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BWW Feature: ONLINE OPERA VIRTUAL TOUR SEPT. OCT. 10-17 at Home Computer Screens


Half way Around the World for Opera

BWW Feature: ONLINE OPERA VIRTUAL TOUR SEPT. OCT. 10-17 at Home Computer Screens

On Los Angeles Opera's website, Ashley Faatoalia, tenor, and Louise Thomas, piano, collaborate for a "Living Room Recital."

Their program includes:

"Der Neugierige ("The curious one") by Franz Schubert

"Orpheus with his Lute" by Ralph Vaughan Williams

"Automne" by Gabriel Fauré

"Dream Variation" by Margaret Bonds

"Harlem Night Song" by Ricky Ian Gordon

"Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön" ("This picture is enchantingly beautiful") from The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

"There's a boat dat's leavin' soon for New York" from Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin

"Ch'ella mi creda" ("She should believe") from The Girl of the Golden West by Giacomo Puccini

"Ride on, King Jesus" arranged by Hal Johnson

"He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" arranged by Margaret Bonds

They finish with Charlie Chaplin's "Smile.

The mission of Ars Minerva is to bring forgotten music back to life. Its online series, Cocktails & Chit-Chat, presents rare repertoire and unfairly neglected composers. On October 13, at 7 p.m. San Francisco time, Ars Minerva will present an online event dedicated to Francesca Caccini. Mezzo Deborah Rosengaus, tenor Patick Hagen, and baritone Spencer Dodd will perform excerpts of her opera La Liberazione di Ruggiero accompanied by harpsichordist Kelly Savage, cellist Gretchen Claassen, and theorbist Adam Cockerham. Ars Minerva suggests a $25 donation, but it's free if you cannot afford to contribute.

Ars Minerva Zoom link:

San Francisco Opera's 2014 revival of Giacomo Puccini's Tosca shown online on October 10-11, 2020, features a production by Thierry Bosquet, based on the original designs by Armando Agnini for the Company's 1932 staging of this opera in the War Memorial Opera House. Armenian soprano Lianna Haroutounian is Tosca, Brian Jagde is Cavaradossi, and Mark Delavan is Baron Scarpia. José Maria Condemi directs and Riccardo Frizza conducts.

After Tosca and a bit of a nightcap, we embark for Dallas aboard the Magic Opera Flying Carpet. This trip is especially for homeschooled children over the age of ten who want to learn more about opera. We have three teachers with us who will alternate providing lessons, crafts, exercise, and games to keep the kids entertained. We limited the enrollment to 20 children and all the places sold out within three days.

We arrive in Dallas in the morning and have breakfast in the cabin. A bus meets us after that to take us sightseeing. There are numerous BBQ restaurants in Dallas, but The Slow Bone is said to be one of the best. Many of us eat half a slab of ribs for lunch. We walk a short distance to The Porch for scrumptious butterscotch ice cream and cake topped with sea salted caramel, whipped cream, and a cherry.

The video stream of The Dallas Opera's Carmen premieres online on the evening of October 9, 2020, at 7:30 p.m. Dallas time. That date was originally to be opening night of the company's 2020/2021 Season, Stéphanie d'Oustrac is Carmen, Stephen Costello is Don José, Sara Gartland is Micaëla, and Alexander Vinogradov is Escamillo. Sir David McVicar is the original director, and Jack Furness the revival director. Pierre Vallet conducts.

Viewers must register online at to gain free access to the program. Carmen will be available until November 8, 2020.

After Carmen, the Magic Opera Flying Carpet has a major re-boarding check-in because of the long flight from Dallas to Sidney, Australia. The weather is good, the flight is smooth and only Manon-la-Chat is occasionally awake enough to enjoy the mysteries of night over the ocean. The flight is 22 hours long so we spend the next day on the carpet, arriving in Sydney late at night. We park at a general aviation field not far from the city and some folks get off to stretch their legs when we arrive, even though it is close to midnight.

By noon Sydney time, people are alive again, especially the children. We take them to lunch at the Australian Heritage Hotel in The Rocks. There, they have kangaroo burgers, crocodile spring rolls and kangaroo pizza along with more common foods to choose from. Dinner is take-out from Harry's Food Truck at Wooloomooloo (Wooloo'mooloo')Wharf. I try the flaky lamb shank pie with mashed potatoes, mashed ;peas and gravy. Lamb and gravy is Manon's idea of heaven and she plunges her whole head into the dish. When she finishes, I wash her face and she's angry with me for the evening.

Emma Matthews stars as Violetta in Francesca Zambello's spectacular production of Verdi's La Traviata on Sydney Harbor. Gianluca Terranova is Alfredo Germont, and Jonathan Summers is Giorgio Germont. The director is Francesca Zambello, and the conductor is Brian Castles-Onion who leads the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra. La Traviata is performed under the stars on a floating, mirrored stage on the water, with the Opera House and Harbor Bridge acting as a backdrop. The set includes a glittering Swarovski crystal chandelier to illuminate the stage. Later, fireworks decorate the sky-line.

That same night we board the Magic Opera Flying Carpet for the 21- hour flight to Italy. In Milan, after a night's sleep, we check out the Leonardo da Vinci National Science Museum. Later, we enjoy a special performance of Verdi's Rigoletto for children by AsLiCo, The Associazione Lirica e Concertistica Italiana. Although it is sung in Italian, the film has English titles and pen drawings to illustrate the moods of characters.

Francesco Congiu is the Duke, Jaime Pialli is Rigoletto, Vittoria Magnarello is Gilda, Elena Pervoz is Maddalena, and Andrea Gervasoni is both Sparafucile and Monterone. The director is Manuel Renga and the conductor is Cesare Della Sciucca . Giorgio Martano plays the pianoforte, an instrument that pre-dates the piano.

For lunch, after our short flight to Paris, we order onion soup topped with bread and cheese along with a sampler other French breads and cheeses. It's a sunny day and we stroll through the Bois de Bologne. For an early dinner, we take the children to the Angelina Tea House for their children's menu entrees and calorie-filled desserts to dream about. After dinner, the children go back to the carpet with their teachers and adult tour members go to the opera. Manon is out visiting with her French friends. She will return when I do, around midnight.

We attend a performance of Gluck's Orpheus and Eurydice at the Opéra Comique. Orpheus is Marianne Crebassa, Eurydice is Hélène Guilmette, and Cupid is Lea Desandre. Raphaël Pichon leads the Pygmalion Orchestra and chorus. Aurélien Bory directs.



If you have any heavy wool sweaters or boiled wool jackets, you can use them at our next stop, Finland. We leave early so as to be there by noon.

Helsinki's Baltic Herring Market has been in operation since 1743. Fishermen working on the Baltic Sea bring their salted herring as well as a delicious selection of marinades made from rowan berries or herbs and spicearket Square. One can also find dark bread, wool clothing, and other handicrafts there.

For dinner we order kaalikääryleet or cabbage rolls made up of steamed leaves with beef, onions, and spices topped with lingonberry jam. They are served with rice, or mashed potatoes and gravy.

The Finnish National Opera's performance of Wagner's The Flying Dutchman was recorded in November 2016. The cast includes Nylund, Reuter, Frank, Pohjonen, Katajala. Kaspar Holten directs and John Fiore conducts. Subtitles are in English and the stream is available until Jan. 29, 2021.

After this long trip a the world, at least half way around the world, both adults and children are happy to return to sunny, sometimes smoky, Los Angeles.

Picture of Ashley Faatoalia from LA Opera.

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