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BWW Feature: ONLINE VIRTUAL OPERA TOUR at Home Computer Screens

A Virtual Tour to the East Coast, England, and the Continent.

BWW Feature: ONLINE VIRTUAL OPERA TOUR at Home Computer Screens Los Angeles Opera has a wealth of operatic and recital material on its website page On Now. A must see video is the company's inaugural event, the virtual company premiere of The Anonymous Lover, an unjustly neglected 1780 chamber opera by Joseph Bologne, better known as the Chevalier de Saint-Georges. This comic romance tells the story of Léontine, a beautiful young widow who is disillusioned about love. Despite her best efforts to remain happily unattached, she finds herself the unexpected recipient of letters and gifts from an unknown man who professes his undying passion for her. The rest is a most charming comedy.

Here's a link to LA Opera's delightful Bel Canto Holiday Card:

The Magic Opera Flying Carpet takes off for Philadelphia on Sunday Evening and lands at a field near the City of Brotherly Love. We don boots, masks, and winter coats for our breakfast at Ants Pants Cafe on South Street. Our order brings large platters of their famous apricot-glazed, brie-stuffed French toast, bacon-egg-and-cheese rolls, beef and bean burritos, and avocado toast to our sheltered but outdoor table.

Tour members have free time to wander through Philadelphia until we meet at the The Academy of Vocal Arts to watch the competition. Manon has stayed in the cabin and I need to go back there to make sure our Christmas decorations don't turn into cat toys. The top of the tree is wired to the ceiling, but other cat-tastrophes are possible.

AVA's mission is to be the world's premier institution for training young artists to be international opera soloists. Thus, AVA offers rigorous instruction and presents these artists in concerts, oratorios, public programs and fully staged professional opera productions. AVA trains artists with the high potential for career success while enriching lives of audience members in Philadelphia and beyond.

The Academy of Vocal Arts Voice Competition is available on demand until Jan, 2021.

After the competition, we board the Magic Opera Flying Carpet for our night flight to London. We make sure rain gear is easily available for our arrival in London and we settle in for the solitude and contemplation of the immense blackness of the universe that can be seen from a plane. I'm thinking of a nap but Manon wants to play with her Christmas toys. "That does not include climbing that tempting indoor tree, Manon." She doesn't hear me...or doesn't want to. With a jingle and a crash, she's on top in a flash, and the tree swings out on its tether.

We arrive at a general aviation field outside London where we can park for our two-day London stay. The first order of business is a hearty English breakfast, and not just the tea. We order the full "English" here with all the trimmings including pork and caramelized onion sausages, hash browns, pigs head blood pudding and roast beef butter on toasted home-baked bread. They had good coffee for me, too. While at breakfast we decide on a bus route and timed stops for days in London so that tour members can sightsee at will and not miss dinner or the shows. Back at the Carpet, Manon loves the pudding.

Later in the day, we bus to the suburb of Coniston for traditional dinner pies. I'm having one made of three kinds of pork, shoulder, belly, and slab bacon. It also contains a little chicken, and a savory stuffing. Some of these pies are so high they look like loaves made of pie crust. All pies come with a side of Westmoreland Chutney.

For our first night in London, we attend Verdi's La Traviata at Covent Garden. Richard Eyre directs this production and Antonello Manacorda conducts a cast starring Ermonela Jaho, Charles Castronovo, and Placido Domingo.

We order our breakfast in advance for the next morning. and what arrives is a huge array of pancakes, toast, bacon, sausage, hashbrown potatoes, fried eggs, baked beans, roasted portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, scrambled egg burritos, and more blood sausage for our hot-blooded mascot.

Manon and I go on a London walking tour with her in a carrier that allows her to see the sights. When we return to the Carpet, our own chef has prepared Wiener schnitzel for the dinner before our excursion to Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus, (The Bat) at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

For the 2020 holiday season, the Royal Opera House presents a film of its 1983 Die Fledermaus conducted by Placido Domingo. Kiri Te Kanawa is Rosalinde, Hildegarde Heichele is Adele, Herman Prey is Eisenstein, and Doris Soffel is Prince Orlofsky.

After the show, we go for mulled wine, some of it non-alcoholic, and chocolate-covered strawberries before our bus ride to the Carpet. We will sleep in place so we can enjoy another English breakfast before taking off for Munich. Since we arrive in Bavaria late in the day, we eat in the vehicle and bus straight to the theater.

The Bayerische Staatsoper celebrates the holiday season with a livestream of Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel. Tara Erraught stars as Hansel, Emily Pogorelc sings Gretel, Kevin Conners flies across the stage as the Witch, and Friedrich Haider conducts. The Staatsoper is making the stream available on-demand for 9.90 euros as part of its holiday series.

We go for soft drinks or beer and pastry after the show. We fly to Verona at night and are all securely nestled in our recliners when we arrive. We eat breakfast and a light lunch in town. For dinner, we want to try Verona's most famous dish, risotto. We order two varieties to share. The first is risotto al tastasal, a sausage-based risotto with ground pork, salt, and sharp pepper. The second, risotto al radicchio, is tempered with onion, pancetta, and red wine that give off a sweetness counteracting the bitter radicchio base.

At the Arena di Verona we see Verdi's Nabucco. Daniel Oren conducts the Orchestra of the Arena di Verona with Leo Nucci, Carlo Colombara, Maria Guleghina, and Nino Surguladze. Unfortunately, the titles are only available in German.



It's New Year's Eve and we are having a party at the Carpet for tour members after the opera. When we arrive back at the Carpet we have hot canapés and cold eggnog waiting. Our chef has put them on the table about 15 minutes before our expected arrival ... and he has not counted on Manon jumping onto the table. She knows she is not allowed on the table ... but the temptation of the cream-filled drink in a lovely Italian punch bowl is too strong for our special cat. When I first see her, she is burping vociferously as she lies in an indelicate position on the rug. I lift her gently and put her to bed like any other drunk. Tour members celebrate with un-decanted wine. Thank goodness Manon did not throw up in the bed. She sleeps late into the next morning and only wakes enroute to Berlin.

For one pre-opera dinner of Eisbein or Pork Knuckle, we go to Berlin's oldest restaurant Zur Letzten Instanz. It has been open since 1621, and boasts of having served Napoleon at a later date. Eisbein," or "ice leg" is steamed for several hours with sauerkraut that turns the meat pink. Ours came with with potatoes and pea puree.
At the Staatsoper unter den Linden, we see Lohengrin with Roberto Alagna, Vida Mikneviciute, Martin Gantner, Ekaterina Gubanova, and Rene Pape. The director is Calixto Bieito and Matthias Pintscher conducts.

Watch Lohengrin's entry in the first act, then press the red button for the full opera.



Back at the Magic Opera Flying Carpet, after the opera we don comfy clothing and despite a pouring rain we bound skyward on our trip back to sunny, warm-for-January Los Angeles.

Portrait of the Chevalier de St. Georges courtesy of Los Angeles Opera.


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