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Friday ThingS: 02/22 - Misconceptions of Medieval Life and How to Draw Tinker Bell

LinksKristina PinoComment

[Welcome to another weekend link dump!]

On Books:

If you read, watch, or play a lot of fantasy media, you might have a few misconceptions of what medieval life was like.

You could read samples of books that were adapted to Oscar-nominated films.

A fellow Book Riot contributor Nikki Steele listed 20 nonfiction titles that are about the lady human body. I intend to check a few of these out!

On Art and Photography:

A Romanian photographer went around the world and photographed women from 37 different countries for a project called The Atlas of Beauty.

Learn how to draw Tinker Bell.

Stuff I Wrote:

On Book Riot: 9 Excellent Mustaches in Literature Today.

On Panels: 10 Questions With a Manga Editor at VIZ Media.

Other:

If you're looking to improve your toy photography, here are some tips from a pal

Super cute - a little girl feeds crows and they bring her little gifts in return. The full interview should be live sometime this week.

Looks like Tri-Rail has an opportunity to get trains running straight into Downtown Miami, which would be super convenient for people who live in that area or along the metro in others. I kind of hope it happens - I think there are way too many cars in Miami.

[Have a nice day!]

Friday Things: 12/12 - The most charming Grinch storyteller, gunpla shopping guides, and a Disney Broadway medley

LinksKristina PinoComment

[It's getting colder and colder... we've even started getting small amounts of snow! I mean, it melts right away - it isn't cold enough for it to stick or anything - but still. SNOW!]

On Books and Comics:

A look at Amazon's best-selling books of the year. I'm pleased to see I've read exactly zero of these - it might provide some future reads if I'm stumped sometime in the future.

I have mixed feelings about the rumors re: Marvel and Sony and Spider-Man, but this passage in particular appeals to me greatly: "The idea is that the Spider-Man romance movie has been played out over five installments, so any new Spider-Man films would focus on the difficulties of being a teenager and a superhero with a romance side-story, not the film's focus. Marvel also thinks that the origin story is well-trodden territory, so any Spider-Man movies under this deal would begin with Peter Parker already leading a dual life." (via Latino-Review)

This little 5-year old girl signs a super duper charming rendition of How the Grinch Stole Christmas - love it~

On Disney:

The more I see and hear about Into the Woods, the more excited for its release I become. Now you can listen to Anna Kendrick sing "On the Steps of the Palace."

I can't get enough of VoicePlay's a cappella Disney Broadway medley.

Stuff I did:

I vlogged! Yippee!

Other:

I already shared my pal Lauren Orsini's holiday shopping guide for your anime fan/otaku pals in a previous link dump, but she recently shared another for folks who are into gunpla. It's great.

"Color Chasers" are these cool little gadgets that follow black lines and make sounds based on colors painted on those lines. They look pretty neat~

"25 Things No One Tells You About Leaving Miami" is on point. Bahaha.

"What Would Yellow Ranger Do?" Great comic about the struggles of looking different and getting that question from people with expectations, not curiosity.

[Have a great weekend!]

 

Friday Things: 11/22 - Wizarding Tourism, DIY Sorcerer Mickey Ears, and Some Science

LinksKristina PinoComment

[Another Saturday Edition~ well, it's better than Monday. Tomorrow, Sunday, there's a potato festival at my village, so I'll probably be updating Instagram and/or Twitter with pictures and stuff.]

On Disney (and theirs):

New Cinderella Trailer!

Neat little tutorial on making your own sorcerer Mickey ears.

I am Groot in 15 different languages is glorious.

Finally, here's a look at some more Inside Out teasers. Yes - plural.

On Science:

If you're interested in some tidbits about brains and stuff, read about languages that are "lost" in infancy.

Women's and men's bodies are affected by space flight in different ways - here's a look at that.

On Movies:

Do you like secrets and/or Princess Bride? This list is for you.

New Peanuts Trailer!

Stuff I Wrote:

At Book Riot: Wizarding Tourism: Harry Potter Experiences Around the World.

At PANELS: Comics Fetish: Volume 8 (weekly dose of awesome comics merch)

I vlogged! Here's what I'm reading this week.

Other:

Wonderful: An Open Letter to Men Who Still Don't Understand Street Harassment.

A pal of mine wrote this article about late night food spots in Miami - I've only been to one of those spots, myself, so I'm looking forward to trying the rest.

[have a great weekend! Monday is a public holiday, so lunch posts will resume Tuesday!]


