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BWW Feature: ONLINE VIRTUAL OPERA TOUR No. 47 at Home Computer Screens

An Unusual Carmen, Pélleas Sung and Danced, a Polish Opera, and the Ring

BWW Feature: ONLINE VIRTUAL OPERA TOUR No. 47 at Home Computer Screens Angelinos, join soprano and Shakespeare super-fan Katherine Powers on a romp through the Bard's stories told in music. In each of her episodes, Powers calls an expert on her "Shakespeare Hotline" and performs songs from his timeless works. Members of the Online Opera Virtual Tour are watching a few episodes on the afternoon of their arrival at the touring vehicle, the Magic Opera Flying Carpet.

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For dinner, our chef orders dinner from Dulan's famous soul food restaurant on Crenshaw Blvd. Tour members enjoy chicken with a choice of sides including collard greens, macaroni n' cheese, black-eye peas, mashed potatoes with gravy, and corn bread dressing. For dessert, they dine on sweet potato pie or peach cobbler with sweet tea.

Russell Thomas hosts a program called Black Love. In this "After Hours" program, includes love songs by renowned Black composers including H.T. Burleigh, William Grant Still, Undine Smith Moore, and Margaret Bonds. Pianist Leonard Hayes accompanies vocalists Ashley Faatoalia, Alaysha Fox, and Tiffany Townsend.

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In the morning, the tour flies the short hop to the Northern California parking place outside of San Francisco where it is cloudy and cool. Tour members bus into town to view paintings at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

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San Francisco Opera presents Verdi's Falstaff February on 27 and 28.

Free opera streams are viewable on demand with registration at, beginning at 10 AM Pacific Time on the first streaming date through 11:59 PM the following day. Current San Francisco Opera subscribers and donors of $75 or more retain access to opera titles after their window of public access. For more information, visit

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In this production from Lyric Opera of Chicago, Olivier Tambosi directs bass-baritone Bryn Terfel as Falstaff, soprano Ainhoa Arteta as Alice, baritone Fabio Capitanucci as Ford, and soprano Heidi Stober as Nannetta. Maestro Nicola Luisotti leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. English subtitles are available.

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From San Francisco, the tour flies over the north pole to Europe. Located in southern France, Montpellier is near the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The city's Gothic Cathedral of Saint Peter, which has unusual conical towers, was built in 1364. Paintings from French and European Old Masters hang at the city's famous Musée Fabre. The bus takes tour members to the Fabre and later brings them back to the Carpet for an early dinner.

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Chef Julia is serving traditional French Southern Cooking. Clapassade is a French casserole that originated in the south. After she seasons and flours lamb chunks, she browns them in olive oil, then adds carrots, onions and olive pieces, cooking them for a few minutes before adding white wine. Later, she adds chicken stock, honey, and star anise while the pot simmers slowly until dinner time. The clapassade is garnished with the brilliant green peel of a local lime.

After an early dinner, tour members bus to the opera house and spend a bit of time walking off the Clapassade before entering. The story of Montpellier's La Soupe Pop begins in a kitchen for the homeless. The kitchen's clients are embroiled in constant conflict, so they spice up the reality of their lives with fantasy. La Soupe Pop is inspired by director Marie-Ève Signeyrole's real-life experience volunteering in a soup kitchen. Halfway between theatre and cabaret, this theatrical experience involves a series of poetic scenes, accompanied by music that is sometimes joyous and at other times melancholy, played by a British band called Tiger Lillies.

Manon is désolée. The Montpellier Opera and the Tiger Lillies said she cannot come to the performance because she is not a tiger cat. She will go to the next opera hidden in her windowed shopping bag if necessary.

This 2016 production of La Soupe Pop is sung in French and English. Subtitles are available in English with the option of auto-translation into over 100 other languages.

3b. LINK: Click performances, operas, and La Soupe Pop.

The tour leaves the warm, sunny coast of France for Switzerland and the high Alps in the wee hours of the morning to catch sunrise and its myriad reflections on the ice-coated mountain peaks. we stop in Geneva for Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande.

