Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Feature: ONLINE OPERA VIRTUAL TOUR OCT. 31-NOV 7 at Home Computer Screens

Spooky Opera and a Memorial to One who Died too Soon

BWW Feature: ONLINE OPERA VIRTUAL TOUR OCT. 31-NOV 7 at Home Computer ScreensThis weekend, tenor Frederick Ballentine returns to the L A Opera virtual stage for a spooky Halloween-themed "Living Room Recital." He partners with mezzo-soprano Fleur Barron and pianist Kunal Lahiry to perform some of opera's most mysterious and scary songs-including the murder scene from Carmen.
On tap for this week is a "Living Room Recital" performance from Craig Colclough on/after Thursday, November 5, at 4 pm Pacific Time. A frequent performer with LA Opera, the bass-baritone had been set to sing Figaro earlier this year. In this recital, he'll partner with pianist Jeremy Frank for a program of arias by Verdi, Beethoven, and Wagner, along with songs by Cole Porter and Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Photo courtesy of LA Opera

In our LAO at Home series, "Coffee with Conlon," our brilliant music director leads a discussion on all things opera over a fresh cup of joe. And as a bonus, you can even submit your own question for the Maestro.

After the recital and a bit of refreshment, the Virtual Tour Group boards the Magic Opera Flying Carpet for San Francisco. San Francisco Opera invites us to go mad for Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor this weekend. Ghosts of a blood feud between the noble houses of Ashton and Ravenswood are said to roam the lonely hills outside Lammermoor castle. Lucia Ashton has seen them. But these apparitions have not dissuaded her from pursuing a romance with her family's arch-rival, Edgardo di Ravenswood. Under a full moon, they vow everlasting love-a vow Lucia's family makes sure she's doomed to break. We don't want to miss Natalie Dessay as the blood-soaked bride, Lucia. Dinner aboard the Carpet is served on black plates and orange tablecloths and bottles of red wine are embraced by pâpier-maché vampires. Canapes have little swords in them. Cheeses sit amongst grave stone crackers and skull cookies wait to charm us as dessert.

SFO's Lucia di Lammermoor, directed for the screen by Frank Zamacona, streams all weekend long, starting Saturday at 10 am Pacific Time. Its running time is 2 hours and 32 minutes. Jean-Yves Ossonce conducts, Alexander Marguerre accompanies Lucia on the glass harmonica. Directed by Graham Vick and Marco Gandini, the production comes from the Teatro del Maggio Musicale in Florence. The cast includes Natalie Dessay, Giuseppe Filianoti, Matthew O'Neill, and Oren Gradus.

After the opera, we find our places in the cabin and get ready for the eleven hour trip to England. Manon-la-Chat mounts the pillow above my head and begins to comb my hair with her claws. I'm too sleepy to care and I guess she is, too. When I wake up she is curled up in a ball at my feet. I'm thinking of phoning ahead to the meat pie shop and asking them to hold an assortment of them for brunch. Our bus takes us on the hour long trip to Garsington Opera in time for afternoon tea in our party's own picnic tent. By prearrangement during the interval, the company will serve us a three-course roast chicken dinner in the Cricket Pavilion. I am tempted to ask if The Crickets make much noise.

Garsington's Fidelio was recorded in 2020. The cast includes, Trystan Llŷr Griffiths, Galina Averina, Katherine Broderick, Stephen Richardson, Andrew Foster-Williams, Toby Spence, Richard Burkhard, the Garsington Opera Chorus, and the Philharmonia Orchestra. The conductor is Douglas Boyd and the Stage Director is Peter Mumford.

Needless to say we are stuffed after the opera. Having "slept in," we eat brunch at a restaurant in Sprigs Holly, Oxfordshire. Its a red-brick, wood-beamed building in the Chiltern Hills with an exuberant flower garden overlooked by bronze foxes and snails. We drink coffee, tea, or local ale and eat fresh-caught seafood or chicken, bacon and stilton en croûte as small planes scrawl vapor trails across brilliant blue skies. I am wondering if we might be able to land the Carpet here for a future visit.

Tomorrow night's show is in London, so we can rest all day to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for The Flying Dutchman. It's a day late for Halloween, but it is a scary opera. Tour members board the bus for Covent Garden where we eat fried oysters, garnished with caviar, and served in giant oyster shells.