Friday Things: 05/10 - bookish parodies, an excerpt, and the story of Nellie Bly

LinksKristina PinoComment

[It's a beautiful Saturday, so let's bang these out shall we...?]

On Books and Reading:

Olde Book Pillow Classics

They're books. That you can sleep on. Because they're pillows! Click on the image to be taken to the listing on ThinkGeek. :)

There's a new graphic novel out that I'm dying to read, but I'll settle for an excerpt for now. This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki.

John Green discusses why adults dig YA fiction.

This post on BookRiot is over a month old, but it touches on something I plan to vlog about soon: likeable/unlikeable characters. Linking doesn't necessarily mean I agree with everything stated, just that I think it's a good and interesting discussion.

On Music:

(via C|Net) The Game of Thrones theme as you've never heard it before: on wine glasses.

A new line of Disney soundtracks, called The Legacy Collection, will be released to celebrate film anniversaries, and The Lion King is getting the re-release treatment first with 30 minutes of never-before-released score.

Apparently, Miami is ranked the third most stressful US city to live in, owed in part to the high cost of living.

Great little list on BookRiot of bookish song parodies. I have to agree with the post author, I can't even with some of these.

This is important:

If you're a bit confused about what's going on with Net Neutrality and all that, Vi Hart explains it fantastically well in this video.

Fantastic read on FlavorWire about an overlooked woman in history. I quote: "A pioneering female journalist at a time when women were relegated to the lifestyle section, Elizabeth Jane Cochran, writing under the pen name 'Nellie Bly,' pulled off stunt journalism that entranced America and had its part in shifting the world a bit."

[Enjoy the weekend!]

Friday Things: 11/10 - Adventure Time, book clubs, and the making of Mjolnir

LinksKristina PinoComment

[Another week, gone by! And it's been a pretty cold week, too. The temperature is dropping, and with it, my desire to be outdoors. So here's a loaded batch of internet for you to munch on.]

On Clothes and Accessories:

Black Milk Clothing's next big thing? Adventure Time.

I'll probably write up a holiday gift guide type deal soon, but here's an early entry. Lovely bookshelf tie for the bookish man in your life. (via Bookshelf)

 

 

On Books and Comics: 

"Who first wrote 'It is a truth universally acknowledged'?"

If you're a book junkie and haven't taken the plunge into comics yet, might I suggest my guide to starter comics for rad bookish folks?

I recently reviewed a beautiful book called Rising from the Ashes by Dr Akiko Mikamo, which is about her father's experience surviving and living after the bomb dropping at Hiroshima. After reading and reviewing the book, I was also given the opportunity to interview her

If you haven't, check out Les Literables' very first online book club meeting in our YouTube podcast! We talked about Gone Girl. Our next meeting is coming up later this month and we'll be discussing Game of Thrones. This month's meeting, we'll also have a special guest. Yay!

 

 

I do a lot of my drafting by hand before I go online and write up long-form editorials. Some authors, like Neil Gaiman, still write their first drafts by hand before hitting the computer when writing their books, too. Here's a list of hand-written manuscripts you can check out, featuring Charles Dickens and more.

Mjolnir! Watch a functional replica being made.

 

On Disney:

I'm always happy to hear about places rolling out gluten-free menus. And especially when it isn't just a small aside on the menu with 3-5 dishes on it. Downtown Disney's Splitsville is offering 16 gluten-free items.

This lovely little lady has an amazing voice and absolutely deserves winning the singing contest with her Under the Sea cover.

Emma Thompson is amazing and she's one of the main reasons I want to see Saving Mr. Banks. I'm interested in the movie as a whole, but yeah. Check out this behind-the-scenes look

It's come and gone, but Mondo's Loki poster bears mention for those who missed buying it. The design looks totally rad.

I have no clue how Miami made one of the top 10 most walkable cities, but there it is!

 

 

Other:

An interesting read about status symbols and why folks who "shouldn't" be able to afford designer apparel or nice cars go out of their way to attain them.

I vlogged!

[Enjoy! And by-the-by, I've been considering making this link dump into a few broken-up lists throughout the week instead of one big one every weekend. Thoughts?]

 

 

Double Whammy: Enrique Iglesias with Jennifer Lopez

Events and PerformancesKristina PinoComment

This weekend I was able to attend a double-headline show at downtown Miami's American Airlines Arena featuring Enrique Iglesias and Jennifer Lopez. They weren't sold out, and Miami was the end of their tour, which normally wouldn't bode well at all. But I was pleasantly surprised.

