A stirring preview of World War I opera All Is Calm.

Dr. Nicolas Reveles of San Diego Opera provides an overview of All Is Calm: the Christmas Truce of 1914.
Dr. Nicolas Reveles of San Diego Opera provides an overview of All Is Calm: the Christmas Truce of 1914.

Yesterday I sat on a folding chair inside the Veterans Museum at Balboa Park blinking my eyes. Several voices singing divinely about our essential humanity had nearly brought me to tears.

I’d just enjoyed a short but stirring preview of San Diego Opera’s upcoming production of All Is Calm: the Christmas Truce of 1914. This unique chamber opera is a mixture of the spoken word and male singing unaccompanied by instruments.

Together voices relive a profound moment during the horrific trench warfare of World War I, when “soldiers from France, England, and Germany ventured into no-man’s land on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Soldiers exchanged food and gifts, swapped prisoners and performed burials, and played football and sang Christmas carols.”

The inspirational opera All is Calm contains no original music. It is composed entirely from music that was popular just before the onset of World War I, hymns and timeless Christmas carols. The actual letters of common soldiers and orders from officers are among the historical texts that are interwoven with song. Young soldiers from both sides, manning hellish trenches that were infested with rats and lice, made even more miserable with winter rain and freezing snow, are moved to walk out into the field of fire, risking their lives, to share a moment of common humanity.

The opera will be staged in early December in downtown’s Balboa Theatre, a smaller and more intimate setting than the San Diego Civic Theatre, where San Diego Opera usually performs. There is some singing in French and German, but the opera is primarily in English. Silent Night is sung in different languages by many voices, which eventually combine and rise together as one. Music moves the human heart like nothing else can.

The brief preview of All Is Calm: the Christmas Truce of 1914 was simply amazing.

It gave me goosebumps.

These smiling ladies welcomed me to the Veterans Museum at Balboa Park, where a few parts of the opera All Is Calm were previewed.
These smiling ladies welcomed me to the Veterans Museum at Balboa Park, where parts of the opera All Is Calm were previewed.
Visitors to the Veterans Museum look at a large mural on one wall before the program begins.
Visitors to the Veterans Museum look at a large mural on one wall before the program begins.
One exhibit in the Veterans Museum includes artifacts and ephemera from the First World War. A gas mask speaks of trench warfare's horrors.
One exhibit in the Veterans Museum includes artifacts and ephemera from the First World War. A gas mask speaks of trench warfare’s horrors.
Director of All Is Calm, Juan Carlos Acosta, tells the audience about the making of this unique chamber opera.
Director of All Is Calm, Juan Carlos Acosta, tells the audience about the making of this very unique chamber opera.
Historical image of a young man who left home and went off to war in the early 20th century.
Historical image of a young man who left home and went off to war in the early 20th century.
Juan Carlos Acosta, Timothy Simpson and Walter Dumelle sing together in a short but stirring preview of All Is Calm.
Juan Carlos Acosta, Timothy Simpson and Walter Dumelle sing together in a short but stirring preview of All Is Calm.
All Is Calm: the Christmas Truce of 1914 is an inspiring opera that reminds one and all of our essential humanity. It will touch your heart deeply.
All Is Calm: the Christmas Truce of 1914 is an inspiring opera that reminds one and all of our essential humanity. Its music touches the heart.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

If you’d like to read a few stories about life, click Short Stories by Richard.

100th Anniversary of Armistice Day in Balboa Park.

Marines march west down El Prado toward the California Tower during the 2015 Garden Party of the Century in Balboa Park.
Marines march west down El Prado toward the California Tower during the 2015 Garden Party of the Century in Balboa Park.

This Sunday will be the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day.

Armistice Day marks the end of World War One. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 the horrifying “war to end all wars” finally ended. (In 1954, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in the United States.)

On Sunday in Balboa Park something special will take place to honor the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day.

The carillon inside the California Tower will chime at 11:00 am not the usual 11 times, but 21 times. After it chimes 21 times, Taps will be played. An hour later, at noon, the carillon bells will play a medley of WWI songs.

A variety of events in Balboa Park are also planned for Veterans Day weekend.

Several I’ve noted are:

Friday, beginning at 5 pm, at the San Diego Museum of Art. Free admission to the museum, where visitors can see the fantastic Artists at War: American Posters of World War I exhibition. Enjoy artwork and presentations by local veterans groups, the Air and Space Museum, a performance by Westwind Brass, and a screening of the 1938 classic The Dawn Patrol.

Saturday, 3 pm – 4 pm, at the Veterans Museum. A free preview by the San Diego Opera of their upcoming production of All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914, which concerns a brief, miraculous “unofficial armistice” that occurred in the trenches during World War One.

