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BWW Feature: ONLINE OPERA VIRTUAL TOUR OCT. 17-24 at Home Computer Screens


A Song Recital, Grand Opera, and Beautiful Sights, to Enjoy from Your Recliner

BWW Feature: ONLINE OPERA VIRTUAL TOUR  OCT. 17-24 at Home Computer Screens

As the national celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month ends, mezzo-soprano Gabriela Flores, a member of the Los Angeles Opera Young Artist Program, partners with guitarist Gilberto Amara for a "Living Room Recital." They perform beloved Mexican songs on the Los Angeles Opera website. Their program includes:

"Que lejos estoy del suelo" ("How far I am from the ground") by José López Alavez,

"Almohada" ("Pillow") by Adán Torres,

"Amor Eterno" ("Eternal Love") and "Te Sigo Amando" ("I Still Love You") by Juan Gabriel

"Veracruz" by Agustín Lara

"Perfume de Gardenias" ("Gardenia Perfume") by Rafael H. Marín

"Quiéreme Mucho" ("Love Me a Lot") by Gonzalo Roig

"Paloma Querida" ("Dear Dove"), "Deja que Salga la Luna" ("Let the Moon Rise"), and "Ella" ("She") by José Alfredo Jiménez

"Un Viejo Amor"("An Old Love") by Alfonso Esparza Oteo

"Cielo Rojo" ("(Red Sky") by Juan Záizar and David Záizar

"La Llorona" ("Crybaby") Folk song

"Cucurrucucú Paloma" ("Cucurrucucú Dove") by Tomás Méndez

"Bésame Mucho" ("Kiss Me a Lot") by Consuelo Velázquez

"Cielito Lindo" ("Beautiful Sky") by Quirino Mendoza

After this delightful concert, we load up the Magic Opera Flying Carpet for our short trip to San Francisco and a date with Attila-the-Hun. Manon-la-Chat prefers a date with "Cucurrucucú Paloma" but that won't happen. We bring taco salads with extra spicy ground beef for dinner enroute. For the coming week, we have beach clothes for Montecarlo, finery for the Salzburg Festival, and overcoats for St. Petersburg in our luggage. No one is forced to travel light on the Carpet.

San Francisco Opera's 2012 co-production with Milan's Teatro alla Scala of Giuseppe Verdi's Attila is staged by Gabriele Lavia with sets by Alessandro Camera and costumes by Andrea Viotti. Ferruccio Furlanetto portrays Attila, the legendary 5th-century ruler of the Huns. Bass Samuel Ramey is Leone (Pope Leo I) and Venezuelan soprano Lucrecia García is Odabella. Hawaiian baritone Quinn Kelsey and Mexican tenor Diego Torre sing Ezio and Foresto. Nicola Luisotti leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. Attila is performed in Italian with English subtitles and has an approximate running time of 1 hour, 50 minutes. The presentation, filmed live in high-definition at the War Memorial Opera House, will be viewable at, and the company's Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify channels from 10 a.m. Oct.17 through 11:59 p.m. Oct. 18.

We leave the same night for New York City and park the Carpet in nearby New Jersey. We opt for early morning lattes and breakfast burritos before catching the train for Manhattan. Manon stays in New Jersey where she says the "gattiti" are more friendly than in the city. Tour members look forward to a slightly old-fashioned Barber of Seville with Beverly Sills.

In New York City Opera's presentation of Rossini's The Barber of Seville from 1976, Figaro is Alan Titus; Almaviva, Henry Price; Rosina, Beverly Sills; Don Basilio, Samuel Ramey; and Dr. Bartolo, Donald Gramm. Sarah Caldwell conducts and directs. This is a true gem of a performance and a wonderful reminder of the glory that once was the New York City Opera.

In 1969 La Scala revived Rossini's The Siege of Corinth with the young Beverly Sills making her La Scala debut as Pamira. Viennese friends of mine who had only the weekend off from work attended a Saturday night performance in January and caught a train going north that night. They were told to change at Brennero in the high Alps. The train for Vienna was supposed to be waiting at the adjoining platform. It wasn't and nothing was open for shelter. The Vienna train did not come until noon and my friends came close to losing toes.

After the Barber, we head to the east side for midnight supper at NYC's Ukrainian diner, Veselka. My companion and I eat different kinds of pierogi and stuffed cabbage with mushroom gravy. Returning to the New Jersey airport, we embark for Rome with vino spumante (Italian bubbly) and prosciutto-topped cantaloupe served after take-off.

Arriving in Rome, the weather is cloudy and it will probably rain before we are in the theater for tonight's Nabucco. We opt for take-out pasta and taxis. At the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma (Rome Opera) we see Jean-Paul Scarpitta's production of Verdi's first truly successful opera, Nabucco. Riccardo Muti conducts, Leo Nucci is Nabucco, Dmitri Beloselski is Zacharia, Viktoriia Chenska is Abigaille, and Anna Malavasi is Fenena.



