Friday, December 4, 2009

What to Do This Month

Reading Friday's edition of the Washington Post's Weekend section made me think about how much there is to do this month and how hard it is to get organized in time to do a lot of those things. So here's a rundown in no particular order of stuff that, given my druthers, I'd make sure to be on hand for this December:

1. The Messiah sing-along at Kennedy Center December 23. I haven't attended this in several years. They used to make you line up in the early morning hours about three weeks ahead on a Saturday to get the free tickets. Now they hand them out at 6 P.M. on the performance night, and advise you to be there somewhat earlier. It's a lot of fun, especially if you, like me, was thrown out of chorus in the fourth grade for singing out of tune or key--I think the real reason was that I had just moved from being a boy soprano to my now-natural baritone. Can I carry a tune? Who knows, but I love singing the bass part.

2. Christmas lights at Gunston Hall. Gunston Hall is the partially restored home of George Mason, another one of the Founders who declined to sign the Constitution, for, I believe, the reasons given by a fellow non-signer, Patrick Henry, that the document had no Bill of Rights. James Madison did draft one soon thereafter, but that's another story. Now George Mason has his name represented by an up and coming university and his old home is lit by candlelight in this holidayseason. They now serve candle- lit dinners for a couple of nights soon. It's a kick.

3. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has a new show called Velaszquez Rediscovered. Seems that a painting in the Met's collection as to which the attribution has long been unclear has now been declared by various experts to be a true Velaszquez. This is another small show, I gather, of the kind the Met put together for Vermeer's The Milkmaid (see my blog on that). It's always worth seeing a "new" Velaszquez or even the Met's finest holding by him, Juan de Pareja's portrait.

4. I hope to attend my first Metropolitan Opera live broadcast in a local movie theater--which will occur on Saturday, December 19, and is none other than one of my all-time faves, naturally, Les Contes d'Hoffman, or Tales of Hoffman. This is a new production opening soon at the Met and has been highly touted in advance. I also hear that the sound and video quality of the transmission is great.

5. The Kennedy Honors on TV, sometime right around Christmas. Yes, years ago I was lucky enough to be taken to this show (which probably will occur this weekend, I believe) by my dad, who was a regular invitee through his position at Theatre Authority. In fact, my fondest memory was at the same time seeing both an ancient James Cagney on stage, where the once-nimble Yankee Doodle Dandy was barely able to make it but steel-faced, made his way without a misstep and afterwards, at the dinner in the Kennedy Center lobby, sat with his old sidekick Frank McHugh and others, and then the by-then legendary Lynn Fontanne, the she of the Lunts, who also managed to make her way--at 95--as a trouper.

And I'm probably the last of us to have seen, just last night, the road company that played the National here with Jersey Boys. What a total delight! As noted, I doubt I need to tell you what fantastic fun it was--all the songs, and the nicely-stitched plot presented in turn by each of the original foursome. It's only here another week and it may even be sold out for that--if any of you have waited this long, as I did, to enjoy such completely delightful entertainment!

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