[Photo album of marvelous House of Blackheads and more at the end of the article.]
Today’s about museums. Well, Geo wanted to spend some time with me, but he isn’t into museums. The final result is that he walked with me, mainly in the Quiet Center, and at least it’s nice to have someone who knows some stories about these places.
Afterwards was museum and historical site time.
- War Museum: free entrance; very boring.
- Dom: the exterior is undergoing renovation, and the inside isn’t better. Totally not worth it
- House of the Blackheads: (The beautiful pregnant ticket box clerk decreed I’m a student and didn’t give me a chance to argue;) the collection is FAB.
- Occupation Museum: free. Visiting this museum is such an almost incredibly poignant experience; 120% recommended, even though I felt a bit dizzy when I saw there was still another 1/3 of exhibition waiting for me to cover.
After the museums I was really exhausted. I double-checked at the tourist information for bus info to Cesis and Sigulda/ Turaida, and I also asked whether there’s something good to eat. Turns out there’s a Lido restaurant nearby. When I was almost there I saw a most lovely bakery-café, although they don’t have wi-fi, which Lido does.
Yes, Lido has fine prices, but I did order too much. My excuse was that I need to eat well for the opera performance in this evening. The food wasn’t that great, and I regretted having ordered too much.
Later I hurried to Galleria shopping center for the suitcase. It’s the same very skinny clerk with her back slightly hunched, who otherwise looks somewhat like Christine Dunst. I decided to go for the pricier choice, thinking this isn’t the time to economize. (I did call Jonathan this morning – such is exactly the time when I need a clear-headed person who can provide some useful opinions about very practical things. Yes guys, this is the kind of person one should marry to.) After this and supermarket food-shopping I hurried home to drop off the things only to hurry back to the Opera.
When I was about to reach the Opera I was a bit concerned that many people are in formal or semi-formal suits; ladies are in their better or best suits or gowns as well, many of them pretty old too. Well, I was wearing a PINK t-shirt with a partly glittery cartoon rabbit on it, jeans, and a pair of mountaineering boots, together with a long check-patterned shirt tied casually at my waist. That’s why shortly before the performance started I put on that shirt.
The interior is magnificent. Again many of the ushers – both male and female – look simply amazing. (But then again, on my way to the restaurant, I thought I saw a group of shapely flight attendants, only to realize after three seconds they were just young girls in a band costumes and not very high heels.) As for the ethnographic mix, I heard the most German here up to this point of my trip in the Baltic states, although the German speakers are still far from any sort of majority — far from it. (I think there’s some truth when Geo discussed with me the prestige of Latvian Opera and told me that many Germans come for their performances. And while the audience consists of mainly old people, they are some ladies whose look are simply eye-catching – in fact right in back of me was a blond lady that looks somewhat like the star Latvian mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča, except perhaps looking even more beautiful and glamorous!!!
(The photo proves that I don’t lie 🙂 )
I tried hard to stay focus – I was really very tired. Still, I got to observe closely the performance as usual. The production is on a small scale (the stage is small after all) but tasteful, although most of the costumes look cheap because of the fabrics; also I think it’s a bad idea to have all the female characters wear boots (WTF?), and the costumes don’t flatter the performers. The designer should’ve known how costumes move. The director obviously is keen to make sure there’re constant movements on the stage, which is fine, but having the ceiling-height sliding pieces move in Aida’s “Ritorna vincitor!” and Amneris’s trial scene is a bad idea – the movements caused some slight but very very distinct noises.
As for the singing, the bass has a voice that is easily as big as the sum of 8 or 10 choral members sharing the stage with him, but he isn’t ideally focused in lower-middle and highest registers. The baritone has quite some problems and just doesn’t sound right. The mezzo is from bad to dismissible. The tenor is the only one that has a slice of Italian in his voice – initially he has a tad (just a tad) of Bergonzi I thought, but later I found his voice to somewhat resemble Giuseppe Sabbatini – tight and juiceless. Still, he has a clarion sound, and while I thought he would sail through the night with dynamics limited to mezzo-forte to double-forte, a very nice surprise occurred when he produced some fine pianissimo in the first love duet (Nile scene), even he was too loud in the final tomb scene and closed “Celeste Aida” with a very loud (though VERY good) high B-flat. The soprano gives the best performance of the night – she has a big sound: in the opening trio and many other ensemble scenes she could easily overpower others, and while her voice isn’t perfectly stable (at least not for making a recording), it is VERY stable most of the time, and she tries to do lots of soft singing – after all, Aida is a very passive character and is a somewhat one-dimensional woman-in-love character. She tried to sing the, “O patria mia” high C with pianissimo and sort of succeeded in the beginning, but then made a crescendo. In the aforementioned Nile scene love duet she produced some nice pianissimo, a high B-flat in the middle coming as a nice surprise. A major defect is that the way she pours out her solid high notes tend to start less loud at first, which isn’t the musical way to shape lines.
The conductor did some bad things, such as slowing down very oddly towards the end of Aida’s dramatic scene with her father, and then again shortly before Radames was arrested; in the first case he very distinctly stretched the singers. The brass was augmented for the triumph march, but the trumpet solos made so many mistakes. In other cases the winds can sound as if they don’t know the singers’ parts, particular in the example of oboe’s solo in “O patria mia.” I mean, gosh!
After I returned home, I started putting things into the new suitcase. Yes, the trolley works fine, but I was VERY DISPLEASED to find out that, when I carry it by either of its two handles (instead of pulling it with the extendable handle), the overall structure of the suitcase is not strong enough so that the suitcase’s shape would be a bit distorted. I became worried, irritated, and upset.
Geo noticed and tried to make talks about various things, including whether Aida has its heroine commit suicide at the end, which opera has that (many do, I replied), but there’s an opera whose title is the heroine’s name and she committed suicide (Tosca). I apologized for not being very happy, but I really couldn’t bring myself to talking about my problem.
記帳：*1LVL = 1.43EUR, 1EUR < 40 TWD；當1EUR = 38TWD時、1LVL = 54.4TWD
早上donut = 0.5 Lat
Dom = 2 Lats
House of the Blackheads = 2 Lats
在i預買後天去露天博物館的公車票（2趟）= 1 Lat
歌劇《阿依達》= 14 Lats（4月中在台灣用信用卡預付）
總計：104.89 Lats <== 大爆表