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BWW Feature: ONLINE VIRTUAL OPERA TOUR at Home Computer Screens

Puccini under the Midnight Sun, Mascagni in Southern France, and Rameau on the Rhine

BWW Feature: ONLINE VIRTUAL OPERA TOUR at Home Computer Screens

BWW Feature: ONLINE VIRTUAL OPERA TOUR at Home Computer Screens

While at home, our tour members enjoy Los Angeles Opera's Signature Recital Series presentation of mezzo-soprano Susan Graham with pianist Jeremy Frank in a program of songs by Kurt Weill. Selections include the yearning "Lonely House," the tantalizing "I'm a Stranger Here Myself" and the nostalgic "September Song." The video, streaming until July 1, was filmed at LAO's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Graham also performs on the New York Festival of Song's latest video.


We embark upon the Magic Opera Flying Carpet and serve lunch enroute to Pennsylvania where we park outside the city and board a bus for a rustic Italian restaurant in the suburbs. Our reservation places us in a pleasant garden roofed over with vines where waiters in Italian peasant costumes bring us wine, tagliatelle with sausage and tomatoes, followed by chicken Abruzzese style with hot peppers, carrots, and onions. For dessert we enjoy vanilla custard panna cotta with strawberries. On very full stomachs we bus to the city with Manon-la-Chat still munching on chicken. She will be watching the concert from a nook backstage.

The Philadelphia's Academy of Vocal Arts presents Verlaine, Le Voyage Humain, Songs set to the poetry of Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). Enter the mind of the poet in AVA's French recital which features music by Nadia Boulanger, Ernest Chausson, and Frederick Délius led by music director and pianist Audrey Saint-Gil.


Look here for songs by Nadia Boulanger with lyrics by Verlaine.


Most people associate Philly cheese steak with the Pennsylvania city, but for a change, I suggest a sizable portion of cherry or blueberry cheesecake which tour members eat with coffee as a nightcap. After returning to the Flying Carpet, we toast the City of Brotherly Love as we fly north to the New Jersey parking place we use for the Big Apple.

Bizet's 1989 Carmen is at the Met with Agnes Baltsa, José Carreras, Leona Mitchell and Samuel Ramey. The conductor is James Levine


Upon returning to the Magic Opera Flying Carpet, we take off for a night-long trip to Finland and twenty-four hours of non-operatic entertainment. As the summer solstice approaches the sun travels an increasingly longer path through the sky. One way to experience the Midsummer festivities around Helsinki is to board a local cruise ship. Many midnight sun festivals with flower-pole dances take place on the islands off the coast of Finland. Celebrations on the island of Seurasaari get underway at 5 p.m. and continue all the way to midnight. From our pre-arranged island cruise, we enjoy the breathtaking archipelago scenery while observing the sunlit dancing and the bonfires along the shoreline. Our cruise offers a special Midsummer menu featuring traditional Finnish summer treats, such as salmon soup, freshly caught herring pickled with raw onion rings, boiled new potatoes, and archipelago bread. Later, back at the Magic Opera Flying Carpet, there's French wine and English Trifle.

On the following evening we attend the Finnish National Opera's 2018 Tosca with Ausrin?- Stundyt?- as Floria Tosca, Andrea Carè as Mario Cavaradossi, Tuomas Pursio as Scarpia, and Heikki Aalto as the Sacristan. The director is Christof Loy and the conductor is Patrick Fournillier. Sets & costumes are by Christian Schmidt.


English Subtitles are available.

The midnight sun is fascinating but after a while it's nice to go where the sun shines a bit less but warms the land. We fly to Orange in Southern France for that quintessential hot-blooded opera that starts with a serenade and ends with a scream: Cavalleria Rusticana.

After landing in the countryside of southern France, we bus to the city of Orange for an early dinner. A restaurant near the theater offers terrine of duck liver, pork bourguignonne with vegetables in season, coffee, and caramel custard.

Orange's Roman arena is one the great ancient sites in Europe. Restored in 1969, the theatre can seat 9,000 spectators and its stage is close to 60 yards across. In this 2009 production of Mascagni's opera,

Santuzza is Béatrice Uria-Monzon; Lola is Anne-Catherine Gillet; Mamma Lucia is Stefania Toczyska; Turiddu is Roberto Alagna; and Alfio is Seng-Hyoun Ko. The Orchestre National de France is led by Georges Prêtre. There are choruses from Avignon, Montpellier, and Toulouse. The stage director is Jean-Claude Auvray .


After the show we stop at a French pizza shop for a pie topped with walnuts and sweet cheese. Then it's time for a good sleep. As the morning sun wakes Manon, she meows for a trip outside, promising not to go beyond my field of vision. Thank goodness she keeps her promise. She does not even climb a tree. After a hearty meal of bacon, sausage, eggs, cheese, biscuits, and lattes, we leave for Switzerland.

Once in Lugano, we visit the Cathedral of San Lorenzo to see its fourteenth century frescoes and drive on to the boarding point of the funicular for Monte Bré. The restaurant at the top offers drinks with a gorgeous view of the mountains and the city below. We find an Argentine restaurant back in Lugano where we enjoy empanadas, lasagna with chorizo, and caramel crepes.

At a local theater, we enjoy Marilyn Horne's 1986 Lugano concert. Her program includes extended excerpts from Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, "Divinités du Styx" from Alceste, "Non, vous n'avez jamais" from Les Huguenots, "Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix" from Samson et Dalila, "Di tanti palpiti" from Tancredi, "Cruda sorte" from L'Italiana in Algeri, Rossini's Canzonetta Spagnuola, and the "Habanera" from Carmen. The Italian-Swiss Orchestra is conducted by Martin Katz.


Some adventurous tour members go back up the funicular for breakfast in a cafe atop the mountain. The view is gorgeous but the air is chilly. Manon opted out. Maybe she was mad because they did not let her attend the concert. Breakfast on the Flying Carpet is continental and lunch enroute to Germany is cheesy-a plethora of Swiss cheeses with French bread.

After lunch we fly to Germany's Rhineland. Mannheim is located at the confluence of the Rhine and the Neckar rivers, Germany's warmest region. After Stuttgart, Mannheim is the second-largest city in the state of Baden-Württemberg. Its Palace, one of the largest Baroque building complexes in the world, houses the city's university. We visit the Kunsthalle Mannheim for the Anselm Kiefer Exhibition.

Having worked up an appetite walking around town and touring the museum, we find a traditional Germanic restaurant for real Wiener schnitzel (mallet-pounded veal) with preiselbeeren, roast potatoes, and spicy paprikash-salad.

For the Mannheim premiere of Rameau's opera Hippolyte et Aricie, the National Theater in Mannheim developed its own version. The staging traces the fractures between history and the present, bringing together Baroque stagecraft and modern space. In the process, this performance fuses music, text, film, and dance into a new unity.

LINK Click on Hippolyte et Aricie.

For a nightcap enroute to Los Angeles we indulge in dark chocolate layer cake and peppermint schnapps.

Photos of Susan Graham courtesy of LA Opera and New York Festival of Song.

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