Chris Shipman directs and Andris Nelsons conducts this 2015 performance of Wagner's The Flying Dutchman. Performers include Bryn Terfel, Adrianne Pieczonka, Catherine Wyn-Rogers, Michael König, and Peter Rose with the orchestra and chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

From London, it's a short hop to Düsseldorf for the Deutsche Oper am Rhein's production of Viktor Ullmann's Der Kaiser von Atlantis. We have permission to land at a US Military airfield and we're greeted by ladies and gentlemen wearing a great deal of gold braid. They're letting us spend the night here because we brought them director's cuts of some first-run movies.

After greetings and coffee, we bus to town for pre-ordered Rheinischer Sauerbraten made with beef marinated in vinegar, wine, spices and herbs before roasting. That makes it juicy, sweet and sour, and so soft that it melts in the mouth. Ours is served with apple sauce, potato dumplings and cabbage.

The origin of Der Kaiser von Atlantis as the only surviving opera composed in a Nazi concentration camp elevates it to a unique memorial against forgetting. Yet in the Deutsche Oper am Rhein's production, the parable of living death is never cautionary, but ominous, disturbingly comical and deeply human. In the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp, Viktor Ullmann composed the music for Der Kaiser von Atlantis to a libretto by fellow inmate, Peter Kien.

This production is from Düsseldorf's German Opera on the Rhine. The director is Ilaria Lanzino, and the cast includes, Emmett O'Hanlon; Thorsten Grümbel; Luke Stoker; David Fischer; and Anke Krabbe. Axel Kober conducts the Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra. Streamed on OperaVision on 30 October 2020, Der Kaiser von Atlantis is available for six months.



For dinner at a restaurant near the arena, we order one of Verona's most famous handmade pasta dishes, gnocchi, potato filled pasta parcels served with ricotta cheese and melted butter.

Verona's Il Trovatore is from 2019 and stars, Netrebko, Eyvazov, Salsi, Zajick, and Fassi. The conductor is Pier Giorgio Morandi and the director is Franco Zeffirelli. It has German titles.



From sunny, warm Verona where the light is yellow, we mount our Magic Opera Flying Carpet and fly to cool, mountainous Salzburg and the light takes on a bluish tint. After donning warm sweaters, many of them sporting the little roses that show they came from Austria, we assemble at a Bosnian restaurant on the Getreidegasse for spicy Balkan sausages with raw onions and parsley served on long buns. Our hosts offer is a huge choice of mustards and other condiments and a variety of beers to wash everything down.

Having eaten this solid peasant food, I feel like a relative of Baron Ochs at the Grosses Festspielhaus. No matter, we still enjoy the quintessential nobility of this classic performance. In the 1962 cast are Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Sena Jurinac, Anneliese Rothenberger, and Otto Edelmann. Herbert von Karajan conducts the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra.

We wait until daytime to take off from Salzburg because of its mountainous surroundings. Besides, a friendly chef offered to make the city's famous soufflé, Salzburger Nockerln, for us in the morning. Thought to have first been created by Salome Alt, the mistress of Prince-bishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau in the early 17th century, our soufflé resembled mountain peaks topped with powdered sugar snow. it was a delightful prelude to the flight to Russia.

Manon had not been feeling well so I take her to the vet in Salzburg. Years ago, I rented a room from his family at the top of the Kuhberg. The road up there was dirt and rather harrowing to drive when I returned at night after the opera. For our morning ascent, Manon simply shuts her eyes. The doctor says she is not seriously ill but has to take a pill every day. I put the tablet in a pill popper and drop it down the back of her throat ... after 40 or 50 tries. As a bribe, I promise to take her to the drive-in operas in Camarillo, CA, later this month.

After a night and most of a day enroute, we arrive at our airport outside snowy St. Petersburg. It's time for some good hot soup and our tour group enjoys several varieties of meat soups: sweet and sour borscht, shchi with cabbage, klotski with potato dumplings, and rassolnik with pickles. All come with sour cream and dark, crusty rye bread.

Valery Gergiev conducts the orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, for Irina Molostova's 1996 production of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Mazeppa. Soloists include Nikolai Putilin as Mazeppa and Larissa Diadkova as Ljubov. Tchaikovsky's opera is based on the epic poem "Poltava" by Alexander Pushkin. Its libretto is by Viktor Burenin.



After the opera, we indulge in some adult refreshment and sleep on the Magic Opera Flying Carpet. We rise early to see the sunrise and eat a copious Russian breakfast consisting of kasha cereal, buttered freshly baked bread, eggs, and a type of cottage cheese. Coffee will be available on demand during the long flight back to Los Angeles.

Related Articles View More Los Angeles Stories   Shows

From This Author Maria Nockin