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ramonmercado

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Raymond Deane’s new opera is based on an artist who had a life-like doll made of his former lover
http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/music ... -1.1526969

Mon, Sep 16, 2013, 01:00

When Alma Mahler, the widow of composer Gustav Mahler, broke up with the artist Oskar Kokoschka, he made an anatomically accurate doll of her, and that's inspired Raymond Deane's third opera

Coal and black chalk portrait by Oskar Kokoschka of himself and his lover Alma Mahler. Photograph: Imagno/Getty Images

‘It appealed to something vaguely perverse in me, the idea of the living doll, like Olympia in Les Contes d’Hoffmann.” Composer Raymond Deane is explaining how he chose the theme of his third opera, The Alma Fetish, which will première in concert by the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra tomorrow.

It was 20 years ago that Deane first came across the story of the affair between the painter Oskar Kokoschka and Alma Mahler (composer, socialite and widow of composer Gustav Mahler) and the life-size, anatomically accurate doll of Alma that Kokoschka had made after their breakup.

Deane put the idea aside until 2006, when RTÉ radio producer Ethna Tinney asked him if he knew about the story of Oskar and Alma. “Pauline Bewick had suggested to her a scenario, specifically based on the six fans that Oskar painted for Alma. The original idea was that there would be six scenes and that each of them would incorporate one of the fans.”

Deane was excited by the idea of taking on something large scale, and one scene – what’s now scene three, the arrival of the doll – was commissioned and recorded by the National Symphony Orchestra in January 2009. The project began on a roll, but financial difficulties got in the way.

“Myself and Gavin Kostick, the librettist, had to make a decision. Do we just stop at this point? I found I couldn’t. I felt I’d just be going around with this monkey on my back, and I wanted to get rid of it.”

It took another three years to complete, with the help of some bursaries from the Arts Council, and then Fergus Sheil’s Wide Open Opera hatched the project that’s bringing it to the National Concert Hall. “I particularly like the idea that Wide Open Opera’s first project was Tristan und Isolde, and the second one is a kind of parody of Tristan und Isolde.”

The Alma Fetish is an opera about “people who live their lives in an over-the-top way. The actual circumstances of the first meeting between Oskar and Alma was a party in Vienna where she seduced him by singing the Liebestod.”

The opera charts their subsequent strife, Kokoschka’s war injuries, his maid Hulda’s suggestion of the doll after he returned to find Alma married to another man, and his use and eventual destruction of the doll. It ends with the former lovers meeting in Venice 20 years after the doll episode.
While the gestation of The Alma Fetish took some years, so did Deane’s appreciation of opera itself. “Opera as such, as a genre, didn’t interest me in the least. I loved Wozzeck, Moses und Aron and Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges. I hardly listened to anything before that; a bit of Wagner, Strauss’s Elektra. It’s really only in the last decade or so that I would go to the opera just for the sake of doing so. Even then, I do it very rarely because I’m somewhat at odds with the whole idea of directors’ opera. I don’t like to see the kind of conception of an opera that I have in my head being travestied on stage

“For me, the concert performance is the ideal. I was at a concert performance of Wozzeck in London with von Dohnányi. That was one of the really great experiences of my life. You had people performing live with elements of acting, and the rest of the production you could kind of project into it yourself.

“Italian opera in particular, with the exception of bits of Puccini, I loathed. I used to say I loved everything Verdi wrote, except his operas. I don’t say that any more. Otello is now one of my favourite works.”

So what brought about the change? “Perhaps it was being commissioned to write a couple of operas in the 1990s by Opera Theatre Company. I don’t really know. One broadens one’s perceptions; one’s listening habits.

“In the early 1990s I spent a lot of time in Paris. I suppose that’s the real answer – I started going to operas there. More recently I’m again spending time in Germany, where opera is pretty easy to get to. Also, I started listening to a lot of Germanic opera, particularly early 20th century Viennese: Schreker, Zemlinsky, Schoenberg.”

Before composing The Alma Fetish, Deane listened to quite a few contemporary operas, including: Perelà by Pascal Dusapin; Three Sisters by Péter Eötvös; the operas of one of his favourite composers, Luciano Berio,

“In so far as they are operas”; and György Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre which, “I like in patches, I don’t think it is a very good piece as a whole.”

