An American In Italy

A semester spent in Europe... Rome, specifically.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

You talk of battles to be won, now here you come like Don Ju-an, he's better than an o-per-a!

John .... we are going to the Viennese opera if it KILLS us.

Not only are they playing "Die Zauberflo:te" by the great Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart who LIVED in that city (*heart palpitations*), but ALSO they are playing the BEST and most BEAUTIFUL opera in the world, not to mention the fault is yours for getting me to like it anyway, "La Boheme"!!!!

I don't care how much it costs. I would give both arms, all my fingers and toes and probably my left leg to go to BOTH.

Of course they also have "Siegfried" by *cough*wagner*cough*... but .... that's not as important!

Oh my gosh ... they also have "Swan Lake". I've been dying to see that forever. Holy cow. After I marry my French millionaire, I'm going to have a second house in Austria. Near Vienna.

They've also got "Tosca" ... and another Wagner opera ... this is unbelievable. How many operas do they have going at once? Lordy, how many primma donnas can they afford to hire!? "Nabucco"! "Fidelio"! "La Traviata"! And the obligatory "Nutcracker"! Ho...lee... cow. My life's goal was once to see a Mozart opera, so I could have died happy after "Don Giovanni" a year and a half ago (before YWW). Now I've gotten a bit greedy. ;)

The monthly program is available here. It will test your operatic languages. But of course all the famous names are recognizeable at once (such as "Boheme").

In fact, that is a way I recommend becoming familiar with the languages -- memorize all Rodolfo's aria's from La Boheme Act I. (It's easy stuff, too) Listen to it over to hear how the language is pronounced. German is a bit more tricky... it's difficult to sing the umulat, and the other vowels with the ":" over them. I don't know what they're called, and I'm still trying to figure out how to pronounce them. I suspect there's something e-sih about the "o:", and something eh-ish about the "a:". Right now I'm working through a Berlitz teach-yourself-German with a German grammar book, and Mozart's "Dies Bildnis ist Benzaubernd scho:n".

Did you know that if you half-translate the title "I am a Rock, I am an Island" so that you have "Bin ich Rock, Bin ich Island", you get "I am a Coat, I am Iceland"?

Also, John, I'm giving you access to post in this blog if you would like to.

Oh my gosh, Gounod's "Romeo and Juliette"...

Before I get too lost in this fantasyland, I am looking at ticket prices for "Zauberflote" and "Boheme".

October 2nd, La Boheme is listed as "Price category B" (or "Prieskategorie"), which means the absolute cheapest, worst seats are ...

9 Euro??? 10 bucks???
The next one up is 25 Euro, about 30 bucks! After that, 36 Euro, $43! That's, like, nothing! Rome opera was no less than 60 or 70 bucks a pop, German opera was likewise highly expensive. Hooooly cow. We paid $30 for our "family circle" seats at the Met! That roooooocks so hard!!!!

I would say shell out the $43, and then go see another for $10. I wonder why they're $10, they must have some kind of view obstruction or something. Two operas for $53 is, like, nothing. Not to mention it's another Zefirelli production -- I believe he did the sets for Don Giovanni when we saw it. I don't know what "Inszenierung" is, but the "bild" in "B├╝hnenbild" leads me to believe sets. He did both "Inszenierung" and "B├╝hnenbild".

La Boheme:

September:
25th, Saturday
29th, Wednesday
October:
2nd, Saturday
6th, Wednesday

And that's it. And Die Zauberflo:te is Preiskategorie A, which means it's more expensive. In fact, most of the other operas are Prieskategorie A. They go for 1O E, 29 E, and 44E, which means $12, $35, and $53.

Good luck navigating the not-very-well-planned site, and pitifully-planned "English" site (I braved the German with the help of Babelfish). You can click here for the opera plan (to note where the cheap seats are), or if you want to plug the URL in to babelfish, it is http://www.wiener-staatsoper.at/Content.Node2/sitzplaene/stop_sitzplan.html .

O soave fanciulla
che dolce viso
di mite circonfuso
alba lunar
in te, vivo ravviso
il sogno ch'io vorrei
sempre sognar

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The hills are incarnate with symphonic melodies!

Also, I have to start marking the things in this book that I want to do. Like visit the Musee des Beaux Arts because of the Auden poem. It's in northeast France.

Oh, and I definitely want to go to Troyes, because of the famous Chertien (sp) de Troyes who wrote the Lancelot and some other medieval romances. Also, there's totally a chapel built by the Knights Templar in the 13th century in Metz. Wow, just the pictures of some of the churches are amazing. Like La Madeline in Paris (when I think of "La Madeline", I think of a restaurant by the same name)... and Versailles... holy cow...

