Saturday, February 4, 2012

Can you see me now - Part 2

Yes I can see you but not as well as before.  For someone who has had few if any health issues - ever - in life, who takes no medication of any kind and hasn't missed a day's work in 20 years, the gradual onset of deteriorating eyesight is at first just annoying, then worrying and finally depressing. Having started noticing some very distinctive double vision in my left eye, I recently had a battery of tests which came out all OK: no disease or underlying condition causing this. Just some adjustment needed on my prescription.  Which we promptly did.  However, it did not work.  Left eye vision still poor with pronounced double vision, even with the new glasses... Very unhappy about that.  Will have to go back next week to see what can be done.  Options including possibly trying contact lenses again, or maybe even surgery in the one eye.  Will resort to that only if all else fails.

Running is going great: 8 miles this morning (late) after some stopping and starting due to rain.  Can't complain about rain, we are just emerging from a massive drought.  If I can get in 10 miles tomorrow - which should be doable - it will be my 3rd week in a row of 40+ miles.  And-  touch wood - the plantar fasciitis in my left foot is slowly receding like a bad memory. Kathleen's training for Boston is also on schedule, I am sagging for her and a few other runners tomorrow morning for a 17-mile run. 

100 days of weight loss: Day 35
I am stretching this program out to what will likely turn into 300 days of weight maintenance, still 20 pounds heavier than I want to be... Rather this than abandon it altogether.  So once more with feeling:  today's 'lesson'is to try to recognize an 'eating pause' that occurs at some point while eating a meal.  People would stop briefly and lay down their forks or put down the food they're holding in their hands.  Don't go back and start eating again: the natural 'eating pause' is likely the exact point where you are satisfied or comfortable. 

Cultural notes:

Emily Newton as Anna Bolena in Opera in the Height's Performance of Anna Bolena by Gaetano Donizetti.  Photo courtesy of OIH

Kathleen and I have been to the opera twice lately.  Last night was Anna Bolena, Donizetti's bel canto masterpiece, at Opera in the Heights.  And fabulously sung it was too, by young soprano  Emily Newton who hails from Lake Jackson in Texas.  Beautiful, expressive voice!  The tenor  in the role of Lord Percy (Zach Averyt) tried really hard but fell a little short.  I think  he just had an off night, but he seemed to have a hard time holding some of the more challenging high notes which unfortunately are rather common in any Donizetti opera.  No big deal though, the cast as a whole was stellar, as was the chorus, particularly the women.  All in all a very satisfying evening at the opera.  Just a very long one. Like everybody else in the theater, I was squirming in my seat by the time 3 hours and 15 minutes had elapsed. Yes it is a marathon performance but with so much beautiful music, what can you do.  Stretch your legs, re-arrange your seat and enjoy!  Also, there was a pretty blonde playing the drums.  Complete with Madonna hairstyle.  If she wasn't in the back there she might have stolen the show from Maestro Enrique Carreon-Robledo who conducted with great passion and energy.  The music never sounded so good!

Albina Shagimuratova.  Photo by Andrei Bogdanov

Last Friday we were at the Houston Grand Opera for Verdi's La Traviata.  HGO consistently delivers an opera experience of the first order and this performance was no  exception.  In the title role Russian soprano Albina Shagimuratova was a revelation.  She tossed off a succession of hugely difficult and challenging arias with the greatest of ease.  Making singing at this level look easy takes masses of natural talent and unbelievable devotion and sheer hard work.  Patently there is nothing easy about performing successfully on stage singing opera in front of 2000+ people. You have to remember the words and the music, sing (in Italian or French, most of the time), move exactly when and where as previously directed, act, react, adjust and improvise when necessary, and pretend as if it's your first time even if you've sung the role a 100 times before!  No bored or jaded expressions allowed...  That would not have been a problem for Brian Hymel - an up and coming young tenor from New Orleans.  He was inserted into the role of Alfredo Germont barely one week before the opera's first performance due to the originally cast tenor falling sick.  Mr Hymel made the very most of his opportunity, performing flawlessly.  His strong yet delicate high notes had a pleasing Italianate flavor and there was not a hint of under-rehearsal.  A good future in opera awaits Mr. Hymel!


Amy said...

So sorry to hear of your eyesight troubles - that is indeed worrying.

Luckily you were able to enjoy the opera - I love the opera, am looking forward to another one in March...

Teamarcia said...

I love that you've been free of health issues up til now...speaks volumes about your lifestyle. I hope your eye issues get sorted out soon and it is nothing serious. Good for you for getting out to the opera. It's been way too long for us!