Perhaps more importantly, “I relistened to a lot of operas that were written around the time The Alma Fetish is set, which is around the first World War, so we’re back to Schreker and Zemlinsky, who do turn up in a very distorted form in the opera.

“I also read. I was in the artists’ retreat in Schwandorf in Bavaria. They have a wonderful library and the complete writings of Kokoschka. I read long essays he wrote, and several totally incomprehensible plays, and got into his psyche in some way.”

The music for The Alma Fetish, says Deane, was written “within and upon the traditions that are close to me”. He describes the opera as “probably the most heterogeneous” work he’s written, with a lot of musical quotations, “kind of referring to the subconscious of the characters”. There’s irony, parody and pastiche, “but where the irony ends or the pastiche shades off into something different, something quite direct, that’s often quite ambiguous”.

Fergus Sheil conducts the RTÉ NSO in The Alma Fetish, with Majella Cullagh as Alma and Leigh Melrose as Oskar, at the NCH tomorrow.
 
In case anyone was wondering, here is a lovely picture of the original Alma Mahler doll.

Edit to Add:

AlmaDoll-A.jpg

SOURCE: grupaok.tumblr.com/post/49715236877
 
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Hell's Teeth! I had heard of the Alma doll but never before seen it!

I see that Gustav wrote a song called Parting is Painful. :p
 
'Anatomically accurate'? Poor woman.
 
Looks like something R. Crumb dreamed up.
 
There was an episode of House based around a patient who had a love doll made in the image of an ex.
 
solestri said:
In case anyone was wondering, here is a lovely picture of the original Alma Mahler doll.

I can't help wondering if Anna Mahler's choice of headstone was a reaction to that particular image of her mother:

AnnaMahlersgravestone.jpg
 
This creepy story appears to have been solved...

Unknown person leaves porcelain dolls on CA doorsteps

Many nerves are rattled in the San Clemente, CA on Thursday, as news spread that someone is leaving porcelain dolls on the front doorsteps of homes where little girls live.

“I would say [it's] creepy or very unusual,” Orange County, CA Sheriff's Office Lt. Jeff Hallock said.

Hallock says at least eight families in the area have had dolls left on their porches in the past few days.

“There’s an indication by some of the parents that the dolls resemble their daughters, and we’re talking about children here,” Hallock said.

Most are around the age of 10 and attend the same elementary school. The sheriff’s department is investigating the connection and whether this is a prank or a sexual predator.

No notes or threats were attached to the “gifts” left on porches.

The victims and their neighbors were too scared to speak to reporters, but several San Clemente moms and their daughters of similar ages were freaked out.

"You don't hear or see anything like that. Only in the movies," one mom said. "We're in a bubble here in south Orange County."

"I'd just be really scared, like I don't think I could sleep at night," a young girl said.

Also in a strange twist, another woman who did not want to be identified showed a set of wooden dolls she found on her front step two weeks ago. She has a five-year-old daughter.

When she heard about the porcelain dolls on Thursday, she decided it was time to file a police report.
http://www.wsls.com/story/26109744/unkn ... -doorsteps

California woman 'embarrassed' by fallout from doll giving

A California woman who spooked her small community by anonymously leaving porcelain dolls on the doorsteps of fellow churchgoers that eerily resembled their daughters told police she is embarrassed by the incidents, authorities said on Friday.

The dolls, some wearing fuzzy slippers or frilly gowns, turned up at more than a half-dozen homes in San Clemente last week, according to Orange County Sheriff's Lieutenant Jeff Hallock.

Interviews with families that received the dolls led authorities to the local woman, who then admitted her involvement, he said. She has not been publicly identified.

The woman, who attended church with most of the girls' families, said she did not mean to scare anyone, he said.

"She felt like some of the girls would enjoy the dolls," Hallock said.

She has daughters of her own who are too old to play with dolls, he said.

The woman said she wanted the dolls to resemble the children who received them and matched their hair and eye color, Hallock said.

After delivering a few of the dolls, the woman noticed on social media that some families were frightened, he said. She stopped leaving the dolls when some parents called for a criminal investigation.

"She felt really embarrassed," Hallock said.

