Free lectures explain opera in San Diego!

19th Century engraving depicting Count Almaviva and Susanna in Act 3 of The Marriage of Figaro. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
19th century engraving depicting Count Almaviva and Susanna in Act 3 of The Marriage of Figaro. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

By sheer chance I stumbled upon a very cool event this afternoon. I was walking through the San Diego Central Library’s courtyard when I noticed a sign posted by the entrance to the Neil Morgan Auditorium. It announced that a free lecture was about to begin!

I hurried in, took a seat, and found myself quickly mesmerized by a talk about the San Diego Opera’s upcoming performance of The Marriage of Figaro!

Dr. Ron Shaheen, Adjunct Associate Professor in the Music Department at the University of San Diego, made the fascinating presentation. With the help of photographs, video clips and audio samples, he provided a wide range of information concerning Mozart’s famous opera. Even a complete opera novice like myself could appreciate the beautiful, timeless and amusing qualities of The Marriage of Figaro.

Many in the audience chuckled at the antics of its characters. The story, imbued by Mozart with deep emotional richness, turns upon all-too-common human weaknesses. The Marriage of Figaro is a mixture of crazy schemes, sudden surprises, human desire, selfishness, misunderstanding, love, jealousy, even more silliness . . . and concludes with a poignant scene of forgiveness.

Intrigued? Visit the San Diego Opera website here. The Marriage of Figaro will be performed in the next couple of weeks.

More free lectures in the Opera Insights Series will be coming to the Central Library. You can learn when and where by clicking here.

Dr. Ron Shaheen provides an entertaining lecture concerning The Marriage of Figaro during the San Diego Central Library 2018-2019 Opera Insights Series.
Dr. Ron Shaheen provides an entertaining lecture concerning The Marriage of Figaro during the San Diego Central Library 2018-2019 Opera Insights Series.
Information concerning music prodigy Mozart, his opera The Marriage of Figaro, and the San Diego Opera's upcoming performances.
Information concerning Mozart, his opera The Marriage of Figaro, and the San Diego Opera’s upcoming performances. (Click the image to enlarge it for easy reading.)
Mozart c. 1780, detail from portrait by Johann Nepomuk della Croce. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Detail from a portrait of Mozart, by Johann Nepomuk della Croce. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

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Art, Color and Fiesta in Balboa Park!

The San Diego School of Ballet performs during Arte, Color y Fiesta, a special event in Balboa Park celebrating Mexican Independence Day.
The San Diego School of Ballet performs during Arte, Color y Fiesta, a special event in Balboa Park celebrating Mexican Independence Day.

This evening I enjoyed a special event at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. The House of Mexico presented Arte, Color y Fiesta, a cultural program rich with dance, music and patriotism celebrating Mexican Independence Day.

I successfully photographed the first few groups that provided entertainment before daylight waned. Many smiles shined into the evening.

To learn more about the House of Mexico, and perhaps become a member, or provide a donation as they prepare to build their new cottage among the existing House of Pacific Relations International Cottages, visit their website here!

The colorful program at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion was presented by the House of Mexico, member of the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.
The colorful program at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion was presented by the House of Mexico, member of the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages in Balboa Park.
A poster on display during the event showed construction plans for the House of Mexico's cottage in Balboa Park.
A poster on display during the event showed construction plans for the House of Mexico’s new cottage in Balboa Park.
Los Chinelos De Morelos dance in Balboa Park. The traditional dance of the State of Morelos, Mexico includes Carnival-like costumes and masks.
Los Chinelos Unidos por Siempre de San Diego dance in Balboa Park. The traditional dance of the State of Morelos, Mexico includes fantastic Carnival-like costumes and masks.
During the program, a color guard advanced the Mexican flag to the stage, and the traditional Grito Mexicano was shouted. Viva México!
During the program, a color guard advanced the Mexican flag to the stage, and the traditional Grito Mexicano was shouted. Viva México!
Mariachi Juvenil de San Diego perform during an event that celebrates Mexico's independence from Spain.
Mariachi Juvenil de San Diego, a musical group composed of local high school students, perform during an event that celebrates Mexico’s independence from Spain.
Meanwhile, in the nearby Plaza de Panama, the Flavor Company dance group had people dancing the Conga for Balboa Park's Food Truck Friday.
Meanwhile, in the nearby Plaza de Panama, the Flavor Company dance group had people dancing the Conga for Balboa Park’s Food Truck Friday.
Life, color and joy thrive in San Diego at Balboa Park's Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Life, color and joy thrive in San Diego’s amazing Balboa Park.

