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BWW Feature: ONLINE OPERA/SONG JULY 17-24 at Home Computer Screens

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BWW Feature:  ONLINE OPERA/SONG JULY 17-24 at Home Computer Screens

Tenor Russell Thomas, whose performance combines Wagnerian stamina with Italian lyricism, received glowing reviews for his recent performance as Titus in The Clemency of Titus. Russell and pianist Kyung-mi Kim invite us to enjoy their Living Room Recital. Songs include: Schubert's An die Musik, Vaughn Williams' Let Beauty Awake, Mascagni's Risveglio, Duparc's L'Invitation au Voyage, Verdi's L'Esule, Barber's Knoxville Summer of 1915, and Meeropol's Strange Fruit. That last song makes a powerful point.

LAO's website is the place for all things opera, even opera made especially for kids. Since the company can't bring education programs to the classroom, it's bringing them to readers at home. LAO has tons of materials for kids and their parents that range from sing-a-longs to lesson plans.

This evening we're inviting all readers to board our Magic Opera Flying Carpet for San Francisco and Olivier Tambosi's production of Leoš Janáček's The Makropolous Case. It stars Finnish soprano Karita Mattila and Czech conductor Jiří Bělohlávek. First, however, we will enjoy an onboard breakfast of garlicky Czech Potato Pancakes seasoned with marjoram, and studded with caraway seeds. Other dishes include: Pražská šunka, brined and beechwood-smoked Prague ham, favored by Manon-the-Cat, and Smažený sýr, deep fried cheese. San Francisco Opera presents The Makropolous Case on Saturday, July 25 at 10 A.M. Pacific time. Titles are in English.

From Frisco, we quickly reboard our Carpet to take a supersonic cross-country flight to Wisconsin, for Madison Opera's Digital Opera in the Park. The concert starring Jasmine Habersham, Karen Slack, Andres Acosta, and Weston Hurt, begins on Saturday, July 25, at 4:00 P.M. Pacific time. For a late supper, we choose the Banzo Food Cart "F-Bomb Plate" that combines falafel with chicken, rice, hummus, pita, and fresh veggies. Having eaten some of the veggies to see what is in the pita pocket, Manon-the-Cat looks skyward with a bean sprout hanging from her teeth and wonders about encasing "un petit oiseau" in pita bread.

The next day, Sunday July 26, we head for Chicago where at 4 PM Pacific time the Ryan Opera Center presents a free virtual concert in celebration of the depth and breadth of Black artistry, hosted by world-renowned tenor Lawrence Brownlee. The program also features soprano Whitney Morrison, mezzo-soprano J'Nai Bridges, and baritone Will Liverman, with current 2020/21 Ryan Opera Center Ensemble members

Our last stop in the USA is at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, just north of New York City, where we have a reservation at a nearby winery. There, we taste unusual vintages such as an impressive Tocai Fruliano, along with piquant chardonnays, and savory local blends. Bard College has several performances available for streaming. We chose Anton Rubenstein's The Demon for this occasion. Directed by Thaddeus Strassberger, the Bard Festival Chorale, Russian singers, and Georgian Dancers perform with Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra. Bard College Summerscape Upstreaming Operas can be found at

At last we embark on the long but restful night voyage across the dark reaches of the North Atlantic Ocean and I have time to knit, which fascinates Manon. Clouds obscure a lazy moon which fails to light the crashing waves. Even the air is rough on this troubled evening and I pray that no one risks crossing in a small boat. Manon snuggles close as she feels the ambiance of uncertainty in the cabin.

Morning comes as we veer over land, and pale English sunlight washes away remaining anxiety. A hearty breakfast confirms our happy return to London. With full stomachs, we mount traditional British taxis for a tour of the city, a road trip to Glyndebourne, and a picnic dinner.

Rossini called his opera Ermione; Glyndebourne calls it Hermione, no matter. This fine production is directed by Graham Vick and Sir Andrew Davis conducts the London Philharmonic. The cast consists of Anna Caterina Antonacci, Bruce Ford, and Gwynne Howell.

Rome holds its summer performances out of doors in the ancient Baths of Caracalla. We watch a charming rendition of Puccini's La Bohème from 2015 directed by David Livermore and conducted by Paolo Arrivabeni. Serena Farnocchia, and Abdellah Lasri are Mimì and Rodolfo.

After the show, I am reminded of my first trip to Caracalla. After the performance I went backstage to see as tenor I knew and we chatted for a while. After I said I did not need a lift, he went off to eat with friends. I walked quite a distance toward the city and saw no cars at all. I did see a cafe, however, so I went in and asked about a taxi. The waiter said taxis never come out of town. He referred me to a Carabinieri mounted policeman standing nearby. You guessed it. I rode on the horse behind the policeman until I could connect with a cab.

From Rome, the Magic Opera Flying Carpet and its virtual tour group is off to the Alps and Zurich Opera for a performance of Donizetti's Don Pasquale. Manon is afraid she will be cold, but I have a surprise for her. I have been knitting a shocking pink cat sweater since we left LA. It's her first piece of clothing and she is a bit insecure about it, but loves the bright color. A yellow, gray, black and white cat needs a bit more color, n'est-ce pas?

After a dinner of fondue, we order Zuger Kirschtorte, sponge cake layered with nut-infused meringue and butter cream, all of which has been soaked in cherry brandy. It's raining hard and some California people are shivering. Luckily, we're going to the opera by taxi.

Directed by Grischa Asagaroff and conducted by Nello Santi, the Don Pasquale cast will include Ruggero Raimondi as the Don, Juan Diego Florez as Ernesto, and Isabel Rey as Norina. Members of Zurich Opera's International Opera Studio (IOS) sing the smaller parts. The IOS is a world famous opera training program that has helped many currently famous singers perfect their craft.

Zurich Don Pasquale

After the opera, tour members, crew, sweater-wrapped cat and I leave for a long, restful flight back to the land of orange trees. Thus, we listen to Marilyn Horne as Mignon singing, "Connais-tu le pays ou fleurit l'orangier?" ("Do you Know the Land where the Orange Trees Bloom?")

Photo of Russell Thomas by Fay Fox for Los Angeles Opera.

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From This Author Maria Nockin