No charges were filed, and the sheriff's department has closed its investigation, chalking it up to an act of good will gone wrong, Hallock said.
http://news.msn.com/offbeat/california- ... ng#tscptmf

...I assume the church-going mothers have forgiven her!
 
This is such a pity... I suppose one view is it's littering (!) or possibly the harbinger of dire events, but when I was growing up the stories I read were full of adventures starting with a mysterious present.

OK, so I'd rather have had a rocking horse but it's still a shame that the first thought seems to be it's unpleasant. :(
 
A brief note would have been a good idea.
The dolls themselves are of a 'very expensive' quality. Quite a generous gift.
 
Mythopoeika said:
The dolls themselves are of a 'very expensive' quality. Quite a generous gift.

I thought that. Still hideous but very generous.
 
I kind of want to write her and tell her that it's a beautiful gesture, but it would have creeped me the hell out too.
 
I don't like dolls and this would creep me out bigtime.

She should have left teddies
 
MercuryCrest said:
I kind of want to write her and tell her that it's a beautiful gesture, but it would have creeped me the hell out too.

I'm imagining that a few sackfulls of letters from forteans around the world would probably really creep her out :lol:
 
An old lady that lives a couple of doors down from us keeps making small bunches of plastic flowers so I can wedge them between two boulders that my girlfriend insists are a feature at the front of our house. We come home and they've been changed. I used to buy her little boxes of chocolates to say thank you but she's ordered me not to anymore because she says she's on a diet now :D

This all started after I had a phone call from my girlfriend telling me another neighbour was in our front taking two small plastic flowers away. To cut a long story short, I'd found them on the pavement, put them between the rocks, didn't know they'd fallen off a funeral wreath that our nice lady had made :oops:

Now we're both stuck in a perpetual cycle of politeness .. the flowers cheer the place up so I've got to think of another way to say thanks now :lol:
 

Edison Talking Doll Recordings, 1888-1890​

Edison Talking Doll ; Joan & Robin Rolfs collection.

Thomas Edison's Talking Doll of 1890 set an early milestone in the history and technology of recorded sound. It was the world's first recorded-audio product designed, manufactured, and sold for home entertainment. It proved to be a rough start, however. The talking doll business venture was a costly failure for Edison and his investors, who ceased sales after only about one month on the market.

Historians have had few opportunities to hear talking doll recordings. Surviving examples are rare. Prior to 2011, just two Edison doll recordings were widely available online in digital form.

Recent technological advances in audio recovery methods are making more historic sounds available to hear. During 2007-2009, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in collaboration with the Library of Congress, developed a three-dimensional optical scanning system called IRENE-3D. The IRENE-3D system creates a digital model of the surface of a phonograph record. With the digital model, image analysis methods are used to reproduce the audio stored on the record, saving it as a WAV-format digital audio file.

The first Edison Talking Doll record to benefit from optical scanning is a tin cylinder, cataloged as National Park Service artifact EDIS 1279. The small metal ring had been so severely distorted from its original cylindrical shape decades ago, that the out-of-round record could not be properly played by a traditional stylus-contact based approach. In May 2011, scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California used IRENE 3-D to create a digital model of the tin record's modulated surface. Their software analysis revived the voice of a young woman reciting the first stanza of the nursery rhyme "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."

In 2013, the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC), a non-profit conservation service center in Andover, Massachusetts, piloted an effort to make IRENE technology more widely available. A grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services enabled NEDCC staff to develop, test, and demonstrate an IRENE-based digital reformatting service for audio recordings on grooved media.

Collector David Giovannoni suggested that NEDCC ought to scan some of the surviving talking doll cylinders as part of the grant-funded project. Excited to scan non-standard materials, NEDCC agreed to image three rare brown-wax cylinder records that survive from the short-lived production of commercial Edison Talking Doll Records in the spring 1890. These included two cylinders from the Joan and Robin Rolfs collection, and one from Thomas Edison National Historical Park. The extraction work conducted at NEDCC in August 2014 has expanded the number of doll recordings that can now be heard.

In this online presentation, we have assembled every Edison Talking Doll recording known to be available in digital form – eight recordings in total, from five different collections. The recordings are available here in MP3 format. Learn more about Edison's Talking Doll by reading these two essays:

View historical images of the Edison Talking Doll, and view photos of work at NEDCC to scan a brown wax talking doll record.