Enrique's show blew me away. I'd never seen him live despite being a fan since before he broke through in the U.S., and I hadn't expected to see someone perform who interacted so much with the crowd. He took every opportunity he got to jump off the stage and spread some hugs and high-fives. He brought two people up on the stage with him. He had big bouncing balloons dropped on the audience. Overall his show was fun.

Enrique's charisma took him a long way, and you can tell that he is used to dealing with fans of all kinds. I also learned there is a documentary type thing about him (here's a link to a fan video of the trailer from the tour) regarding his career and all that. From what I can gather, he's had a tough time dealing with fans. I'm not too surprised, all things considered.

As for Jennifer Lopez, this wasn't my first time seeing her live. I got a chance to see her tour together with her ex husband Marc Anthony, and she was pregnant at the time, so her performance was kind of limited. I don't really think much of her as an artist or singer, but as a dancer and performer she is amazing (as I learned this weekend). The Marc Anthony portion of the show, being in Miami and all, was the big highlight for everyone. The last time I'd seen JLo, everyone was in astonished silence watching the pregnant woman bounce around on stage singing her old songs from the 90's.

This time around, she had a couple newer songs that are currently on the radio, and of course her older songs, which she supplemented with guest appearances by the likes of LL Cool J and others. More importantly, she looks amazing and spent her entire portion of the show dancing her butt off.

JLo's show had some themes to it. First it was Jazz/Broadway, then Boxer/Bronx, an interlude with FLO-rida, a Desi Arnaz-style dance club and then her encore - love/fairy tale style ensemble. The themes punctuated her music rather well, and she had a costume change with each one. Thank goodness, because she looked naked with the first outfit she came out in...

Enrique standing on a smaller stage in the back

Enrique and Lopez touring together worked out well for everyone involved. Both of them have a nice arsenal of music they made popular a long time ago, and due to breaks don't have too much in the way of "current" music. I'd say Enrique has been a bit busier, musically, than JLo since she's been doing stuff for TV, raising kids and more in the meantime, so rather than both of them touring separately, they co-headlined and did two shorter shows in one night. It was perfect for the both of them and I'm glad with the way it all turned out.

I would see Enrique again, all that said. JLo is missable, despite being a good performer; and honestly, I was more disappointed that Pitbull didn't make an appearance than anything else with her portion of the show. I think she needed it - the guests were the right kind of highlights for her performance.

All images taken with my handy iPhone utilizing the Hipstamatic and Camera Awesome apps. I didn't get too many images of JLo because the lighting made it near impossible, not to mention with her dancing the entire time I couldn't get any good shots that didn't include a blown-out blur in the middle of it.

For additional reading, check out the write-ups by LA times and The Hollywood Reporter on this same tour.

Friday Things: 06/22

LinksKristina Pino1 Comment

[Another week gone by! My birthday came and went, and there was cake and  tostones, which are fried green plantains (my favorite snack/side). This weekend marks the opening of Brave, which I will be watching and presumably enjoying. Yesterday marked the official Heat Championship as well, which makes me proud as a Miamian. Read on for this week's links and tidbits!]

On The Miami Heat:

I might as well start with this. It's great to see a home team win, and it's especially nice when it's just so easy to talk a lot of trash on Miami. To that end, Pepe Billete, local character who specializes on social commentary and telling people to go jump a lake (in more vulgar terms), wrote an open letter to Miami Heat Haters. I agree with basically all his points, except where he makes some brief, but general commentary on OKC going home to Weight Watchers meetings. I have nothing against OKC - they played well and they showed some decent sportsmanship at the end of the game (more than I could say for spme other teams that've played against Miami). I look forward to seeing their game in the future. Everything else, though? Relish it.

Warning: if you're not from Miami, you probably won't understand a few references.

On Movies:

Brave has just come out, and folks are already plenty divided. Here's one positive review from The Mary Sue with a few balanced opinions on where the movie is good and where other folks might see fault.

Are you a fan of Blade Runner? Someone is doing it in watercolor. Every frame.

Someone covered the theme from the Harry Potter series on wine glasses. (via Geekologie)

Angelina Jolie has never looked better as she does right now as Maleficent. It's just too bad we have to wait until 2014 for the actual film release.

I'm a fan of the new Tinkerbell movie series, and I was already pretty excited for this year's release Secret of the Wings. I'm even more excited now to know that this movie reveals that Tinkerbell has an actual sister. Her name is Periwinkle and she's adorable.

