Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year 2012

In present-day Japan, they celebrate the solar new year on January 1st, but they associate the new year with the symbol of the upcoming Chinese lunar year, which begins later. 
2012, then, is the Year of the Dragon, and this is the dragon Kanji (Chinese character).
Before the new year begins, the greeting is
"Yoi otoshi o omukae kudasai"
which is wishes for a good year.
or informally "Yoi otoshi o."

After the new year begins, the greeting is
"Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu"
One blog translates this roughly
 "The year is changing...
darkness gives way to light...
new life begins...
I really like that.
or "Shinnen akemashite omedetou gozaimasu."
新年 あけまして
In writing, Happy New Year is often given as
"Kinga Shinnen."

In Japan, the custom is to write New Year's Greeting cards.
A phrase such as "Sakunen wa taihen osewa ni nari
arigatou gozaimashita," which means
"Thank you for all your kind help during
the past year" is a common text.
or "Honnen mo douzo yoroshiku onegaishimasu"
(I hope for your continued favor this year.)
My wish for all of you in my virtual New Year card is this:
"Minasama no gokenkou o oinori moushiagemasu"
(Wishing everyone good health.)
For more Japanese words and expressions, check out this blog.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Season of Lights

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the LORD rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
I am the light of life.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness
but have the light of life.
In the same way, let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds and
glorify your Father in heaven.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
I came that they may have life,
and have it more abundantly.

Immanu El — With us, God! 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Amahl and the Night Visitors

Since its first performance on NBC TV, Christmas Eve, 1951, Amahl and the Night Visitors has taken its place with "A Christmas Carol" as a holiday classic. Peformed on every continent and in many languages, it has been seen by more people than any other opera in history.
The story tells of the night the Three Kings, following the star to Bethlehem, stop for shelter at the home of Amahl, a poor, crippled shepard boy who lives with his widowed mother. Inspired by the Wise Men's tale of a kingdom "built on love alone," Amahl offers his own simple gift to the Christ Child. And then a miracle happens.
In this warm and compassionate story, Gian Carlo Menotti has captured the essential spirit of Christmas. At its premiere, The New York Times called Amahl "rare art. . . tender and exquisite."

Gian Carlo Menotti was born in 1911 in a mountain village in northern Italy. He began composing at age five and had written his first opera before he was eleven. As a little boy, he was miraculously cured of lameness by a pilgrimage to the nearby Sanctuary of Sacro Monte. This was the genesis of Amahl and the Night Visitors, the first opera ever commisioned for television.
Sample or download the music here.

The Story of Amahl
Somewhere in the world lives a crippled little shepherd called Amahl, with his mother, an impoverished widow. Nothing is left to them of the little they ever had, and they are now faced with hunger and cold in their empty house.

Three Wise Men, on their way to Bethlehem, stop at the hut and ask to be taken in for the night. Amahl and his mother welcome them and their Page as well as they can, and are much astonished at the splendor of their robes and the wealth of gifts they are carrying with them. When Amahl's mother realizes that the Three Kings are looking for a newborn babe and that the expensive gifts are all destined for him, she becomes bitter and envious. She cannot understand why at least some of these gifts could not be given to her own child, who is so poor and sickly.
Under cover of darkness, while the Three Kings are asleep, she steals some of the gold from them - and is caught red-handed. When she explains to the Three Kings that she needs the gold to feed her starving child, she is readily forgiven. With great tenderness they try to explain to her who this newborn child is and how much he needs the love of every human being to build his coming kingdom. Touched by their words, the poor widow not only gives back the stolen gold, but wishes she could add a gift of her own. Little Amahl comes to her rescue. He impulsively hands the Three Kings his wooden crutch, his most precious possession, and in so doing he is miraculously cured of his lameness.
As dawn appears in the sky, the Three Kings prepare to resume their journey. Amahl begs his mother to let him join them, and he is finally allowed to follow the Kings to Bethlehem to adore and give thanks to the Christ Child.
(Synopsis taken from here.)

Amahl and the Night Visitors is one of our favorite Christmas stories, but we have only rarely been able to see it performed live. This year we will be seeing it in Evergreen, Colorado at Center/Stage, performed by the Evergreen Chorale.

Remaining Performances:
Thu, 12/22/2011 - 7:00pm
Fri, 12/23/2011 - 4:30pm

Fri, 12/23/2011 - 7:00pm.