Sunday, 11 am – 5:30 pm, at the Balboa Park Carousel. A free ride will be provided to all veterans, active military and their families, courtesy of the Friends of Balboa Park. In addition, the Historical Unit of Southern California will have a special WWI commemoration at eleven o’clock.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

A paradise of fine art in San Diego!

Jorge Luis Borges wrote: “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” As someone who loves to read and write, I agree.

But I also love to experience life, contemplate and be inspired in other ways. So paradise, to me, would also be like a museum full of extraordinary artwork.

Anyone who’d like to enter such a paradise in San Diego should visit the San Diego Museum of Art. Every time I go, I feel that I’ve ascended to a blissful place–an elevated place where I become fully alive.

My docent pal Catherine guided another great tour of the museum this weekend, and as I and other guests walked from gallery to gallery, my eyes couldn’t stop jumping from wonder to wonder. And I had to chuckle a couple of times, too. Catherine has been known to spontaneously inject bits of wry humor into her tours. With this simple blog post I would like to thank her for being so generous.

The San Diego Museum of Art never ceases to amaze me. I’m always discovering something new. It contains a truly world-class collection of fine art, including masterpieces by some of history’s most celebrated artists. The museum has also collected many pieces that have a special connection to San Diego.

I’ve always thought it would be amazing if one small gallery were permanently dedicated to San Diego–to San Diego’s most renowned artists, and to timeless works of art inspired by our beautiful and surprisingly diverse city. Just imagine!

Do you love art, too? If you ever find yourself in Balboa Park, please walk over to the San Diego Museum of Art.

Then step through the front door into Paradise.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Historical exhibit features archives at City Hall.

A display during Archives Month includes photograph of the City Clerk's office in San Diego, circa 1890.
Historical exhibit during Archives Month includes an old photograph of the City Clerk’s office in San Diego, circa 1890.

Through the end of October an interesting exhibit can be viewed inside the lobby of the San Diego City Administration Building, in one corner of the City Information Center. A collection of documents and historical objects has been placed on public display, to celebrate the City Clerk’s 2nd Annual Archives Month.

The theme in 2018 is The Framers. The exhibit focuses on the history of San Diego from the 1850s through 1905, a formative period that included multiple city charters and changes in type of government.

Not only can visitors see official city documents from that period, but there are many interesting historical artifacts, including objects that were once commonplace in the lives of San Diego residents.

These photos provide a small sample…

An exhibit in the lobby of the San Diego City Administration Building. The Framers, City Clerk Archives, National Archives Month, October 2018.
History comes to life in the lobby of the San Diego City Administration Building. The Framers, City Clerk Archives, National Archives Month, October 2018.
One document on display is the Charter for the City of San Diego by the Board of Freeholders elected December 5, 1888.
One document on display is the Charter for the City of San Diego by the Board of Freeholders elected December 5, 1888.
Record of Common Council no. 22, May 1, 1905 - October 2, 1905. Typed Minutes.
Record of Common Council no. 22, May 1, 1905 – October 2, 1905. Typed Minutes.
Petitions to the Common Council, 1872-1916. Historical Preservation of San Diego's History.
Petitions to the Common Council, 1872-1916. Historical Preservation of San Diego’s History.
One display of historical photos and letters concerns the rainmaker Charles Hatfield, engaged in 1915 by San Diego's city council to fill the Morena Dam Reservoir.
Old photos and letters concerning the infamous rainmaker Charles Hatfield, engaged in 1915 by San Diego’s city council to fill the Morena Dam Reservoir.
Dress, circa 1900. From the San Diego State University School of Theater, Television, and Film Historical Collection.
Pink and white dress, circa 1900. From the San Diego State University School of Theater, Television, and Film Historical Collection.
Exact replica of the Bicentennial Key, 1776-1976, Independence Hall. It was presented by the California Locksmith Association to The City of San Diego.
Exact replica of the Bicentennial Key, 1776-1976, Independence Hall. It was presented by the California Locksmith Association to The City of San Diego.
Mexican Coat of Arms. Gift from Sister City Tijuana.
Mexican Coat of Arms. Gift from Sister City Tijuana.
Numerous documents and articles recall the history of San Diego city government in the second half of the 19th century.
Numerous documents and articles recall the history of San Diego city government in the second half of the 19th century.
Free Holders Agreement, January 10, 1889 and Letter for Charter to be Published in Newspapers, March 4, 1889.
Free Holders Agreement, January 10, 1889 and Letter for Charter to be Published in Newspapers, March 4, 1889.
Douglas Gunn Mayor's Message, November 25, 1889.
Douglas Gunn Mayor’s Message, November 25, 1889.
More documents from the late 19th century provide examples of early council letterhead.
More documents from the late 19th century provide examples of early council letterhead.

