trip summary

Since discovering operas back in 2009, I have traveled to many places and meet up with very nice old and new friends along the way. But for the most part I have been traveling alone. In fact, the last time I traveled with a “buddy” and had this much fun was with my younger sister on our first ever trip to Europe. No tumbling, but we incrementally lost more and more things along the way while being hungry, sneaking for food, arguing, all the way to madness of fun to the end. This trip reminds me so much of that. It all started last September when 2 things occurred at about the same time: my discovery of Sara Mingardo and a stressful business trip to London. The only thing pleasant about that trip was 2 consecutive meetings, one with an old friend on his way in, and one while I was on the way out criss-crossing with Dehggial. Within that one hour in a busy and loud train station, we exchanged enough excitement about music to sort out that I want to come back precisely this May and that I agreed immediately to stay on her couch upon the first suggestive offer :-). May is also the time when I become useless here in Boston due to pollen so am always on the look-out for refuge in some part of Europe for *extended* period. Ideally, to not outstay my welcome, I would shift from place to place while plotting some music stops along the way. So when Dehggi mentioned she’d like to join for the small excursion to Basel, naturally it’d be part of the package to re-visit my 2nd home in Munich if anything was to take place at the Bayerische Staatsoper. Of course with my sister we knew each other so long we can laugh/joke after heated arguments arisen from hunger/exhaustion. With a stranger, there is always *some* risk, but if our 1-hr lively exchange offers any clue, it is that at least we would have plenty of things to say and the aim is not to kill the other by the end :-).

So now, onto bullet-point running-commentary format as I think it’s easier this way to follow the traditional slide-show. Surprisingly I took very little photos, must have been spending all that time talking/sleeping/running.
– Music: it has to be from the lunch recital :-).
– Wigmore Hall: there is no need for introduction. If you have a chance, attend a concert here. What luxury.
– Dorothea Röschmann: What a voice! For some reason the first evening sitting in the back of the hall my complete-jet-lagged brain was more tuned to Mitsuko Uchida’s gorgeous piano playing while trying to get used to DR’s voice. As Dehggi mentioned in her post, by the 2nd performance she pushed a bit less and thus everything was working beautifully. Also, sitting in close proximity at 90° angle is PERFECT, no ear-drum hazard. Incredibly descriptive voice. And you get to see how she used her facial muscles too. Regarding Mitsuko’s back, it’s quite amazing she played everything with almost absolute still posture! And from the distance you can tell she was “singing” along with DR too, a very playful and charming personality.
– noodle soup: generally speaking, if I stay at your place for more than 2 days and you can offer a kitchen, point me to Chinatown, have a proper knife, and a pot that can hold an entire chicken, I will cook. I have it sorted out now: might as well cook what i really want to eat, in case the host can not handel, i get to eat the whole thing 😀 . But of course it is very lovely if we can also share the meal. In fact some of the warmest time we had on this trip was shared meals with friends.
– hand-waving photos: the camera is sort of old/new, the lens in my old one since 2010 was ruined and I got a very similar one, except they’re thinking for you now with all sorts of “fancy” craps that resulted in all those blurry photos on the first night at Wigmore Hall. No more after a night playing with the cute cat and hand waving (motion in low-light simulation).
– Basel is such a lovely small city! with an interesting concert hall (called casino), a really cool theater, a looooovely river with people sitting on the bank drinking beer enjoying life.
– Vesselina Kasarova singing Cleopatre: very intense! at such close proximity (check out Dehggi’s post for related hazard). This is one of those very rare occasions I almost didn’t pay attention to the orchestra, just her phrasing! It definitely helped to know the piece so well (hearing), as you can anticipate what is coming next and how she phrased it and how the orchestra fit in. Slightly related, there was a large number of WS at the show! she must have gathered up all of Basel’s and surrounding towns’ troups, quite impressive.
– Juditha Triumphans!!!!! on the same night we listened to Cleopatre! ARRRGHHHH (more on this later)

– Verdi versus Vivaldi: Suddenly the german rail went on strike! so we missed the beginning of Frau Harteros in La Forza, ARRRGH. But we caught the end, except she was out of view the entire ending due to “dying” on the ground!! NOT ON THE TABLE!! WHY NOT??? But her phrasing dear readers, absolutely exquisite. It is ashamed she has so little to sing. In fact, so little that by the 2nd performance I was angry! This whole opera is a fraud! There’s little in the music, they just went on and on to câu giờ ** so the Kaufmann tenor’s fans can scream their heads off cheering. Even with my absolute admiration for AH’s singing, I totally lost my patience in the middle 2-hour and in fact snoozed off. But ANGER: because in Basel on the same night was Juditha Triumphans, and had I known all this ahead of time (rail strike be damned), I would have bought instead: a trip to Passau for the I Capuleti mentioned on DTO’s site followed by a direct flight to Basel the next morning for Juditha, followed by yet another early flight back to London in time for Sara Mingardo. As was, grrrr! (Oh right, i thought ok, since I was going to have to sit through it, might as well really focus to see if I like JK’s singing.. sorry, snoozed off very well, had 2 dreams even!)
– selfie: ha, we had great fun both in Basel and Munich, through all the running and (spectacular) tumbling (me) and sleeping + eating arrangements. But at the Bayerische Staatsoper, there were SIX curtain calls and we caught the last for our selfie to spot a row of finely-dressed ladies cheering for, we could only assumed, JK :-).
– ham + bread: if I could arrange my trip somehow to always land first in Germany to get all of these, then to Switzerland for chocolate, the rest of the trip would be so set :-).