On Video Games:

I found this  Pokémon page. I can't stop looking. So much merchandise! It's not like I'd buy up a whole ton of the stuff nowadays, but the nostalgia factor is pretty high.

VanaFest is coming, and I sadly can't attend. If you happen to be around on Spt. 22, there will be a concert at University of California at Berkeley. Here's the info.

I'm ridiculously excited for the upcoming Epic Mickey games. I unfortunately haven't bought in to the 3DS yet, but Epic Mickey: The Power of Illusion looks fantastic. Epic Mickey 2: Power of Two will be out this year as well, and I know I'll definitely be getting it and probably for PS3.

I think that while I was in high school, I would have killed for a Majora's Mask back pack like this. I'm sure I would have killed for this Goomba skirt , too. Hell, I'd wear something like that today. It looks great!

[Alright, I think that's good. Things you should know about: you may or may not have noticed that I've begun my True Blood recaps. I'll be doing my summaries all season and they will not be entirely spoiler-free, so proceed with caution! Once Doctor Who begins to air I might be doing the same for that. Pretty soon (probably this weekend) you'll start seeing a Movies/TV/anime tab or something to that effect up at the navigation area and I'll filter anything that falls under that category over there.]

Maná: Drama y Luz live in Miami

Events and PerformancesKristina PinoComment

Spanish rock band Maná made waves when they released their single "Lluvia al Corazón" from the recent Drama y Luz album, particularly because it'd been a few years since their last album was released (Amar es Combatir in 2006). I was fortunate to catch them in concert for their last tour and last night I saw them take the stage again for Drama y Luz.

Pretty much everything they played was a hit that everyone could sing along to. Most of the tracks have graced the air waves enough times that even folks who don't buy the albums would be able to keep up throughout the show. Combine that with excellent visuals and a Latino crowd, and you basically had an almost three-hour dance party.

The show opened with Beethoven's 5th Symphony which led into the first song on their set list, "Oye Mi Amor," and flowed through to a few high-energy tunes until they settled right into "Lluvia al Corazón," at which point the veil over the stage had images of rain, a butterfly and a heart projected onto it. The stage itself was set with a few panels in the back and that veil coming up and down as needed. It was simple, but pretty much perfect since Maná doesn't really need a lot of extra trimmings to keep the crowd entertained.

Some of the highlights for me included Alex González's 10-minute drum solo, which is a sight to behold and needs to be experienced. I go to a lot of shows, and I've had people ask me about impressive drummers. Alex has been at the top of my list ever since I saw him the first time. He basically plays on a platform that can move about a little, be raised high over the stage and spin. When he isn't doing his drum solo, he's dancing with his drum kit and doing everything he can to catch your attention while laying on some serious beats. He also chugged about half a bottle of beer halfway through his spotlight.

Everyone else, of course, is a great performer in their own right. Guitarist Sergio Vallín had some delightful solos which were all inspired by classical music. It reminded me of the kind of stuff we hear by Malmsteen or The Trans-Siberian Orchestra. He also played beautifully when, after kicking some butt on stage and hearing Alex's drum solo, he and Fher (the frontman) switched over to a platform at the back of the stadium floor to play an intimate acoustic set.

At some point during the first part of the show, Alex introduced someone who is from Miami and won a contest to play live with Maná. He looked very nervous as he joined the stage with his guitar and some of the coolest rock stars I know, but they played a nice, long number to showcase him and make it fun for everyone watching, too. Unfortunately, I didn't catch his name, but it's great to see folks get spotlit like that. He even had a face-off with Sergio. Live. On Stage. How cool is that?

After the acoustic set, they went back to the stage for yet another segment and then, finally, the encore. There were very few points during the entire performance that people had a break to sit down and enjoy a ballad since Maná kept the energy high throughout. It was sad to see them stop, but before we knew it, almost three hours had passed and they'd been playing non-stop. The only break the band got was Alex's solo, and even after that, Alex joined in to the acoustic set a couple of songs in.

Would I see them a third time? You bet. Should you see them live? Absolutely. Even if you aren't too familiar with their music, if you're a rock enthusiast and you enjoy hearing great arrangements and seeing good performers at work, this might be the show for you to get into something new. Seeing them live is not what you'd expect by just hearing their songs on the radio, after all.

Besides, their shows usually have a good message. They're all about equal rights for all, knowing where you come from and conservation in general. I am always happy to support artists that use their influence to spread the word around in a positive way.

