Dracula: a Monster with Enduring Appeal Who Will Never Die

Will we ever be rid of Dracula The number of films derived from the Transylvanian legend must number in the thousands at this stage: Bram Stoker's 1897 novel alone has inspired at least 170 screen versions, and here comes yet another one. But at least Dracula Untold does something mildly original by going right back to basics.The ultimate prequel, Gary Shore's film travels back in time to the 15th century to find out how a Carpathian warlord turned into Dracula.

Welsh actor Luke Evans stars as Vlad III Tepes, a prince of the ancient central European kingdom of Wallachia who becomes a hero when he leads the fight against the Ottoman Turks.But when the Turks arrive in overwhelming numbers to subjugate his kingdom, Vlad travels to the mountains to confront a fearsome vampire and make a desperate deal that might just save his people. It sounds bonkers but the effects are pretty impressive, and Dracula Untold does capture some of the gothic splendour of the Carpathian legend.

Vlad III Tepes was indeed the inspiration for Bram Stoker's sinister Hungarian Count, though the Dublin writer was more taken by Vlad's popular historical nickname of Dracula than by the details of his life. Better known as Vlad the Impaler, Vlad III is still a hero in Romania but became something of a bogeyman in the west, and German sources depict him as a sadistic maniac who planted forests of impaled victims along the banks of the Danube.Vlad's viciousness may have been exaggerated by a nation (the Germans) with a pathological fear of everything due east, but these rich stories were conflated by Stoker with ancient Transylvanian myths about vampires, and Count Dracula was born.

Stoker was also influenced by John Polidori's 1819 story The Vampyre, which created the notion of a bloodsucker who dressed and acted like a gentleman. And Bram Stoker's friend Sir Henry Irving, one of the most celebrated Shakespearean actors of the Victorian age, was another inspiration: his sweeping gestures and aristocratic bearing found their way into the finished novel.Before Dracula was even published, Bram Stoker had realised its dramatic potential and adapted it for the stage.

That production flopped, but when cinema came along, film-makers were quick to jump on the bandwagon. Bram Stoker was dead by the time the first major movie based on his work appeared, and it's probably just as well because he would have been apoplectic.Not that Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror wasn't a very fine film: indeed it could be argued that it's the finest Dracula adaptation of them all, and Max Schreck's performance as a predatory central European vampire was oddly graceful and genuinely horrifying.

But F.W. Murnau's silent classic was an unauthorised adaptation that went ahead with changed names and minor details after the producers failed to reach an agreement with Bram Stoker's estate.

After Nosferatu's release, Stoker's heirs immediately sued, and a court ruling was issued ordering that all prints be destroyed.One survived, and thank God for that (see panel).If Nosferatu is the prototypical Dracula film, Bela Lugois is the prototypical Dracula.

It's his Count, and not Max Schreck's, that became a character on Sesame Street, and whenever anyone tries to impersonate Dracula, it's Lugosi's rich tones they imitate.Born Bela Blasko in Hungary in 1882, Lugosi fled to America in 1919 in the aftermath of the failed Hungarian revolution. He worked as a labourer before gradually making his name as a supporting actor on stage and screen.

His big break came in 1927 when he was cast in a Broadway production of Dracula. The play toured America to great acclaim, and Universal Studios then decided to cast Lugosi in a film adaptation.Tod Browning's 1931 film Dracula looks stagey and amateurish at this remove.

The effects are rudimentary, consisting mainly of dry-ice fog and rubber bats, and the pacing is funereal at times. The hammy acting belongs to the silent era, but Bela Lugosi's charismatic portrayal of Dracula does stand the test of time.While Max Schreck's Count was a hideous monster, Lugosi's vampire was altogether more polished and presentable, and oozed a sinister charm.

The actor's heavy Hungarian accent accentuated the Count's otherness, as did Lugosi's slow and stately delivery of such unintentionally comic lines as "I never drink vine!". He was mesmerising, and terrified contemporary audiences, but sadly, Lugosi hardly ever got to play Dracula again.

In fact he appeared as the Count just one more time, in the 1948 comedy Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. By that time Lugosi's career was in terminal decline, and he'd been typecast into obscurity playing ghouls and monsters in hack B movies. But horror specialists Universal Studios did return to Bram Stoker's writings for inspiration from time to time.

The Count came to America to wreak havoc in Universal's 1943 feature Son of Dracula. Lon Chaney Jr was totally miscast as Dracula, however: he was too bulky and earnest, and lacked Lugosi's sinister charm. Character actor John Carradine played him twice, in House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945), but while he was better, the films were not, and by the end of the 1940s Hollywood had lost interest in Dracula altogether.

Enter Hammer Films, the cheerfully trashy British studio that began pumping out lurid low-budget horror films in the late 1950s. In their 1958 movie Dracula, the Count was played by Christopher Lee, a patrician-looking six-foot-four-inch English actor who brought something new to the character - sex appeal.Lee's Dracula spoke in the clipped and polished tones of an English gentleman, and his suave courtesy made his transformation into the crazed bloodsucking vampire seem all the more shocking.

But crucially, this Dracula had an eye for the ladies, perhaps partly because most of his victims were chesty females in skimpy bodices who screamed feebly as the Count moved in for the kill.Hammer's Dracula might have been made for a song, but it had the gothic feel of Bram Stoker's novel and, in Christopher Lee, a monster you could believe in. Audiences loved him.

