Archive for April, 2015

A Magical Evening at Opera San Jose

Well, I was at the afternoon matinee, but still. It was one of the best times I’ve had at the opera, and I’m so happy that there is still time for you to see it. The Magic Flute is a show for adults and children, oldies and newbies, opera and theatre lovers. And it includes a majestic dragon!!

The dragon attacks Tamino in The Magic Flute. Photo credit Pat Kirk

The dragon attacks Tamino in The Magic Flute. Photo credit Pat Kirk

This may not be the best show I’ve ever seen at Opera San Jose, but I still enjoyed it so much and it is a great show for other Opera Novices and Newbies.  As always, the performances were incredible, the story was great, the music was beautiful, the costumes were gorgeous, …but there are some stand-outs that make this a show you should not miss.

1.  This is a great opera for Newbies and families with children.  The Magic Flute is sung in German but has spoken words in English. It always throws me off when an opera is not entirely sung, which is probably the only issue I had with this show, but for newbies and children this is a great plus and makes for an easy introduction to opera.  As always, the lyrics (and spoken lines) are projected in super titles above the stage so you can follow along.  The show has children involved, though they are not the stars, and there were many children in the audience. Although I wasn’t sure they would be able to follow the story entirely, there was not a peep from any of them during the entire three hours.

2. Chris Salinas, Daniel Ostrom and Winter Felton-Priestner are three very young men who can now add “Soprano, Opera San Jose” to their resumes and I don’t think they’ve even hit middle school yet. This certainly trumps my own resume and I might be a tiny bit jealous.

3. There are a couple scenes with children silently wearing beautifully painted animal masks, and the animal-like choreography was riveting. Kudos to both the choreographer and the kids for nailing each of their parts and creating a magical tableau whenever they were on stage.

4. The show is often very funny, usually thanks to Matthew Hanscom as hapless Papageno.  Papageno just wants a wife to love him, but how will he find a woman who wants to marry a poor bird trainer?

5. Isabella Ivy (soprano) is breathtaking as the Queen of the Night.  Two of the songs she sang were so intricate and complicated that any Newbie could see these must be some of the most difficult pieces in opera.  Even more amazing, she sang one of these very complicated pieces in the upper ranges of the scale, while kneeling down, and as she stood her foot got tangled in her skirts. She not only calmly untangled herself, but she never missed a beat or a note in one of the most amazing sections of music I have ever heard. Every jaw in the theater was hanging open. She was incredible.

6. THE DRAGON.  The dragon was simply the most beautiful prop I have ever seen. It was huge and graceful and gorgeous and majestic.  Its wings moved, it spouted smoke from its mouth (the kids in the audience LOVED this), and for me it was the star of the show.  During intermission I voiced my hopes that the dragon would make another appearance, and it did when everyone came out for a bow. That dragon earned its ovation, and so have the operators, the designers and creaters of that piece.  More dragons like that need to be in opera!!

When the entire thing was over I realized that I had had a really fun time. I haven’t always enjoyed every opera I’ve attended, and it has taken me a while to appreciate some parts of opera. But ever since Madama Butterfly, Opera SJ has been drawing me in. I may still be the Opera Novice in most aspects, but I am also quite certainly becoming an Opera Lover.

Recently I have noticed the shows have not had two casts, and are instead having one cast do a shorter run of each show. I don’t know if this is a financial decision (or just a coincidence), but I can say that the performers have upped their game, and the performances are tighter than I’ve ever seen. Try if you can to make one of the last performances (I have heard they are close to selling out all shows) but if you don’t make this one, mark your calendars quickly to get seats for next season. It starts with Puccini’s Tosca, and after that come The Marriage of Figaro (YAY!), Carmen (YAY!), and then A Streetcar Named Desire. That is going to be one amazing season and this Opera Novice is looking forward to it more than ever.

The Magic Flute
Opera San Jose
Thru May 3

100 Years of Einstein’s Relativity

Albert_EinsteinJeffrey Bennett, Ph.D. an astronomer from the University of Colorado, will discuss 100 Years of Einstein’s Relativity (and How It Underlies Our Modern Understanding of the Universe), a free, illustrated, non-technical lecture Wednesday, May 6, at 7:00 p.m. in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College.

2015 marks the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s completion of his General Theory of Relativity, the comprehensive theory of space, time and gravity.

Albert Einstein developed the general theory of relativity along with quantum mechanics.