After landing, tour members retrieve their warm clothes from the cargo hold and rest until it's time to bus into town for an early dinner. Zürcher Geschnetzeltes or Zürich Slices consists of strips of veal, brown sauce, onion, cream and white wine. Mushrooms and veal kidney are often added and Rösti, fried grated potato with cheese, apple and onion are often served with it. For dessert, tour members enjoy Engadiner Nusstorte, a sweet nut tart consisting of a short crust pastry, cream, caramelized sugar and chopped walnuts, that comes from Engadine mountain region.

After downing some of the meat from dinner on the bus, Manon enjoys the French opera from a perch on a light bridge above the stage. She loves impressionistic music and the languid, sensual movements of the artists.

Jonathan Nott conducts Jacques Imbrailo as Pélleas, Mari Eriksmoen as Mélisande, and Keith Melrose as Golaud. Choreographers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet, together with performance artist Marina Abramovic, stage Pelléas et Mélisande as a cosmic dream. Lost in a forest, a prince meets a mysterious woman and takes her home to a dark castle haunted by repressed longings. Married and living there, she grows fond of her new husband's half-brother, sparking a fatal love triangle between the three of them. As Debussy did with his music, the performers and creators of this 2021 production bring out the fullness of their characters' emotions.

Pelléas et Mélisande is sung in French and is available until August 2021.

Subtitles are available in English and other languages.

5a. LINK Click on performances, operas and Pelléas et Mélisande.

For a night cap on the Magic Opera Flying Carpet, travelers take Basler Leckerli, sweet, glazed ginger bread cookies made with hazelnuts, almonds, honey, and kirsch liqueur, to enjoy with hot chocolate.

After a large breakfast that includes the famous Swiss Muesli as well as eggs, potatoes, toast, and flavored lattes, the troupe flies to northern Germany.

Staatsoper Hannover's Carmen addresses the timeless question of whether people are able to control our own desires.With equal parts danger and desire, this Carmen is an intoxicating melange for the senses. Hannover offers a fascinating staging by house director Barbora Horáková accompanied by an arrangement for chamber ensemble by Marius Felix Lange. The Hannover company makes no compromises with questions of freedom and OperaVision salutes the company's courage in creating sensuality on stage that offers a captivating stream for challenging times. This performance is sung in three languages: in French; in Basque, a language spoken in Northern Spain; and in Caló, a Gypsy language.

In this production, Carmen is Evgenia Asanova, Don José is Rodrigo Porras Garulo, Micaela is Barno Ismatullaeva, and Escamillo is Germán Olvera. These are excellent singers opera fans can expect to hear more of. Stephen Zilias conducts and Barbora Horáková directs. Carmen is subtitled in English and available until May 2021.

6a. LINK Click on performances, operas and Carmen.

Leaving late at night, the flight east to Poland begins. Poznán, is situated on the Warta River in the western part of the country. The city is known for the Renaissance-style buildings in its Old Market Square. Poznań's town hall clock features mechanical goats that butt heads at noon. Its Gothic and Baroque Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral is located on an island in the Warta.

Paria, a work by Stanislaw Moniuszko based on a play by Casimir Delavigne, is performed at Poznań Opera. Having led a series of victorious campaigns against rival territories, the opera's leading character wins the hand of a Brahmin priestess. But when his true caste is brought to light, he risks losing more than just his bride. Poznań Opera presents Moniuszko's final opera in a new production directed by Graham Vick to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the composer's birth. Streamed on Opera Vision, it is sung in Polish.

Subtitles are available in English, French, German and Polish.

Paria is available until March 2021.

7a. LINK: Click performances, operas, and Paria

Later that night tour members and crew pack their suitcases, stow them, and begin the long trip back to the United States.

San Francisco begins its free 2018 Ring Cycle with Das Rheingold on March 6 and 7. View the schedule of Zoom programs celebrating Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung available from March 5 to 30, 2021. Delve into the Ring Cycle from the comfort of home through curated talks and educational events. Unlock access to individual online Ring Events events for $15 each.

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Remember that access to the opera itself is free at

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Tour members say Auf Wiedersehen rather than goodbye to San Francisco and the Ring with the knowledge that they will return next week for Die Walküre.

Picture of Tiffany Townsend courtesy of LA Opera.

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From This Author Maria Nockin