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Thread: A trip to Philadelphia to listen to Luca Pisaroni

          
   
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  1. #1
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    A trip to Philadelphia to listen to Luca Pisaroni

    Ever since the great interview with Maestro Riccardo Muti and his invitation to go meet him and his daughter Chiara (the stage director) in Naples in November 2018 for Cosě fan tutte (I'm going, flights and hotel already booked), I've been having an Italian phase.

    I'm honoring my Italian roots (I'm a dual citizen of the United States and Italy - my father was Italian), and I've been studying the language daily, since I do speak it but with frequent mistakes.

    So, I came to Philadelphia to renew my Italian passport that was about to expire (the Philadelphia consulate has jurisdiction over North Carolina Italian residents; very efficient, I got my new passport in 20 minutes).

    I made of this entire (short) trip, one with a theme: Italian culture.

    I'm here in Philly, and I'll be attending tonight a recital with fellow Italian Luca Pisaroni at the Kimmel Center. I'll meet him backstage after the show, and he promised me a phone interview this Saturday about this show and some other updates since we last interviewed him. Stay tuned (by the way, Italian living composer Salvatore Sciarrino is also being interviewed; his piece will be up soon).

    Luca will sing art songs by Bellini, Rossini, and Tosti.

    I'm staying in a boutique hotel (rather comfortable), the Dwight D, owned by an Italian-American, first name Vittoria. It's lovely. See some pictures:

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    And it is two blocks from the Kimmel Center and the Academy of Music (where Opera Philadelphia performs), so I couldn't recommend it any more emphatically, for those coming to Philly to attend a performance. Vittoria is very friendly and knowledgeable, the rooms are tastily decorated, and everything is high quality, not to forget that it is so calm and peaceful, with only eight rooms.

    Then, for lunch I went to La Viola, an Italian restaurant across the street from the hotel.

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    It is a cash-only and BYOB operation. Before going there, I stepped by a wine store on nearby Locust St (#1515, called Fine Wine & Good Spirits). They have an excellent selection. To my surprise, I found there the wine that my ancestors made. My family used to own a vineyard in the Veneto region. The wine we bottled was called Boscarini. Well, my cousins sold the vineyard to the big operation Masi, but the grapes were so good, they continued to make a wine with grapes exclusively from my family's former vineyard. It's called Masi Costasera, and it is an Amarone della Valpolicella Classico. So of course I bought a bottle, for $49.99 on sale (it's usually a bit more). They had three bottles left. I was tempted to get all three but I can't bring them home because I'm traveling light with only carry-on baggage.

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    I had Funghi Trentino as first course and it was delicious, with three different mushrooms and a spicy sauce.

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    Next I had, of course (couldn't resist) the Penne alla Caruso, with a pink vodka cream sauce, peas, and pancetta (Italian bacon). Delicious!

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    The homemade Tiramisů was out of this world.

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    I heard the manager and the waiter speaking in a language that had the Mediterranean sonority of Italian but didn't quite sound like it.

    So, I asked, "what language are you speaking?" They replied, "Italian." I said, "Hm, sorry, I speak Italian, and this is not standard Italian. Is this a dialect?" Then they confessed that they are... Albanians! They said they don't care for advertising this fact because patrons would be suspicious of an Italian restaurant managed by Albanians. I said, not at all, your food is authentically Italian and pretty darn good! No worries, there!

    Then we chatted about Albania, and I told them about Saimir Pirgu. It didn't ring a bell. Anyway, the food was excellent, and I also highly recommend the place.

    Tonight, I'm going to The Victor Café, another restaurant with very good Italian food (and an interesting wine list featuring many good Italian bottles). The big attraction there (Vittoria recommended it) is that the waiters and waitresses are student opera singers from the region, and every 15-20 minutes, they sing opera arias for the patrons. Cool! I'll add to this review later.

    So, stay tuned for the interview with Luca, the review of his recital, and more info about the touristic side after I eat at The Victor Café.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); March 24th, 2018 at 12:45 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  2. #2
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    OK, we've been to the Victor Café. Outstanding! The waiters/waitresses are not amateurs. They are the real thing. They are classically trained; students of the professional opera programs in Philadelphia, and the repertoire they sing is interesting, not just the popular arias as one might expect of this kind of thing. They sang beautiful, lesser known arias and art songs, and did overall a very good job (with some ups and downs). It was very enjoyable, and apparently the patrons respect the singers: everybody was silent, stopped eating, and listened attentively, applauding at the end. Nice!