But this quote from a chapter on Paris:
Many of Paris' famous sights are slightly out of the city center. Monmartre, long a mecca for artists and writers, still retains much of its bohemian atmosphere...

*Christian voice* "I first came to Paris one year ago ... it was 1899, the summer of love. I knew nothing of the Moulin Rouge, Harold Zidler, or Satine. The world had been swept up in a bohemian revolution, and I had traveled from London to be a part of it. On the hill near Paris was the village of Montmartre. It was not, as my father said, 'a village of sin', but the center of the bohemian revolution! Musicians, painters, writers -- they were known as 'the children of the revolution'. Yes, I had come to live a peniless existence! I had come to write about truth, beauty, freedom, and that which I believed in above all things -- love. ["ALways this riDIculous obSEssion with LOVE!"] There was only one problem -- I'd never been in love! Luckily, right at that moment, an unconscious Argentinian fell through my roof. He was quickly joined by a dwarf dressed as a nun."

Haha! Sorry. But! Get this ...

Built in 1885, the Moulin Rouge was turned into a dance hall as early as 1900. Henri Toulouse-Lautrec immortalized the wild and colourful cancan shows here in his poster and drawing of his famous dancers such as Jane Avril...

Toulouse was real!!!!!! I wonder if he was a midget. Also --

The steep butte (hill) of Montmartre has been associated with artists for 200 years. Theodore Gericault and Camille Corot came here at the start of the 19th cntury, and in the 20th century Maurice Utrillo immortalized the streets in his works. Today, the street artists thrive predominantly on the tourist trade, but much of the area still preserves its villagey, sometimes seedy, prewar atmosphere. The name of the area is ascribed to martyrs tortured and killed in the area around AD 250, hence mons martyrium.

That ... is ... so ... cool. My goal is go to to Montmartre (have a picture taken next to the sign to prove that I've been there, i.e. this) and then buy something (a painting?) from one of the local bohemian arists. Also, I'm going to bring something Satineish and pose with it in front of the Moulin Rouge. I want my picture in front of the Moulin Rouge, but I don't want to go in ... as it's uh, Vegasy and gross. But I'll do my Satine impression ... "the French are glad to die for love, they delight in fighting duels... but I prefer a man who lives, and gives expensive jewels."

Also, there are both stores of Tiffany AND Cartier in Paris.

I'm heaven. And I'm not even there yet.

Totally alone.

Envy me, Tyler Whetstone!!! ;D

...and I am a material girl.

The more I read about it, the more I fall in love with France. I think I'll marry a French millionaire and have a mansion somewhere in the middle of the French countryside, and all our children will grow up speaking French and English and they'll have these adorable little French accents when they speak English. And they'll all go to school in France except for college because they'll all go to West Point, except the two girls and three boys who are going to become Carmelite and Dominican sisters and Dominican priests. Every Sunday we'll go to church at the local monastery where they make cheese and say Mass in Latin and I'll get up every day to go listen to them chant lauds and every evening to hear matins and I'll wear a veil and with my small children in tow, I'll look very pious. Also, my husband will buy me lots of diamonds, and a horse. And a horse with diamonds. And a diamond-horse.

And a sportscar. A really fast, zippy sportscar.

That was like a scene out of a 19th-century novel until the sportscar part. I like the part about the sportscar.

Eurail Info Wanted....

Hey

Who knows something about Eurail? There is no schedule available online ... and I'm really suspicious of any kind of non-official ... anything. One of the things I got when I typed in "Eurail" on Google was railpass.com, which looks official at first, but not when you dig around. Also, when you try to get a schedule for that, it takes you to Deutsche Bahn. Uh.

Also it says that something from Rome to Avignon is 20 hours. That can't be right.

Digging around a bit more on the REAL Eurail website (which is very, very European made by virtue of such phrases on a professional website as, "Too much luggage is a DRAG" and "For some connections in Europe trains make use of ferry crossings. You won't believe it, but really, the entire train is put aboard the boat!") I find something about various special trains including high-speed and overnight trains. I have no clue if my Eurail pass covers this ... the one I got from UD is the Eurail Youthpass, I believe. The description on the blue sheet says:

For anyone under 26 years of age. Unlimited second-class train travel. Second-class on the European trains is most comfortable, and it's the way most Europeans travel. The Youthpass is accepteed on the world's fastest train, the TGV in France. You can even reserve seats and couchette accomodations (for additional fee).

The high-speed Artesia du jour train goes through France and Italy (from Paris and Lyon to Milano via Modane and Torino) ... hey, I think this is that "world's fastest" train they were talking about. And that ticket covers it. Diggit! Now ... how long does it take?

