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BWW Feature: ONLINE VIRTUAL OPERA TOUR at Home Computer Screens


Opera, Art, and Cuisine from CA, TX, the Black Forest, and Northern Europe.

BWW Feature: ONLINE VIRTUAL OPERA TOUR at Home Computer Screens

BWW Feature: ONLINE VIRTUAL OPERA TOUR at Home Computer Screens We meet at the Los Angeles Airport for LA OPERA's Songs of Protest. If, like me, you've done civil rights work, you know mid twentieth century protest songs like We Shall Overcome. After Hours: Songs of Protest honors and celebrates a wider range of passionate music that galvanizes activists for social justice. This program of iconic songs, made famous by performers like Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, and Sam Cooke, is specially curated by Host and Artist in Residence Russell Thomas. Soprano Brandie Sutton, baritone Justin Austin, drummer Jonathan Barber, pianist Damien Sneed and bass viol player Michael Olatuja deliver extraordinary performances in the course of this distinctive program.

I Wish I Knew (Taylor and Dallas) ...........Justin Austin, Brandie Sutton

Poor Wayfaring Stranger ......... ...........................Brandie Sutton

I'm A Poor Li'l Orphan (Perry).......... .........................Justin Austin

Lord, How Come Me Here.................. ....................Brandie Sutton

I Want Jesus To Walk With Me ....................................Justin Austin

Come Sunday (Ellington).........................................Brandie Sutton

Coalhouse's Soliloquy (Flaherty)..................................Justin Austin

Four Women (Simone) ............................................Brandie Sutton

Lift Every Voice (Johnson)..........................................Justin Austin

Oh, Freedom................................. ........................Justin Austin

Freedom (Ellington) ...............................................Brandie Sutton

I Dream A World (Sneed) ............................................Justin Austin

Strange Fruit (Meeropol) ..........................................Brandie Sutton

Battle Hymn of the Republic (Howe)................................Justin Austin

Hold On ...............................................................Brandie Sutton

After the concert, we take off for the San Francisco area and park our Magic Opera Flying Carpet in Novato, CA. In the morning we have a grab and go breakfast on the MOFC and offer bus service to San Francisco's Buena Vista Cafe for Irish Coffee. The Bay Areas's Irish coffee was not popularized on the Emerald Isle. It originated in San Francisco, where Buena Vista Cafe co-owner Jack Koeppler challenged international travel writer Stanton Delaplane to help him re-create the Irish Coffee he enjoyed at an Irish airport. They eventually arrived at a suitable combination of hot coffee, Irish whiskey and whipped cream. Nowadays, the Buena Vista Cafe on Hyde Street reportedly serves some two thousand orders of Irish coffee a day!

We spend a bit of time at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. I love David Park's Two Bathers from1958.

For dinner, we meet at Fisherman's Wharf. Traditionally the working place of Chinese and Italian immigrants, Fisherman's Wharf is now a bit touristy, but it is still a seafood lover's paradise that reflects the city's cultural history. Cioppino, an Italian-American seafood stew, was invented to use up leftover seafood. It soon began cropping up on restaurant menus at places like Alioto's. Today, it's a widely popular dish. Most Fisherman's Wharf restaurants still obtain their fish and shellfish from local fishing boats.

San Francisco Opera's The Trojans (Les Troyens) by Hector Berlioz streams Saturday, July 17 and Sunday, July 18. We will watch on Saturday Evening.

The citizens milling around Cassandra in the city of Troy are celebrating the end of the Greek siege. Cassandra fears the truth, yet no matter what she says or does, no one seems to suspect that the large wooden horse in their midst will spell destruction. Witness the fall of Troy and the rise of an even greater nation as Hector Berlioz's monumental five-part epic The Trojans, airs for one weekend as part of SFO's free summer streaming series.

Susan Graham, a master of the French opera repertoire, leads the cast as the lovesick queen Dido. Graham delivers smooth vocalism and brilliant theatricality while Bryan Hymel delivers a trumpet-toned company debut as the Trojan hero, Aeneas. Sir David McVicar's towering production plunges viewers into the diverse kingdoms of Virgil's saga The Aeneid, transporting the audience from the fires of Troy to the grandeur of Carthage with massive, detailed sets. The glorious sound of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, brings to life a world of gods and mortals under the baton of Sir Donald Runnicles. Stream it for free starting Saturday, July 17.

