Feature: ONLINE VIRTUAL OPERA TOUR at Home Computer Screens

Opera, Food and Art in CA, NY, England and Scandinavia

By: Jun. 26, 2021
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Feature: ONLINE VIRTUAL OPERA TOUR at Home Computer Screens

Feature: ONLINE VIRTUAL OPERA TOUR at Home Computer Screens Pacific Opera Project (POP) invites Angelinos to bring their children aged five to eleven to POP's FREE, LIVE and IN PERSON My First Opera summer outdoor workshop on Saturday, July 24. From 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM at Sycamore Grove Park, children can take part in writing arias, designing sets, and other aspects of opera and stage performance by way of fun camp-like activities. The park is on Figaroa Street in Los Angeles. Click on the links below for more information and registration. Each child needs to bring lunch and a bottle of water.

LINK: https://www.pacificoperaproject.com/education

LINK: https://form.jotform.com/211716328988164

This is the last week to watch Los Angeles Opera's online Signature Recital Series which gives viewers exclusive online access to fine performances filmed in stunning venues around the world. The series includes unforgettable singing by mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, tenor Russell Thomas, soprano Christine Goerke, mezzo-soprano J'Nai Bridges, and soprano Julia Bullock-a breathtaking showcase of vocal magic.

LINK: https://www.laopera.org/performances/upcoming-digital-performances/signature-recitals/

Leaving our Magic Opera Flying Carpet at LAX, we bus to Costa Mesa for an early dinner at a seaside restaurant. In our private banquet room, tour members can choose live crabs or lobsters from saltwater tanks and wines from a cabinet filled with vintages from around the world.

We see Verdi's La Traviata at Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, where Verdi's passionate story of a doomed love affair is reimagined for the virtual space by stage director Robert Neu. Tickets are $25 for 28-day household access. Violetta is Cecilia Violetta Lopez, Alfredo Germont is John Riesen, and Giorgio Germont is Jeffrey Mattsey. The stage director is Robert Neu and Carl St.Clair conducts the Pacific Symphony Orchestra. There are English super-titles.


After the show, we bus back to the Magic Opera Flying Carpet, dig out our rain gear, and take off into the night for Ireland. We spend five hours over the United States, so we catch sunrise over the coast of New England. Continuing on in a northeasterly direction, we arrive in Dublin late in the day. After stretching our legs on a walk, Manon-la-Chat and I return to the Magic Opera Flying Carpet for dinner. She walks better off leash and has learned to keep pace with me, whether on the ground or in the trees.

Later, after a short bus ride, we find ourselves in a busy Irish restaurant. For our pre-theater entree, we order an Irish stew that includes lamb, potatoes, onions, carrots, herbs, and barley. This one-dish complete meal is traditionally cooked for several hours in an iron pot over an open fire to give it a scrumptious taste. We enjoy aged Irish cheddar and port wine for dessert. Manon, who stayed on the bus, loves the lamb I cut into petite pièces for her.

Rossini's comic masterpiece, The Barber of Seville is produced by Wide Open Opera, one of the founding companies of Irish National Opera. The 2016 production stars Tara Erraught as Rosina, Tyler Nelson as Count Almaviva, Gavan Rhours as Figaro, Graeme Danby as Dr Bartolo, John Molloy as Don Basilio and Mary O'Sullivan as Berta. Michael Barker Caven directs and INO Artistic Director, Fergus Sheil, conducts.

LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDbBhzIcYj4&t=1336s

LINK: Irish National Opera

From Dublin, we take off for Kokkola, a moderately sized city in Western Finland. We have brought on board an Irish breakfast buffet to be served inflight: black and white pudding, pancakes, eggs, home fries, toast and all the fixings to go with them. Black pudding is a sausage made from blood, pork, fat, oatmeal, and bread or potato. White pudding has the same ingredients without the blood. Manon, that wild kitty, enjoys the black sausage.

Are readers fascinated by the blood sausage in Ireland? The Irish do not have a copyright on the idea. Mustamakkara is a Finnish sausage consisting of pig's blood, pork meat, pork fat, crushed rye seed, and wheat flour. Mustamakkara is characterized by its dark color, juicy center, and crisp casing. Generally, Finns eat it as a breakfast item, as we do, with traditional, sweet lingonberry jam.

For dinner in Kokkola, we're having makaronlaatikko (baked macaroni with minced meat). This Finnish dish could easily be compared to the American mac and cheese. Although this dish doesn't have actual cheese, it has minced meat with rich full-fat milk that has never had the cream taken off its top.

The Kokkola opera company is performing Giacomo Meyerbeer's L'Etoile du Nord (The North Star), an opéra comique in three acts to a French libretto by Eugène Scribe. Much of the material is derived from Meyerbeer's earlier Singspiel, Ein Feldlager in Schlesien (A camp in Silesia). Sakari Oramo conducts the Central Ostrobothnia Chamber Orchestra. Katariina is Anu Komsi, Prascovia is Anna Palimina, Tsaari Peters is Michael Leibundgut, and Gritzenko is Heikki Kilpelainen.

LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcryxL1qmJA

Our nightcap is Mustikkakeitto or Finnish blueberry soup made from sweetened and spiced blueberry juice with whipped cream and lemon zest. When we get home, I'm going to try that as a gelatin pudding. It might even work as part of a cheesecake. Meanwhile, after a hearty Finnish breakfast, we're off to Bergen, Norway.

