Live opera thrills. The crowd buzzes in anticipation of the performance, the appearance of a great star, or the discovery of a new one. Devotees debate reviews of the staging and set decoration. Is it too modern or too traditional? The audience is eclectic. Young people in jeans mingle with those dressed in tuxedos and evening gowns and there is everything in between. I saw La Boheme at Venice’s La Fenice where two gentlemen in full highland regalia accompanied two ladies in evening dresses. It was a hobby to go to the opera all over Europe and they always dressed in kilt.
I have been fortunate enough to see operas in four great European venues. These old world theatres are beautiful. Sometime, I hope to see a performance at the Sydney Opera. The Metropolitan Opera where I saw Elektra calls the Lincoln Centre home and while magnificent, it lacks the charm of the Royal Opera House in London or the Vienna State Opera .
The ambience and the venues excite but the music occupies centre stage. Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, a five and a half hour masterpiece or Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, only an hour and fifteen minutes long, are very different but the music is glorious. The top performers become legend. Our generation has enjoyed two of the greatest tenors ever, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. We have had the privilege of listening to Kateri Te Kanawa and Jessye Norman. Predecessors include Enrico Caruso, Beniamino Gigli, Maria Callas, Montserrat Caballé, and Joan Sutherland. Flavours of the day include Jonas Kaufman , a handsome german tenor, and Anna Netrebko, a Russian-born soprano.
I don’t know when we will be able to get back to enjoying live performances but don’t let that put you off. Stream a performance from one of the world’s great opera companies . OK – I’m a snob when it comes to Opera. Don’t waste time listening to the Four Tenors, The Canadian Tenors, pop stars such as Celine Dion trying, Il Volo, or even Andrea Bocelli. They are all light weights and wannabes singing operatic candy. In stead listen to or watch Verdi’s La Traviata. There are many parts to this opera that you will recognize. Be patient — you will get hooked.
We sat in a box at La Fenice with a mother and daughter from England. It was their first opera but they had seen numerous West End musical productions. Post performance they told us that after La Boheme they did not think they could ever enjoy musicals quite as much. Now they would be following the schedules of the many English opera companies.
Before I fall completely into the trap of opposition politics, I have decided to take a break from never-ending criticism and to start suggesting solutions to the affordable housing conundrum. Do I have a plan? No, more a collection of ideas To start with, I think there are three key issues: Home ownership is not […]
I know! I am going to sound like a grumpy old man. Maybe that is because I am. I have been scratching my head in wonderment at the Taylor Swift phenomena. Is she an Incredible song writer, composer, and performer? I really don’t know! A discussion for another time? But probably not. At my age […]
Don’t build it! At least, Not In My Back Yard ! I acted as an advisor in the sale of a beautifully natural, 14-acre urban waterfront estate. Existing zoning allowed for the development of 30 to 35 single-family homes, which after road dedication would leave very little green space. I did not think that was […]
We were visiting Glasgow (literally that Dear Green Place in Gaelic) to see where my father was born, grew up, and went to University. Fortunately for me, my cousin John from Australia had just visited and had met with historians, Bruce Downie and Norry Wilson. So, we too arranged to meet them in the Govanhill […]
Vienna on top again. This week both Monocle Magazine and The Economist unveiled their quality of life / most liveable city indexes. There are differences in the way each publication sets its index. So it is even more impressive that once again, Vienna tops both lists. I am a bit lazy today so rather than […]
Many Viennese went from hot bedding to superblocks overnight. Could they even imagine an apartment complex 1000 metres long built along two streets with even more massive landscaped courtyards? Could they conceive of 1400 apartment units built to house 5000 people on 56,000 square metres or 38 acres of land. Or a vertical build-out that […]