May 4th, 2004

Quest for Immortality, Milwaukee Public Museum, 05-02-04

On Sunday morning the 2nd we went to the Milwaukee Museum to take in the travelling exhibit of Egyptian artifacts titled "The Quest for Immortality." This exhibit is only stopping in the Midwest at Milwaukee but is staying through early August. It is a very impressive collection with a number of rarely-seen items and very well displayed. The section of god statues had some very beautiful and impressive pieces, especially the statues of Isis and Sekmet, and very unusal pieces such as the "Osiris Ressurecting," and a falcon-headed crocodile. The section on tombs had the really spectacular coffin of an official, which was intricately decorated with heiroglyphics over the entire interior as well as the exterior. Even the underside of the lid was decorated, something you cannot see in most exhibits. Other notable items were a MASSIVE stone sarcophagus top which undoubtedly weighed tons, and an eight-foot long model Nile barge. The last room of the exhibit was the full-size reproduction of a room from the tomb of Thutmose III, reproducing the wall paintings that reproduce the full "text" of what I believe is commonly known as the "Egyptian Book of the Dead" but is referred to by a more scholarly name that I can't recall now.

My one gripe with the exhibit was this room, which was intended to reproduce the way explorer would see it, so it has annoyingly creaky plank flooring laid down (as it would have been to "protect" the orginal floor) and rather dim lighting, which is used in tombs to avoid fading of the paintings. I would have preferred to have had some unrealistically brighter lighting.

If you are coming, be aware that the exhibit is pricey: If you are not a Museum member, the admission is $18.50 over and above the Museum admission. This makes it well worth taking out a membership, which allows you free Museum admission any time, and the special exhibit is only $5.00 for members. The Milwaukee Public Museum is a fine Museum for its size, and a membership is well worth it, since you can't really see it all in a day. The Rain Forest reconstruction is worth the price of admission by itself.

More info on the museum and the Quest exhibit here:

Don Pasquale, Florentine Opera, 05-02-04

Sunday the 2nd was a busy day for us. Besides going to the Museum in the morning, we finished this season of the Florentine Opera with a very pleasant production of Donizetti's "Don Pasquale". This comic opera has a very slight plot: Pasquale, an elederly batchelor has decided to take a wife in order to spite his nephew, Ernesto, who has spurned the rich widow Pasquale wants him to marry, in favor of the poor but beautiful and spirited Rosina. Pasquale has trusted the family friend Dr. Malatesta to find him a suitable spouse. However, Malatesta is not only sympathetic to Norina and Ernesto, but thinks Don Pasquale is being foolish, so offers Pasquale his supposedly convent-educated sister "Sophronia." In reality, the marriage is a fake, and Norina plays the part of Sophronia to make Pasquale's life a hell so that he regrets the very idea of marriage. The comedy plays out in Norina's Jekyll-Hyde transition from the modest convent girl into a worldly termagant, and Pasquale's astonishment and dismay. Eventually, he is brought to wish that he had consented to Ernesto's marriage, and his problems are solved when his wish is granted by the conspirators. We had a very excellent cast, with Pasquale very ably acted and sung, and Norina with a very powerful and beautiful voice. The opera was presented in an elegant and attractive setting and was suitably costumed. We enjoyed the performance thouroughly.