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Paintings by Kadir Nelson exhibited in San Diego.

So Together, 2016, oil on canvas, Kadir Nelson.
So Together, 2016, oil on canvas, Kadir Nelson.

An important exhibition of paintings by acclaimed artist Kadir Nelson is now showing at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.

On display is the original artwork used to illustrate the picture book Blue Sky, White Stars, this year’s KPBS One Book, One San Diego for Kids Selection. Young students across our city will be reading the picture book this year, sharing their experience together. The author is Sarvinder Naberhaus.

The book’s original paintings by Kadir Nelson contain iconic American imagery, and often include the patriotic red, white and blue of the American flag. Ideals such as Liberty, Justice and Equality proudly live in the faces of his subjects. His powerful, humane artwork has been compared to that of Norman Rockwell.

Kadir Nelson spent his formative years in San Diego, attending Crawford High School. The exhibition at the San Diego History Center includes a few examples of his early drawings.

As an artist of international stature, Kadir Nelson has produced art for many award-winning books, The New Yorker magazine, Sports Illustrated, The Coca-Cola Company, and Major League Baseball. His work appears on United States Postal Service commemorative stamps and on Michael Jackson’s posthumously released album. His paintings can be found in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, The National Baseball Hall of Fame, and the U.S. House of Representatives.

Visit this exhibition at the San Diego History Center and you’ll quickly see that Kadir Nelson is a truly extraordinary American artist, whose striking images linger in your mind. You’ll also perceive the optimism and heart that gives amazing life to his work.

The Spectacle, 2016, gracing the front cover of Blue Sky, White Stars, was painted by Kadir Nelson.
The Spectacle, 2016, gracing the front cover of Blue Sky, White Stars, was painted by Kadir Nelson.
In a short video at the San Diego History Center, Kadir Nelson talks about his work and inspiration.
In a short video at the San Diego History Center, Kadir Nelson talks about his work and inspiration.
Displayed in the exhibition are seven books featuring the bold, powerfully moving artwork of Kadir Nelson.
Displayed in the exhibition are seven books featuring the bold, powerfully moving artwork of Kadir Nelson.
Eight extraordinary The New Yorker covers with artwork by Kadir Nelson.
Eight extraordinary The New Yorker covers with artwork by Kadir Nelson.
A drawing by Kadir Nelson from his teen years. Crawford Horse Sitting on Mascots, 1991, pen and ink on paper.
A drawing by Kadir Nelson from his teen years. Crawford Horse Sitting on Mascots, 1991, pen and ink on paper.
Pioneers (White Rows), 2016, oil on canvas, Kadir Nelson.
Pioneers (White Rows), 2016, oil on canvas, Kadir Nelson.
Sew Together (Betsy Ross), 2016, oil on canvas, Kadir Nelson.
Sew Together (Betsy Ross), 2016, oil on canvas, Kadir Nelson.
Well Worn: Abe Lincoln, 2016, Kadir Nelson.
Well Worn: Abe Lincoln, 2016, Kadir Nelson.
We Shall Overcome, 2016, oil on canvas, Kadir Nelson.
We Shall Overcome, 2016, oil on canvas, Kadir Nelson.
Stand Proud (Civil War Soldiers), 2016, oil on canvas, Kadir Nelson.
Stand Proud (Civil War Soldiers), 2016, oil on canvas, Kadir Nelson.
Cracker Jacks, 2016, oil on canvas, Kadir Nelson.
Cracker Jacks, 2016, oil on canvas, Kadir Nelson.
The Patriot, 2016, oil on canvas, Kadir Nelson.
The Patriot, 2016, oil on canvas, Kadir Nelson.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Photos of Labor Day in Balboa Park.

A street musician smiles on a sunny Labor Day in Balboa Park.
A street musician smiles on a beautiful Labor Day in Balboa Park.

Labor Day in Balboa Park is no different than any other day. Most museums and attractions are open, and everyone is smiling.

I wanted to take it easy–just enjoy the day–so I headed into the park for an aimless, leisurely stroll…

San Diego Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez rehearses Stairway to Heaven with a rock band for tonight's final International Summer Organ Festival concert.
San Diego Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez rehearses Stairway to Heaven with a rock band for tonight’s final International Summer Organ Festival concert.
People enjoy the beauty near the Japanese Friendship Garden's Koi Pond.
People enjoy the beauty near the Japanese Friendship Garden’s Koi Pond.
Progress is being made on the Japanese Friendship Garden's new river, where an historic Great Buddha statue will soon be unveiled.
Progress is being made on the Japanese Friendship Garden’s new river, where a Great Buddha statue will soon be unveiled.