Lee would play the character in six more Hammer movies, usually co-starring his friend Peter Cushing as the vampire hunter Van Helsing, but these films were nothing like as good as the first one, and failed to capitalise on Lee's wit and charm.In fact in the 1965 film Dracula: Prince of Darkness, he didn't speak any lines at all, and grunted and hissed his way through a singularly dreary production. Lee has since claimed that his character's lines in the script were so bad that he refused to speak them, though the film's screenwriter Jimmy Sangster insisted none had ever been written for the Count.

Later films were even worse, and Lee complained that "they gave me nothing to do!" He pleaded with Hammer to "let me use some of the lines that Bram Stoker had written," and admitted that "occasionally, I sneaked one in".The sad fact is that Hammer totally failed to do justice to Lee's characterisation of Dracula, and though he also played the vampire in two non-Hammer productions, neither of them were any good either.

Poor old Dracula was treated pretty shabbily in the 1970s. Andy Warhol, of all people, played a decidedly camp Count in the 1974 film, Blood for Dracula: two years earlier we were given an African-American version in the absurd Blaxploitation film Blacula. And in 1979 George Hamilton starred as Dracula in the rather anodyne spoof comedy, Love at First Bite.

Frank Langella was very effective as an oily and charming Count in John Badham's rather overwrought big-budget 1979 film, Dracula. And the same year Werner Herzog released a stylish but pointless remake of Nosferatu, starring Klaus Kinski as a bald and hideous Dracula.Perhaps the most honorable of the recent adaptations is Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 film Bram Stoker's Dracula, which succeeded to some extent in rescuing the character from clich, and featured a medieval back story not dissimilar from Dracula Untold's.

Gary Oldman's Dracula was a vampire more sinned against than sinning, and doomed to walk the Earth forever on foot of an ancient sin.He was pretty good, too, though many critics claimed that Coppola's film was ruined by the presence of Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker, looking ill-at-ease and affecting a London twang that's often cited as the worst accent in the history of cinema.So after all those efforts, do we really need more Dracula movies Perhaps we do, because you could argue that the definitive screen version of Bram Stoker's story has yet to be filmed.

F W Murnau's 1922 film Nosferatu is a silent masterpiece that retains the power to disturb and chill. Murnau hired theatre actor Max Schreck to play his villain, 'Orlok', a sinister Count who descends on a German town and begins a reign of terror.Schreck's Count was no polished gentleman, but a bogeyman straight out of a child's nightmare.

He and Murnau channelled the dark myths of central Europe to create a monster that was part golem, part goblin, and the director used the deep shadows and theatrical lighting of the German Expressionist tradition to further enhance the mesmerising creepiness of his story.And while Murnau and co might have taken a few liberties with Bram Stoker's novel, Nosferatu remains perhaps the purest interpretation of Dracula, a haunting and poetic vision made long before the character got bogged down in clich and pastiche.Indo Review

