Light Roast Coffee, St. Olav, and La Traviata
The sun rises at just before 5:00 AM, so I was happy to have slept until 6:30 yesterday. I got up and fixed my spinach and eggs, and ate my plums that I had purchased the day before. I think the spinach must not come pre-washed here–there were some gritty bits in there. I’ll know better tomorrow! I also made coffee in Ole’s fancy Mocca Master coffee maker. I read that everyone in these very northern countries love their coffee and they they drink light roast. That’s what Ole had. I understand that light roast is supposed to be the best, but I prefer the taste of dark roast. I also prefer dark chocolate, and it seems to be pretty rare in this country! The milk chocolate is yummy, though!
My first stop of the day was to be the National Museum. Now that I’ve figured out the public transportation, which is great, my phone guides me to the bus or tram station. On the nice, sunny walk there, I passed 2 very fat cats. Everyone has pots of flowers outside their buildings, like this one.
Somewhere in the Baroque is where the art started appealing to me most, like in music. Then in the Romantic period, it really got good. Of course, the highlights of this museum are the Norwegian landscapes and Munch’s Expressionist paintings. The landscapes are beautiful and made me excited for the train journey I’ll be taking tomorrow! Seeing several of Munch’s paintings along with “The Scream” made me realize that all of his paintings are not about nightmare scenes. They’re all kind of dreamy but not scary.
I was finished around 6:15, so I walked around a bit, took some pictures of the opera house, and visited the gift shop. The urinals in the bathroom were the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, by the way. I didn’t take a picture, but it was kind of like a waterfall with very nice tiles. It appears that people eat & drink in the lobby until the last minute, because most seats were empty when I got to my seat. It’s a very nice opera house with beautiful woodwork and nice orange seats. My seat, which only cost about $12, had a good view, but it was a padded stool without a back. I was fine with that.
As the opera began, it was clear that this was, indeed, a modern staging. The set consisted of what seemed to be a ballroom floor built on a raised platform about 3 feet off the ground. Some of the staging was PG-13 at best, in a very suggestive way, especially in the “Brindisi.” Violetta sang the beginning of “Estrano…” in the fetal position, which was quite impressive. Some of this staging didn’t work for me, but overall it seemed pretty effective and sort of helped bring out some of the drama. I think the director was using a lot of it to symbolize background information on the characters. For example, in Germont’s big aria, there was scene with the family, including Alfredo, sitting down for dinner back in Provence–sort of like a flashback. Oh, and Germont shot Alfredo. I don’t think Verdi wrote that. My French/Norwegian neighbor said, “It is a new opera!” Alfredo came back later. He looked pretty dead earlier, but he had more to sing. Maybe he was supposed to be in Violetta’s imagination?
About the voices, I thought Violetta was quite amazing. She sang beautiful, floaty high notes and rich, full tones when needed. She did the acting very well too and was absolutely crazed by the end. I did not really enjoy Alfredo’s voice. Unfortunately, he was an American tenor. It lacked the ease, beauty, and resonance, that I would like to hear. Germont was pretty great and had better high notes than the tenor, although, as the Frenchman said, it should have been a more bass type of voice.
When the opera got out at 9:45, the sun was setting, which made for much better photographs of the opera house. I was really hungry about 1/2 way through the opera, so I got a chocolate covered pistachio ice cream bar from the 7-Eleven (yes, 7-Eleven). I got home, talked to Ole about my departure the next morning, and wound down from a long day.