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!

Fun photos of the Sea Chantey Festival!

Today I enjoyed an extraordinary event. I boarded the Star of India at the Maritime Museum of San Diego and experienced the annual Sea Chantey Festival!

Here come fun photos!

You’ll see two musical groups performing in these photographs: first Raggle Taggle, then Kick up the Dust. Others groups who had the audience clapping their hands and dancing on the ship’s deck were the Jackstraws, Gemini Junction, Sportive Tricks, and The Chanteymen.

I saw many people in costume. I found myself in the company of pirates and sea captains and ladies in Victorian dress. Members of the Maritime Museum’s sail crews hauled ropes and climbed the rigging while traditional sea chanteys were sung.

Everyone jumped when two cannon shots rang out across San Diego Bay. Heads turned. Like a vision from the past, the official tall ship of the State of California, Californian, which is also one of the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s beautiful vessels, sailed on past.

It was pure magic. Every moment.

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Lane Field Park Markets debuts in San Diego!

The baseball windglyphs of local artist Lisa Schirmer fly above diners under umbrellas at Lane Field Park.
The baseball windglyphs of local artist Lisa Schirmer fly above diners under umbrellas at Lane Field Park.

I was walking along the Embarcadero today when I saw a whole bunch of activity over at Lane Field Park. I soon discovered that today was the debut of a weekly “artisanal showcase of the creative food, drink, art and craft scene in San Diego”, otherwise known as Lane Field Park Markets.

Every Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm, look for the tents and happy people inside Lane Field Park at the corner of Broadway and Harbor Drive!

Lane Field Park Markets debuted in downtown San Diego near the waterfront today.
Lane Field Park Markets debuted in downtown San Diego near the waterfront today.
Lots of people were enjoying the farmers market-like setting.
Lots of people were enjoying the sunny, grassy, outdoor farmers’ market-like setting.
I saw lots to eat and lots of crafts and other good stuff.
I saw tasty food to eat and lots of crafts and other good stuff.
Kids liked checking out the Dang Brother Pizza fire engine.
Kids liked checking out the Dang Brother Pizza fire engine.
Those look pretty yummy!
Those look pretty yummy!
A guitarist provided live music, too!
A guitarist provided live music, too!

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!

Scenes at Spreckels Organ on Silent Movie Night.

People gather in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion well before the start of Silent Movie Night.
People begin to gather in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion well before the start of the Silent Movie Night concert.

This evening I headed into Balboa Park to enjoy Silent Movie Night at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. This special annual event, featuring a silent movie accompanied by the world’s largest outdoor pipe organ, is part of every International Summer Organ Festival.

The organist this evening–for the second year in a row–was Steven Ball, who plays the world’s largest indoor pipe organ at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Among his many accomplishments, he might be best known for being the organist at the Miss America beauty pageant!

The hilarious movie tonight was Safety Last (1923), starring physical comedy genius Harold Lloyd, who ranks with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton as one of the most popular silent movie stars. I was interested to learn Harold Lloyd graduated from San Diego High School, which is located in Balboa Park, less than a mile from the Spreckels Organ Pavilion!

About an hour before the concert, I watched people arrive and claim their spots around the pavilion. Unable to sit still that long, I spent a few minutes wandering around nearby areas of Balboa Park, photographing the sun’s last rays in trees and on beautiful buildings.

