I Dream of a World with Operas and World Peace

Tiroler Landestheater

On Saturday night, I was invited to the premiere of Francesco Cilea's opera, Adriana Lecouvreur, at the Tiroler Landestheater und Symphonieorchester Innsbruck (coincidentally a block away from the Zaha Hadid entrance to the Nordkettebahn from last week).  My friend, Sophia, had tickets and was so sweet to invite me along.  A girls' night out was definitely long overdue... and it was nice to get a taste of the cultural side of Innsbruck.

Our Seats

Our seats were located in the second level loge balcony.  There were only six seats in each loge.  Pretty cool.  The theater itself is very intimate - smaller than I imagined - but definitely big in character and charm.

View from our Seats

A. The Door to Our Loge, B. Me, C. The Orchestra, D. Austrian Embroidered Symbol

We arrived early... the orchestra was still setting up down below.  The red wall covering featured a woven eagle symbol throughout the theater.  This heraldic symbol carries with it a lot of Austrian history.  The theater itself has undergone many openings and closings in its dramatic lifetime, too.


Credit: Adriana Lecouvreur Press

Saturday was the most interesting opera experience I've had to date.  Imagine watching an opera, written by the Italian composer, Francesco Cilea, as it opens in Paris in 1730.  Now cut to 2015, I watch the ensemble cast sing in Italian, while the subtitles overhead are in German.  Every so often, Sophia would give me bits of information in English.  Talk about a worldly experience.

My German is not so great (it sucks)... so, I'm glad Sophia interjected some clues here and there.  The short story simplified is as follows:  Man loves woman 1, woman 1 loves another man, who loved her AND woman 2, whom he just broke it off with... Said scorned woman 2, in all her anger, causes great emotional upheavals for woman 1 and her lover (her ex-lover)... ohhh, love is such a complicated mess, is it not???

Credit: From the Landestheater Website

The cast and the orchestra were great.  What incredible vocal strength one must have to sing from way down there on the stage and to send the emotional power all the way up to the top balcony seats.  The music was divine... very moving.

The set was definitely minimal. 

Credit: From the Landestheater Website

Credit: From the Landestheater Website

See what I mean?  I would have loved a bit more set design and props... just so I would have a few more clues to follow the story... Don't get me wrong, I love a minimal set... so long as I can glean a few details from somewhere else.  [Here's a glimpse of the 1984 version with a decadent set and English subtitles.]

But the stage looks very poetic, no?  A battle of black and white, good versus evil... ah, but, spoiler alert, love doesn't conquer all... and isn't that what makes operas so good... allowing us to experience the emotional turmoil within the human heart?

The Hofburg (The Emperial Palace)

After the opera was over, Sophia and I stepped out into frigid temperatures.  It was a lovely 19 deg Fahrenheit (can you hear my teeth chattering?).  The photo above is of the the Hofburg, or Emperial Palace, directly accross the street from the Landestheater.   This is one of the three most culturally significant buildings in Austria.  The other two are in Vienna.

Once a residential complex for all of the previous empirial VIP's, today the Hofburg consists of five themed museums - "Maria Theresa's Rooms from the eighteenth century, Empress Elisabeth's Apartment from the nineteenth century, a Furniture Museum, an Ancestral Gallery, and a Painting Gallery. These themed museum areas illustrate various aspects of the political and cultural history of the former imperial palace, which remained in the possession of the Habsburgs for more than 450 years." (Wiki)

Not knowing any of this information until just now,  we gals were more fascinated by the snowy, dessert like toppings on the exterior shrubbery.   Maybe it was the cold... maybe it was because we skipped dinner... but doesn't that look like whipped cream on top of the oddly, flat-topped bushes?  

Closeup: Whipped Topping Delight

With a successful evening out - culture, history, music and song, girl's gabbing, and proseccos in hand!  Thank you, Sophia!! I can imagine a few more nights just like this one! xo

The Opera Schedule

Before Sophia arrived,  I prepped some yummies to eat for our busy weekend... because you know I can't be stuck behind a stove when guests arrive!  The first thing I made was Dori Greenspan and Pierre Hermes' World Peace Cookies.

For a while now, I thought these cookies to be a bit boastful and oddly named, don't you think?  Legend has it that one of Dori's neighbors proclaimed that a daily dose of one of these cookies was enough to ensure an enduring world of peace and happiness.  That's a mighty tall aim!!!

But, really, I am officially addicted to these cookies.  They are chocolatey, sable-y, ultra rich... and after the right hook of chocolatey goodness, I added a surprise left hook of spicy ginger. Ahhh, I only bake 4-6 at a time... because I am afraid to bake the whole log... these cookies always disappear so quickly while cooling... I just don't want them to all disappear in one sitting before I get my chance to savor them.

World Peace Cookies

A. The ingredients, B. The Dry Stuff, C, The Butter & Sugars, D. The Ginger, E. The Dough, F. The Roll, G. The Cookie

I followed the recipe instructions as written with two deviations.  One, I added a chunk of ginger (about the size of two thumbs put together) minced with the added chocolate chunks.  Two, I baked the cookies for 15 minutes flat.  Twelve minutes yielded cookies that were a bit too soft.  Fifteen minutes was perfect.

The second thing I made for the weekend was a big pot of French Onion Soup.  No joke, a big pot of this soup with toast and melted cheese on the side was perfect.  Granted, it took me two hours to get the giant pot of onions to reduce down to creamy, caramelized goodness.  But after that, we were home free. 

No muss, no fuss - just reheat the soup while you prepare some cheese toasts.  Sorry, I didn't get a good final soup bowl shot... because it was a busy weekend, remember!?

A.  Sliced Onions, B.  Softening, C. Dissolving and Browning, D. The Soup

On Sunday, it snowed all day.  I stayed in to continue working on a long over due quilt... while my husband took Sophia and the girls out for some snow mayhem.   It was a fun snow day for all.  I think it's time to get a sled for the girls.

El & Lil

While they were out in the snow, I made a batch of banana bread.  Nothing crazy... I sent a big chunk of it home with Sophia.  It was a snowy mess on the roads yesterday... so, just in case she was stuck in traffic and starving... I sent her on her way with something yummy to eat.

Last Minute Banana Bread

What a weekend!  The temperatures will be heading upward this week... and by this Thursday, all of the snow that has brightened our surroundings may be gone til next year...  Fingers crossed!  Hope Spring is right around the corner!!!



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