When we arrive back at the Carpet Manon agrees to a leash and we walk calmly until she is scared by the noise of a motorcycle and jumps into a thicket dragging me behind her. As Des Grieux sings in the opera, "O, Manon!" I'm still getting leaves and thorns out of my hair.

On arrival in Montecarlo, When we arrive back at the Carpet Manon agrees to a leash and we walk calmly until she is scared by the noise of a motorcycle and jumps into a thicket. As Des Grieux sings in the opera, "O, Manon!" I'm still getting leaves and thorns out of my hair.

On arrival in Montecarlo, we disembark and taxi to a hotel restaurant with a terrace facing the Mediterraenean. Fishing boats and white sails delight our eyes while we taste the fruits of the sea, clams, oysters, maybe octopus? All are seasoned perfectly and served with finesse.

The Montecarlo Tannhäuser is in French with José Cura in the title role and Nathalie Stutzmann conducting. Wagner substantially amended the opera for a special 1861 performance by the Paris Opéra. This revision forms the basis of the opera's "Paris version." The venue required the composer to insert a ballet into the score. Wagner agreed to this condition since he believed that a success at the Opéra represented his most significant opportunity to re-establish himself following his exile from Germany. However, rather than put the ballet in its traditional place in Act II, he chose to place it in Act I, in the form of a bacchanale, where it could make dramatic sense by representing the sensual world of Venus's realm. He also made further changes besides having the text translated into French. Venus, who was a soprano role in the Dresden version, became a mezzo-soprano. He transposed her aria "Geliebter, komm!" down by a semitone, and he rewrote the finale and he added lines for Venus following Tannhäuser's "Hymn to Love." Wagner also shortened the orchestral introduction to Act 3. In an attempt to clarify the action, he reworked the end of the opera so that Venus is on stage. On March 13, 1861, the Opéra premiered the Paris Version of Tannhäuser after 164 rehearsals.



After hauling a few folks out of the casino. We fly to Salzburg and are greeted by the traditional liquid sunshine. Ok, it's only a few drops, this time. Our dinner of Bauernschmaus includes pork loin chops, bacon, and sausages cooked in beer with sauerkraut and potato dumplings.

The Salzburg Easter Festival Otello stars José Cura, DorotheaRöschmann, and Carlos Alvarez. The director is Vincent Boussard and Christian Thielemann conducts the Saxon State Opera Orchestra, the State Opera Chorus of Dresden, and the Salzburg Festival Theater Children's Chorus.



Since our pilot does not want to navigate the alps at night, we wait until morning and take off after coffee and sweet or cheese buns.

In St. Petersburg the thermometer is only flirting with freezing and generally staying above it. For dinner, we eat at a restaurant that recreates some the glamor and finery which once surrounded the Tsars. Our party orders a variety of soups and dumplings. I choose Solyanka, a crowd-pleasing sweet and sour soup that contains pickled cucumbers cooked in brine along with meat, fish, and potatoes topped with sour cream. Pelmeni, Russian dumplings of simple unleavened dough filled with ground meat and diced onions, accompany the soup. Topped with dill, They're served with fresh, sweet butter.

Sadko is an opera by Nicolai Rimsky Korsakov.

Valery Gergiev conducts the Kirov Opera and Ballet in this 1994 production. Sadko is Vladimir Galusin; Volkhova, Valentina Tsidipova; and Lyubava Buslayevna, Marianna Tarassova.



After a vodka nightcap, we taxi back to the carpet where Manon and the crew await us. For breakfast, we have French toast sandwiches with jam between the slices of bread and powdered sugar on top.

Having endured a 16 hour flight, we land in Houston ready for a Texas-sized breakfast at Houston's New York Delicatessen. Their challah bread French toast is cut thick and generously portioned. We pair it with pastrami bacon and light, sweet coffee.

Vinkensport or The Finch Opera, a chamber work by composer David T. Little and librettist Royce Vavrek, is a hilarious "take" on the little-known Belgian sport of professional finch-calling. The birds' names alone are worth the price of admission to this fun-filled, occasionally poignant work, directed by Houston Grand Opera Studio alumnus Ryan McKinny and E. Loren Meeker.

Vinkensport premieres on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. CDT. (5:30 p.m. PDT) Registered viewers can watch free for 30 days thereafter through Marquee TV or the Houston Grand Opera website. Readers need to create an account at and log in to that account when they want to watch the show. Any readers who have problems can contact the customer care team at

Waving good-bye to friends in Houston, we join Manon and the crew on the Magic Opera Flying Carpet and take off for home, the City of Angels.

Photo of Gabriela Flores courtesy of LA Opera.

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