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Introduction to Theatrical Lighting
1. Play of theatrical lighting The play first premiered in June 2016 in the basement of Maggie Mae's Pub in Queens, NY. In spring 2019, Walker produced a second full-length run of the play in a small cabin in his back yard at his home in Charlotte, NC, where he moved shortly after the play's initial premiere. It was there the play began to receive attention and received its first critical review by Charlotte based publication, QC Nerve. The publication described the play as "a comic, eloquent and upsetting rumination on a meaningless universe where even death will not relieve the pain of living." and cited Walker's "distinctive voice" as "poetic, profane and dark as a starless night." In October, 2019 The Wake of Dick Johnson returned to New York at Performance Space 122, this time Walker incorporated a live score composed by Ashville, NC based musical duo Okapi (Lindsey Miller, Scott Gorski). There, the play received yet another laudatory review by Broadwayworld.com, which described the play as "gory," "disturbing," "ghastly," "graphic, and grotesque," the review went on to say "this off-broadway show is gory, freaky, and downright alarming." Broadwaywrold described namesake protagonist, Dick Johnson, as a character you instantly hate, but "relatable in the most chilling way". Time Out New York added The Wake of Dick Johnson to its top-13 list of Halloween events. In December 2019 QC Nerve voted The Wake of Dick Johnson Critic's Pick "Best Of the Year 2019" for best one man show. ControversyAlthough he starred in the first three runs of the play, Walker never intended to play the part of Dick Johnson. The role was initially planned to be performed by his friend, and amateur actor, Michael P. Varian. After almost a year of rehearsals, and only months before the show's planned debut, Varian text messaged Walker from a Georgia rehab clinic informing him he could no longer play the role, claiming it had caused him to have a nervous breakdown. The play had a similar effect on Walker's former girlfriend, a minor social media influencer, who reacted so violently to the show's Charlotte premiere, she interrupted a post performance musical act on microphone to publicly disavow the play. She then took a further step of ratifying her position by promoting a large-scale social media smear campaign against him. The third incident of controversy was during the third run at ps122. So shocked was the theater director and manager over the graphic dialog and savagery of the character Uncle Willy, they threaten to prevent further performances unless Walker was prepared censor the entire play. Walker declined and the shows went on, but many attempts were made by the theater to prevent the remainder of shows from occurring. The third scheduled performance was canceled only hours before showtime on account of a bogus contractual loophole related to fire proofing certificates. During the remaining days, many other blatant acts of retaliation were carried out by theater management and staff including regular incidents of weaponized lighting, deliberately bungled sound and intermission cues, and frequent brazen disruptions of the performance by staff-members. Theater management also maliciously discarded thousands of dollars worth of programs and printed literature related to the show without Walker's consent. These absurd acts of sabotage were later highlighted by the revelation that paying ticket holders were blocked from entering the theater for the entire duration of the play's short run. ReceptionAlthough described as disturbing, grotesque, and highly controversial, to date the play received unanimous critical praise, calling it profound, poetic and fearlessly bleak. It was listed in Time Out New York Top-13 Halloween theater events along-side many world renowned plays such as The Glass Menagerie, Little Shop of Horrors, and Sleep No More. ------ 2. Early life of theatrical lighting Moser began studying literature at the University of Lausanne. After completing his formal education, he began teaching and studying translation and interpretation. In 2001, he obtained a post-graduate degree in museology from the University of Geneva for his thesis From the dwelling house to the exhibition space example of the Villa "Le Lac" Le Corbusier. Moser became a translator. His work is noted by Kenneth Branagh, for whom Moser translated an adaptation of Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost into French. Moser translated for Martin Scorseses film Gangs of New York and Tim Burtons Big Fish. He translated for the Swiss documentary Im toten Winkel (In the blind spot - Hitlers secretary) by Andr Heller and Othmar Schmiderer. In 2010, Moser created, according to Le Corbusier's wish in one of his last letters (1965), a museum at the Villa "Le Lac", in Corseaux, Switzerland. Photographers Erling Mandelmann and Ren Burri contributed to the creation of the museum by lending their works for the first two exhibitions in 2010 and 2011. In 2015, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the architect's death, Moser invited Daniel Libeskind, Mario Botta, Zaha Hadid, Toyo Ito, SANAA, Rudy Ricciotti, Bernard Tschumi, Gigon/Guyer, Alvaro Siza and Rafael Moneo to an extension project of the Villa "Le Lac" a competition of ideas and imagination in honour of one of the 20th century's greatest architects. In 2013, Moser was invited to the Chalmers Technical University in Gothenburg, Sweden to present his research on the links between architecture and literature. Several conferences followed, notably at Doctor Curutchet's Villa in La Plata, Argentina (2015), and at the Mies van der Rohe house of the Weissenhof Siedlung in Stuttgart (2016) as part of the Franzsische Wochen im Grossraum Stuttgart (Weissenhofwerkstatt im Haus Mies van der Rohe). In 2017, the University of Lausanne entrusted him with curating the in situ exhibition "From BFSH 2 to Anthropole - 1987-2017" on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Building of the Faculties of Human Sciences II. He participated in the round table on 3 November at EPFL to mark the 75th anniversary of the Swiss Association of Interior Architects (VSI). ASAI with Jacques-Xavier Aymon (EAD interior designer, HEAD emeritus professor), Yves Corminboeuf (HES industrial designer, specialist in sustainable development), Thomas Juguin (SSA graduate acoustician), Bruno Marchand (Dr s Sciences, EPFL architect, EPFL professor), Corinne Mosimann (interior architect) and Victor Vieillard (lighting designer). In 2018, he collaborated with the Archives de la construction moderne and Archizoom (EPFL) on the exhibition "Habiter la modernit - Villas du style international sur la Riviera lmanique" at the Atelier de Grandi (6 Sept. - 29 Nov. 2018) and participated on 4 October 2018 in the round table "Habiter la modernit" with Jolle Neuenschwander, Paola Tosolini, Salvatore Aprea, Christophe Flubacher and Cyril Veillon. In 2019, a plea in favour of towers and skyscrapers in Switzerland came with the exhibition De Bel-Air Babel at the Villa "Le Lac" Le Corbusier for which Moser analysed five towers built or planned between 1930 and 1970 in Lausanne, Vevey, Montreux and Aminona, works by five major 20th century architects: Jean Tschumi, Ren Delchat, Alphonse Laverrire, Hugo Buscaglia and Philippe Gaillard. In 2019, Moser was invited to the AHA! Festival in Gothenburg to give a lecture at the Chalmers University of Technology on the Essence of Villa "Le Lac".
