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Feb. 21 2012

Adventures of a Mezzo in Manhattan

By Dyana Neal | Posted in Host Blogs | 2 Comments

Greetings! It’s great to be back on the air. Jim & I took a trip to New York over the weekend, mostly to see Verdi’s Ernani at the Metropolitan Opera. We also got to visit with several friends, one of whom sings in the Met chorus (local opera fans may remember her: Sara Stewart, soprano extraordinaire.) Dating from 1844, Ernani is early Verdi  – the 5th of his 28 operas, to be exact – & is based on Victor Hugo’s drama Hernani, ou L’Honneur Castillan.  The opera anticipates Il Trovatore  not only in terms of plot (historic setting, doomed lovers, etc.) but also in its energetic melodies. Of course, Verdi’s writing for the voice was always exquisite; to my mind, the musical highlight of this performance was Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s stunning rendition of the Act 3 cavatina, Oh, di verd’anni miei (“Oh, the dreams & deceits of my youth.”) Overall, however, the strongest performance of the evening came from Ferruccio Furlanetto as Don Ruy Gomez de Silva, an aging Spanish grandee. Silva isn’t the most sympathetic character – among other things, he’s plotting a forced marriage to his niece, Elvira – but Furlanetto’s marvelous voice & top-notch acting kept him from turning into a cartoon villain, even for a second. So much for that old saw about opera singers not being able to act!

There were at least seven movie cameras in the theater that night, but the performance wasn’t being filmed; it was a dry run for this coming Saturday’s live HD broadcast of the matinee, which you can view locally at the Charles Theater. If you prefer to stay home & listen,  of course you may do so on WBJC-FM; the broadcast will begin at 1:00. Having worked on a few film & TV sets in my time, I’m always intrigued by the technical side of such work, & it was great fun to watch the three cameras at the front of the house (one boom-mounted on either side of the stage, one running along the footlights) moving about in a most unobtrusive fashion.

Delightful as it is, one cannot live by opera alone. Aside from our evening at the Met, last weekend’s Manhattan visit included a great deal of wonderful food & wine (& lots of running & walking to mitigate the effects of same!) We indulged in Italian fare at I Coppi & Eataly, Middle Eastern cuisine at Shalal, bought decadent sweets at Maison du Chocolat, & had my favorite savory breakfast – two days in a row! – at Bagel Boss. Shopping-wise, we visited a couple of our favorite vintage & resale haunts (La Boutique & the Garage Flea Market) & discovered a new one, Cobblestones, very near I Coppi. Apparently there’s a new Coen brothers movie being shot on the Lower East Side; we had to do a bit of negotiating with their film crew to get from the shop to dinner. I’ve no idea what the film is about, but it seems to be a period piece; there were antique cars from various eras parked along 9th Street last Friday evening & we spotted an actor in mid-20th-century clothing hanging around, waiting for his next call. By Sunday evening, when we boarded the train to come home, we were low on funds, exhausted, & already thinking about our next visit to the city.


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Dyana is WBJC's midday host. Her full bio can be read here.

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