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BWW Feature: Streaming Opera For The Week Of 10/22


Wagner at his Most Lyrical

BWW Feature: Streaming Opera For The Week Of 10/22 We gather at the Magic Opera Flying Carpet for our flight from LA to Philadelphia. Tour members board with luggage that will equip them for the rain in England, possible snow in Sweden, and the vagaries of Kazakhstan. We park the Magic Opera Flying Carpet outside the City of Brotherly Love and opt for a substantial meal.

We order Philly-style tomato pie which starts with focaccia-like dough and chunky tomato sauce. There are toppings of grated Romano cheese, Parmisan, and oregano. Traditionally, we find it is eaten at room temperature, not hot! It's disappointing. The sizzling cheese steak we eat after the pie is far more pleasing.

Opera Phila streams La Traviata with Lisette Oropesa in her role debut as Violetta for $20.00. This 2015 production from director Paul Curran also stars Alek Shrader and Stephen Powell. Corrado Rovaris conducts, Gary McCann is the set and costume designer, Paul Hackenmueller is the lighting designer.


For nearly 100 years, Termini Brothers Bakery has made amazing Italian sweets like torrone, zeppoli, and cannoli. With its crunchy, perfectly-fried shells and fluffy ricotta cheese, and vanilla or chocolate Italian cream filling, their cannoli will make you feel like you've gone straight to Sicily. They are delivered to the Magic Opera Flying Carpet for our post-opera nightcaps after takeoff on our flight to England. Directly after leveling off, we serve cannoli with British claret, sherry, port or American coffee as we head out over the ocean.

Manon is again with us. She has spent the last few weeks at the local cat motel while I had surgery. She is not happy with me, but we are cordial, at least. She does think vanilla cannoli with ricotta is a nice addition to dry cat cuisine and she likes wearing the pink rhinestone collar I bought her. She'll come around eventually. Meanwhile, we sleep a few hours.

Still enroute in the early hours of morning, we offer coffee and breakfast bubble-and-squeak, a combination of cabbage fried with bacon, onion, ham, and potatoes. The cabbage bubbles in water; the pig squeaks before the butcher gets the ham. The eater gets a good hot breakfast.

Having landed outside of London, we take a bus tour of the city, finishing with pre-theater dinner at a pleasant cafe. We order traditional British bangers and mash. It consists of pork sausages with mashed potatoes, fried onions, and peas served with onion gravy. In 2009, bangers and mash was listed as Britain's most popular comfort food. The term "bangers" is attributed to the fact that the sausages made popping noises during World War I because they were watered down when there were meat shortages.

For the Covent Garden 1986 Ballo in Maschera, Gustavo is Plácido Domingo; Amelia is Katia Ricciarelli; Oscar is Reri Grist; Renato is Piero Cappuccilli; and Ulrica is Elena Obratzova. Claudio Abbado conducts the Royal Opera House Orchestra and Chorus.

Our after-theater nightcap is Eton mess, a parfait made of meringue cookies topped with strawberries and whipped cream. It's perfect with sherry wine. We're off to Sweden in the early morning.

After hours in the air, we land outside of Stockholm. On the Flying Opera Magic Carpet, we eat breakfast consisting of eggs, cereal, toast, bacon, and Swedish Pitepalt with beverages. Comforting and filling, pitepalt potato dumplings are a favorite in Sweden. Our Chef Julia mixes grated potatoes with flour to make dumpling balls. She pokes a hole into the middle of each ball and stuffs diced pork belly seasoned with herbs and pepper inside. After boiling the dumplings, she serves them steaming hot with butter, more smoky pork belly, and tangy lingonberry jam.

For early dinner, we go to an outdoor restaurant that serves traditional Swedish cuisine. A rich treat to warm the proverbial cockles, kalops is a dish for early Swedish winters. The restaurant's chef braises cubes of prime beef in red wine with onion, garlic, and carrots until the meat is soft and falling apart when touched with a fork. In many ways, kalops is similar to a traditional British or French beef stew, but one key ingredient sets it apart. The Swedish recipe includes allspice berries. These aromatic little seed pods have a clove-like warmth that punches the flavor up considerably. Waiters serve the completed kalops with boiled potatoes and slices of pickled beetroot.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Iolanta has a text by the composer's brother, Modest Tchaikovsky, based on Henrik Hertz's play King René's Daughter. Director Sergey Novikov moves the story of the king's blind daughter to our own time where an overpowering wealth of information prevents her from seeing the true beauty of the world. Tchaikovsky's last opera was much acclaimed at the premiere in St. Petersburg in 1892. A year later, it premiered at Royal Swedish Opera, but the one-act opera has not been performed in Stockholm since then.