Knowledge About Theatrical Lighting
1. Jeffrey D. Erb of theatrical lighting Jeffrey D. Erb (born June 5, 1969 in Pottstown, Pennsylvania) is an American film producer, director, actor, musician. He is also the Co-Founder and Co-President of the film production company Framelight Productions, the co-founder of Invivid Media and the CEO of Feverpitch Pictures. He has produced or executive produced a wide range of films, including The Speed of Life (Directed by Ed Radtke), which won an award at the Venice Film Festival. Erb is known as a founding member and bass player of the gothic rock band Sri Lanka, which he founded in 1986 with his longtime collaborator Lee Daniels. In 1995 Erb and Daniels formed the industrial rock band Needle where Erb was singer, songwriter, bassplayer, keyboard player and wrote rhythm tracks. In addition to his film and musical achievements, Erb has had a successful business career having built and sold several companies in the world of marketing and media. He is also the current president of McCann Health Engagement after having built Healix Global, part of IPG Mediabrands, within the Interpublic Group of Companies. ------ 2. CastProduction of theatrical lighting Helga Lin Grard Tichy Joan Hills Ombretta Colli Leo Anchriz Iran EorySpanish sources for the production credit Natividad Zaro as a contributor to the script. As with many European co-productions of the era, this was done for tax reasons. Italian promotional material for the film promoted it as a product based on an Edgar Allan Poe story, but the film only borrows elements from "The Fall of the House of Usher", "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains" and "Some Words with a Mummy". The films script is closer to that of Roger Cormans films based on Poes work rather than the Italian gothic horror films of era. Director Alberto de Martino felt he was more inspired by Alfred Hitchcock. The film was shot at Monastery of Santa Maria La Real de Valdeiglesias in Spain and at Cinecitt in Rome. ------ 3. Jack Asher of theatrical lighting For the shinty player and referee, see Jack Asher (shinty)Jack Asher B.S.C. (29 March 1916, London 1991) was an English cinematographer. His brother Robert Asher was a film and TV director with whom he worked on several occasions. He began his cinematic career as a camera operator, and made his first film as cinematographer or "lighting cameraman" on The Magic Bow (1946). Asher is best remembered for his work on Hammer films, beginning with The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), the first of Hammer's gothic horrors, and the earliest colour version of the Frankenstein story. He was the director of photography on several of the Hammer horror films including Dracula (1958), The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), The Mummy (1959) and The Brides of Dracula (1960). His style was characterized by a fantastical use of colours, such as non-realistic purples and greens. Director Terence Fisher said of him, "Jack Asher had a very distinctive style of lighting, which was quite different from Arthur Grant's.(Who) had a more realistic approach to the situation. Jack Asher's was almost theatrical lighting with little tricks, like color slides placed over the lights and so on." Asher's non-Hammer films included The Good Die Young (1954) and Reach for the Sky (1956). In 1964, he was nominated for a BAFTA for Best British Cinematography (Colour) for his work on The Scarlet Blade. ------ 4. Biography of theatrical lighting Aleksandr Borisovich Matveyev was born in the family of the famous Soviet zoologist Boris Stepanovich Matveev. After graduation from a secondary school, he at the same time enrolled into two universities: Moscow Power Engineering Institute (graduated in 1949) and Moscow Art Theater School at Staging faculty (graduated in 1950). After graduation, he came to work in the Moscow Art Theater, but soon, in 1951, he was sent to work for the Central Academic Theater of the Soviet Army. During his time in this theater he took part in staging of more than twenty performances not only as an artist-director, but also as a lighting engineer. Among his performances "Do not Have a Penny but Suddenly Hit the Jackpot" (by Alexander Ostrovsky), "An Optimistic Tragedy" (by Vsevolod Vishnevskiy), "A Factory Girl" (by Aleksandr Volodin), "My Family" (by Eduardo De Filippo), and other plays. He also collaborated with other Soviet theaters. Since the 1960s he started teaching. For many years he had read a course of lectures at the Moscow Power Engineering Institute. Aleksandr Matveyev also showed himself as an outstanding landscape painter. He painted landscapes of European part of Russia, the Caucasus, the Crimea and many other places. He took part in many art exhibitions. He died on 22 January 2008 and was buried at Kuntsevo Cemetery in Moscow. ------ 5. Life and career of theatrical lighting Danielle Feinberg was born in Boulder, Colorado and graduated from Boulder High School. Growing up, she attended summer camps and after-school programs for students interested in computer programming and engineering. She attended Harvard University, where she was introduced to computer animation in a computer graphics course during her junior year. She graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts in computer science. After graduating from Harvard, she started working at Pixar in February 1997 as a technician managing the large libraries of data and images for rendering A Bug's Life. She has since been credited for leading work in visual effects, technical direction, and graphics. Outside of Pixar, she mentors girls to get them interested in STEM through groups like Girls Who Code. She says yes to every talk which provides a platform to inspire and encourage girls to dreams and pursue it by getting into STEM fields. In fact, the made with code, which is an initiative launched by Google, was kick started with her inspiring keynote. In 2015, she appeared in the documentary Code: Debugging the Gender Gap. In November 2015, she delivered a talk on science and art at TED talks live at New York. It was also streamed by PBS. ------ 6. CastBackground of theatrical lighting Adrin Surez Roque Chappay Armando Quiroga Jos Luis Seytn Guzmn Nancy Torres Dorian WaldemarIn an interview with a social justice journalist David Walsh at the Buenos Aires 6th International Festival of Independent Cinema, director and producer Ana Poliak discussed why she made the film. She said, "It was the first time that I had the feeling that we were not all equal. I could see behind the back walls of the alley, where I saw kids my age, naked from the waist up, who were working very, very hard. I couldn't quite understand the situation. During the match I would concentrate on the boys' feet and hands, and I felt that on the other side there was another world, parallel to mine, which I couldn't comprehend. I started from this idea to make the film," she added, "This is connected, in some way, to the differences in social classes that I discovered when I was little, and I guess that's