to achieve.

It never occurred to me when I was nine it was traced as today we trace in Adobe Illustrator. Hockney's explanation is so simple and his evidence conclusive.

All these pictures are about 32 cm square as that is the size that the subject comes into focus. When shown in black and white they all look like photos. This all happened about 1420. Yes, it can be dated.


Janette Miller The Adobe Products I use in 2020

I use Adobe products. 

They are all challenging to use and take some learning and there are so many of them that I enjoyed this video. 

All 50+ Adobe apps explained in 10 minutes

It must have taken an age to make and it is only one of three made by this maker humtog but it has had over 3 million views and I can see why.  

I use Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Auditon, Muse, ( Now obsolete but still the best web design programme) Premiere Pro,  plus an awful lot of others on my iPad and iPhone.  

If I don't use them for a bit, like now when I have been watching the Metropolitan Opera I get out of touch and have to revise.
Thinking of reading another audiobook. I lost my voice due to hyperthyroidism but now it is coming back. I shall use Audition to do this as for sound enhancement there is nothing else like it. Maybe the novella "The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James. I'll see.

I have had to relearn how to use this blog too as I gave up on it it appears when I took to FB but I think I shall give it another go.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Damnation of Faust at the Met

I have been privileged to see two fantastic productions of Berlioz's Damnation of Faust, the first at the ENO in 1969  by Michael Geliot, I went three times. It was said to be better and more spectacular than the coronation and this Met production by Robert Lepage which is in the same vein, a multi-media extravaganza.

This opera was said to be unproducible in Berlioz's day. It was a century before its time. Both productions lean heavily on dance, the former was choreographed by John Broome who did the choreography for my first West End musical "Stop the World I want to Get off", I wish I had known he had done this. At the time I was not only in the musical I was the ballet mistress and tidied up the production every Thursday morning. I would have happily continued as the ballet mistress but it appeared I was too valuable as a performer. Evidently, I had "IT"! I wanted to produce opera not appear in "Lilac Time"!

I love the use of live TV behind the singer and I had the opportunity to do "Tristan" I should use this technique so the audience gets up close to the action.

The only problem at the Met on the transmission is getting the ensemble together. Berlioz was clever as a lot of the work is in unison so it is acceptable but when the parts separate it is unfortunate. Musicals get around this by wiring each artist for sound so they can hear themselves sing. Opera singers need to be able to hear themselves sing otherwise they can't and end up yelling which is most unpleasant and not their fault. Too many gorgeous voice are ruined in the hopeless attempt of getting over an orchestra and singers quickly develop large wobbles. Too many choruses are out of time and tune as the distance is too large. This production avoids this pitfall by having the chorus strung out downstage by the audience.

These past four weeks have been one feast of opera. Almost an opera a day and a superb example of the art at that. Without this virus, I should never have been able to see these fabulous works as I am too far away and even in NZ expensive. It is hard to recall them all but if I have to the one that was most striking was the "Tristan & Isolde" set in a submarine, very powerful, and surprisingly the two Fausts, very different and both "powerful".

It is OK to Live a Life that Others Do Not Understand -Janette Miller

There is no doubt about it I have lived a "Strange Life". My playground was Wembley stadium, one of my schools was a palace the other Upstairs, Downstairs, one grandfather ran the 1948 Olympic Games, the other gave the world pneumatic golf balls and the golf umbrella and that was just the start! I am definitely an "Outsider".
But I do enjoy being "an outsider". All artists are "outsiders. We see the world differently. We can't help it. We just do and we recognise each other immediately. We also "move on" to the next adventure. Normal people will just have to forgive us.
I am certainly not "Normal"! "Strange?" Maybe. I think "Eccentric" may be the best description. At my age I am old enough to be "Eccentric"!

Monday, May 25, 2020

The Mona Lisa De-varnished and what a computer can reveal,

This engineer is using powerful lights, cameras, and computer software to digitally remove the varnish from the "Mona Lisa," allowing people today to see the painting as da Vinci once did.
Stream "Decoding da Vinci" online now to learn more: https://to.pbs.org/2Qu7htX

I had an IT experience of this type quite recently at The Auckland Art Gallery. It is truly astonishing what scanning and IT can tell you about a work of art but not everything. In real life one never knows exactly what is going to happen. 
In 1982 I commissioned two designs for "Fidelio" from the then destitute artist Tony Fomison. In NZ I owned the copyright. As oil paintings dry so slowly I had to leave them with the artist and as I was busy I never gave them another thought. He said he would look after them and I never saw them again until I walked into the Auckland Art Gallery 37 years later when I thought I recognised "Fidelio Act 2" only it did not look quite right. 
Four years and an expensive court case for both parties established legally that I owned the copyright. Naturally, I thought the Art Gallery held my original and as I am 77 I asked at the settlement meeting if I could see it again as my recollection of the original and the slides that were used in the production looked very different but time has a way of altering colours and tints and one's mind plays tricks. It was agreed that I would be allowed a final look at the Galleries convenience.
After the settlement, the Art Gallery behaved in an exemplary manner and five months later this February 2020 a viewing was arranged. I had not been given access to the painting during the court case. Viewing the Art Gallery's painting was a shock to us all. It was in fact very different from the original and it was not time that had made the changes. My original was blue and light beige/pink, the one on view was yellow and white. Pure white! 
What had happened? Well, we just don't know. Fomison was famous for reworking his artworks sometimes to destruction and this may have happened here as the underpainting revealed a ghost which was not there in my original copy. Separations for printing on Photoshop can show these as the Art Gallery's revealed. The original "Fidelio" had no ghost and was painted on board, not canvas as with the copy. The ghost is almost thumbing its nose at us and laughing at how much angst the artist's actions had caused.
Unfortunately, the Art Gallery and the BNZ, who holds what was thought to be "Fidelio Act 1", both have an unauthorised copy which the artist quietly sold on without my knowledge or permission in 1983 as originals and neither organisation holds the copyright. Still, as the price paid was just a few hundred of dollars and not the hundreds of thousand dollars the originals would be worth if genuine the galleries have not made a huge financial loss but both now have worthless copies that cannot be shown without a copyright licence till fifty years after my death. 
It shows that proof of provenance is everything in buying art. Fomison was wise enough not to sign these works and sold them as is through an agent. Be warned art buyers, never buy an original artwork without a formal written transfer of ownership and guarantee from the artist.
Did Fomison cut up my original and paste it on to an old canvas? We don't know. Is my original underneath? I had hoped this would show up but it didn't.
But it was a practical lesson into what this type of technology can and can't do. It can clean up the Mona Lisa but it cannot tell reliably what is underneath unless each layer is dry first before being repainted as with the ghost who won't go away.
I am hoping when this virus is over to have "Fidelio Act 2" made into a mural on a wall somewhere in NZ which I think Fomison would have enjoyed. It was the mural he never painted on a wall. It is very beautiful and a vision of hope for the future which is so needed at this moment.