Cast: René, Stanislav Shvets; Jolanta, Olga Shcheglova; Robert: Konstantin Brzhinskiy, Greve Vaudémont: Igor Morozov, Ibn-Hakia, Dmitry Yankovsky. John Fiore conducts the Royal Swedish Orchestra and Sergey Novikov directs.

LINK Performances, Operas, Choose Iolanta.

After the show, we snack on prinsesstårta (Swedish princess cake) which is made with smooth vanilla pudding, tangy raspberries, and nutty almond fill-ing between sponge cake layers. It's a great nightcap. We serve it with a choice of beverages after taking off for our trip east to Kazakhstan.

Arriving at Astana in the afternoon, we look for something to eat.

Food in Kazakhstan relies on gastronomic traditions from the time of nomadic travelers. Because many people have depended on cattle as a means of subsistence, lamb and mutton are common Kazakhstani entrees. When it comes to dairy, anything from cow's milk to the camel is used as are a variety of cheeses and milk-based dishes.

We locate a traditional restaurant and opt for a cross between yoghurt and soup for our first course. Sorpa is a salty broth-like drink served with our main dish, beshbarmak, which consists of stewed lamb with homemade pasta. The name beshbarmak means "five fingers" because the nomads used to eat this meal with their hands. Except for Manon, we use utensils.

Halvah, our dessert, is essentially a sweetened sunflower or sesame seed paste. Popular in Central Asia, halvah is also found in Arab and Jewish communities around the globe.

We land in. Astana, Kazakhstan. The Operalia 2013 concert is called Stars of the Opera World. It features Operalia competitors Gianluca Terranova - tenor, Gladys Rossi - soprano, Tatyana Vitsinskaya - mezzo-soprano, and Talgat Mysabaev - baritone. Marcello Rota conducts the orchestra of the Abay National Theatre and Opera House in Almaty, Kazakhstan named after poet, composer, and philosopher Abay Qunanbayuli.



After the show, we board the Magic Opera Flying Carpet and fly south to Naples, the city where pizza was born. Invented at Pizzeria Brandi in 1889 to tempt the palate of Queen Margherita, the original Margherita pizza recipe stands intact. The simple yeast dough is topped with mozzarella cheese, San Marzano tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, and a few aromatic basil leaves. It takes only ninety seconds to cook to perfection in a fast Neapolitan wood-burning oven.

Neapolitan pastries are revered throughout Italy. Sfogliatella is a plump, shell-shaped, crispy treat filled with lightly sweetened ricotta cheese. Try one at a traditional Italian bakery where the pastries are made according to old family recipes. We order more pastries from the local bakery for the night trip across the sea to the States.

We combine our pizza and pastries with wine from Falanghina grapes cultivated near the coast. A saucy white, Falanghina, the signature wine of Naples, compares hints of stone fruit with earthy minerality. Locals drink it as a palate-limbering aperitivo. Tour members experience a dash of la dolce vita as they sip the fruity vino.

At the Naples Theatre, Giuseppe Verdi's 1997 production of Nabucco features Renato Bruson, Maurizio Frusoni, Carlo Colombara, Lauren Flanigan, and Monica Bacelli. Paolo Carignagni conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro di San Carlo.



Having traveled the length of Europe, we embark for home, the sunsoaked city of Los Angeles.

Arriving in the City of Angels, some of our diners enjoy the exquisite Japanese options there. Los Angeles boasts a more than 130-year-old Little Tokyo and it has been a sushi town ever since the California roll hit LA restaurants in the 1960s. There's an area along Ventura Boulevard in Studio City called Sushi Row that can satisfy any craving for raw fish and rice.

However, a tourist can't say he has truly had the Los Angeles food experience until he has consumed his weight in Mexican fare. Other tour members chose an L A restaurant that serves flaming margaritas with their entrees and has live Mariachi music in the early evening.

LA's Tannhäuser is live October 24 and 27. After escaping an erotic entrapment with the goddess Venus, Tannhäuser returns to the real world to

pursue the virtuous love of a mortal woman. But in a momentary lapse of judgment, he shocks the town with a passionate affirmation of carnal delights-which definitely doesn't help him woo the innocent young woman he loves.

Issachah Savage, an incredible heldentenor (heroic tenor) stars as Tannhäuser. Thus, he brings his rare, beautiful voice to one of the most challenging roles in opera.

Watch Tannhäuser performed live at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in your home. LA Opera offers two live-streamed performances of Tannhäuser, on Sunday, October 24 at 2:00 PM and Wednesday, October 27 at 7:30 PM, for audience members who are unable to attend an in-person performance or prefer to watch from home. As these two performances will be live-streamed from the Chandler Pavilion, they will not be able to be re-watched. Access to these performances @ $30 is available on the LA Opera website. Don't miss this special treat. After the show, we offer a final round of lattes and we depart for our homes.

Photo of Issachah Saage coutesy of LA Opera.

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From This Author Maria Nockin