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Feature: ONLINE VIRTUAL OPERA TOUR at Home Computer Screens

W e begin this week's tour with two nights at home in Los Angeles.

Feature: ONLINE VIRTUAL OPERA TOUR at Home Computer Screens We begin this week's tour with two nights at home in Los Angeles. On Saturday, we see Los Angeles Opera's online stream of Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex-No, Manon, Oedipus isn't a super kitty. He is a human king who unknowingly made some bad choices. If readers have not yet met Manon-la-Chat, she is the music-loving French cat who lives on our touring vehicle, the Magic Opera Flying Carpet.

Stravinsky based Oedipus Rex on Sophocles' Greek tragedy and his 1927 opera is a highly stylized, ritualistic work. The composer specifically requested that it be staged with minimal movement, which works well with COVID restrictions. A narrator describes the action throughout the course of the opera. Although Stravinsky set his work in Latin, he specified that the narration be spoken in the language of the audience. This LAO performance features projected animations created by the Emmy Award-winning production company, Manual Cinema. Music Director James Conlon conducts a stellar cast led by tenor Russell Thomas, LA Opera's Artist in Residence, as Oedipus. Mezzo-soprano J'Nai Bridges is Jocasta, his queen. Actor Stephen Fry makes his LA Opera debut as the Narrator of this legendary tale. Morris Robinson is Tiresias and Robert Stahley the Shepherd who has seen Oedipus commit murder.


After the opera, we bus to Canter's all-night Restaurant on Fairfax for live jazz and tasty Jewish deli food with cocktails or coffee. I order a Reuben on rye and a side of lox for Manon who lounges in her "Cat-illac" outside on the bus.

On Sunday, June 20, we watch mezzo-soprano J'nai Bridges and and pianist Jeremy Frank's recital for Los Angeles Opera. Additional performers are: harpist Brandee Younger, violist Drew Forde, and dancer Shauna Davis. Filmed at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles, the program includes music by Johannes Brahms, Charles Gounod, J. Rosamond Johnson, Carlos Simon, Dave Ragland, Florence B. Price, Margaret Bonds, Shawn E. Okpebholo, and Stevie Wonder.


Tour members vote to return to Canter's after the recital for more jazz and sandwiches before the Magic Opera Flying Carpet takes off for the Big Apple. We fly into the blackness of midnight and I'm left alone with my thoughts as the engines grind on eastward from the Pacific Ocean toward the Atlantic. Winds buffet us over the Midwest and gray skies with cascades of rain greet our early morning arrival in New Jersey. Without changing out of our pjs, we bus to Shut Up and Eat for their special sleepwear-discount breakfast.

We bus into the city for shopping and eat our pre-Met Opera dinner at Jean Georges, a French restaurant near Lincoln Center. They serve us lamb chops with asparagus and mashed potatoes. Arriving at the Met, we enjoy the strong coffee and sugary fudge cookies that make sure no one falls asleep during the performance.

After the acclaimed Met premiere of Thomas Adès's The Tempest in 2012, the composer returned in 2017 with a work inspired by filmmaker Luis Buñuel's surrealistic classic, El Ángel Exterminador. As his opera, The Exterminating Angel opens, a group of elegant socialites gather for a lavish dinner party, but when it is time to leave for the night, no one is able to exit. Soon, their behavior becomes increasingly erratic and savage. The large ensemble cast tackles both the vocal and dramatic demands of Adès's opera with one riveting performance after another. Tom Cairns, who penned the work's libretto, directs an engrossing and inventive production, using a towering wooden archway to trap the characters onstage. Adès, himself, conducts the frenzied score, which features a host of unconventional instruments, including the eerie electronic Ondes Martenot.


This LINK: will always give readers tonight's Met Opera.

After the show, we head to Veselka, a 24-hour Ukrainian restaurant in the East Village that has been serving soul-warming Eastern European specialities since 1954. We order soothing borscht soup and kielbasa hot dogs with more steaming hot coffee to enjoy on the bus trip back to New Jersey. Since our next stop is Iceland, we need to have our cold and wet weather gear ready for the upcoming trip.

Flying to Iceland from New York is a mere 6-hour hop and we arrive in time for a Viking breakfast. I order pancakes with whipped cream and rhubarb jam, súrmjólk yogurt, bread, cheese, and a large latte. There's herring in cream sauce for Manon.

