Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Gibraltar of the West Coast

 "The Gibraltar of the West Coast", also known as Fort Point. Built during the blossom of the Gold Rush, Fort Point was built in order to protect the San Francisco Bay from sea attack. Although the building is very tremendous, it never saw any attacker or fought any battle.

Have you ever been to Fort Point. It's a free entrance and you can leave a tip! You can stroll through the general's quarters and through the soldier's bedrooms. Written on a plaque you can find information about each room. It's super fun!

During the late 1900s, Fort Point was supposed to be torn down because it blocked the process of building the Golden Gate Bridge. Fortunately, Chief Engineer Joseph Strauss recognized the architectural genius in the building and came up with a change. They were now to build an arch over Fort Point so that not to break the bridge or fort down.

Come with family and friends! The only bad part is that it could rain...but I think we're used to it!

You can read more fun posts on The Freako Diva!

Written by: Rubina

Monday, December 24, 2012

Opera on Film: Don Giovanni

Ever seen opera productions and think, Hey, this would look great on screen! Many directors have had same thoughts and many have produced many wonderful opera films. Opera on screen seems a bit odd. They are not actually singing, so the movie may have a few downsides to it. For example, it has always bugged me when actors, (who are not singers), don't open their mouths enough when there is a high note. I know that it's a stupid thing to care about but it's the little things that matter the most.

Let's take the 1975 movie Don Giovanni, directed by Joseph Losey. The actors are all singers so they know what they're doing in the open-the-mouth thing. Donna Elvira, sung and played by Kiri Te Kanawa, is perfect. Her clothes demonstrate her high position in society, even though inside she feels awfully miserable. Te Kanawa manages that part pretty well. She isn't over-acting or "under-acting". Donna Anna, sung and played by Edda Moser, is also depicted well. She is a noblewoman so her clothing is not much different from Donna Elvira's. Zerlina, on the other hand, is a peasant girl so her clothing is more simple and not as white. Sung and played by Teresa Berganza, Zerlina is a simple girl but very active in her personal life.

Let's get to the male part of things. Ruggero Raimondi is the best Don Giovanni in vocal terms. His voice fits the part perfectly. Jose Van Dam, (Leporello), played the role well and sang it in the same manner. I imagined Leporello and Don Giovanni a bit differently, but these interpretations were understandable. They both had character and charisma. Keneth Riegel, (Don Ottavio), is the complete opposite of what I expected Ottavio to look like but he was still an excellent Ottavio. He manages to get the effect of a man suffering for his fiance. Malcolm King, (Masetto), expresses the mad Masetto in an extraordinary way, but it is still very interesting.

Any operatic movies you know that you would like to discuss?

More operatic posts on The Freako Diva.

Written by: Rubina Mazurka

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mozart and Prague: It's Complicated

"Meine Prager verstehen mich!" Those were the exact words of the genius composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. When we think of Mozart, we think about Vienna and Milan... What about Teatro di Praga, (now known as Prague State Opera)? That's where Mozart's Don Giovanni first premiered. In fact, Mozart conducted. Although the singers did complain that the opera was very hard to sing. 

Josefina Duskova

The first version of Don Giovannidid not include one of Ottavio's arias, Elvira's last aria, and the duet with Leporello and Zerlina. These amendments were made later for the second cast, now in Vienna. 
While Mozart was writing Don Giovanni, he stayed in Villa Bertramka. What? Where in the world is that?! Prague, of course! Home to Josefina Dušková and Frantisek Duškov, Villa Bertramka became a place to stay in for Mozart. Josefina Dušková and Frantisek Duškov, (husband and wife), encouraged young composers and offered their residents for free. The same couple later sponsored Ludvig Van Beethoven. Mozart stayed their with his wife, Constanze.

Villa Bertramka was later turned into Mozart's museum but currently is closed because of ownership issues. 
Villa Bertramka 

"Meine Prager verstehen mich!"  "My Praguers understand me!" 

Find more awesome articles on The Freako Diva

Written by: Rubina Mazurka

The Hatchet Book Review

Over Christmas break, I was assigned to read The Hatchet by Gary Paulson. I was also required to write a review of the book without giving away the end. (I was also required to fill out a packet, but that doesn't matter). I decided to post it on The Herald because no new posts have been made lately.

The Hatchet was about a boy named Brian Robeson who was on his way to his father's after his parents get divorced. Seated in the copilot's seat, Brian noticed that the pilot was not feeling well. He was acting strange and rubbing his right arm. Heart attack. Poor Brian. Imagine being on a plane with no one except for the pilot and the man has a heart attack and dies. Brian was in this exact situation. No way out? That's what you think. Brian planted the jet into some lake and found himself in the Canadian forest. What is he to do now?

As the book continues, Brian uses his brains and knowledge which he had gained from watching wilderness survival shows. He learns how to make fire. He finds food. He also believes that rescuers will come in two days. Instead, he spends weeks all alone with the constant thought of his mother with her blond lover. Brian cannot help always remembering the Secret and how she had caused the divorce.

What is Brian to do now? It's all up to him!

Gary Paulson, author of The Hatchet
I thought that the book was a bit tedious to read. Too much description and unnecessary mood setters. The constant flashbacks get old and don't vary. I would give this book two stars maximum.

Go to The Freako Diva to find more very cool articles!

Written by: Rubina Mazurka

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sunset Street Fair This Sunday

This Sunday,  Hillwood is setting up a booth at the Inner Sunset Street Fair.  We are going to be selling hand-painted sand dollar and crab shell decorations for the holiday season.  We will also have sand dollars that children can decorate using markers.  The children can put the decorations on their Christmas trees or they can hang them on their walls.  We hope you can stop by our booth and make a donation or buy some sand dollars.  The street fair is this Sunday from 10:00 AM- 5:00 PM at 9th Ave and Irving.