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.
Lisbon’s seven hills and waterfront make it visually spectacular. The second oldest capital in Europe, the city has energy. Busy streets and squares, full restaurants, and vibrant night life – the city pulsates. And, the population seems young. All signs of a city on the rise? Earthquake A 1755 earthquake destroyed 85% of the city […]
People living on the street have come to symbolize the global housing crisis but they are only the tip of the iceberg. While the examples of Finland and Houston demonstrate a focussed plan pursued diligently can resolve the housing situation for the chronically homeless, addressing the affordable housing problem is much more complex. Defining Affordability […]
I love to dance. This is not something new for me. I can’t remember when I didn’t like to move to the music. My first memories of watching others dance come from my childhood in Cape Breton where I would watch the adults square dance. Then, there were the step dancers who would often accompany […]
Kings Cross, once a thriving industrial and transport centre in London, was effectively closed off to the public by the end of the 20th century. Then in 1996, the decision was made to move the British terminus for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link from Waterloo to St-Pancras. The landowner saw a re-development opportunity for […]
I have postulated that cities and towns evolve. That towns and villages first grow in areas where the basics to support life were plentiful. Typically, that means good agricultural land and good access to water. Other valuable considerations include safety, and resilience. The bonus – access to trade routes. Walt Disney and the Fully Formed […]
A Visit from Saint Nicholas A Poem by Jonathan Potter – December 2022 ‘Twas the first mask-free Christmas, when all through the stores The vaccinated children were spewing their spores;The shoppers were eagerly starting to riotAs the introverts longed for some quarantine quiet. The public healthcare workers were tracing the pathOf the flu and RSV, […]