During European Opera Days in 2010, Icelandic Opera takes its audience by surprise and entertains them with excerpts from Verdi's La Traviata at the Blue Lagoon, one of their thermal pools. The singers are Johann Valdimarsson, Greta Hergils, Hulda Bjork Gardarsdottir, and Gissur Pall Gissurarson.


Later in the day we fly onto Helsinki Finland for Finnish National Opera's 2018 rendition of Puccini's Tosca. Ausrin?- Stundyt?- is Tosca, Andrea Carè is Cavaradossi, Tuomas Pursio is Scarpia, and Heikki Aalto is the Sacristan. The director is Christof Loy, and the conductor is Patrick Fournillier. There are English Subtitles.


That night we fly on to Bonn, Germany, and visit the Beethoven Birth House virtually before viewing a performance of Handel's Agrippina.


Agrippina, recorded at the State Theater of Bonn, Germany, is free to view on demand from June 20 to July 4, 2021. The Beethoven Orchestra of Bonn is conducted by Rubén Dubrovsky, and the performance is directed by Leo Moscato. The performance features Louise Kemény as Agrippina, Pavel Kudinov as Claudius, Marie Heeschen as Poppea, and Lada Bocková as Nerone.



After Agrippina, we board the Magic Opera Flying Carpet for our return trip to the United States. Our first stop is Seattle after an eleven hour flight and we are hungry for lunch. We order Seattle Dogs to eat on the bus. If a tour member asks for a schmear on his sausage anywhere but Seattle, he can expect some strange looks, but here, cream cheese sits in the condiment section alongside the mustards and relishes. The strange quirk of local late-night hot dog stands started sometime in the '90s and remains a steadfast Seattle tradition. Condiment choices may also include caramelized onions for sweetness and hot sauce for a little fire to ward off the chills of the city's rainy climate. No matter the rain, we are off to taste the desserts at Ellenos Real Greek Yogurt shop. Made with rich local milk in a nearby factory, Ellenos' yogurt's sour cream texture and pie-like sweetness make it an excellent dessert. From the flagship store at the Pike Place Market, gleaming jewel-toned fruit toppings lure customers in to buy walk-around cups and take-home containers.

For our pre-performance dinner, we locate a seaside restaurant that serves fresh-shucked Pacific oysters. Since I come from Blue Point, Long Island, once internationally known for its super-sized Atlantic oysters, I've got to try the Pacific variety. Plump and filled with the flavor of the Pacific Northwest's clean, salty waters, no food represents this environmentally conscious region better than these local bivalves. The chill of the frigid waters of Puget Sound and the nearby Pacific Ocean that turns swimmers' toes blue in minutes keeps the local oysters briny and bountiful all year-round. They pop up on menus everywhere, garnished with the classic condiments like lemon, cocktail sauce, or even gin. I like the Atlantic oysters raw and the Pacific oysters deep fried.

Seattle Opera's online stream of Tosca is on sale for $35 per stream. Patrons can access this opera June 25-27 through their Seattle Opera accounts. Proceeds from individual streaming operas benefit artists, musicians, and crew via union funds, including the AGMA Artists Relief Fund. We are grateful to all of our union partners for their creativity and enthusiasm to put these operas on stage.


Here our tour does a bit of back tracking because of concert dates. The Boston Liederabend is not available before the Seattle Tosca and the Tosca is only available for two nights. No matter, we're going to eat a lot more than maple syrup baked beans in Boston.

Polcari's Italian Restaurant features a full Italian menu in addition to pizza but we want what this family is most famous for: the "Giambotta Pizza." It includes all of the traditional toppings: pepperoni, sausage, salami, mushrooms, onions, and peppers. There are anchovies and extra meat on Manon's special-order slice.

The streaming premiere of the Beth Morrison Projects Liederabend takes place on Sunday, June 27 at 4:30 PM PST. Creative direction is by Beth Morrison and Paola Prestini. Co-commissioned and co-produced by Beth Morrison Projects and National Sawdust, the Liederabend features new works by: Holland Andrews, Paola Prestini, Amyra León, Theodosia Rorssos, Lido PIimienta, and Diana Syrse. Nationwide streaming is free on-demand at,, and Closed captioning is available in English.

From the theater we walk to a local dessert spot for canoli and wine or coffee for our nightcap before flying back to sunny and warm Los Angeles.

Photo of J'nai Bridges as Jocasta courtesy of. LA Opera.

Regional Awards

From This Author - Maria Nockin

Maria Nockin worked at the Metropolitan Opera in New York while attending  Fordham University across the street from Lincoln Center. At the same time, she studied voice, piano, and violin... (read more about this author)

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