Monday, February 7, 2011


Christine Goerke, as Kundry in Richard Wagner's epic PARSIFAL

How sad...the week has flown by and I'm on my way home at the crack of dawn.  Thank god I don't have to fly Alitalia and will connect through Paris and my Delta flight home via Air France.  

I attended the final performance of a new production of Wagner's PARSIFAL starring my good buddy, Christine Goerke, as Kundry.  Surrounded by an outstanding cast of fine singers, a good orchestra, and outstanding chorus, and a pretty good production, Christine has a fabulous success in this her second Wagner opera. The audience gave her an overwhelming ovation at the end of the second act curtain call and again at the opera's end.  Bertrand de Billy, was the fine conductor.  

Christopher Ventris (Parsifal) with Talia Or (right) a Flower Maiden and her husband, Judd Perry, who played a serving man to the Knights of the Grail

Mark S. Doss (Klingsor) with his adorable wife, Dawn.

Christine and her Amfortas, Jochen Schmeckenbeche cutting up.  

I was honored to meet most of the cast and enjoyed lunch and dinners with several of them and now have made friends with Christopher Ventris (Parsifal) and Jochen Schmeckenbeche (Amfortas).  I also enjoyed several leisurely lunches with Laurie Feldman, an opera director who is based here in Turin.  Laurie often directs at the Metropolitan Opera and other operas houses.  

This is a view from the stage into the Teatro Regio di Torino. It is a very modern opera house, built 
in the 1970s to replace the orginal that had burned in a fire.  The new theatre seats only 1600 or so.  
The previous theater seated 3400.

Last night most of the cast assembled for a final dinner celebration.  I was pleased to be asked to join them. It was wonderful to see how this cast has bonded as a team.  Clearly they have great affection for Christine, and it was fun to watch the teasing and laughter as they recalled the many moments, high and low they've experienced these past six weeks of rehearsals and performances.  

Christine had woken up this morning with the onset of a cold, and was really panicky that she wouldn't be able to sing well.  Fortunately she was able to rise to the occasion, but by the time she had finished her pasta, she was ready to go home, and we reluctantly said goodnight.  

The adrenaline of a great performance was still with me, and I read until about midnight and then slept in until 8:30 this morning.  Out for an early breakfast, I was back to get most of my packing done an meet Christine and Laurie for lunch near the Royal Palace.  Ristorante Taverna Fiorentina is a very pretty dining room with yellow walls, splashed with red, white trim, and elegant white trim.  For a change, the lighting was natural and not glaring with electricity.  We were offered a large corner table.  Laurie knew at once she was having the raw artichoke salad, and that seemed a good idea for me as well.  The finely shredded artichokes were adorned with thin slices of Parmesan cheese and given a splash of olive oil.  All that was needed was salt and cracked pepper.  The musky flavor of the artichokes tasted of the earth. Pure spring.  I had a pasta dish called Malfogliata, or flat and irregular shaped pieces of pasta, cooked and then sauced with wild boar sauce.  This was a rich and aromatic dish, it's Florentine roots, appropriate to the restaurant's name.  Laurie had grilled beef while Christine chose a braise of beef with polenta.  A carafe of the house Barbera and a bottle of sparkling water made the lunch truly wonderful. 

Christine outside the Basilica Consolata

The main altar of the Basilica Consolata

Afterward Christine wanted to show me the Basilica Consolata, a large and beautifully appointed church not to far away.  It sits on a tiny square and once again, what looks to be small from the outside is huge inside with soaring high walls, an ornately gilded dome with windows to let in light, masses of various types of marble everywhere and many small side chapels, including one below street level.  Clearly this church has wealthy parishoners who keep this place in very good shape.  I admired just about every nook and cranny from its simply carved wooden doors to the ornate altar and the elegant pews. Even the paintings were relatively subdued.

We did some shopping along the via Garibaldi, a pedestrian shopping area with no cars, strolling slowly, and stopping to sit on a bench and basque in the mild weather.  Despite the fact that Turin is surrounded by the Italian Alps, the city has enjoyed more than a week of balmy and sunny weather, and I have been walking around in the afternoon with only a sweater on.  It's funny to watch the Turinese in their fur coats, and hats and scarves and gloves, acting like it's freezing outside.  They should only be in New York this winter.  I'm sure it climbed to 60 today and not for the first time this week.  

I'll have a final dinner with Christine tonight, and come back for the final packing and into bed early.  Claudio, the owner of the hotel, will take me to the airport at 5:30 AM for my flight!  

It's been a wonderful trip, but it's time to come home.  Can't wait to see Beau and Bit (Kyle's cat), and find out what's happening at home. 

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