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BWW Feature: Online Virtual Opera Tour November 14-21 at Home Computer Screens

A Little Known Opera by a Black Composer that Deserves to be Heard.

BWW Feature: Online Virtual Opera Tour November 14-21 at Home Computer Screens BWW Feature: Online Virtual Opera Tour November 14-21 at Home Computer Screens

Los Angeles Opera presents The Anonymous Lover (L'Amant Anonyme), an unjustly neglected 1780 chamber opera by Joseph Bologne, known as the Chevalier de Saint-Georges. A pioneering Black composer and swordsman, Bologne was a contemporary of Mozart. Music Director James Conlon will conduct and Bruce Lemon, Jr., will direct the performance of Bologne's opera in a socially distanced stage setting that blends both modern film and traditional opera staging. LAO will stream the performance online on Saturday, November 14, 2020, at 5:00 PM Pacific Time from the Colburn School's Zipper Hall. Tickets are free at: The Anonymous Lover can be seen until November 29.

Virtual Opera Tour members board the Magic Opera Flying Carpet for the short flight to "Baghdad by the Bay." On November 14-15, San Francisco Opera offers Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov free online. Samuel Ramey is the Tsar, at first gaining and then losing his grip on power and on reality itself. An excellent cast that brings to life the revolutionary spirit of the age includes: John Uhlenhopp, Vladimir Ognovenko, and Vitalij Kowaljow. They sing with the SFO Orchestra led by Vassily Sinaisky. Watch history unfold on your screens this weekend as SFO's online series continues with Frank Zamacona's dark, unnerving production of Boris Godunov. It streams all weekend long, starting Saturday at 10 AM Pacific Time.

On November 21-22 , SFO offers Verdi's Rigoletto. A curse shatters the lives of a hunchbacked court jester and his innocent, naive daughter. Željko Lučić is the malicious jester who nevertheless earns the audience's sympathy and Aleksandra Kurzak is his daughter.

It's a rainy night and tour members literally run from the bus to the Carpet when we return to the airport. We leave for New York at night so as to arrive in New Jersey before the morning rush. Manon-la-Chat is excited to be going to the Met because we made arrangements for her to watch Aknaten from the sixth floor bridge above the stage. She promises to stay out of the restaurant kitchen from which she was grabbed by the scruff of the neck and unceremoniously tossed out on her last visit.

Tour members go straight to the Salumeria on Ninth Avenue for spicy homemade Parma ham sandwiches, ricotta-filled cannoli and espresso. The Met is featuring a different opera each night from November 14 through the 20.

On Saturday, Philip Glass's Akhnaten from 2019 stars Dísella Lárusdóttir, J'Nai Bridges, and Anthony Roth Costanzo. Karen Kamensek conducts.

On Sunday, Thomas Adès's The Exterminating Angel from 2017 stars Audrey Luna, Amanda Echalaz, Alice Coote, Christine Rice, Iestyn Davies, and Rod Gilfry. Thomas Adès conducts.

On Monday, Verdi's Don Carlo from 2010 stars Marina Poplavskaya, Roberto Alagna, Simon Keenlyside, and Ferruccio Furlanetto. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts.

On Tuesday, Gounod's Faust from 2011 stars Marina Poplavskaya, Jonas Kaufmann, and René Pape. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts.

On Wednesday, Dvořák's Rusalka from 2014 stars Renée Fleming, Emily Magee, Dolora Zajick, Piotr Beczała, and John Relyea. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts.

On Thursday, Verdi's La Traviata from 2019 stars Diana Damrau, Juan Diego Flórez, and Quinn Kelsey. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts.

On Friday, Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites from 2019 stars Isabel Leonard, Adrianne Pieczonka, and Karita Mattila. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts.

We leave for Pittsburgh in the morning because the general aviation airport in Pennsylvania is not open after midnight. For breakfast, we down Jersey waffles with strawberries and kiwi fruit at Shut Up and Eat! in Toms River.

The sun streams in the Carpet's windows as we land in Pennsylvania. A poll of tour members tells us that they would like Philadelphia cheese steaks for dinner, even though we are not in Philly. The meat and cheese are featured at a restaurant overlooking North Park Lake, so many tour members enjoy kayaking or paddle boating for an hour before our early pre-performance meal.

Pittsburgh Festival Opera presents a Wicked Wagner Weekend online. Curated by PFO Artistic Director Marianne Cornetti and hosted by Wagnerian Soprano Jane Eaglen, the Wicked Wagner Weekend features: Marjorie Owens, Hanna Brammer, Melissa Shippen Burrows, Stuart Skelton, Corey Bix, Brad Garvin, Alex Boyd, and David Crawford. They recorded their performances in Reykjavik, Nashville, Sarasota, as well as Pittburgh.

Pittsburgh Festival Opera Wagner Fest.

Act 1:

Act 2:.

Act 3:

After the Wagner Fest we prepare to fly to Birmingham, England for an unusual version Beethoven's Fidelio. December 16, 2020, is the 150th Anniversary of the composer's birth, so we may want to see more than one interpretation of his only opera during the next month.

We indulge in a traditional drink for "Happy Hour" in England. Lambswool is the bizarre name for a sweet, spicy punch decorated with baked apples. Mentioned in Birmingham folklore, the name is thought to come from an ancient Celtic celebration called La Mas Ubhal, (The Day of the Apple) held in November under the oldest tree in the orchard. Ale or cider is laced with ginger, spiced with nutmeg, and sweetened with brown sugar. Baked apples are added to decorate the brew.

