The first few weeks of January, falling as they do between the two New Years’, are culturally relatively quiet. The Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival, now the Beare’s Premiere Music Festival, has long been one of the major events brightening this relatively uneventful period.
At first hearing, Stories of the Sahara sounds improbable: about a half-century ago, a young Chinese woman from Taiwan decamps to El Aaiún in the then Spanish Sahara.
As China and the West look at decoupling, it’s worth remembering that the world has been through this several times since they first coupled three-quarters of the way through the 16th century. That’s when the Manila Galleon connected Asia and the Americas, a trade that was, to mix metaphors, oiled by silver.
If you’ve never met Arkady Renko, erstwhile Soviet and now Russian cop, his most recent set of cases, this time in Asia—well, Siberia, to be exact—is as good an opportunity as any to finally become acquainted.
If there is any work that typifies “Viennese operetta”—waltzes, romantic comedy, catchy tunes and a certain silliness—it is Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow.
“Prima la musica” (“The music comes first”) once said opera composer Antonio Salieri (at least in the title to one of his operas). Perhaps as a consequence, opera has provided, once the words are dispensed with, other composers with marvelous opportunities for transcriptions and adaptions.
The Chronicles of Lord Asunaro is a curious little volume. In length, perhaps 10,000 words, it is long for a short story but short for a novella. The protagonist, a minor feudal lord in late Tokugawa Japan, was an actual person (apparently: like much else here, it is hard to be sure), his life heavily fictionalized according to the author’s note. While labeled a “tale” or “story”, the narrative in fact lacks much of might conventionally be called a plot.