So, that sort of summarize the super fun trip. We talked plenty into the days/nights/mornings, covering pretty much everything, including if VK ever revive Orphée we will organize a WS van to follow her the show around europe :D. I have never traveled on such a trip with an “opera buddy” before, the experience was simply fantastic. So, a wrap-up with many thanks to Dehggi for hosting and fingers crossed for more fun in the future!

————
** fishing for time, generally used by (a) football players toward the end of the match when they’re ahead, involving falling down on ground grabbing legs in rolling around in pain until the ref blows the final ending whistle, (b) kids when they don’t want to sleep yet, involving asking for water 20 times…

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About thả diều
writing-challenged opera-addict

13 Responses to trip summary

  1. dehggial says:

    that chicken looks sexy! but my fave bit is 0:31 ;-D you didn’t explain that one.

    I’m very glad you had a great time, I did too! Being a host to you is very easy though. But it’s going to be harder going on opera trips alone now (btw, bought my ticket for Bluebeard, I’ll now have to work out how to get there). Hopefully next time we won’t have to deal with a shoddy opera 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • thả diều says:

      0:31, that must be the home improvement shot 😉 . I didn’t want to go into too much details the host’s home + children ;-). but it reminds me of this shot i took at my friend’s place (place u stay at) 2 yrs ago.
      oh niiiiice, Bluebeard!! actually now you got me curious, might get started w/ that today..
      chicken was a smashing success, i was super impressed with the pot 😉 (just pulled out my 15L pot here! came back to boston a bit too soon..) , and then when i checked inventory and found the soup scoop, we were in business!! 😀
      Fingers crossed for more of these trips 🙂 (i now fancy the ws 1960 volkswagen van 😀 )

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      • dehggial says:

        there was a tree in the house? and a squirrel! Did you sleep in a hollow tree trunk?

        well, yes, about host’s home and children (hehe) but since the picture made it in the mix… I don’t mind, I think the whole situation is rather funny. The soup scoop’s mum’s idea. Mums just know about these things. The pot was the cheapest I could find in that volume range 😀 and that was indeed the idea: must hold a whole chicken. You can cook the noodle soup whenever you’re around, I was very happy with it myself.

        yes, go listen to Bluebeard, it’s very short, you can listen to it twice, maybe even three times whilst working. You’ll hear a strikingly familiar (or at least it was to me) orchestral theme around min 20 or so (can’t check right now, my co-worker refuses to go on her break though she’s falling asleep in her chair).

        you can take this to the Arctic:

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        • thả diều says:

          lots of interesting things were happening at that place 2 years ago 😉 , good thing you arrived after the nice couch made its debut last year.
          i’ll give a go to bluebeard tomorrow hopefully.. currently off headset tending to nose+eye issues, next time i gonna hide somewhere in europe until after 23/may 🙂
          speaking of pot, our haushold requirement is to fit 4 chickens with room to spare. my pot so high which is good as i’ve stopped wiping and now nose dripping freely to floor at rate 10 drops/minute 😀

          Liked by 1 person

          • dehggial says:

            4 chickens! I’m speechless. So are you at the end of your cold now?

            are a lot of those pictures from Davos? wherever it is, it’s exceptionally pretty.

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          • thả diều says:

            we make serious broth 😉 . here’s view from my sis-in-law’s pot (left, w/ 4 chickens) and mine (right, w/ 1 + 1/2 chicken + rice — hence thicky look) in simultaneous cooking sessions last night 2 coasts apart. this hopefully will address the cold + bad-phase allergy..
            that was all from Davos! breath-takingly beautiful, i sat for a long time admiring the landscape + flowers. Interestingly, i accidentally discovered my source of all this messy allergy there: Was roaming the mountains on my own snapping away pix of beautiful flowers and thought why not picked a few for VK the next afternoon in DerR in Zürich! so picked picked away and that night nose clogged up completely.. flowers didn’t survive anyhow, those tiny things wilted within 2-3 hours away from its root.. and once they were promptly tossed out and all hands washed next day in fresh city nose re-discovered normality. was a very good 1-day experiment, no need to be in lab for all those tests :D.

            Liked by 1 person

          • dehggial says:

            cute experiment! that’s loads of soup. I have to cook my own but I am too lazy after 3 night shifts. Luckily there’s still some of the German ham left 😉

            Liked by 1 person

        • dehggial says:

          the camper van picture didn’t work. Here‘s the link.

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        • thả diều says:

          i tried listen to Bluebeard the other night, as soon as music started i felt compelled to take headset off and go check that i locked the apartment’s door already 😀 spooky! and quite interesting! though haven’t gotten past 1/2 way.. it’s a bit too spooky and needs more concentration! need more investigation when i get my nose back.. but i can really see how VK would excel at interpreting these psychological roles

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