WINTER BIKE BREAK

With snow already on the ground and more on the way this weekend, it’s time to put up the bike and break out the snow shoes. As a friend likes to say: “All sports; all the time.”

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PLEIN AIR

The trouble with plein air painting in January in Michigan is that your paint freezes before you can slap it on the canvas. So a leisurely indoor recreation of this photo will have to do.

Here’s another one I would like to paint, when I get around to it.

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RED JANUARY

Red light special in Three Oaks, Michigan.

The wreath is still up on the red barn, reminding us to carry the spirit of Christmas into the New Year.

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SUNDAY SNOW-JOURN

Hey, dumb ass, scrape off the windshield before you head out for your Sunday rounds.

That’s better. Now you can find a parking place at church. And mind the black ice.

Amen to all that. Now it’s off to have coffee and conversation with some like-minded friends.

A good time was had by all at the house of friends.

Home again, home again, but not enough snow for the new pair of snow shoes. But, real winter is on the way. Stay tuned.

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THE SNOW MUST GO ON

Opera lovers are never deterred by a little snow.

It was just beginning to snow as we went into the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center on the campus of the University of Notre Dame Saturday to enjoy Franceso Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur with dueling sopranos, Anna Netrebko and Anita Rachvelishvili.  And it was snowing to beat the orchestra when we exited hours later after watching Rachvelishvili’s conniving princess poison the diva Netrebko’s diva, Adriana Lecouvreur.  We were warmed by the ballet in Act III and chilled when Adriana died in Maurizio’s arms, and we were especially thankful that Maurizio was played by the robust Polish tenor, Piotr Beczala.  As Natalie said: “When you have a cat fight between two of the great sopranos in opera today, you better have a tenor up to the task.”  And our man Piotr was indeed the man for the season.  And after the show it was on through the snow, but we equip our car every winter with snow tires, so we arrived home in Harbert safely, singing praises for the Met Opera HD Live series and for Notre Dame for providing the perfect venue in which to enjoy them.

The Golden Dome was nearly snowed-out after the opera.

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OPERATIC WARMTH ON A WINTRY DAY

Today, we gladly brave the snow to travel afar to the Browning Cinema on the campus of the University of Notre to enjoy the Met’s live broadcast of Adriana Lecouvreur. More anon.

The University of Notre Dame is not about to award us honorary degrees in music, but said university certainly rewards us with high-quality broadcasts of the Met Opera Live in HD series, beginning with our second full season at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

We had, you see, been searching high and low for the perfect venue in which to enjoy acoustically acceptable transmissions of live operas from the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York, and after some particularly frustrating afternoons at a local cinema complex, we asked friends in the know if they knew of, and I quote: “A stand-alone theater with a really good sound system.”

Meaning, we were tired of hearing chase scenes and pyrotechnics from adjacent showrooms as we watched yet another soprano die tragically and prematurely from the wasting diseases of yesteryear.

The cognoscenti had but two words for us: “Browning Cinema.”

As in the meticulously engineered movie theater in the aforementioned DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

We fell in love with the Browning Cinema and its seriously raked seating, wide screen, and amazing sound system the first time we went to a Met broadcast there, a few years back.

At the time, we were continuing my late mother’s subscription to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, but we were finding that to be a bit too much in terms of time, travel, and legal tender.

So one day, not so very long ago, Natalie suggested: “Hey, how about if we let the symphony subscription lapse and buy a Met series at the Browning instead?”

I was on board, and we have been on board ever since. We particularly enjoy the delightful drive from our home in Harbert, Mich. to the Notre Dame campus, taking, as we do, as many back roads as possible.  We have even braved the drive in dire winter conditions, knowing that our snow tires and the plows of Michigan and Indiana will clear the way for us to finely presented broadcasts of live Met operas in high definition.

Yes, we went to a live performance of Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohéme at the Met years ago, but what we took away from that experience was that we had seen an opera in miniature because the only seats available were in what we called “the nosebleed section.”  Meaning that planes landing at La Guardia were brushing our heads as we gazed upon one of Puccini’s masterpieces so very far below.

We don’t sit in the nosebleeds at the Browning.  And our seats in the center of Row J are even better than where we sit at home when we browse through the opera video collection we inherited from our late friend, Julie Holmes.  Speaking of Madam Holmes, she would certainly salute our decision to commit to the Browning because she was all about enjoying opera to the fullest.  She was, you see, a secretary to ambassadors of various nations around the world, and wherever she was posted, she brought along her opera collection and hosted weekly opera nights for the diplomatic corps.

Julie Holmes did the same here in our community, and she truly set us on the road to the Browning Cinema, where this season we will see everything from Giuseppe Verdi’s grandest opera, Aida, to Francis Poulenc’s chilling account of a group of nuns martyred during the French Revolution, Dialogues des Carmélites.  We are in for a sublime season of nine operas broadcast to a theater that understands the true value of high-definition projection, and we invite you to join us for opera, and, of course, our delightful post-opera perambulations around and about the Notre Dame campus.  Speaking of which, we were taking just such a walk last season, when we heard the skirl of bagpipes.  We followed our ears, and presently found ourselves following the Caledonia Kilty Pipe Band of Mishawaka, Ind. as they led a wedding party across campus from the ceremony to the reception.  We heard the band’s impromptu concert at the end of the wedding march, and then we caught up with one of the pipers, our old friend Leonard Sailor, who played the pipes at my mother’s funeral in 2014.

Now, if all that’s not grand opera at its grandest, I don’t know what is, and it is all because we listened to the spirit of Julie Holmes and took our music appreciation to the Browning Cinema on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.

Again, we invite you to join us this season by contacting the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center in care of: www.performingarts.nd.edu.

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CURTAIN CALL

Draw the shade.

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