why I'm so interested in this type of character. I can't find answers for these questions. I think that my social class doesnt have that capacity, that light." ------ 7. Critical response of theatrical lighting LA Weekly made note that while director Sergio Myers understands reality TV, and opted for improved action rather than scripted dialog, they judged the film to be a "limp satire of egomaniacal celebrity chefs", that was "raucously funny during Saffrons professional and personal meltdowns," but they found major flaws in the repetition of the film's jokes, the strange accents used by its characters, and the overuse of reality TV style, which "bring down the whole affair." Blogcritics offered that many actors are uncomfortable with improved scenes, and that as Saffrons sous chef, Jean Claude, Dimitry Mignon handled the task particularly well. Thy also noted that as Louie, Saffrons business partner, Steve Schirripa stole the show in that Schirripa in "his displays of anger and frustration, is the most sympatheticand convincingly realof the characters." They found much of the acting to be believable, but offered that the film overall as a mockumentary was "a little uneven, missing some things one expects from that form, and including some that dont work within it." The felt that director Meyers would have been better of "foregoing the mockumentary tag, and calling this an improvisational piece." They concluded "Its a humorous film about a character who is not all that sympathetic. Disliking Jordan Saffron is part of the fun." Are You Screening? found the film's premise to be promising but gone "horribly wrong" when the film displayed the "production abilities of really nice student film, and the comedic talents of a drunken night at a fraternity goofing on a Hell's Kitchen marathon." He noted that the film attempted a level of credibility by its inclusion of Steve Schirripa and Rachel Hunter in the cast, but that it failed in that it "ultimately comes down to a lot of ideas that are funny, but it doesn't deliver anything that lives up to the potential in those ideas." Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 67%. ------ 8. Release of theatrical lighting The Blancheville Monster was released in Italy on June 6, 1963 through Titanus. It was released in Italy under the title Horror as chosen by producer Italo Zingarelli. The film grossed 87 million Italian lira on its initial theatrical run in Italy. Home mediaThe film is in public domain in the United States. On March 23, 2004, it was released on DVD by Alpha Video. Alpha Video would also re-release the film on April 8, 2009 as part of its Gothic Horror Movie Pack. It was later released by Mill Creek Entertainment on August 30, 2005, as part of its Chilling Classics DVD. Mill Creek would re-release the film on August 19, 2008 as part of its Tales of Horror Collection. On August 30, 2007, it was released by Direct Source as part of its Monster Mash Movie Pack. On August 24, the following year, it was released by TNT Media Group. It was last released by Retro Media on November 19, 2013 as a part of its 50th Anniversary Edgar Allan Poe's Horror Pack. ------ 9. Musical career of theatrical lighting Mr. Erb started his musical career in 1987 as the founder and bass player of the band Sri Lanka a gothic rock band from the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The band was originally formed by Erb and Lee Daniels, whom Erb had known since they were 15 years old. After a tumultuous series of interactions with other members, including the death of original lead singer Brett Turner, the release of two EPs and a full-length album entitled "Here" the band split up. In 1995 Erb and Daniels got back together to form the band Needle, (stylized as "needle") an industrial rock band combining edgy guitars with dance rhythms. The band obtained distribution through Sony Music Entertainment via its Ruffhouse Records label. The band's debut album "Lifeline" met with critical praise and the band proceeded to perform live with major acts in cities throughout North America. Jeffrey Erb and Lee Daniels write all of the music for the band, with Erb performing lead vocals and Daniels on lead guitar. Their live sets include several additional band members on bass guitar, drums and keyboards. ------ 10. Design of theatrical lighting Creature effectsMatt Wavish, writing for the Horror Cult Films website and giving the movie only 2.5 stars out of 10 in his review, was one of few reviewers who admired the werewolf effects: "When the werewolf does finally appear, it is quite cool. Clever lighting and camera angles hide the films low budget, and enable the rather large monster to actually look impressive for most of the time." Reviewer Karl De Mesa mourned the underabundance of werewolf sightings: "when we do see the beast the darn CGI makes it look like this one might just fall into the B-movie bin." Reviewer Ellis Whitehouse expressed some outrage: "The wolf itself is a disgustingly ugly piece of CGI work, with it changing size and shape as the scenes progress, one minute it'll be twice the size a human with the fattest head in existence, next it'll be a puny mongrel cowering in front of a car on the road."
Review: Spellbinding Performance As Symphony Conductor Combines Russian Music and Ballet
The Edmonton Symphony Orchestras chief conductor, Alexander Prior, has a deep grounding in Russian music. Despite having a Scottish twang to his accent, his mother is Russian and he studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, graduating with distinction at the age of 17.In his first season in his new post, he has already shown his affinity to Russian music in his approach to such works as Tchaikovskys Symphony No. 5 and Rachmaninovs Symphony No. 2. Last Thursday evening, he turned to the Russian tradition of ballet in front of a packed and enthusiastic Winspear audience.When composers wish to have their ballet music heard in a concert hall, they usually rework the music into a concert suite where the overall shape is better designed for the different circumstance. Indeed, Prokofiev turned the music from one of his masterpieces, the ballet Romeo and Juliet, into no less than three different orchestral suites, all of which are heard today.Priors approach was a little different. Instead of playing one of the suites, he devoted the entire first half of the concert to excepts chosen directly from Prokofievs ballet. All the best-known music was there, ending with Juliets death, but the order will have been different for those used to the suites rather than the ballet.This was a spellbinding performance, too. Prior took the music often heard with a veneer of neo-romantic lyricism back to its roots in 20th Century Soviet Russia. There was little sentimentality here. Instead there were incisive rhythms, a steel-like edge to the poster-paint orchestral colours, a huge sound in the climatic moments (in a couple of places the huge orchestral swells reminded one of Sibelius).This was Prokofiev played closer to the grit of Shostakovich, at times almost inexorable, mechanistic in its inevitability (as, indeed, is Shakespeares story). The exciting fast and furious scurry of Tybalts Death, for example, would be difficult to do with dancers, but really worked here on the Winspear stage.It