Tue09162014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JEANNE PACKARD

After suffering a stroke in May, Jeanne Packard died August 10, 2014 at age 83. She was born in 1931 in Berlin, Germany, the only child of Emily Channel and Frank Howe Packard of Chicago, IL. Jeanne is survived by 5 great grandchildren. She was a lon...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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West Bay offers different approach to "Flying Dutchman"

West Bay Opera demonstrated its willingness to stage a major opera with an experimental approach in its production of The Flying Dutchman, by Richard Wagner, May 23-25, and May 30-June 1, at Palo Alto's Lucie Stern Theater. The Flying Dutchman was one of Wagner's first big hits, premiering in Dresden, in 1843. The emphasis is certainly on the "big" part. It is long, it is weighty, it is makes great demands on it singer-actors, and on its audience, too. Taking an innovative approach to helping the audience envision the setting of the opera, West Bay used the creative resources of video designer Chad Bonaker. During the overture, images of water play on the transparent screen on stage. At other times during the performance, the screen returns to allow images to aide expression of the setting, relationships, and mystery of the story. While the audience listens to a sea chanty sung by the Steersman, it also sees ghost ships with red sails and black mast floating into view. Der Fliegende Hollander (The Flying Dutchman) is based on folklore about a Dutch sea captain, Philip Vanderdecken, who is said to have sworn that "in spite of the devil" he would sail around the Cape of Good Hope, even if it took him forever. The devil, apparently listening and never one to miss a chance for a joke at someone else's expense, condemns the captain to roam the seas for eternity, seeking "redemption." There is only one way he can gain it. He must find a woman who will love him faithfully "unto death." Opera goers can hear that as a clue to all that follows. It is also a bit of male-chauvinist piggery on the part of the devil as it implies that such a woman is so impossibly difficult to find, that the Dutchman will indeed be a lost soul until Judgment Day. The opera is set in an eighteenth century Norwegian sea port. The colorful costumes, designed by Callie Floor, enliven the stage and add a sense of historical place to the strange ghost story of the opera. Fortunately for the Dutchman and for West Bay Opera, Senta, the pure though slightly dippy woman who loves the Dutchman even before they meet, was portrayed on opening night by Paula Goodman Wilder. Her singing was strong and beautiful. She captured the difficult music and characterization securely enough to insure redemption of the Dutchman and of the whole presentation. The Flying Dutchman is a good match for the Bay Area. Our focus now is more on freeways and parking spaces, but much of the area, especially San Francisco, of course, came into being, at about the time the opera premiered, because of sea ports. In the opera, when the ships are tied to the dock, the sailors are greeted by their wives and sweethearts. When the sailors and townfolk invite the crew of the Dutchman's ship to join in the revelry, they hear voices from inside the mysterious ship with red sails. Those sailors sing about their damnation to the eternal voyage. This puts a stop to the partying. As is often the case in opera, even a happy ending is not exactly happy. Senta proves her devotion by jumping into the sea to her death. The Dutchman prepares to set off again, but, fortunately, his ship sinks. Senta and the Dutchman are joined together forever, rising toward heaven. The ending of the opera offers a challenging problem for staging. How should the transfiguration and rising to heaven be shown? Should it be shown at all? Director David F. Ostwald chose to use the screen with pictures of the now heavenly pair seen first very small as though far away and then growing bigger as though coming closer, as the other performers pointed heavenward from behind the screen. This was in keeping with the choice to employ video techniques as a visual theme for the production, and yet might have been both more and less literal than necessary. Transfiguration, however, not having been witnessed, how to suggest it at all may be more than even the greatest stagecraft can attain. West Bay Opera casts outstanding professional singers in leading roles and similarly outstanding amateurs in chorus and smaller roles. The Flying Dutchman was double-cast with the extraordinary, powerful Douglas Nagel on opening night, and Bryan Glenn Davis playing The Dutchman, Ms. Goodman Wilder and Gail Sullivan as Senta. John Bischoff and Peter Graham portrayed Daland, Senta's avaricious father; Ben Bongers and Vincent Chambers portrayed Erik, Senta's more normal suitor. Donna Olsen and Sally Mouzon sang the role of Mary, a leader of the local ladies who sings while they spin. West Bay's General Director, Jose Luis Moscovich conducted, Mr. Ostwald directed, and sets with realistic ships and interiors were designed by Peter Crompton. He also designed the nautical images. The performance was sung in German with the excellent English supertitles easy to see on either side of the stage, making the grand, spooky opera accessible to all.

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