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BWW Feature: ONLINE OPERA VIRTUAL TOUR OCT. 24-31 at Home Computer Screens

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Opera, Fascinating and Fabulous, from Across the United States

BWW Feature: ONLINE OPERA VIRTUAL TOUR  OCT. 24-31 at Home Computer Screens

This week I'm able to do something I've tried to do for some weeks but was unable to accomplish until now. I wanted to find enough films and streams offered by American opera companies to fulfill a week's tour.

We start at the Los Angeles Opera website with a "Living Room Recital." Michael J. Hawk, baritone, sings a program entitled "Shakespeare in France and on Broadway" with three different pianists: Nino Sanikidze, Brendon Shapiro, and Louis Lohraseb. They perform "Mab! la reine des mensonges" ("Mab, Queen of Lies") from Roméo et Juliette by Charles Gounod and three arias from Ambroise Thomas's Hamlet, "Ô vin dissipe la tristesse" ("O Wine Dispel Sadness"), "J'ai pu frapper le misérable...Être ou ne pas être" ("I could Hit the Wretch..To Be or not to Be"), and "La fatigue alourdit mes pas...Comme une pâle fleur" ("Fatigue weighs down my steps...Like a Pale Flower"). They conclude with two songs from Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate, "So in Love" and "Where Is the Life that Late I Led?"

Leaving Los Angeles, our tour flies a short distance to San Francisco where members choose various China-Town restaurants for dinner. Manon-la-Chat requests seafood takeout with none of those pesky vegetables humans eat. She is a meat and fish girl.

San Francisco Opera's 1981 performance of Aida features Margaret Price and Luciano Pavaroti as Aida and Radames in Sam Wanamaker's staging of the Verdi masterpiece. Others in the cast are Stefania Toczyska, and Simon Estes; Maestro Garcia Navarro conducts.

Remembering last week's disastrous cat-on-leash walk, I told Manon she has to wait until we park in a rural area where she can run and jump freely. She was not happy with that ruling and became even unhappier when I told her that if I smell a drop of you-know-what in my bed, a certain leaky cat will spend the night in the extra bathroom. Cats excel at revenge.

Flying overnight to Vermont, we awake in a beautiful rural area where the trees are turning red and gold. Manon and I are friends again and she romps in piles of colorful leaves. With the leaves blowing around her, she disappears into the maze as an animal should to be safe. A local restaurant serves us pancakes with real maple syrup, the kind that is made from tree sap, not high fructose chemical soup. We spend the day photographing and I even paint a few watercolor postcards. For dinner we eat fresh caught lake trout served with roasted vegetables right out of the garden.

In Brandon, Vermont, Barn Opera is turning an 1850 farm structure into an opera house. This is a community project and some of our tour members have volunteered as virtual carpenters. They bring good thoughts, if not pounding hammers and elbow grease. It is amazing to see a community build its own theater.

That evening, we enjoy Barn Opera's rendition of Puccini's La Boheme conducted by Nicholas Giusti. The pianist is Claire Black; the violinist, Ryan Shannon; the cellist, Oliver Weston, and the clarinetist, Wesley Christensen. Singers include Sonja Krenek, Suzanne Kantorski, Joshua Collier, Christopher Holmes, Suchan Kim, James Harrington and Fred Furnari.

Scroll down to La Bohème.

After a nightcap that includes some local Ben and Jerry's ice cream, we board our Magic Opera Flying Carpet for the New Jersey parking spot we use for trips to New York City. On the way we watch Raehann Bryce Davis' new video To The afflicted.

To The afflicted. Raehann Bryce Davis.

We spend a restful day on the west side of the Hudson River and later change to opera clothes. Our bus drops us at Lincoln Center for the Metropolitan Opera's 2020 staging of Handel's Agrippina.

The stream is free if readers opt for a 7-day trial of Met-on-demand, or it costs $4.99 if readers just want to watch that one opera.

The Met's Agrippina can be seen beginning Tuesday, October 27 for 24 hours. It features, Brenda Rae, Joyce DiDonato, Kate Lindsey, Iestyn Davies, Duncan Rock, and Matthew Rose.

After breakfast, we take a bus to Bard College in Annandale, 90 miles north of the city, for a performance of Ethel Smyth's turn-of-the-20th-century opera, The Wreckers, directed by Thaddeus Strassberger. Music Director Leon Botstein conducts the American Symphony Orchestra. The cast includes Katharine Goeldner, Sky Ingram, Louis Otey, Neal Cooper, and Michael Mayes.

Based on history, The Wreckers tells of poor people living on the Cornish coast in the late 19th century who were allowed to "salvage" cargo from ships wrecked or their rugged coast. These people sometimes caused wrecks, stole the cargo, and murdered the sailors because they knew what happened.


Click on The Wreckers on the left and scroll down to small picture with button in center.


After the show, we bring snacks aboard the bus to eat with the wine we have been keeping for our return trip to New Jersey and the Magic Opera Flying Carpet. While we were at Bard, Manon stayed busy knitting some of the seats together with red wool. Unfortunately we have to cut apart her creation before taking off for Salt Lake City.

We found a restaurant in the Salt Lake area that serves good strong coffee even its morning lift is not countenanced by the majority of local churchgoers. Thus, a late breakfast in the land that once belonged to the Utes is no longer a problem. We enjoyed platters of scrambled eggs with toast, hash brown potatoes, and that brown liquid the Turks brought to Europe. For dinner, we order Navajo taco take-out with all the fixins.

What would you do if your rich relative dies intestate? Does his money go to the government? Puccini's opera Gianni Schicchi tells what one Italian family did according to Dante

Utah Opera Scroll down to Gianni Schicchi.

From sunny, bucolic Utah, the Magic Opera Flying Carpet takes us to the rust-belt city of Pittsburgh, once famous for its steel. There, we eat iconic Pittsburgh sandwiches that have two pieces of thick Italian bread stretched to contain meat, cheese, tomatoes, coleslaw, and French fries. It's served on a sheet of wax paper.

For the Pittsburgh Opera Cosi fan Tutte, the conductor is Antony Walker and the director is Crystal Manich. Singers include, Veronique Filloux, Angel Romero, Yazid Gray, Madeline Ehlinger, Jeremy Harr, and Maire Therese Carmack. Cosi is live and free on Oct. 23 @ 7:30 pm Eastern time.

After the opera we go to the South Side for hot chocolate chip cookie fudge sundaes. When we return to the Magic Opera Flying Carpet, Manon is waiting to snuggle up, purr, and help us reminisce about our tour of opera in the United States while we return home to Los Angeles.

Photo courtesy of LA Opera.

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From This Author Maria Nockin