The screen is set up. The concert will begin with selections by organist Steven Ball. Once darkness falls, the silent movie Safety Last will begin, accompanied by the Spreckels Organ.
The screen is set up. The concert will begin with selections by organist Steven Ball, including Hooray for Hollywood. Once darkness falls, the silent movie Safety Last will begin, accompanied by the Spreckels Organ.
The 31st Annual International Summer Organ Festival in Balboa Park features many of the world's top organists.
The 31st Annual International Summer Organ Festival in Balboa Park features many of the world’s top organists.
Safety Last, 1923, is a comedy that features silent screen star Harold Lloyd, who graduated from nearby San Diego High School.
Safety Last, 1923, is a hilarious, crazy, heartwarming comedy that features popular silent screen star Harold Lloyd, who graduated from nearby San Diego High School.
Lots of people have already staked out their spots on benches and lawn chairs over an hour before the program begins.
Lots of people have already staked out their spots on benches and lawn chairs over an hour before the program begins.
The Spreckels Organ Society Beer Fest inside the nearby Japanese Friendship Garden raised funds to help keep free organ concerts alive.
The Spreckels Organ Society Beer Fest inside the nearby Japanese Friendship Garden raised funds to help keep free organ concerts alive.
I heard bagpipes at the nearby International Cottages. When I investigated, I discovered the House of Scotland Pipe Band was outside practicing.
I heard bagpipes at the nearby International Cottages. When I investigated, I discovered the House of Scotland Pipe Band was outside practicing.
Meanwhile, more people were streaming into the Spreckels Organ Pavilion with about an hour still to go.
Meanwhile, more people were streaming into the Spreckels Organ Pavilion with about an hour still to go.
Some folks are already getting some snacks to enjoy during the concert and silent movie.
Some folks are already getting some snacks to enjoy during the concert and silent movie.
As late light illuminated the buildings of Balboa Park, I walked about to take photos. Here's the House of Hospitality from the Plaza de Panama.
As late sunlight slanted onto the buildings of Balboa Park, I walked about taking a few photos. Here’s the House of Hospitality from the Plaza de Panama.
Here's the San Diego Natural History Museum.
Here’s the San Diego Natural History Museum.
Here's the Bea Evenson Fountain and Fleet Science Center.
Here’s the Bea Evenson Fountain and Fleet Science Center.
When I returned, the crowd had grown! Every year Silent Movie Night draws about 3000 people.
When I returned, the crowd had really grown! Every year Silent Movie Night draws somewhere around 3000 people.
Ten minutes to go, and on come the magical lights of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion! I put my camera away and enjoyed a great time.
Ten minutes to go, and on come the magical lights of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion! As twilight arrived in Balboa Park, I put my camera away and enjoyed a great time.

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!

Photos of Navy Band Southwest Alumni Concert.

I enjoyed another special event today during my visit to Balboa Park. As I walked past the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, I was surprised and happy to learn there would be a Navy Band Southwest Alumni Concert in the afternoon.

When I returned to the pavilion to listen to the concert, many present and past members of Navy Band Southwest were posing for a group photo by the colonnade. The concert soon began, and I snapped a few photos as I listened to the often rousing music, played with perfect precision.

All stood for the National Anthem. A few minutes later those braving the hot sun directly in front of the stage were privileged to hear an extremely talented duet sing a superb rendition of The Prayer by David Foster. What amazing voices. Personally, I got goosebumps. Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli have nothing on those two!

I’m sorry to say Cool San Diego Sights does not feature sound. But here are a few photos!

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 smile and music brightens a San Diego day!

Gary Reid performs bluesy songs on San Diego's Embarcadero. He always greets me with a big smile when I pass by.
Gary Reid performs bluesy songs on San Diego’s Embarcadero. He always greets me with a big smile when I pass by.

Meet a guy who always makes me smile. His name is Gary Reid. I often pass him performing bluesy songs with his guitar as I walk along the Embarcadero near the USS Midway.

I didn’t realize until today that he has a CD, YouTube videos and other great stuff available online. He tells me he is available for gigs–just contact him by visiting his website here. His Facebook page is here.

His heart can be heard in his music. Give it a listen.

Gary Reid is a fine guitarist, singer and songwriter. Check out his website for some samples!
Gary Reid is a fine guitarist, singer and songwriter. Check out his website for some samples!
Gary Reid spreads gratitude and a love of life through music!
Gary Reid spreads gratitude and a love of life with his music!