(view the entire set list here)

[images taken with my handy-dandy iPhone 4S]

Meeting the Author: Charlaine Harris

Books, Events and PerformancesKristina PinoComment

Thanks to some sort of divine intervention, I learned that Charlaine Harris (author of Sookie Stackhouse novels turned HBO seriesTrue Blood) would be visiting Miami to kick off her Deadlocked tour this year at my local Books & Books. Ever since I've gotten into this book blogging business I've paid more attention to author appearances and book events around town, and the amount of cool stuff going on is pretty amazing.

About Deadlocked

We've learned that this is the penultimate book in the Southern Vampire Mysteries/Sookie Stackhouse series. When asked about it at tonight's event, Charlaine Harris said her "heart just isn't in it any more." Basically, she's done what she can for the series, she's fulfilling what is demanded of her by contract to the best of her abilities and then Sookie is going to be put to rest.

This is both a good and a bad thing. Of course, the good part is that Harris isn't taking the money-milking route and possibly derailing the whole story. She wants to end the series in a dignified manner in what she believes will be the best ending for Sookie - the kind that she believes would leave her the happiest. Does it have anything to do with romance with vampires? Apparently, Harris herself doesn't even know it yet, and the final book is going to be titled Dead Ever After, so make of that what you will.

About the Q&A Session:

The lighting was not flattering for Harris, so empty podium.

Lots of folks asked Harris questions about her various series, the kind of work she's doing now, her involvement with True Blood  and about the upcoming project with Syfy (in which she plans on being more involved than she had been with True Blood). She had a lot of great responses to everything and kept the room roaring with laughter almost the entire time with her quick and sharp answers.

Right now, Harris has a lot on her plate. She's writing the final Sookie book while having just finished up the writing for a graphic novel, preparing for all the hubbub with Syfy and has just signed another contract with Ace Books for another, new book series. When she was asked how long it'd take her to write these new books, her easy response was "Whatever time it says in the contract is what I've got." While it's clear that she treats all of her work with equal passion and heart, she kept it real with jokes here and there about delivering manuscripts on time and getting paid for it. To the jealous dismay of most of the crowd, she also tossed in a gloat about having met the entire cast of True Blood.

When asked about her favorite characters in True Blood or favorite castings, the first that came up was Jessica. I had read about her feelings on Jessica (played by Deborah Ann Woll) in an interview she did with the Miami Herald, and her response was basically the same: she wishes she'd thought her up because Jessica is such a great character. Harris also made a comment about how beautiful she is in person.

The other cast members that came up were Chris Bauer who portrays Andy Bellefleur and Joe Manganiello who plays Alcide. To the former she said he's a wonderful person and a very fitting Andy, and to the latter of course those familiar with the book series would definitely picture someone like Joe as the grumpy werewolf Alcide, but Harris also interjected he complains that because of her books he's got two-hour workouts daily. Not like anyone minds.

One interesting point of discussion was when someone asked her if the characters Jason (Sookie's brother) and Gran were reflections of people she knows in real life. Her response about Jason is that she thinks everyone has someone like him in their lives. He's a selfish jerk but deep down a good guy that cares about his sister. As for Gran, her comment was, "I think Gran is the best thing that ever happened to Sookie." She sympathized with Sookie's parents who had the hardship of trying to raise a "troubled child," but given the negative atmosphere that was for her, things turned for the better when she went under her grandmother's care.

Besides these things, she was asked some unrelated questions about stuff like, what does she do when she's stumped? What advice would she have for aspiring writers? To these she said the best way to become a writer is to "Sit on your butt and write. You can have a great idea, but if you don't write it down, you've got nothing." When she's stumped and can't figure out how to keep going with a story, if working on some other tasks and coming back to it later doesn't work, she decides she's messed up somewhere and goes back to earlier parts of the draft to fix the hole she wrote herself into. It's pretty apt (and honest) advice, I think.

Finally, there was a question about whether she'd be back next year in order to tour Dead Ever After. Her response to that, before the girl had even properly finished asking the question was a flat-out "No." She has no plans to tour for two rather good reasons. The first is her daughter is graduating from college in May of next year, so that's going to be keeping her busy. The second is that she is aware that by ending the series she won't necessarily please everyone and wants to give it time for the dust to settle. It's probably better that way for her own well being, though I'm a bit sad I'll probably have to wait a long while before I can sit at another talk with her. At the very least, she made it clear that she is under contract (that word "contract" came up various times during the talking session) to participate in a short story anthology each year and that part of it is she had to write a Sookie story. So, while she doesn't plan on writing any more novels, we'll certainly get little morsels here and there.