    The food was pretty delicious and reasonably priced. We got a bottle of a Venetian wine for $36 that also uses the apassimento method that the Amarone della Valpolicella employs, for a third of the price.

    This place is not to be missed by opera lovers visiting Philadelphia!

    Some pictures of my friends Michelle and Jon (one can see a picture of Verdi on the wall - top left corner, second from the left - there are plenty of pictures of opera personalities), myself, and the food:

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    From there we went to the beautiful Kimmel Center for Luca's recital (which was excellent; see below for the review - I met Luca backstage and we made plans for his interview which will happen over the phone this Saturday at 12 noon.

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    The Perelman Theater, the more intimate venue where the recital was given, starting to fill up (later, almost sold out)
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); March 23rd, 2018 at 03:31 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  3. #3
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Here is the list of songs sung by Luca in his recital. The first half, Italian songs; the second, American.

    Bellini

    Malinconia, ninfa gentile
    Ma rendi pur contento
    Dolente immagine de Fille mia
    Vaga luna, che inargenti

    Tosti

    La serenata
    Malia
    Vorrei morire
    L'utima canzone

    Rossini

    Il rimprovero
    L'esule
    L'ultimo ricordo
    L'orgia

    Intermission

    Gershwin

    Somebody Loves Me
    Embraceable You
    Just Another Rhumba

    Cole Porter

    In The Still of the Night
    I Get a Kick Out of You
    So In Love
    Begin the Beguine

    Rodgers and Hammerstein

    I Have Dreamed
    Some Enchanted Evening
    This Nearly was Mine

    Encore

    Cole Porter, I've Got You Under My Skin
    Cole Porter, Night and Day

    ----------

    The recital was part of the PCMS (Philadelphia Chamber Music Society) season, on March 22 at 8 PM, at the Perelman Theater of Kimmel Center, with Luca Pisaroni, bass-baritone, and Craig Terry, pianist.

    The venue was quite ideal, intimate, all seats with good view of the stage, and excellent acoustics.

    Craig Terry was terrific, especially in the second part, where he blossomed with the American repertory, getting a lot of rhythm, making some variations with the left hand, and pushing up the volume.

    Luca was more comfortable with the Italian repertory, his native language. He was in great voice, with fabulous phrasing and dynamics, steady pitch control, and great artistry and musicality. It was interesting to see him in this art song setting, after having seen him so many times in opera. The Bellini songs are very delicate and elegant, and in my opinion, the best part of the evening. From Tosti I particularly liked Vorrei Morire, a very poignant song. Rossini's L'esule and L'ultimo ricordo are equally sad, and very solemn. Then, L'Orgia is a lively drinking song that allows lots of ornamentation.

    I'm not crazy about the Gerswhin songs. I know that Embraceable You is dear to Luca, who sang it to his wife in one of their anniversaries, and it is romantic, but doesn't have the melodious punch of other parts of the program. Just Another Rhumba is lively too but not as compelling as the Rossini equivalent.

    But then, the other two American composers did contribute a lot to the evening. Everybody knows and loves Cole Porter so the public really enjoyed this segment, and Luca got some delirious applause for the encore, when he sang two more from the composer, and very popular ones. I thought that Luca did better in his encore of American songs than in the second part of the regular program. The three songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein are very beautiful and melodious, and as far as art songs go, just as good as those by the Italian masters.

    It was a terrific, relaxing, serene evening of great songs with an excellent singer and a great pianist.

    ------------

    Stay tuned for Luca Pisaroni's second interview with Opera Lively, which will be recorded this Saturday (and then will be transcribed and revised before publication, so, it's coming a few days from now).
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); March 24th, 2018 at 01:53 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  4. #4
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Sounds as though you had a fabulous visit! That hotel looks as though it might be a restored Victorian house, and the food looks way more appetizing than that cheese with live maggots. And how lovely that you found your family's wine to enjoy with your meal!

  5. #5
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    I saw fettucine alle vongole which is my favourite although I like them better in bianco.
    Natalie

  6. #6
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Clayton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    I saw fettucine alle vongole which is my favourite...
    I haven't heard of this piece before but is it baroque?

  7. #7
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clayton View Post
    I haven't heard of this piece before but is it baroque?
    I think it's bar-oque. You can order it at the bar too, if no tables are available.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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