HOLY cow! The TGV train can take you from Paris to London in 3 hours via the Chunnel!

And it looks like I can't get a schedule without ordering a pass. Hmmm... I'll contact UD about schedules.

After that, the next thing I want to know about is the cheapest accomodations. I remember Steph and Colleen and other people talking about "hostels" -- what're those?

Should these commands be ignored, a disaster beyond imagination shall occur...

HOLY COW

You know what I just realized?

I could go to the PARIS OPERA HOUSE and go to BOX 5 and see where the PHANTOM OF THE OPERA sits! They have an opera about St. Francis of Assisi, they have something that looks like "Dialogues of Carmelites", and then they're premiering "The Barber of Seville" in December. WOOT!

Looks like the cheapest seats they have are 61 euro, which according to xe.com is ... $73!?

Maybe not.

At least we can get a tour of the opera house and I'll take pictures of box 5, maybe break in to the secure areas and see if I can find the phantom's lair and steal all his music and his organ and his little organ-grinding monkey! Mwahahaaa!

Spectacular! Spectacular! No words in the vernacular...

Since I have recently decided for definitely-sure that I am going to Rome, I am going to need some kind of travel-logue ... travellogue... travellog... travel-log ... some kind of place to post pictures and memoirs and stuff, before I inevitably come home and create a massive scrapbook. Here will be my online Rome scrapbook, except I won't glue ticket stubs and stuff to my comptuer, otherwise that might make it hard to see the screen.

I am told there is wireless access from the Rome campus. And since the only thing that allowed me even to consider Rome is that I would not be wholly out of touch with America because of this, I intend to make full use of it. However I have no idea how I'm going to secure it while I'm off on 10-day, because I'm certainly not lugging this thing around. My plan is to get a biggish backpack, and pack everything I will need for 10-day in one backpack. Hopefully I have some room to spare for stuff I'll hopefully buy along the way.

Since I'm obviously not in Rome right now, I shall use this as the planning-stages stuff, where I can put thoughts down and come back and read them so I don't forget. Also, this is Being For The Benefit Of John Esposito, as the Beatles might say. It is quite fortunate that JohnE and Sarah will both be in Italy this next semester -- JohnE and I are planning on doing a bit of traveling, and hopefully we can take Sarah along with us.

So this is my to-do list so far:

1) Find out about dual-use (America/Europe) cellphones
2) Write a letter concerning a papal audience
3) investigate the practicalities of utilizing walkie-talkies for group expeditions
4) Get information on the Scavi tour
5) See if mom and I can't drag John with us to the British isles after the semester is over
6) Find out how long it takes to get around to places
7) Figure out the tricky logistics of accomodations
8) Opera?
9) Plan out, to the nearest detail, various trips doable over weekends; possibly arrane these by theme:
      * cathedrals
      * medieval courtly love thingies
      * Knights Templar?
      * mountains
      * St. Dominic?

Places on the list:

* France (mostly southern)
* Spain (wherever John wants to go)
* Portugal, the islands or wherever the mountains are
* Switzerland
* Austria
* Libya (I wish ...)
* Constantinople/Istanbul (John and I wish ...)
* British Isles (England/Ireland/Scotland/Wales)

Anywhere else I'll leave up to chance.

Also, I want to see the movie "An American in Paris". (typoed: "An American in Parish") Also, I want to be Audrey Hepburn. When I picture myself in Paris, I have two overly-romantic notions: the first is of Audrey Hepburn/whoever it was who did the remake, of the movie Sabrina ... she goes to Paris an ugly duckling and comes back ... Audrey Hepburn, the epitome of grace, class, etc. Also the other is from the animated movie Anastasia... I don't know if there's an actual shot of this, but it's her in her Audrey-Hepburn gown and Dmitri in front of the Eiffel Tower. Oh, also there's Moulin Rouge and "Spectacular Spectacular" and the windmills and the can-can dancers, blahblahblah. ("You'll end up WASTING your life at the MOULIN ROUGE with a can-can dancer! ... ALways this riDIculous obSEssion with LOVE!")

Love ... above all things, I believe in love. Love is like oxygen, love ... LIFTS us up to where we belong: all you need is love!

The hiiiiiills are aliiiiiiive with the sound of muuuuuusiiiiiiic....

I know what movie I'm watching tonight. HOLY COW, nevermind, I forgot -- I have a paper due for Western Civ tomorrow. Oh well, it's some Greeky thing. Easy, I can fake it.

So there is my first post. It's public, so anyone can search in and write things if they want to. Comments and suggestions are appreciated.