was achieved by really precise playing and cleanness of sound emphasizing how at times the score is almost chamber-like. The brass managed something of a Russian snarl, the woodwind were, as usual, notable, though the orchestration was taken from the suites rather than from the full ballet. One wished that the orchestra did have more strings, though, for both here and in the Tchaikovsky that followed, the extra weight and sheen a large body of strings gives was missing, as if powered by a four-cylinder engine albeit a powerful and efficient one rather than the heft of a six-cylinder.After such a compelling performance, Tchaikovskys The Nutcracker, which filled the second half, didnt have quite such panache, and indeed the orchestra was at times less precise.Again, Prior eschewed the concert suite that Tchaikovsky made from the ballet score, and instead the orchestra gave us the whole of Act I. This was an interesting idea, as Act I contains most of the main action of the plot, up to the point where the Nutcracker becomes a Prince. It includes the battle between the toys and the mice, and ends with Waltz of the Snowflakes.It doesnt include the famous dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, but much of the best-known music is there.It was interesting to be able to concentrate just on the actual ballet music, without the dancers. For it highlighted features one doesnt notice in the suite again, the often-sparse orchestration, or the unexpected affinities: the almost British feel of the childrens gallop and parents entry, or the echoes of Beethovens Wellingtons Victory.Prior also brought out some of the darker colours of the score, especially in some of the climaxes, in a way that again one might not encounter in the theatre.The ballet was not completely forgotten, however, for in the final number the Waltz of the Snowflakes the orchestra was joined by members of the Edmonton School of Ballet, very effectively choreographed, especially given the limited space available to them at the front of the stage. Some theatrical lighting effects added to the atmosphere, as they had in the quiet ending of the Prokofiev.Perhaps most interesting of all, we were able to hear the wordless chorus that goes with this Act I closing tableau. Its not in the suite, and it is often substituted by an instrument in ballet performance, and thus is rarely heard. Here it was sung by the Cantilon Chamber Choir, who well repaid their patience at having to wait right until the very end of the concert to sing.The ESO and Prior will be playing more Russian music on May 27 (Glinkas Russian and Ludmilla Overture), in a concert that sees the orchestra shift to Beethoven (here the Fifth Symphony), leading up to their performances of the Ninth Symphony on June 1 and 2.Edmonton Symphony Orchestra Russian BalletsOrganization: Edmonton Symphony OrchestraConductor: Alexander PriorFeaturing: Cantilon Chamber Choir and the Edmonton School of BalletWhere: WinspearWhen: Thursday, May 17
Seven Magnificent Castle Stays to Cure Your Royal Family Fever
If you didnt get an invite to the royal baby shower or wedding, dont fret! the global leader in connecting travellers with the widest choice of incredible places to stay, delved into its more than 1.6 million properties in over 128,000 destinations across the globe to present seven magnificent castle stays fit for royalty, but on a commoners budget. nIf you are looking for an ancient castle that has transformed into a charming hotel, then the Castello Di Pavone is the place to stay. Surrounded by a tropical garden, all rooms mix traditional furnishing with modern amenities, offering a truly unique setting steeped in history. The property features a number of dining halls, small and large, and each one has unique features that will you bring you back in time such as chandeliers and beamed ceilings. nWith a magical setting inside a 9th-century castle, the Parador de Cardona is straight out of fairy tale. Offering panoramic views over the Catalonian countryside, and interiors faithful to the Cardona's history with medieval styling, vaulted ceilings, stone walls and gorgeous courtyards, youll be treated like a king or queen. Guests will be spellbound with the delicious and authentic Catalonian specialties, before retreating to a charming bedroom with canopy beds and the beautiful furnishing highlighted by theatrical lighting and rich fabrics. nGiven the iconic Bavarian-style of The Castle Hotel, you might think you were in the hills of Germanys Black Forest. But youre actually only a few steps away from Xinghai Square the largest city square in the world. Offering high-end accommodation and the royal treatment every guest deserves. Surrounded by lush forests, this luxurious property features elegantly decorated rooms and offers the royal treatment at the spa and indoor pool. nSet in the striking woodlands of Galway County with the beautiful backdrop of the 12 Bens Mountain Range, this luxury castle overlooks its impressive salmon fishery on its large private estate. Nature lovers can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities fit for a royal, such as pony trekking, woodcock shooting or just relaxing walk by the lake and the river to admire the local wildlife. nThis impressive castle overlooking the St Brides Bay will transport guests to a mystical time. Dating back to the 12th century, Roch Castle is standing proudly on a rocky outcrop high above the Pembrokeshire landscape. Guests can enjoy a unique sense of history combined with a romantic getaway as each room is luxuriously decorated offering a modern feeling with beautiful views of the British coast and countryside. nSituated in Old Quebec, this heritage property boasts views of the St. Lawrence River and the Old fortified City. Being a landmark on its own right, guests can make themselves at home in the luxurious, European-style rooms as well as spa facilities to relax and rejuvenate after an exciting day exploring upper and lower town districts of Quebec City. nFor something a little less ordinary during your trip in India, choose to rest your head at the RAAS Devigarh. Housed in an 18th-century palace in the village of Delwara, this heritage property is nestled amidst the Aravalli Hills and has a picture-perfect mountain backdrop. Guests can have a quiet read in the library or relax in their spacious suite adorned with grand furnishings and intricately carved archways.
2019 Audi A7 to Debut at NAIAS - News.