Dr. Bennett is the author of college-level textbooks in astronomy, astrobiology, mathematics and statistics, as well as the popular books “What is Relativity?” and “Beyond UFOs: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life.”

Dr. Bennett will sign copies of “What is Relativity?” after the lecture in Appreciation Hall (Room 1501).

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Arrive early to locate parking.

Parking lots 1, 7 and 8 provide stair and no-stair access to the theatre. Visitors must purchase a parking permit for $3 from dispensers in student parking lots. Dispensers accept one-dollar bills and quarters; bring exact change.

Smithwick Theater, Foothill College
12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
7:00 pm
Admission: Free
Parking: $3.00

Northern California Botball Tournament 2015

2015 Northern California Tournament this Saturday, April 18, from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm at NASA Ames Research Center. FREE to watch.

The robot compete by performing various tasks which are judged for speed and accuracy: however, during the head-to-head competition, the robots can be programed to sabotage their competitors.

Event Schedule:
8:00 AM – Registration / Open Practice

10:00 AM – Seeding Rounds Begin

1:00 PM – Lunch Break

2:00 PM – Double Elimination Rounds Begin

5:30 PM – Awards Presentation Begins

NASA Ames Research Center, N152 Conference Building, Room 171
Moffett Field, CA 94035

April 18, 2015
from 10:00 am
FREE to watch

Event Directions:
Go on US 101 freeway to the Moffett Field exit, then:
Show your drivers license to the guard at the gate, and say you are attending the Botball Tournament in the NASA Conference Center, N152. Drive straight, down Clark Road to just before the Shuttle model, turn right on Wescoat Road, then in a couple blocks, turn right on McCord Ave, and in one block, stay right at the ‘Y’ (note sign to N152) to Dailey Road for another block and you’ll see N152 on the right. The parking is on the left, across the street.

Free Drive-In Movie Night

Free Drive-In Movie Night at the Capitol 6 in San Jose this Thursday, April 16, 2015 – gates open 6:00 pm

Capitol 6 Drive-In movies include:

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Paddington with The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water with Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 with Paddington

Capitol 6 Drive-In
3630 Hillcap Ave., San Jose

Gates open at 6:00 pm. Films start at dusk
Admission is free

Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 from Noon to 8:00 pm is Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s.

Participating Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops in the Bay Area are opening their doors from noon to 8 pm to serve up a free scoop of any flavor of your choice.

Since 1979, it’s Ben & Jerry’s way to celebrate and say thanks to their fans for another year of support.

Participating locations:

115 East San Carlos
San Jose

2130 Center Street
Suite 102

475 Jefferson Street
San Francisco

170 O’Farrell St.
Macy’s Department Store
San Francisco

505 Embarcadero West

1480 Haight Street
San Francisco

Pier 41
Pier 41, c/o Chatzka’s Inc. The Box
San Francisco

Encountering the First Dwarf Planet

Marc Rayman, Ph.D., the mission director for NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft, will discuss Encountering the First Dwarf Planet: The Dawn Mission to Ceres, a free, illustrated, non-technical lecture Wednesday, April 8, at 7:00 p.m. in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills.

The Dawn Spacecraft is now in orbit around Ceres —the largest asteroid in the asteroid belt and also the first dwarf planet to be discovered. Ceres was discovered January 1,1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi of Italy. As big across as Texas, Ceres’ nearly spherical body has a differentiated interior – denser material at the core and lighter minerals near the surface.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the Dawn mission. It is the first NASA exploratory mission to use ion propulsion, which enabled it to enter and leave the orbit of multiple celestial bodies.
Ion propulsion is a technology that involves ionizing a gas to propel a craft. The gas xenon is given an electrical charge, or ionized. It is then electrically accelerated to a speed of about 30 km/second. When xenon ions are emitted at such high speed as exhaust from a spacecraft, they push the spacecraft in the opposite direction.

Dr. Rayman is both mission director and chief engineer for Dawn. He has worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 1986, designing instruments for space telescopes, Mars measurements, the search for planets around other stars and laser communications with spacecraft.

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Arrive early to locate parking.

Parking lots 1, 7 and 8 provide stair and no-stair access to the Smithwick Theater. Visitors must purchase a parking permit for $3 from dispensers in student parking lots. Dispensers accept one-dollar bills and quarters; bring exact change.

Smithwick Theater, Foothill College
12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills
(650) 949-7888

Wednesday, April 8, 2015
7:00 pm

Admission: Free
Parking: $3.00

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