When we arrive in Bergen, Norway, we have a traditional Norwegian meal ordered for a pre theater buffet on the Magic Opera Flying Carpet. The authentic dishes include kjøttkaker (meatballs with potatoes and jam), homemade lammepølse (lamb sausage stewed with root vegetables), and reindeer neck stew. Dessert is fruit slices with sweet dips. Manon loves the lamb and eats a bit of reindeer. Can you imagine the fuss she could make if she ever sees a real reindeer?

Norway's Bergen National Opera presents its 2021 production of Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito. Dealing with appalling jealousies, ambitions and love affairs, La Clemenza di Tito has eerie parallels with our own era. Mozart's last opera asks the deeply relevant question: who is the leader we want in times of crisis?

Cast available at LINK: https://operavision.eu/en/library/performances/operas/la-clemenza-di-tito-bergen-national-opera

Sung in Italian, subtitles can be had in English, Italian and Norwegian This show is available until November 2021.

LINK: https://operavision.eu/en/library/per...

LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhmiO3gufzM

For our nightcap after takeoff, we offer a plethora of Scandinavian cheeses with sweet or dry sherry wine and decaf or regular coffee drinks. I'm having Ski Queen Cheese on semi-sweet crackers with some of Pedro Domecq's bottled Spanish sunshine. Flying through some heavy weather between Bergen and London, sleep is hard to come by, unless you're a cat. For two hours, it's a bumpy ride and it's not very dark below. We land in pouring rain at a private airport outside London.

Often referred to as one of the best breakfast spots in London, the Regency Cafe has been serving up full English breakfasts since 1946. The no-frills cafe has retained its post-war charm with red-checkered curtains and retro-look Formica tables. Its breakfast includes egg, bacon, sausage, and beans or tomato, with available extras including black pudding, hash browns, or bubble and squeak (boiled cabbage and potatoes fried with meat). Tea or coffee, and bread or toast complete the menu.

After a free day in London, we meet at the theater for Béla Bartók's Duke Blubeard's Castle. Bluebeard is Robert Lloyd and Judith is Elizabeth Lawrence. Adam Fischer conducts the London Philharmonic in this 1988 film. There are English titles.

LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9Aq2WWds8k&list=PLe3L0y7w-bXi7BI0VRLAVpyJsvoWDIZMC&index=2

Still in London on July 2, we bus to the British Museum and split up into groups to visit various collections. LINK: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/the-british-museum

We're on our own for dinner. My choice, Bob Bob Cité, is making waves with its le pie de poulet with morels, oyster mushrooms and sauterne. The restaurant resembles a glitzy Orient Express car and its chicken pie has rich, boozy, tarragon-flavored meat nestling into hearty mushrooms under a glossy amber crust. Mightily impressed, I might even push Bob Bob's famous "Champagne Button!" But then, I'd have to take a very deep breath before inspecting the bill.

Tour members meet at Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms' film of Rogers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma conducted by John Wilson.


Back at the Magic Opera Flying Carpet, we serve English trifle for our nightcap. Our dessert combines raspberry jam-brushed and sherry-soaked cake with vanilla pudding and strawberries under sweetened whipped cream. This is our sweet good-bye to the British Isles. W land near the Big Apple in the morning.

Then, we will be in a place that was part of a British colony at the time of the original Declaration of Independence-New York City. We bus to lower Manhattan for an early steak dinner at Fraunces Tavern which is both a museum and a restaurant. After dinner, we s-l-o-w-l-y ride up to Lincoln Center from Pearl Street, and that takes far too much time.

On Saturday, July 3, the Metropolitan Opera presents Kurt Weill's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, starring Teresa Stratas, Astrid Varnay, Richard Cassilly, and Cornell MacNeil, conducted by James Levine in a production from November 27, 1979.

LINK https://www.metopera.org/user-information/nightly-met-opera-streams/

Arriving back at the Magic Opera Flying Carpet in New Jersey, we enjoy the last of the European wines and cheeses before retiring. We go to Shut Up and Eat in the morning for their Pajama Breakfast and after having changed clothes, we bus to the city. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a great place to visit in the daytime.

LINK: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/online-features

This time we are eating reasonably close to Lincoln Center. Nestled in a bucolic Central Park setting, Tavern on the Green is an iconic landmark restaurant with a hearty, rustic menu influenced by local, seasonal ingredients.

Designed by Calvert Vaux and built in 1870 to house the sheep that grazed in Central Park's Sheep Meadow, Tavern on the Green has served locals and visitors since 1934.

On Sunday, July 4, the Met presents Philip Glass's Akhnaten, stars Dísella Lárusdóttir, J'Nai Bridges, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Aaron Blake, Will Liverman, Richard Bernstein, and Zachary James. Karen Kamensek conducts the 2019 production is by Phelim McDermott. Many readers probably saw it at the movies. For me, it's an old friend I want to see again before we return to Los Angeles.

LINK https://www.metopera.org/user-information/nightly-met-opera-streams/

Photo of Russell. Thomas courtesy of L A Opera. Photo of Cecilia Violetta Lopez as La Traviata courtesy of Pacific Symphony.


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