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BWW Feature: Streaming Opera For The Week Of 9/20


Opera and Food in Philadelphia and Central Europe: Some Serious, Some Just Plain Fun.

BWW Feature: Streaming Opera For The Week Of 9/20 Los Angeles Opera Opened on September 18, 2021, with a tremendously well received production of Verdi's Il Trovatore. This show can be seen live online on Sunday, October 3 at 2:00 pm or on Wednesday, October 6 at 7:30 pm. As these two performances will be live streamed directly from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, they may not be re-visited. Access to these performances is $30.00, available by clicking on the link below


The Magic Opera Flying Carpet is taking off for Philadelphia where we see Francis Poulenc's rarely heard La Voix Humaine (The Human Voice). We decide to eat out of doors at a waterfront restaurant and a side-glancing waitress allows Manon-la-Chat to join us so long as she stays under the table. I think Manon is going to rub my leg until I have some food for her.

Our entree is fried chicken with whipped sweet potato, thyme-sage gravy, green beans in jalapeño-honey sauce, finished off with cornbread and Pennsylvania maple butter.

Opera Philadelphia presents Poulenc's La Voix Humaine. The new film is directed by James Darrah who has brought a cinematic lens to opera over the past 18 months. Darrah was creative producer and co-screenwriter for Opera Philadelphia's film of David T. Little's Soldier Songs, director and co-creator of Boston Lyric Opera's The Fall of the House of Usher, and creative director of digital projects with LA Opera and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. His collaborators on La Voix Humaine include music director and pianist Christopher Allen, costume designer Chrisi Karvonides, production designer Tony Fanning, and film editor Adam Larsen.

The lone singer in the opera, Patricia Racette, tells us that "La Voix Humaine is absolutely perfect for the language of cinema, "The ability to look into the psyche of this character and offer a level of nuance that perhaps might go unnoticed on the stage but certainly is amplified and celebrated through the lens is very exciting. It's what we need in this art form, it's what we need in this world, to be able to really immerse ourselves in the detail of these stories without any sort of a barrier."

The film is available for rent for $20.00 beginning September 24. Visit to start streaming the Opera Philadelphia Channel.

We have brought an order of Key Lime Soufflé Cake for each person on board and we serve it with coffee or an adult beverage as soon as we level off for our flight to Amsterdam.

Arriving outside of town, we park and later board the bus for our pre-theater dinner at a restaurant on the water that has opened early to accommodate our group. We eat soft shell crabs with carrots, cardamom, cassava, coconut and lime juices.

For dessert, we order chipolata, a fresh fruit pudding that uses cherry-flavored maraschino liqueur along with rum to flavor fruit in season. The pudding itself is made of gelatin and whipping cream that gives it a rich texture.

Dutch National Opera presents Alexander Zemlinsky's Der Zwerg (The Dwarf) in Amsterdam. The Spanish crown princess receives a very special present, a little person. To everyone's amusement, he is unaware of his small stature. Before long feelings develop between the pair, but what chance do they have in a world where appearance is everything?

Based on a story by Oscar Wilde, The Dwarf is perhaps Zemlinsky's best-known and most powerful opera. This performance marks both the first production of Lorenzo Viotti as principal conductor at Dutch National Opera and the operatic debut of film and theatre director Nanouk Leopold. American heldentenor Clay Hilley performs the title role, while Infanta Clara is interpreted by Dutch soprano Lenneke Ruiten. Dutch National Opera's new 2021 production is sung in German, but subtitles are available in English.

After a filling Dutch breakfast, we depart for Nancy, France. Chef Julia has baked fresh quiches on board so we eat our pre theater dinner on the Magic Opera Flying Carpet.

Quiche Lorraine can be made with anything from meats and vegetables to herbs and cheeses. We have several choices on the Carpet. The king among these delicious baked tarts, however, is still the original quiche Lorraine, consisting simply of a shortcrust dough base that is filled with bacon, eggs, cream, nutmeg, and a dash of Salt and Pepper. Quiches are usually served with a green salad on the side, and are typically consumed warm, while the golden-brown crust is still crunchy.

We are attending Leonardo Vinci's Artaserse which is sung by a mostly male cast in a 2012 production from the Opera National de Lorraine in Nancy, France.

Philippe Jaroussky is Aratoires, Max Emanuel Cencic is Mandane,

Juan Sancho is Artabano, Franco Fagioli is Abrase, Valer Barna Sabadus is Semira, and Yuriy Mynenko is Megabise. Diego Fasolis conducts the Chamber Ensemble of Concerto Köln.

Story LINK.



From France we fly southeast to Verona, Italy, while sleepy heads are getting ready for the day and grabbing eggs, pastries, fruit and hot beverages from Julia's buffet.

Verona natives have developed a massive sweet tooth and they like to start the day with something sugary, Their traditional breakfast is made up of a range of local cakes and tarts, based on the produce found throughout the countryside. Both Zaletto, a cake made with polenta and raisins, and Risino, a tart made with sweet rice, are available on the Magic Opera Flying Carpet. We arrive in Verona at about 3:00 pm, which is 15:00 European time.

Built in 30 AD outside the city walls, Verona Arena was originally made up of three elliptical rings of arches, During its prime the arena could hold up to 30,000 people and played host to an array of ancient entertainment, including famous gladiatorial games. Operatic performances started during the Renaissance but exploded after 1913 under the zeal of opera tenor Giovanni Zenatello. Since then, opera summer seasons have continued at Verona Arena except for the war years. Today, the Verona Arena is internationally renowned for its impressive opera performances and for being one of the best preserved buildings of its kind. The Arena has seating that can hold 22,000 people. Tour members climb to the top level to view the city just before the sun vanishes below the horizon.

Verona is one of Italy's largest wine producers. Even the average city bar has at least half a dozen varieties of wine made from local Corvina grapes. The eponymous Valpolicella wine is light-bodied and fruity. It is a perfect accompaniment to most home-cooked food. Amarone is big, bold, and beautiful. Usually testing at around 15% alcohol, it benefits from drying out the grapes before pressing. After aging in oak, it is a hearty wine complete with delicate notes of chocolate and mocha. Tour members are drinking it at a local restaurant with hearty plates of roast beef, mashed potatoes, deglazed pan gravy, and sweet pickled beets. I pick Manon up in her shopping bag and take her with a kitty-portion of beef to the arena just before the show.

The Verona Arena presents its 2004 staging of Verdi's Il Trovatore with Dimitra Theodossiou, Marco Berti, Dolora Zaijck, Stefano Antonucci, Enrico Iori, and Sonia Zaramella. The stage director and designer is Franco Zeferelli and Pier Giorgio Morandi conducts the Orchestra of the Verona Arena.


After the show, during which we've consumed numerous snacks, we walk a bit before boarding the bus to the Magic Opera Flying Carpet. It's a long flight to Los Angeles and many of us have to be at work on Zoom sometime tomorrow.

Photo of Patricia Racette in La Voix Humaine courtesy of Opera Philadelphia.

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