The Birmingham Opera Company's production of Fidelio is set in an enormous circus tent. It mixes professional and amateur performers in an exploration of the meaning of oppression. Streamed on OperaVision, Fidelio will be available until January 24, 2021.

Graham Vick directs Sarah Woods' version of the libretto and William Lacey conducts Julian Grant's orchestral arrangement of Beethoven's music. The cast includes: Ronald Samm, Jane Leslie MacKenzie, Jonathan Best, Donna Bateman, John Upperton, Keel Watson, and Michael Druiett. This show has English titles.

After the opera we grab a nightcap and snuggle up with blankets in our recliners for the trip to Hannover, Germany, where the opera is presenting a modern version of Carmen.

Combining danger and desire, Bizet's Carmen is an intoxicating cocktail that never fails to excite the senses. Hannover State Opera presents a new staging by director Barbora Horáková. Stephan Zilias conducts members of the State Orchestra of Lower Saxony in Marius Felix Lange's arrangement for chamber ensemble. Evgenia Asanova is a Carmen who challenges stereotypical role models. OperaVision offers a livestream for challenging times sung in French, Basque, and Caló, a combination of Spanish and Romani. Does anyone remember Pacific Opera Project's Japanese-and-English Madama Butterfly? This Carmen reminds me of it.

Subtitles are in English

We arrive in Vienna in time for the sleet festival. No problem, tour members have wetterfleks from Salzburg and wellies from London. Our bus drops us in front of the restaurant where we have already reserved tables. I'm having Tafelspitz, a hearty meal consisting of a slow-boiled, tender cut of beef served with an array of condiments: horseradish, applesauce, spinach cream, and dill sauce.

We move on to a cafe for Esterházy Torte, named for the Austrian prince and diplomat who employed composer Joseph Haydn. Invented in Budapest but quickly appropriated by Viennese cafes, the torte consists of cognac-flavored buttercream spread between each layer of almond meringue dough. Iced with a fondant glaze, the cake is decorated with a characteristic chocolate striped pattern.

Giuseppe Verdi composed his 1874 Requiem Mass in memory of Italian poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni, author of I promessi sposi (The Promise of Marriage). Recorded in 1967, tenor Luciano Pavarotti, soprano Joan Sutherland, mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne and bass Martti Talvela, perform with the Vienna State Opera Choir and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Georg Solti. This is a recording of the right cast at the right time. I would love to see as well as hear these artists, but this audio performance is simply stupendous.

Requiem aeternam & Kyrie, Dies Irae, Tuba mirum, Mors stupebit, Liber scriptus, Quid sum miser, Rex Tremendae, Recordare, Ingemisco, Confutatis, Lacrimosa, Offertorium: Domine Jesu Christe, Offertorium: Hostia Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Lux aeterna, Libera me, Libera me-Requiem Libera me-Fuga finale.

The morning-after-breakfast is Kaiserschmarrn. The Dutch may love their sweet pancakes, but Austria is also very much in the pancake game. Our Kaiserschmarrn is a thick crepe, cut up into pieces for easier eating, topped with rum-soaked raisins, plum sauce, cinnamon, and powdered sugar. With full stomachs, we board the Magic Opera Flying Carpet and depart for Riga, Latvia, a town Wagner once had to leave in haste. He was Kappelmeister at the opera there from 1837 to 1839, but Riga found both his politics and his financial habits intolerable. Hopefully, we will find the city more welcoming since we pay our bills.

Our downtown restaurant is most welcoming even though we arrive dripping with their liquid sunshine. Latvian Karbonāde is a pork version of Vienna's veal cutlet. In Riga, a well-pounded pork steak is coated with flour, beaten eggs, and breadcrumbs before it is fried. Our chef comes to the head table to spoon a savory chanterelle mushroom sauce over each cutlet before the wait staff serves it. They also serve platters of french fries, cabbage salad, pickled vegetables, and baskets of rye bread.

The Latvian National Opera offers Anton Rubinstein's The Demon at a theater on the bank of the Riga canal in the city's green belt. Music Director Normunds Vaicis conducts the orchestra and chorus of the Latvian National Opera. Soloists include: Samsons Izjumovs and Kristine Opolais.


For English subtitles, click 'cc'.


Having enjoyed a week of opera and concert, we embark for home and a warmer climate with virtual souvenirs and memories of fascinating performances.

There is some actual live "Drive-In Opera" in Southern California. On Saturday, November 14, (NOW SOLD OUT) Sunday, November 15, and Sunday November 22, Pacific Opera Project (POP) presents COVID Fan Tutte at 5:30 PM in the parking lot of the Camarillo United Methodist Church, 291 Anacapa Dr, Camarillo, CA 93010. The Music is by W. A. Mozart and the original libretto is by Lorenzo Da Ponte. The opera is sung in English with orchestra, and there are projected supertitles. Josh Shaw is the director/designer; Kyle Naig is the conductor/arranger. See more information at

Photo of Michael J. Hawk as Ophémon byLarry Ho. Photo of Tiffany Townsend courtesy of LA Opera. Photo of "Chicken" as virtual cat Manon by Jay Mitra.

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From This Author Maria Nockin