The all-new 2019 Audi A7 will make its US debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next week. The German luxury automaker is looking to build on the success of the first generation with this new generation of the A7, which the manufacturer claims "exemplifies the prologue design language, featuring a more precise, modern exterior and interior, as well as the next generation of lighting innovations from Audi."Although sedan cars on the whole are finding buyers pretty hard to come by in America and elsewhereat the moment, the Sportback body style of the A7 and others is still proving popular. The combination of a coupe-like silhouette and four doors might not be as overtly practical as that of a similar-size crossover SUV, but it's a look and format where buyersappear happy to accept a little compromise in order to have it. However, Audi is still doing what it can to make this new A7 as practical as possible without ruining its form in any way, as this new model has more interior volume, more comfortable seating for rear seat passengers, and more head and legroom than its predecessor.Interior lighting also seems to be a strong theme with the new A7, with contour lights lining the center console and door trims that precisely trace the cabin's architecture and subtly highlight the increased space. Even the Audi's quattro badge in the instrument panel is illuminated, which some could see as a little gimmicky, but it certainly does add to the theatrical lighting of the cabin.Of course, no new luxury car can hope to make it these days without being awash with the latest and most advanced technology, and the new A7 will feature the same advanced infotainment system that recently made its debut in the A8.
Custom Theatrical Lighting Filter on the Cheap
I was recently asked about creating or finding a custom lighting effect for my churchs Christmas Eve program. An outline of a crosswas to be projected on stage; I searched a bit on the web but was unable tofind instructions on making DIY filters. I had some ideas of my own and wantedto test them out.The filter is a low budget GOBO filter made from kitchen grade aluminum foil and securedwith kapton tape which is temperature rated for 500F/260C. This can be foundon-line or at some electronics stores.I did not start completely from scratch; I had a theatrical light fixture as we have about a dozen theatrical lights suspended for the stage. I was able to repurpose one for this effect.Removing the lens assembly, I was fortunate to find innerframe areas to mount onto. I measured the opening and determined a size for thefoil filter, 4 was chosen.The aluminum foil shape was cut with an X-Acto knife after placingit on a smooth scrap board. Other cutting techniques such as scarp-bookingstamps should work as well.Securing the filter within the fixture was quite simple. Asstated earlier there was a internal ring frame that I was able to affixto. Using only four pieces of tape inlength provided adequate security for the lightweight filter. Remember, thefilter MUST be mounted upside down as the image is inverted by the lenses. Alsothe fixture used had slide dampers to shape the light, these were used toreduce the amount of light getting to filter and provide more of a heat block.I slide in dampers till they just reached the outline of the filter with thefixture illuminated.The result was used to shine on an empty throne (chair) andthough it was only panned in for a minute at a key moment during a particularsong it had the desired effect. No color filter was added though that would of course be simple.The lighting bar in the church was mounted too close tostage to focus the light fixture by normal means of the lens screw in theprovided slot. I had to extend the lensassembly further and secure with duct tape and a safety string to the setscrew.
Surround Sound Made Visible: the New Terrace Theater
Music wants to be democratic; and the Kennedy Center wants to be all things to all people, while signaling a nod to grandeur. Its new Terrace Theater, unveiled this week after a 16-month renovation, manages to carry out this confusing mandate. Where once there was a dizzying descent along sharply raked stairs toward a narrow proscenium, there is now a feeling of spaciousness, with gleaming walls, undulating wood (mimicking the sound waves they reflect), wider aisles and curving balconies swelling from the side walls. "We're 98 percent done," said Deborah Rutter, the Kennedy Center's president, standing in the lobby before the first Fortas Chamber concert in its new home, on Thursday night. How is the new space, with its flexibility a proscenium that can be set up and removed with ease, acoustical curtains behind the paneling that can be drawn to absorb more sound for amplified performances going to affect programming? "It hasn't yet," said Rutter; this season's events were planned while the hall was under construction. "But it will."The prime mandate was "acoustics," says Leora Mirvish, the architect who supervised the Eisenhower Theater renovation in 2008 and now the new Terrace. Whatever its wider uses the opening weekend featured rap and comedy performances its main function remains acoustic music. Jenny Bilfield, president and chief executive of Washington Performing Arts, a frequent renter of the hall, finds that the new Terrace "feels more intimate, elegant, flexible, and has better sightlines and amenities for visitors." That steep descent or ascent to one's seat, though, is still a factor. "We're trying not to be the first casualty in the new Terrace Theater," quipped one woman helping an unsteady man navigate the stairs.Concert halls are reopening all over the place. This weekend, the Freer and Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian are reopening after an extensive renovation. Its new theater has undergone less a reconfiguration than a facelift, with new carpeting and upholstery, A/V technology, and theatrical lighting. Like the Terrace, the theater is multipurpose; Michael Wilpers, the museums' performing arts programmer, says there are no more than 20 live performances there a year.The Terrace, by contrast, is one of the main small theaters in the city and the Fortas series broke it in lovingly and at considerable length. Patrons got a jolt at the start with two trumpet fanfares (executed with aplomb and agility by Brandon Eubank and Amy McCabe) that demonstrated the hall can be almost too live. The program, called "2-4-6-8," was designed to show the hall in different configurations of instruments, from four-handed piano Joseph Kalichstein and Lisa Emenheiser in enthusiastic Slavonic Dances by Dvorak to the Mendelssohn Octet, with the Emerson and Dover Quartets representing the old and new guards of American chamber music. But the groupings weren't really varied enough no winds, no voices to put the hall fully through its paces, though they added up to almost three hours of energetic music.In general, the space seems more warm and vivid, with a clarity and good sightlines from every corner of the room. It was easy to zero in on the details, from the ping of a broken E string from the Dover's violinist Joel Link in the Brahms G Minor Piano Quartet and the various bobbles of the Emerson's waning violinist Eugene Drucker, sounding a little sour in some romantic passages from Schoenberg's "Verklrte Nacht." None of this mitigated the goodwill in the room, or the impression that the new Terrace Theater remains the Kennedy Center's most pleasant. Washington Performing Arts and the Fortas concerts will jointly present the Sphinx Virtuosi at the Terrace Theater on Sunday afternoon. The Freer and Sackler Galleries are celebrating their reopening with a festival of Asian food and cultures on Saturday and Sunday, including pop-up performances by members of the Silk Road ensemble; there will be one in the new auditorium on Sunday morning.
New Apartments in D4, and the Price Is Right From 350,000
