Saturday, September 28, 2013

afternoon tea in london

Yours truly having afternoon tea in London near Notting Hill Station with Mr. Husband, summer of 1998, surrounded by fans and William Morris wallpaper. The proprietor was from India, and had good food and gorgeous china. I'm sure I could fine the place again—if it is still there. Not forgotten is stopping at an Episcopal church near by—where the choir was practicing for a concert. We heard them sing an English anthem which was quite lovely, then attempt something by Brahms, which was truly awful. This simply goes to show that you have to be on your game when you sing in foreign languages. Oops! That's my other blog talking! 

Speaking of Mr. Husband, the New York Times recently had an article on how one should introduce a gay married couple. Of course, it makes perfect sense to me. It's "husband" all the way for this boy. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Men at the Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I can't get enough of it, and always discover something new there. It seems that the curators are doing that as well since there were new things on view during a recent trip. However, no matter what we go to see, we always swing by the resplendent Greek and Roman Galleries, part of which was once a rather run-down cafeteria. All that, thankfully, has all been swept away and replaced with an I, Claudius set. On our recent visit, I found myself snapping photos of Roman dignitaries and youths on their funereal monuments, their life-size heads having a very definite presence. You really must go! 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tabarrini Rosato dell'Umbria

Can you fall in love with a wine? I did. Weeks ago, I was in Spoleto, Italy, with my friend Paulo Faustini, who founded Umbrian Serenades, and we attended a dinner where Tabarinni wines were served with an excellent meal. The producer was there, and talked about each wine as it was served with the various courses. The first one was Tabarrini Rosato. Made from Sagrantino grape, it was the hit of the night, and everyone in our group - twelve of us actually - looked in vain for it in town. Then, before our farewell dinner, I walked from our hotel to the Piazza Mercato, wandering into a wine store and finding it on a lower shelf for eight euros. I bought one (later chiding myself for not getting two) and stashed it in my small suitcase like a precious relic. 

Paulo came for dinner a day ago. I made Porchetta Pork Chops, Baked Radicchio and Endive, and paired the Tabarinni with a simple Caprese Salad. It was tangy and dry, with a hint of effervescence. Heaven in a glass. Unfortunately, you won't be able to find it here in America. But you can come sing with me in Italy next summer! 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Aqueduct of Spoleto in Italy

The Vice-Mayor of Spoleto gave participants of Umbrian Serenades this print of The Aqueduct of Spoleto at the farewell dinner at Hotel dei Duchi a month ago. It's now sitting on the mantel after being  picked up from the framer. I chose 'old gold' for the frame, and like the result. Good memories. Good singing. Great people. All the more reason to return next summer. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Shakespeare Garden

There was an email in my 'box' this morning which reminded me of the Shakespeare Garden in Central Park. Something about the Joseph Papp Theater. Of course, I had forgotten about the photos I snapped earlier in the summer. Looking at them now (they were taken mid-July), I see how lush this summer has been. It's over now, that is, if the light is any indication, the light more silver than gold as it moves across the building opposite the living-room window. I find myself mourning the putting away of shorts, linen shirts and sandals.

Speaking of mourning: my dear friend David, who died of brain cancer, is in the garden pushing up roses, his ashes having been spread in the flower beds. I didn't go for that event, I must confess, which took place at the dead of dawn. Not because of the early hour, mind you. It just seems, well... you would have to have known David. He of the clear-eyed quip would have found it funny. When I am in the garden now, I think of this and smile. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

When in Rome

Go into Sant'Andrea della Valle, the basilica that Giacomo Puccini featured in the first act of Tosca. Sit in a pew and let the soft golden light streaming through the windows caress your face. Remember the many times you have sung Puccini's glorious music at the New York City Opera and be grateful. 

Find San Luigi dei Francesi balisica, and the three jaw-dropping paintings by Caravaggio there. Drop a coin in a box to see them properly. When the timer goes off and everyone stands around thinking the power is out, smile to yourself and drop another coin in the box. 

Find this beautiful dome off the Piazza Navona and take a photo. Don't be surprised when one of the faithful runs up to you, and motions in sign language that you shouldn't be taking pictures. Smile politely and nod, then walk left into a smaller room (where the photo police can't see you) and snap this photo. Think about going to confession to report your transgression, but then remember you aren't Catholic.

Find this kinda-sorta naked muscular Christ by Michelangelo at the only Gothic church in Rome - the basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, which is right next to the Pantheon. Think about why he's covered up with a bronze modesty cloth, which was not the great artists' intention. 

Walk a few paces to the left and find the tomb of Fra Angelico, who had the distinction of being turned into a saint by John Paul II. Have nothing snappy to say about this. Just appreciate the art.

Travel due Northeast to the Galleria Borghese. Don't dream of taking pictures of the interior. Nope. Not allowed. You can, however, snap a photo or two of the statuary on the porch. When you go: make sure you obtain your ticket online weeks, even months, ahead of time. Then show up early. If you are lucky, you'll be able to get in early and have more time in one of Rome's highlights. 

When you get home, dream about being in Rome.