Feature: ONLINE OPERA VIRTUAL TOUR September 26-October 3 at Home Computer Screens

Opera to Delight the Soul and Food to Warm the Palate

By: Sep. 25, 2020
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Feature: ONLINE OPERA VIRTUAL TOUR September 26-October 3 at Home Computer Screens

On the Los Angeles Opera website this week, soprano Sarah Vautour, together with pianists Steven Blier and Jeremy Frank, offer a recital of cabaret classics for her "Living Room Recital."

Her songs include

"Berlin im Licht" by Kurt Weill, with Steven Blier

"I'm a Stranger Here Myself" from One Touch of Venus by Kurt Weill with Steven Blier

"Toothbrush Time" from William Bolcom's Cabaret Songs with Jeremy Frank

"Je ne t'aime pas" ("I don't love you") by Kurt Weill with Steven Blier

"The Physician" by Cole Porter with Steven Blier

"Hotel" from Francis Poulenc's Banalités (Jeremy Frank)

"Surabaya Johnny" from Kurt Weill's Happy End with Steven Blier

"Waitin" from William Bolcom's Cabaret Songs with Jeremy Frank

"Tell me the Truth about Love" from Benjamin Britten's Cabaret Songs withJeremy Frank

"Youkali" by Kurt Weill with Steven Blier

One of the illustrious alumni of Merola Opera Program in San Francisco, baritone Lucas Meachem (2003), opens Merola's Virtual Recital Series on Sept. 27 at 4 p.m. PDT, with "I Left My Aria in San Francisco.

To show his appreciation for Merola, Meachem says he is happy to have "the honor of opening their upcoming recital series with a livestream recital." Performing arias he has sung with San Francisco Opera that represent his best memories of the city, Lucas Meachem will be accompanied by his wife, Irina Meachem.

Their program includes

"Bella siccome un angelo" (Beautiful as an angel), from Donizetti's Don Pasquale

"Hai già vinta la causa" (You have already won the case) from Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro

"Deh, vieni alla finestra" (Oh, come to the window) from Mozart's Don Giovanni

"Kogda bï zhizn domashnim krugom" (Onegin's aria) from Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin

"Mab, la reine des mensonges" (Mab, the queen of lies) from Gounod's Roméo et Juliette

"Mein Sehnen, Mein Wähnen" (Pierrot's Tanzlied-My longing, my imagination) from Korngold's Die Tote Stadt

"In the Mornin," a Spiritual arranged by Charles Ives.

The Meachems say, "The arts are alive and will recover. A pandemic won't stop us. The artistic light in our hearts has merely dimmed, not extinguished and this recital is proof of that."

Tickets starting at $25 are available at Eventbrite.

This week's Flying Opera Magic Carpet Tour Group meets at Los Angeles Airport to stow luggage on the flight vehicle and board the virtual bus to the Dorothy Chandler Center for Operalia. The 2014 concert seems like it happened in another world-not here in LA-just six years ago.

Operalia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4Zr4_zXj1g

Review including program: http://www.operatoday.com/content/2014/09/operalia_the_wo.php

After the concert, we begin preparations for our night flight to England. Having secured permission ahead of time, passengers Paul and Jean Schaefer have brought their elderly, well-mannered dog, George. Manon-la-Chat, accustomed to adoring attention, puts her ears back, her nose in the air, and says, "Well mannered? Ha! We shall see." She is determined to drink all his dog water so he will die of thirst.

As soon as George sees her at his bowl, the chase is on and everything not screwed down is flying around the cabin while Manon hides on a high shelf. Having partitioned off the cabin, giving Manon the front and George the back, we finally settle in for the night. Morning brings north Atlantic fog and pale, greenish sunshine.

The story of Glyndebourne Opera began in 1934 when founder John Christie met soprano Audrey Mildmay and they fell in love. Since then, Glyndebourne, a theater in the heart of the Sussex countryside, has become one of the most celebrated opera houses in the world. Its company performs before some 150,000 people between their summer festival and autumn tour. Since the festival has a tradition of formal dress, tour members have brought some of LA's most exquisite finery. Glyndebourne's Ermione has 90-minute intermissions in which we can picnic in the gardens or dine at an on-site restaurant.

Rossini's Ermione was recorded at Glyndebourne's superb new opera house in 1995. Rossini's unusual tragic opera is based on Racine's Andromaque, but in Graham Vick's setting, it takes place in the auditorium of an Italian opera house rather than in ancient Greece. Andrew Davis conducts Anna Caterina Antonacci, Bruce Ford, and Gwynne Howell.

