ONLINE VIRTUAL OPERA TOUR Begins November 2 on Home Computer Screens

Chicago, Los Angeles, and the Glories of Western Europe

By: Nov. 04, 2021
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ONLINE VIRTUAL OPERA TOUR Begins November 2 on Home Computer Screens The Magic Opera Flying Carpet is parked at Los Angeles Airport, awaiting passengers. We stow our luggage in the outside compartments, board the vehicle, and greet our friends. After takeoff, the crew serves us iced coffee or latte and we attend an online statue show at the Getty Museum. Its digital resources can be accessed here: Tour members love the amber statuary.

This evening our online show is Los Angeles Opera's La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi from 2006 with: Renée Fleming, Rolando Villazón, Renato Bruson, Suzanna Guzmán, Anna Akhimova, Daniel Montenegro, Philip Kraus, James Creswell, Sal Malaki, and Mark Kelley. James Conlon conducts the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra and Chorus. The stage director is Marta Domingo. Brian Large directs it for TV.


After the show, Magic Opera Flying Carpet chef Julia surprises us with baked Alaska and ice wine from the Napa Valley. Manon and I snuggle in for a long nap as we fly through the blackness of the night sky toward the windy city and arrive long before breakfast would normally be served.

Later, we indulge in frosted cinnamon rolls at the Swedish diner, an early morning Chicago staple for over sixty years. Our lunch is Chicago style hot dogs with mustard, relish, freshly chopped onions, sliced tomatoes, peppers, and kosher pickles nestled in steamed poppy seed buns.

In this virtual concert, Lyric Opera of Chicago's Music Director Designate Enrique Mazzola leads world-renowned principal artists Christian Van Horn as Attila, Tamara Wilson as Odabella, Matthew Polenzani as Foresto, and Quinn Kelsey as Ezio with members of the Lyric Opera Chorus in a series of excerpts from the Verdi opera. Pianists William C. Billingham and Jerad Mosbey accompany. Learn more about the cast and find related articles at

For the best viewing experience, we recommend turning on English closed captions and watching on the largest screen possible. For tips and tricks, visit LINK

We leave after midnight for London and Manon snuggles in my arms against the cool of the evening. I'm grateful to again be leading the tour and enjoying the benefits of travel.

When tour members visiting London choose English tea instead of a late lunch, they get a great deal more than a cup of strong tea. The tourists are offered a light pre-dinner snack of bread and butter, cookies, or tea sandwiches. Cream tea, usually served in the West Country of Devon and Cornwall, often includes jam and clotted cream served with scones.

Later, we meet for a roast dinner, the the very heart of British cooking. Restaurant patrons can expect to be served roast beef or lamb, along with roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, gravy, and vegetables such as parsnips, Brussels sprouts, peas, carrots, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, or leeks. In addition to the traditional gravy, our bistros serves cheese sauce for the veggies.

Chris Shipman directs Wagner's Der Fliegende Hollander (The Flying Dutchman) from 2015. Andris Nelsons conducts the Royal Opera House Orchestra. The Dutchman is Bryn Terfel, Senta is Adrianne Pieczonka, Erik is Michael König, Daland is Peter Rose, the Steersman is Ed Lyon, and Mary is Catherine Wyn-Rogers.


One couple is celebrating their 50th anniversary so we decorate the dining cabin in their honor before many of the passengers are up and about. Our English breakfast arrives on silvered paper plates.

If the ambiance of a place puts travelers in a traditional French dining mood, then Le Bœuf à la Mode, a restaurant just outside the Versailles Palace grounds is the perfect spot for dinner. Their Bœuf is made with a chuck eye roast, nutmeg, allspice, onions, carrots, celery, tomato paste, garlic, red wine, cognac, pig's feet, bay leaves, porcini mushrooms, and beef stock.

At the Palace of Versailles, Paul McCreesh conducts Georg Friedrich Handel's oratorio Solomon in a 2012 rendition with the the Gabrieli Consort and Players. Iestyn Davies is Solomon; Gillian Webster its the Queen of Saba and the Second Harlot; Sarah Tynan is Solomon's Queen and the First Harlot; Jeremy Ovenden is Zadok; Peter Harvey is the Levite.

Levite: "Praise ye the Lord for all his mercies past."

Solomon: "What though I trace each herb and flow'r."

Queen: "Bless'd the day when first my eyes."

Queen/Solomon: "Welcome as the dawn of day to pilgrims."

Solomon: "Haste to the cedar grove."

First Harlot/Solomon: Thrice bless'd that wise discerning King.

"Arrival of the Queen of Sheba"

Recorded at the Chapelle Royale, Château de Versailles


The afternoon of the next day we take off for Belgium. Nothing is better to warm your insides on a cold winters day than a bowl of hearty Flemish Stew. Tender chunks of beef cooked in a thick Belgian beer broth, mixed in with bread, onion, mustard and seasoning are scrumptious. Look on the menu for carbonnades flamandes, stoverij or stoofvlees. This rich and warming comfort food comes in its own little casserole pot and is served with fries. Be sure to wash this Belgian dish down with local beer!

La Monnaie in Brussels presents Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia as staged by Guy Joosten. Don Alfonso, Duca di Ferrara is Paul Gay; Donna Lucrezia Borgia is Elena Mosuc; Gennaro is Charles Castronovo; Maffio Orsini is Silvia Tro Santafé; Jeppo Liverotto is Roberto Covatta. Julian Reynolds conducts the La Monnaie Symphony Orchestra.


After some Belgian waffles for breakfast, we take off for Frankfurt.

Frankfurter Würstchen, small German sausages, make the list of the top local specialities. Frankfurt residents distinguish themselves from most of their popular cousins through several factors. The pork sausages are cooked in boiling water for a few minutes before served with a slice of white bread, mustard, and horseradish. Cheese-lovers who visit Frankfurt are in for a treat. Handkäs mit Musik translates to (handmade cheese that might make the same kind of music beans do) refers to it being formed by hand. The low-fat sour milk cheese speciality marinated in oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, onions, and caraway is served along with the sausages in many pubs and restaurants.

While the rest of Germany's inhabitants are passionate beer drinkers, Frankfurt locals often come together over a glass of Äppelwoi, their take on cider. The taste is a lot more tart and sour compared to what you may be used to from the UK or US, but it's refreshing once you're used to it. The Sachsenhausen district of Frankfurt is home to some traditional locales which serve the beverage in the typical Schoppen glass.

Since it is November, we remember the dead with the Verdi Requiem as performed by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony in 2017. The Requiem: Kyrie, Dies irae, Offertorio, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Lux Aeterna, Libera me.

The cast includes: Erika Grimaldi, soprano;Violeta Urmana, mezzosoprano; Saimir Pirgu, tenor; Kihwan Sim, bass; Mittel Deutscher Rundfunkchor, Leipzig; Frankfurt Radio Symphony; Andrés Orozco-Estrada, conducts Alte Oper Frankfurt.


Leaving the cool, damp climes of Germany, we board the Magic Opera Flying Carpet for sunny Los Angeles. Since it has rained on the West Coast, flowers will be blooming along the freeways.

Photo by Andrew Eccles courtesy of LA Opera.


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