About the Signing

Woo - dark picture! Rockin' the Batman.

After the talk was over (it was half an hour of straight questions and answers before the audience ran out of things to ask about) everyone mobbed over to the other side of the book shop to get their books signed. This was made quick and painless by the experienced staff at Books & Books. There was one person stationed halfway down the line taking names to put post-its in the books for reference/spelling, one girl at the front of the line preparing books for the author to sign, and a third girl to the side ready to take cameras from guests and clicking away confidently to capture the moment.

While I was getting two books signed by Harris, I remembered what I wanted to ask her. Are the book titles supposed to be unintentionally hilarious? At first, her response was "Well, they could be!" I mentioned that with "Dead" somewhere in the title of every book, some of them just seemed funny to me and kept the tone rather light, outwardly. She told me that actually, the book titles were decided by the publishers and not herself, so she didn't have any control over them. Of course, she added she is glad to know I find them funny, but wanted to assure me they are not her creation.

And with that, I came, saw and conquered my very first author event! Since I never really tuned into that sort of thing before, I hadn't ever met any authors of works I enjoy besides any that happened to be at my university while I was studying. It was a fun experience and now I plan to be more aware of the goings-on so I could meet more cool authors. Harris is a total charmer and well worth a sit, even if you don't read her books, if only for her insight and humorous responses to whatever questions everyone throws her way. I hope I have a chance to meet her again, or even interview her on my own!

Are you in a city being visit by Charlaine Harris? Check her events schedule!

[image of Deadlocked cover via Charlaine's webpage, all others via my mobile]

Deadlocked - Charlaine Harris - Hardcover

Purchase at Books-a-Million!

Deadlocked - Charlaine Harris - Hardcover

Deadlocked

A Night at the Opera: Gounod's 'Romeo et Juliette'

Kristina PinoComment
Image ©Michal Daniel - http://www.proofsheet.com/
For being associated with such distinguished works such as Faust, Romeo et Juliette and the Ave Maria, Gounod's name isn't one I hear thrown around as often as I'd think. Part of the reason why is because apparently most of his work has disappeared completely and is lost in history, which makes me a bit sad to know.

Fortunately for us, what remains is all solid, beautiful work that is revived often enough for everyone to admire. Over the weekend, I went over to the Adrienne Arsht Center to see Romeo et Juliette and was surprised by everything that was incorporated into the production. The scenery was beautiful and well complemented by various light effects such that have been used for Il Barbiere di Siviglia. The casting was perfect and the original play was adapted to give the audience a unique performance based more on the actual relationship between Romeo and Juliette while cutting out a lot of the extra dialogue for the drama that surrounded them. This isn't to say that their family feud wasn't the root of their problems, but the focus was not on that as much as the relationship on a deeper level.

(click through to read more)


I was happy to see the return of Sébastien Guèze, who I'd seen perform during last season's Cyrano as this season's Romeo. He has a beautiful, clear voice that really meshed well with the strong, almost aggressive tone that Maria Alejandres brought to the role of Juliette. Overall they both have fantastic range, which is necessary when playing the role of such young and impulsive characters.

As for the supporting cast, I don't think there could have been a better Mercutio than Jonathan G Michie or a more appropriate Nurse Gertrude than Cindey Sadler. Everyone performed brilliantly, but these two stood out among the rest along with Courtney McKeown  whose wonderful, pleasant voice surprised everyone as the funny Stéphano, a page to the Montagues. I'm not sure what I was expecting when I saw this young boy-ish looking character step in and start poking at the presumed Capulet household with jokes and mild insults, but it had everyone suppressing giggles, myself included.

As far as adaptations go, this is the best I've ever seen of Romeo and Juliet in terms of turning an utter tragedy into something that doesn't have you feeling doom from the start. The tones are overall light throughout the opera and at the very end, we don't have people bursting into the tomb to find Romeo and Juliette cold and dead, then declaring they'd end their feud. It kept things personal throughout and that was enough. It's still tragic at the end, but I like the changes that were made and feel they were for the better. The performances kept the audience in the present rather than dreading the last act.

Unfortunately, and as always, pictures aren't allowed at the opera so I borrowed the main propaganda image (used with permission of the photographer) found on the FGO website and other ticket retail outlets. The image is copyright Michal Daniel and you should check out his site to see all the great pictures he's taken in the theater!