We fly to Dallas/Fort Worth after the show and park eight miles south of the city at Sycamore Strip Airport. Tour members wake up ready for a hearty breakfast and bus into Fort Worth to seek out appropriate restaurants. Challah French toast at The Bird attracts a goodly number as does the blue cheese burger at Rodeo Goat. Blue cheese slaw compliments the meat patty along with caramelized onions, and garlic mayonnaise.

Some of us walk around town and meet again at Avoca Coffee, known for the relaxing ambiance that only an intimate coffee shop could have. Patrons enjoy colorful atmosphere, succulent tastes, and artistic creamer designs.

Pre-theater dinner on board the Magic Opera Flying Carpet is Chef Julia's three-quarter-inch steaks broiled to order with mashed or fried potatoes and steamed asparagus. Manon eats her fill of chopped steak before her trip to Fort Worth Opera where she has a special invitation to sit on a cushioned lighting platform and watch Feel the Tango. She says "Merci beaucoup, Maestro."

After Feel the Tango, Tour members board the bus quickly. They ride a short distance to Dallas where they watch The Heart of the Song. Manon-la-Chat stays at FWO while the rest of the tour goes to Dallas. Perhaps she will unearth a mouse while the humans enjoy a concert.

Olé! This is a spectacular celebration of song from Mexico and Latin America. Three of the world's most capable tenors, all-Mexican born, get together to sing beloved songs.

From Mr. Camarena: "Malagueña solerosa" ("La Malagueña"), and "Amorcito corazón" ("Darling Sweetheart"). Guitar accompaniment by Marisol Rincón.

From Mr. Villazón: "Al banco solitario" ("The Lonely Bench"), and "La Llorona" ("The Weeping Woman"). Renowned French harpist Xavier de Maistre accompanies Mr. Villazón.

From Mr. Lomelí : "Deja que salga la luna" ("Let the moon start shining").

Raspberry cheesecake is tonight's nightcap dessert, served on the MOFC with regular or "unleaded" coffee. We fly to Aix en Provence tonight and arrive after noon. We dine in a local restaurant mid afternoon so as to have time for a leisurely meal of Gardiane de Boeuf (Beef from the Mouth of the Rhone River). The meat is cut into cubes, then marinated overnight with onions, red wine, vinegar, thyme, bay leaves, and orange peel. The next day, the meat is browned in olive oil, then placed in an earthenware casserole with the marinade.The dish is simmered for a few hours until the vegetables become mushy, and the sauce is thickened with grated dry bread. Gardiane is served with rice.

The opera at Aix en Provence presents Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro at the Archevêché theater. Lotte de Beer directs and Thomas Hengelbrock leads the Balthasar Neumann Ensemble with soloists Julie Fuchs, Andrè Schuen, Lea Desandre, Jacquelyn Wagner, Gyula Orendt, and Monica Bacelli.


Awaking bright and eager in the morning, we fly to Belgium for artistic adventures. We park the Carpet near Bruges. Having read French posters, Manon suggests a Bruges museum to which we bus tour members and cat in her shopping-bag-with-window.

Jan van Eyck, a painter active in Bruges, was one of the most significant representatives of Early Northern Renaissance art. The surviving records indicate that he was born between 1380 and 1390, most likely in Maaseik, Belgium. He worked in The Hague around 1422 when he was already a master painter with workshop assistants, and was employed by John III, the Pitiless, ruler of Holland and Hainaut. After John's death in 1425, van Eyck was appointed court painter to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. He was highly regarded by Philip and undertook a number of diplomatic visits abroad. About 20 surviving paintings are confidently attributed to him, including the 1432 Ghent Altarpiece and the 1439 Turin-Milan Book of Hours.


After the museum visit, we go back to the Magic Opera Flying Carpet for a buffet dinner and a chance to change into opera clothing. After a short ride, we arrive at the Place de l'Opera. Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège streams the film of their 2018 version of Verdi's Il Trovatore. Conductor Daniel Oren and Director Stefano Vizioli, present a performance that stars Fabio Sartori, Yolanda Auyanet, Mario Cassi, Violeta Urmana, and Luciano Montanaro.