Ermione: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYzRXLKfBAw

After spending the night in England, as is our custom, we enjoy the delights of a complete English breakfast before heading southeast for the high mountains surrounding Salzburg, Austria. Enroute, dog and cat begin to realize that neither is going to harm the other...except that Manon still tries to drink all the dog's water.

Arriving in the Mozart city on a rainy afternoon, we scatter into various cafes. I like the Bazar on the river bank where the overhead vines are so dense that we can sit outside even when it rains. Chocolate cake mit schlag obers and espresso brings back memories. When I worked for soprano Rita Streich, we sat outside, drank coffee, and wrote letters in English.

The Salzburg Don Giovanni from1987 stars: Ramey, Furlanetto, Varady, Tomowa-Sintow, Battle, and Winbergh, with Karajan conducting.

Don Giovanni: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGo_faB5bOQ&list=PL4jmgLPuATP0j3I7X_ge-Et6JZk8pJNFW&index=10

Background: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Giovanni

Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania and the seat of its national government. Known for the architecture in its Old Town, Vilnius was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

At a restaurant near the theater, we begin with a beautiful, pink saltibarsciai soup, made from beets and kefir-garnished with greens. Following local culture, we add hardboiled eggs, boiled potatoes, and meat-filled cepelinai dumplings. After a bumpy flight, we find the food and Vilnius' local beer soothing and wholesome.

At the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre we learn that Prokofiev's opera The Gambler has English titles. The Russian composer's first full-length opera, The Gambler is based on Dostoyevsky's partly autobiographical novella ironically written to settle his gambling debts. In the opera, a general and his stepdaughter are both heavily in debt. When the family's tutor, in love with the girl, gets lucky at the gambling table, he tries to rescue her from her desperate situation, but she rejects him. Modestas Pitr?-nas conducts and Vasilij Barchatov directs the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet's 2020 production of The Gambler, which stars Asmik Grigorian.

The Gambler: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9Qx8YXUSEQ&feature=emb_rel_end

Leaving Lithuania, we enjoy a smooth flight to Ukraine. Although we are in the city of Kharkiv, not Kyiv (formerly Kiev), we decide on Chicken Kiev for our main meal. The dish consists of a chicken cutlet pounded thin and stuffed with a frozen mixture of butter and herbs. The cutlet is sealed with beaten egg, dipped in seasoned breadcrumbs, and fried until golden brown.

Founded about 1655 as a military stronghold, Kharkiv is a city in northeastern Ukraine at the confluence of three rivers. The Kharkiv State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre presents operas in Ukrainian, Russian, French, and Italian in a 1991 postmodern building tiled with arctic tufa.

The Kharkov National Academic Opera presents Puccini's Tosca with Maria Maksakova and Oleg Zlakoman. The conductor is D. Morozov and the stage director is A. Kaloyan.

Tosca: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YgsMF3VQV4

From Kharkiv, we fly west to Zaragoza, Spain, where we have a restaurant reservation for Fabada Asturiana, a one-pot feast made with white beans. Our restaurant serves it with chorizo, bacon, and morcilla, a Spanish blood sausage.

At the Zaragoza Auditorium, we enjoy a 2018 Gala Zarzuela performance in homage to Spanish tenor Miguel Fleta. Artists include Placido Domingo, Ana Maria Martinez, and Airam Hernández. Ramon Tebar conducts the Orchestra of the Gran Teatro del Liceu. Unfortunately, the program is not available online and there are no titles, but much of the music is captivating.

Zarzuela Gala: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PDo9EXA7-o

After a quick nightcap, we return to the Magic Opera Flying Carpet and our dog vs. cat debacle in the cabin.

For those who would like to learn more about the first Black opera composer, the Chevalier de St. Georges, we have a video about his life and his compositions by singer and musicologist Celine Ricci. We show it in the cabin on the long flight to Japan.

Background: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevalier_de_Saint-Georges

L'Aimant Anonyme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJTVXQT9wU4

Hungry on our arrival in Tokyo, we opt for tempura, deep-fried fish and vegetables encrusted in light, crisp batter. Most of us wash it down with local beer, although some folks prefer tea.

Our bus takes us to the theater where we hear Verdi's Messa da Requiem performed by the Teatro alla Scala on tour in Tokyo, Japan, in 1981. The cast, conducted by Claudio Abbado includes Anna Tomowa-Sintow, Lucia Valentini-Terrani, Veriano Lucchetti, and Nicolai Ghiaurov.

Background: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Requiem_(Verdi)

Verdi Requiem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRjqXzioRPI

After a long trip, Manon-la-Chat and I, and especially George-the-Dog, are happy to return to a warm but smoggy Los Angeles.


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