Creepy little talking dolls.
 
Here are 24 square-feet's-worth of Powerpoint posters, which help to explain how the IRENE process works.

Be warned....they're much more Higher-Ed than Hunkin, so put your thinking head on, when looking at them.

http://irene.lbl.gov/IRENE-poster-V2.ppt

http://irene.lbl.gov/3D/3D-poster-IMLS.ppt

And later, does the 'stone tape' pottery-fragment-capturing-the-voice-of-a-medieval-monk get loaded-up on to this?
 
People in Thailand are getting their dolls blessed by priests, and generally treating them like real people

http://www.cleveland.com/entertainm...gel_dolls_craze_sweeps.html#incart_river_home

more at link above.

"
Mix one part superstition, two parts fashion, a dab of celebrity idolatry and a heap of media frenzy, and what do you get? "Child angel" dolls, the latest craze in Thailand.

The dolls occupy a niche somewhere between Buddhist amulets, beloved by gamblers, gangsters and policemen for their reputed magical protective powers, and Furby toys, adored by children for their cuteness.

The adults who own them affirm that "child angel" dolls will bring you good luck, especially if you treat them like your own living progeny, taking them on trips, treating them to meals and praying together at the temple.
"
 
Unsettling for witnessing non-believers.

I know that some people in the west also follow this ritualistic behavior (my understanding extends only to a couple of standard voyeristic tv documentaries where the sad victims enpersonate ultra-real rubber baby dolls http://www.reborns.com ).

Of course, many more of us nowaday carry around a small, warm, fragile reflection of ourselves, which must not be:
  • dropped,
  • abused by strangers
  • left unfed / unattended, or,
  • allowed to get wet.

That needs at all times:
  • protection from abduction,
  • whispered to in the street,
  • wrapped in a cover,
  • smiles,
  • adoration from friends,
  • grief on loss,
  • responded to during the night, and,
  • regularly-provided with sustenance
How attached are You, to your digital baby? Is it calling you, now? Go ahead, tend to it. No-one at the table will mind.....they're all making sure their's are being looked after, too.....
 
Unsettling for witnessing non-believers.

I know that some people in the west also follow this ritualistic behavior (my understanding extends only to a couple of standard voyeristic tv documentaries where the sad victims enpersonate ultra-real rubber baby dolls http://www.reborns.com ).

Of course, many more of us nowaday carry around a small, warm, fragile reflection of ourselves, which must not be:
  • dropped,
  • abused by strangers
  • left unfed / unattended, or,
  • allowed to get wet.

That needs at all times:
  • protection from abduction,
  • whispered to in the street,
  • wrapped in a cover,
  • smiles,
  • adoration from friends,
  • grief on loss,
  • responded to during the night, and,
  • regularly-provided with sustenance
How attached are You, to your digital baby? Is it calling you, now? Go ahead, tend to it. No-one at the table will mind.....they're all making sure their's are being looked after, too.....


Does anyone remember the Tamagochi? (A fad from Japan which involved `looking after` a digital creature on a very small screen).

I was working as a supply teacher for a city comprehensive school - must have been mid-Nineties of thereabouts. Anyway, it was before everyone had mobiles - or even their own PC's for that matter (Certainly in this school).

One girl in my class did have a Tamagochi, however - these were the latest craze.She was so absorbed in `caring` for this 2-D black and grey simulacrum that I felt a need to confiscate it from her. When I realised that to do so I would needs must pry it out of her resentful teenage fingers I gave up on this plan though.

To me it looked like one of those electronic pedometres that some runners have, and I marvelled over the fact that someone could be so diverted by something so small and inconsequential, and on a screen.

I thought that civilisation had reached a nadir- from which it could only recover! AHHHAHAHAHAHA! I did! I tell you ! I did! AHHHHHAHAHAHA!!!! HA!HA!HAA!! HA!HA! HA!HA!HA!HA!HA! HA!HA!AAAHA!HA! HA....

[Zeke Newbold is escorted back to his padded room by kindly immigrant nurses- where his evening cup of coca awaits him].
 