You can see additional photos of the Japanese Friendship Garden’s new stream under construction by clicking here.

Labor Day was quiet at the International Cottages, which were all closed for the holiday.
Labor Day was quiet at the International Cottages, which were all closed for the Monday holiday.
As I walked behind the Balboa Park Club building, I gazed northwest toward the Cabrillo Bridge.
As I walked behind the Balboa Park Club building, I gazed northwest toward the Cabrillo Bridge and took this photo.
On Labor Day, like most days, the 1935 (Old) Cactus Garden in Balboa Park is a quiet place for solitude.
On Labor Day, like most days, the 1935 (Old) Cactus Garden in Balboa Park is a quiet place for solitude.
Families enjoy Labor Day in front of the San Diego Air and Space Museum.
Families enjoy Labor Day in front of the San Diego Air and Space Museum.
People relax on a bench by the old Mack Water Truck just outside the entrance of the San Diego Automotive Museum.
People relax on a bench by the old Mack Water Truck just outside the entrance of the San Diego Automotive Museum.
Walking through Pan American Plaza between the San Diego Automotive Museum and nearby Recital Hall.
Walking through Pan American Plaza between the San Diego Automotive Museum and nearby Recital Hall.
Balboa Park was the ideal place for a picnic this Labor Day.
Balboa Park was the ideal place for a picnic this Labor Day.
Young and old enjoy the famous beauty of Balboa Park's lily pond.
Young and old enjoy the famous beauty of Balboa Park’s lily pond.
All sorts of people were out on the grass enjoying the May S. Marcy Sculpture Garden at the San Diego Museum of Art.
All sorts of people were out on the grass enjoying the May S. Marcy Sculpture Garden at the San Diego Museum of Art.
Visitors were touring the California Tower and gazing across Balboa Park.
Visitors were touring the iconic California Tower and gazing across Balboa Park, one of the most wonderful places in the world.
This group wanted to see fine art so they headed into the San Diego Museum of Art.
This group wanted to see fine art so they headed into the San Diego Museum of Art.
Some smiling street musicians were setting up on El Prado.
Some smiling street musicians were setting up on El Prado to entertain passersby.
The silly Lärabar Street Team danced for my blog, then I got some yummy samples to eat!
The silly Lärabar Street Team danced for my blog, then I got some yummy samples to eat!
Mentalist, hypnotist and super nice guy Ralph Hamrick greets me with his usual smile! I still haven't recovered from that weird mental trick he performed on me.
Mentalist, hypnotist and super nice guy Ralph Hamrick greets me with his usual smile! I still haven’t recovered from that weird mental trick he performed on me.
Street magician Kenny Shelton delights some young people with one of his amazing tricks.
Street magician Kenny Shelton delights some young people with one of his amazing tricks.
Lots of people were enjoying hula hoops on the grass!
Lots of people were enjoying hula hoops on the grass!
The San Diego Blood Bank was saving lives in front of the Museum of Man.
The San Diego Blood Bank was saving lives in front of the Museum of Man.
A quiet moment on Balboa Park's broad, green West Mesa.
A quiet moment on Balboa Park’s broad, green West Mesa.
This squirrel had no notion it was Labor Day. It was just another day in the park.
This squirrel didn’t know today was a holiday. It was just another day in the park.
Even street performers have to eat lunch, you know!
Even street performers have to eat lunch!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Golden light splashes upon two famous ships.

Sunlight brightens west-facing art glass windows on the passenger deck of the steam ferry Berkeley.
Sunlight brightens west-facing art glass windows inside the passenger deck of the steam ferry Berkeley.

The days are becoming shorter.

Hoping to enjoy every last drop of daylight, this evening I lingered by San Diego Bay.

As the sun neared the horizon, golden light splashed upon two famous museum ships: the steam ferry Berkeley, and the aircraft carrier USS Midway.

The beautiful art glass windows of the Berkeley remind one of the glowing stained glass found inside cathedrals.
The amazing art glass windows of the Berkeley remind one of glowing stained glass found inside cathedrals.
Light streams up along the historic ship's simple ceiling.
Light streams up along the historic ferryboat’s ceiling.
Splashes of sunlight reflect from the floor, woodwork and empty benches inside the passenger deck of Berkeley.
Splashes of golden sunlight reflect from the floor, woodwork and empty benches inside the passenger deck of Berkeley.
The sun nears the horizon beyond the USS Midway Museum, reflecting from tranquil San Diego Bay.
The sun nears the horizon beyond the USS Midway Museum, reflecting like a band of gold on San Diego Bay.
Late sunlight splashes the immense bow of the USS Midway with gold.
Golden sunlight splashes the immense bow of the USS Midway.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!