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BWW Feature: Where to Tune in to Free Opera and Music Performances May 22-29


BWW Feature: Where to Tune in to Free Opera and Music Performances May 22-29

Veteran baritone Rod Gilfry offers an enchanting "Living Room Recital" that can be found on well as on LA Opera's Facebook page. Singing from home accompanied by Peter Walsh on a digital recording, Gilfry begins with an aria from Matthew Aucoin's eye-opening opera about Walt Whitman, The Crossing. Readers can find a review of Aucoin's opera at /los-angeles/article/BWW-Review-CROSSING-at-Wallis-Annenberg-Center-For-The-Performing-Arts-20180526

Gilfry continues with a song about the love letters of painter Georgia O'Keefe and photographer Alfred Stieglitz from Kevin Puts' song cycle, The Brightness of Light. He follows it with another "letter song," the father's aria from Aucoin's opera, Eurydice. Gilfry continues with songs by Ravel, Debussy and Fauré, as well as a lovely version of Bésame Mucho which he accompanies on his own guitar. At intermission, Gilfry shows us how to make a particularly aromatic and tasty Old Fashioned which can refresh us during our virtual trip to Utah.

Utah Opera has selected nine full length operas for presentation on its site during this time of quarantine. My choice is their English version of Jacques Offenbach's La Périchole, a tuneful comic opera often played in English at the Metropolitan Opera in the 1950s. Utah offers a performance by the Festival Theatre of Chichester set at the turn of the 20th century. We can celebrate La Périchole's home town, Lima, Peru, with a salad of quinoa, corn, and tomato served with slices of avocado....but no lima beans.

Opera Santa Barbara's site has a video of its Youth Opera production of Odyssey which marked the culmination of its inaugural two-week "SBYO Summer Intensive" performance in June, 2019. Odyssey was originally commissioned by the Glimmerglass Festival. Ben Moore and Kelley Rourke's operatic work tells the stories of Odysseus and his faithful wife, Penelope, with catchy sailor songs, an enchanting siren ditty, a riotous tango, and a poignant love duet.

Now, let's go back in time. YouTube has some tasty recordings of the 1950s. For Don Giovanni, we fly vicariously to Salzburg Austria, the home of Salzburger Nockerl. A soufflé with attitude, the nockerl is a beaten egg dish that uses seven whites and four yolks, sugar, both granulated and powdered, vanilla, and a tiny bit of flour. Glorious when it exits the oven, even if it collapses, it's scrumptious. A pièce de résistance, he 1954 Salzburg Festival performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni features: Cesare Siepi, Lisa Della Casa, Anton Dermota, and Erna Berger in a production by Herbert Graf conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler.

From the high Alps of Salzburg, our magic electronic carpet glides down to Opera and Ballet Vlaanderen in Ghent, Belgium, a land that produces exquisite chocolate. A few pieces of dark, blissful munchie might be in order. The company which performs in Antwerp and Ghent promises more opera soon on its website. Meanwhile, we can watch their 2020 production of librettist Charles de Coster and composer Franz Schreker's Der Schmied von Gent. The story of this "grand magic opera" is based on the ingenious Flemish tale Smetse Smee. The colorful, imaginative sets immediately alert the viewer that this is no ordinary, mundane story.

Virtual travelers will barely have time for a demitasse while we wend our way to Paris for the Opéra Comique's online performance of Philipe Quinault and Jean-Baptiste Lully's 1676 opera Atys by Les Artes Florisants. Directed by Jean-Marie Villégier and conducted by William Christie, Atys presents both opera and ballet in the Baroque tradition.

For a final aperitif, I suggest Danish Royal Opera's Jazz Age Copenhagen Ring Directed by Kaspar Bech Holten and conducted by Michael Schønwandt, Das Rheingold stars Johan Reuter, as Wotan. I loved watching Alberich in a business suit chase flapper Rhein maidens around a bar at the bottom of the Rhein. "IN it," as Anna Russell used to say.

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