The final phase in the popular Fitzwilliam Point apartment development is being launched this week in the south city area at Fitzwilliam Quay in Dublin 4, with substantial price reductions of up to 170,000 per apartment. The units are on view by appointment.Prices are from 350,000 for the two-bedroom apartments (67-78 sqm) reduced from 490,000. There is a one-bed apartment priced at 290,000. The original phase of 85 apartments sold very quickly two years ago.Developer is The Blaney Partnership and the contractor is PJ Walls.Designed by leading architects O'Mahony Pike, the development makes maximum use of natural light. The buildings range from four to five storeys in height and are predominantly comprised of two-bed units in a contemporary style with a very good standard of specification.Fitzwilliam Point is positioned between Fitzwilliam Quay and Fitzwilliam Street in the popular Ringsend Village. There are numerous bus routes stopping close by and the DART stations of Barrow Street and Lansdowne Road are just a short walk away.In recent years there has been a comprehensive regeneration of the south docklands and this has brought new life and activity to the area by day and night.Grand Canal Dock has an abundance of amenities, the highlight being Grand Canal Square, a public plaza designed by Martha Schwartz, which has fountains and public theatrical lighting providing open space for outdoor performances and festivals.The key features of the development are the convenient Dublin 4 location, the central courtyard, the sun balconies, the spacious apartment layouts and very good internal specification and fit-out. The external elevation is impressive.Hooke & MacDonald 01 6318402 are in charge of sales
Transforming the Las Vegas Strip: New Park, Arena, Restaurants, More
The Las Vegas Strip is getting a new park, but this is not your typical city park - it contains a slew of new restaurants, attractions, and a 20,000 seat state of the art performance venue, the T-Mobile Arena. As I mentioned yesterday, the Arenacontinues a fast growing trend of "musical tourism" in Las Vegas . Itsfirst weekend will see the concert event of the year, the long awaited reunion of the original headliners of Guns N Roses. But long after the back to back concerts (April 8-9) have come and gone, the new Arena and it surrounding Park will play a huge role in the continuing record tourism success of Las Vegas, which shattered previous marks with more than 42 million visitors last year. It also continues a recent trend of focusing on outdoor rather than indoor spaces along the city's main drag. Located between the Monte Carlo and New York-New York casino resorts, The Park, opening in April, is a brand new urban oasis in the prime heart of Las Vegas Boulevard, The Strip. The Park serves as a pedestrian pathway to the new $375 million T-Mobile Arena, and was designed to capture the feel of the surrounding desert landscape. Developer MGM Resorts brought in landscape architects to meld the desert feel with contemporary modern design, using large quantities of meta-quartzite stone from a local quarry and erecting sculpture-like shade structures and dynamic water features, enhanced by theatrical lighting. Desert trees and ground coverings such as acacias and honey mesquites were planted to provide shade, while a wide variety of colorful flowerings plants including pink hesperaloes, yellow damianitas, and purple salvias will bloom year-round, adding visual interest and color. The signature centerpiece is a double 8-foot high water wall a hundred feet long, flanked by casual restaurants and bars with outdoor seating. Todays consumer wants to sample, to experience, to discover - its no longer about visiting one resort and staying there, said Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International (via release). With this in mind, weve created a neighborhood environment that invites our guests to explore many of our resorts on the Strips west side, collecting experiences along the way, with The Park serving as a central gathering space for people to relax, dine and be entertained. The Park has green initiatives throughout, including numerous passive cooling elements, reclamation of existing onsite trees and materials, and the entire restaurant corridor and the Arena have been built to LEED Gold standards. Eateries confirmed for the April opening include outposts of Shake Shack and California Pizza Kitchen, along with Bruxie, a fast-casual, gourmet waffle restaurant from Californias Orange County that uses soft, foldable waffles instead of bread for sandwiches. Sake Rok is a Japanese themed eatery and nightspot with a theatrical twist. The menu for lunch and dinner features sushi and sake, while interactive servers double as entertainers, spontaneously breaking into dance and lip-sync serenades. Sake Rok will also feature a late-night bar/lounge. Perhaps the most interesting addition to the middle of the Strip is Beerhuas, an unpretentious beer garden featuring live music, outdoor games such as bocce, darts and ping pong, sustainably raised farm-to-table meats, and of course beer, in the form of a long regional craft brew list. MGM Resorts recently announced plans to build a new 5,000 seat theater onto the Monte Carlo alongside the Park, scheduled to open before the end of the year. But the main event here is the new 20,000-seat T-Mobile Arena, immediately the premier concert venue in a city full of concerts. It is also scheduled to host non-music live events ranging from the Harlem Globetrotters to a Duke/UNLV hoops game to UFC matches to the Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough World Finals in November. It is expected that the Arena will host more than 100 events each year. Because it was purpose built from the ground up, the Arena solves many of the traffic flow and access issues affecting older concert venues on the Strip. It should be much easier to get into and out of, and even bathroom access has been carefully planned for maximum guest enjoyment. The Arena is linked via a covered bridge-walkway to the fifth level of the New York-New York parking garage and a section dedicated to premium seating parking with private entrance for VIP guests. Premium ticketed guests also will find additional private entrances on the southeast and northwest sides of the arena. Premium ticket options are very modern and very varied, from a private club with food and drink to bar-style tables on a terrace with a view of the action. There are 50 luxury suites of varied sizes - almost all of which have already been sold - and more than two dozen private loge boxes. For the general public, amenities include plenty of charging ports and state of the art video screens throughout, even at the concession stands to avoid missing a minute of the action. There will be special pre-sale opportunities for various events for M Life members (MGM Resorts frequent guest and player club) and T-Mobile customers, who also enjoy special fast track access into the Arena. Perhaps the most unique amenity is a complete nightclub within the Arena, a very Vegas touch and something few stadiums offer. An outpost of the popular Hyde at Bellagio, the Hyde here will only be open on event days, both during the performances and after, with DJs and bottle service (two viewing platforms extend over the arena seating below). The dining and nightlife in the surrounding Park will be open all the time. Follow Me on Twitter Here @TravelFoodGuy
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