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BWW Feature: ONLINE VIRTUAL OPERA TOUR at Home Computer Screens

Online Opera from California, New York, and Europe

BWW Feature: ONLINE VIRTUAL OPERA TOUR at Home Computer Screens

Both Los Angeles and San Francisco Opera companies are closed right now, but there is still a wealth material to see and hear on each of their websites. LA has recitals and Coffee with Conlon. SFO has links to Eun Sun Kim's conducting dates at La Scala for performances of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, Saint Saëns The Carnival of the Animals, and Poulenc's The Story of Babar the Little Elephant.

The San Francisco Opera continues full-length free opera streams Jan. 16-17 with the 2019 presentation of Gounod's Romeo and Juliet with Pene Pati and Nadine Sierra as the young lovers. Romeo and Juliet is performed in French with English subtitles. The next weekend, Jan. 23-24, the company will offer Saint-Saëns' most popular opera, Samson and Delilah, starring Clifton Forbis and Olga Borodina. This 2007 presentation of Samson and Delilah is performed in French with English subtitles. Verdi's La Traviata, streaming Jan. 30-31, features Nicole Cabell opposite Stephen Costello. La Traviata is performed in Italian with English subtitles. Free streams are viewable on demand with registration at

For more information, visit

At home in Los Angeles for the holidays, Manon-la-Chat missed her step while performing her favorite Kitty Dance on the wall above a chihuahua-filled yard. She almost fell into a dog's mouth! Luckily, she is fast and only one dog got a mouthful of her tail hair. Lesson learned, she promises to be more careful in the future.

For the first virtual tour of 2021, members meet at the Pasadena Church for Tosca. Pacific Opera Project presents its 2014 Tosca at Porticoes Art Space on the campus of St. James Methodist Church in Pasadena, CA. Josh Shaw designs and directs the production. In this video the conductor is Stephen Karr. Tosca is Daria Somers; Cavaradossi, Brian Cheney; Scarpia, Patrick Blackwell; and the Sacristan, E. Scott Levin.

After the show, we enjoy a nightcap and discuss trip particulars onboard the Magic Opera Flying Carpet. Since this is a virtual trip, we fly smoothly all the way to the East Coast and we don't have to quarantine in New Jersey in order to enter New York. Still clad in pajamas, we eat breakfast at "Shut Up and Eat" and get the 13% discount for our costumes.

Manon comes with us on the bus to NYC, since she can watch Nabucco from the bridge above the Met stage. She has made friends with local restaurant cats and they enjoy each other's cat-versation.

The Met's Youtube performance of Nabucco can be accessed for free until Jan. 21. Placido Domingo portrays Nabucco, the King of Babylon, who is supernaturally driven mad when he proclaims himself God, but then returns to health when he repents. Liudmyla Monastyrska is the cruel and treacherous Abigaille, supposedly Nabucco's oldest daughter but actually a slave. Abigaille seizes the crown and plots the death of her sister Fenena (Jamie Barton), who loves Ismaele (Russell Thomas), as does Abigaille. Trying to keep order is Dmitry Belosselskiy as Zaccaria, the High Priest of Jerusalem. Elijah Moshinsky directs and James Levine conducts.

Nabucco is Verdi's third opera and his first big success. He writes for big strong voices but in the Bel Canto manner of Bellini and Donizetti that was in the mid nineteenth century. Verdi's addition to the state of the art at that time was his handling of ensembles. In this translucent performance conducted by Levine, you can hear mezzo and baritone as well as soprano and tenor throughout.

As you watch this stream, you will see many reminders of opera life as it was before 2020. As time goes on we need to try to retain the best of life-as-it was while omitting negative aspects of the past.

After the show we collect Manon who has been having a great time with Lincoln Center friends. Aboard the bus tour members munch cookies and drink various kinds of bubbly. We don't have to get out in the morning because we have a second performance in NYC.

The following day, we bus into the city for dinner at a dumpling house in Chinatown and follow it with a short walk uptown for custard-filled desserts in Little Italy. We even buy cannoli, tricolor cookies, tiramisu, and a big triangular Neapolitan struffoli of honey-glazed dough balls to take back to the Flying Carpet.

For our second night at the Met, we see Darko Tresnjak's production of Samson et Dalila from 2018 featuring Roberto Alagna and Elīna Garanča as Samson and Dalila, with the Met Orchestra conducted by Sir Mark Elder. Titles for the show are in English, German, Spanish and Italian.