I thought we already had a doll thread somewhere - in the same kind of vein as the, Clowns – evil or funny? thread. (I did look - didn’t want Rynner getting testy with me.)

The weekend before last I spent a few days with my Spanish partner in London, during which time we visited Pollock’s Toy Museum on Scala Street, near Goodge Street station. (We did the Wellcome Collection the night before: yes, shrunken heads, Japanese pornography and terrifying obstetrical equipment in the evening - and mad looking dolls the morning after; don't ever let anyone tell you that I don't know how to show a girl a good time.)

Recommended: well worth a visit if you’re into that sort of thing - amazing what we were once satisfied with when toys were inanimate lumps that didn’t require batteries and weren’t cleverer than us (even speaking as someone who is old enough to have had a foot in both camps). And the shop downstairs is full of old-school toys (you know – the type that you can actually hold in your hands and don’t require a USB connection). And Edward Gorey books. In fact, the whole place – shop, museum and building in general – does have the feel that it might have just sprung out of a Gorey illustration. (Kind of appropriately, I first became aware of Pollock's many years ago when walking home in the very early hours of a foggy London night - when I turned the corner and saw the shop front full of old toy theatres I did for a moment wonder if it was really actually there, or if I was just overtired.)

Yes - satisfyingly creepy; I’ve always found old toys, or at least the artwork and imagery that accompanies them, to be somewhat disconcerting, and wandering around a maze of small and extremely creaky old rooms is satisfyingly atmospheric – even on a day when sunlight is streaming through the windows.

And that’s before we even get onto...gulp...the dolls!

I actually did have a bit of a Fuckmyboots!! Moment when I ducked into one room and turned to see this lot staring at me:

20160408_120405 D.jpg


(They were behind glass - so I was safe. But that's not all of them, by any means.)

I noticed that I experienced an odd kind of reverse cultural relativism: whereas the British and European dolls made be shudder with a kind of mild horror, the Japanese and Chinese dolls looked positively friendly– their faces exuded a well-meaning jollity rather than the empty, cauterized and vaguely malevolent glare I usually associate with dolls (and matryoshkas have never bothered me – although I know some people have an problem with those too). I wonder if it’s because as a European the European dolls, with supposedly European faces, look more uncomfortably unheimlich than the dolls with racial features that are not my own. (Hmm, there might be something there, but it can’t just be that though – because the black dolls looked positively spooky too.)

(Oh, and if you look very closely you can see - in the top left corner of the picture - the headless image of what is clearly a very handsome and broad-shouldered apparition of immaculate taste and charming manners - clearly a sterling chap when on this side of the veil.)
 
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Plenty of threads on Dolls (no apostrophe required :twisted:)...

Oh bollock's.. I mean, bollocks. Aware that it was pre-first coffee of the day, I did my best to check the post - but forgot to look at the title...what a twat! (I was originally looking for a riff on 'Doll's House'...but ran out of steam.)

(And yes, of course I found threads with dolls in them - but they were quite specific in their subject matter.)
 
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I wonder if it’s because as a European the European dolls, with supposedly European faces, look more uncomfortably unheimlich than the dolls with racial features that are not my own. (Hmm, there might be something there, but it can’t just be that though – because the black dolls looked positively spooky too.)

The only black dolls I can recall were probably manufactured in the 60's or 70's and were basically identical to white dolls apart from skin colour. Must have used the same mould.
Of course, the black dolls you saw might have been from an earlier, less racially aware period and may have been more of a caricature than a semblance of a real child.
 
There were gollywogs but I suppose it's best not to mention them anymore.
 
The only black dolls I can recall were probably manufactured in the 60's or 70's and were basically identical to white dolls apart from skin colour. Must have used the same mould.
Of course, the black dolls you saw might have been from an earlier, less racially aware period and may have been more of a caricature than a semblance of a real child.
There is a black doll in spookdaddy's picture.
 
There is a black doll in spookdaddy's picture.

Sorry, I meant that the black dolls I have seen were identical to white dolls apart from skin tone. I thought this might partly explain why Spookdaddy finds them as unnerving as white European dolls. It's hard to make out the features of the black doll in the photo, but I'd bet it was cast from the same mould as white dolls.
 
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