After Belgian waffles with all the trimmings for breakfast, we fly to Freiburg and park the Magic Opera Flying Carpet near the edge of the Black Forest or Schwartzwald. Chef Julia buys local trout and salad greens for tonight's dinner.

Only brook or rainbow trout raised in southwestern Germany near the Schwarzwald mountain range are entitled to the name Schwarzwaldforelle (Black Forest Trout). This region has a long tradition of trout farming due to its unusually cold, oxygen-rich mountain waters.The lower the temperature of the water, the longer it takes for the trout to reach the targeted size and firmness. This slow, natural growth and the quality of the feed given to the trout is the reason why they have such a distinctive taste. Julia serves poached fresh-caught trout with rosemary potatoes and green salad. For dessert? You guessed it: Schwartzwalder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cherry Cake).

The Freiburg version of Schubert's Die Winterreise (The Winter Journey), orchestrated by Hans Zender, is quite different from the usual Schubert Lieder rendition. Tenor Sebastian Kohlhepp sings it accompanied by members of the German Southwest Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Teodor Currentzis.

We top off our July Winter Journey with hot fudge sundaes, and get ready for our flight to Oslo. The flight is mostly over the dark, inscrutable waters surrounding Northern Europe where occasional flashing meteors seem to fly across the limitless sky.

After landing, we park our Magic Opera Flying Carpet outside Oslo for a good restful sleep. In the morning, we bus to a Norwegian waffle restaurant for heart shaped concoctions made with smooth and slightly sweet, brown whey cheese. The cheese is available in the states under the name Ski Queen. It's scrumptious. Later, we sample the Tasting Menu at Oslo's Statholdergaarden.

Halibut & Swedish caviar
Dill, red onion and Jerusalem artichoke

Mango, ginger, salad, spring onion and coriander.

Ponzu-soy sauce

Fennel, squash and black cabbage.

Shellfish consommй

Arctic char
Green peas and white asparagus,

root vegetables, and capers

Mussel sauce

Onion, potato, and green cabbage

Horseradish sauce

Duck heart
Celery and spinach

Thyme-pomegranate gastrique

Suckling lamb
Sausage, summer cabbage, hip and carrot
Welsh onion sauce

Norwegian cheese
Honey, pecan nuts, raisins,

sea buckthorn, and bread

Rhubarb & strawberry
Mascarpone, meringue, macron, and almond

I hope no one belches at the opera!

In this performance of The Barber of Seville, Figaro is Hubert Zapiór, Rosina is Angela Brower, Almaviva is Jack Swanson, Dr. Bartolo is David Stout, Berta is Renate Ekerhovd, and Don Basilio is Clive Bayley. The director is Jetske Mijnssen. Tobias Ringborg conducts the Norwegian Opera Orchestra.

LINK Click on performances, operas, Barber.

We are still totally full as we get ready for the long flight to San Francisco. Tonight's nightcap is soda water and soda crackers. Manon whoops up a fishy hairball. Humans and cat sleep most of the way to California.

On July 24-25, San Francisco Opera's 2017 presentation of Richard Strauss' dramatic, one-act 1909 opera, Elektra, features an exceptional cast led by one of the greatest interpreters of the title role today, soprano Christine Goerke. She is joined by mezzo-soprano Michaela Martens as her mother, Klytemnestra; soprano Adrianne Pieczonka as Elektra's idealistic sister Chrysothemis; bass-baritone Alfred Walker as her long-lost brother, Orest, and tenor Robert Brubaker as Klytemnestra's lover, Aegisth. Set partly in a modern museum exhibiting Greek antiquities, the production, features the designs of Boris Kudlička in a staging based on the work of Keith Warner. Kaspar Glarner creates the costumes, John Bishop designs the lighting and Bartek Macias is the video designer. The performance features the company debut of Hungarian conductor Henrik Nánási. Elektra is performed in German with English subtitles and has an approximate running time of one hour and fifty-two minutes.

Some of the tour members have driven their cars to San Francisco so they could remain there longer than the Magic Opera Flying Carpet. The rest of us board the Carpet and return to Los Angeles on Saturday night. Sunday, we spend sunbathing on the beach.

Photos of Songs of Protest courtesy of L A Opera.

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