We fly to Sicily over night for the Teatro Massimo Bellini of Catania's Grand New Year's Concert for 2021. Our parking space outside the city faces the Mediterranean Sea and we awake to find ourselves surrounded by nature's beauty and warm sunlight. We eat a continental breakfast and drink lattes onboard before bussing into town for the day.

Our dinner is Pasta alla Norma, a typical dish of the Sicilian cuisine created in Catania. The original recipe calls for macaroni, tomatoes, fried eggplant), grated local cheese, and basil. The dish got its name when the Italian writer Nino Martoglio compared its culinary glory to the perfection of Bellini's opera Norma.

For our concert, Fabrizio Maria Carminati conducts the Teatro Massimo Bellini Orchestra while it accompanies Daniela Schillaci, soprano; Anastasia Boldireva, mezzosoprano; Angelo Villari, tenor; Francesco Pittari, tenor; and Luca Grassi, baritone. They perform music of Bellini, Tchaikovsky, Donizetti, Lehár, Mascagni, Offenbach, Ponchielli, Puccini, Rossini, Verdi, and J. Strauss

We leave for Berlin before sunrise so as to see the colors of dawn reflected on the Alpine summits as we cross into Northern Europe. Berlin is a cosmopolitan city and we leave tour members to choose their own types of food for lunch and dinner. I opt for some sweet Quarkkeulchen. Made from a dough of curd cheese, boiled potatoes and raisins, palm-sized patties of Quarkkeulchen are pan-fried, sprinkled with sugar and served with hot cherries over vanilla ice cream. One thing is for sure, tour members will sample Berlin's many varieties of beer no matter what cuisine they choose.

Berlin's Komische Oper offers Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann free online until June. In Hoffmann's feverish imagination, the staging of Don Giovanni leads him on a frenzied journey into nightmarish worlds There are English titles.

For breakfast the next morning, we tried the fried eggs over sweet potato and chorizo with a side of home made BBQ sauce at "Restaurant Bastard." It was different and most delicious and we assemble back at the Flying Carpet with memories of its unusual tastes. Our trip to England takes us deep into the fog of the North Atlantic and we see nothing but clouds until we land outside London.
After stretching our legs on a short promenade, Manon and I get out our rain gear. London is doing its thing...again, and it does make good background for tonight's opera, The Flying Dutchman.

Andris Nelsons conducts the orchestra and chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in this 2015 performance of Wagner's The Flying Dutchman. Chris Shipman directs the production. Performers include Bryn Terfel, Adrianne Pieczonka, Catherine Wyn-Rogers, Michael König, and Peter Rose.

How love to be in London for a fantastic British breakfast! Today's consists of fried eggs, buttered toast, pork sausage, bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms, fried bread, and a slice of a black pudding similar to bloodwurst. Although it is more traditional to drink tea, I drink a large mocha latte with mine.

For our second day in London, we do some shopping. Tour members are free to roam around town. "Sometimes a girl just has to have luxury!" exclaims Manon as she swirls her new red blanket across a chair. Manon and I look for historical notes on Dick Whittington and his cat. In real-life, Richard Whittington (c. 1354-1423), was a wealthy merchant who became Lord Mayor of London. According to an unsubstantiated legend, he rose from a poverty-stricken childhood by selling his cat to people in a rat-infested area. Manon is aghast that he would sell his faithful feline friend. She quotes Cicero: "O tempora, o mores!" ("Oh the times, oh the customs"). "Take a nap, kitty."

In the evening we attend Andrea Chénier at the Royal Opera House in London. Jonas Kaufmann is Chénier, Eva-Maria Westbroek is Maddalena, Željko Lučić is Carlo Gérard, and Denyce Graves is Bersi. Antonio Pappano conducts.

The next morning Manon and I begin to vary our London breakfasts. I like less pork and a bit of beef. We even find beef bacon which she adores. Along with toast, eggs, and beef sausage, I get some Scottish steel-cut oatmeal with raisins, brown sugar, chopped walnuts, and cream. Soon we are all assembled in the Magic Opera Flying Carpet and ready to take off for the sunny and warm climes of Los Angeles.

Tosca Act II photo by Martha Benedict. Daria Somers is Tosca and Patrick Blackwell is Scarpia in this Pacific Opera Project performance.

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From This Author Maria Nockin