Happy New Year everyone and here I am, reporting on my great trip.
12/26. After settling in the east willage I took my mom to see the windows displays of some stores: Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, Bloomingdales, Lord and Taylor. We enjoyed a lot the strolling. It was freezing..!
12/27. We headed for the wonderful Magritte exhibit at MOMA. This was one of the highlights of this trip. We stayed there until the museum closed, and later on had late dinner nearby.
12/28. I called this our "Russian Day". First we devoted half of the day to go see the amazing Chagall exhibit at the Jewish Museum on 92nd St. The place was crowded. but it was worth every minute of line waiting. They cured the exhibit in such way that one could really appreciate the artist's mind changes from the gloomy colors and terryifying subjects of the war period to the colorful loving shades of his works revolving around Bella. I ended up looking at the whole exhibit twice. It was really mesmerizing. After getting out of there we stopped by St. Vladimir Russian Orthodox Cathedral on 97th. I always visit this place when in the city. Love their services and the grand, highly theatrical atmosphere inside, along with the omnipresent incense smell and wonderful a capella traditional chantings. Later on we headed for Carnegie Hall, where we enjoyed a programme by the New York String Orchestra, with Jaime Laredo conducting and pianist Leon Fleisher playing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 4. After the intermezzo the orchestra played a wonderful rendition of Tchaikovsky's "Pathetique". Our Russian Day ended up in high spirits, Russian style with some wine at the Russian Tea Room.
12/29. We headed to the Brooklyn Musem after brunch to see the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit. They filled out the place with interactive mannequins that have projections in their faces giving the impression that they are alive. I saw all those iconic cone bras and corsets from Madonna's "Blonde Ambition" period, along with many other creations for other artists. It was really good.
Later on, at 5 PM we went to Radio City Hall for the Rockettes show, which I really loved. I must say I was really impressed with the uniformity of their choreographies, particularly during the "melting" soldiers section. I couldn't help but notice how, just like ballet companies, this is an almost all white troupe. Later on I read online from many sources that this is not coincidential. They have indeed included one or two black performers, but there's a factual history behind this issue, which is still highly debated with much heat in some websites. The other thing that impressed me a lot was the final live Nativity tableaux. Now that even the very Santa Claus is being questioned as politically correct, and that religious displays are almost non existent, and along with the very white corps, the whole thing looked like a thing from another time. My mother got emotional during the Nativity scene...she said she hadn't seen such big religious public displays since those she saw in her pre-Castro time in Cuba.
12/30. Lincoln Center Day. We went to see the Nutcracker at 2 pm and Falstaff at 7:30 pm. I think I will devote a more extensive review to the City Ballet production in its forum, because I did see differences in between this and the MCB staging.
Falstaff was wonderful. I really prefer the traditional Zeffirelli over this production, but I must say I didn't dislike it either. James Levine did a terrific job with his musicians-(he got lots of applauses and cheerings from the audience), and among the cast it was the great Blythe who did it for me with her Mistress Quickly. What a great interpretation, both vocally and dramatically. What a funny lady. She had me laughing every time she went onstage. A funny detail...the sequence when Maestri/Falstaff is in his bitter monologue after he's thrown out the kitchen window, a horse's head can be seen eating hay thru a hole in the prop. At one point Falstaff seemed to talk to the horse and then the animal stopped his eating and gave a loud response sound to much amusement of the audience. I had a great time at the opera.
12/31. At 5 pm we attended a marvelous staging of Rachmaninoff' s "Vespers" by the Clarion Choir, as a part of the Twelfh Night Festival held at Trinity Church in Wall Street. I had seen this work before by the Seraphic Fire here in Miami, and loved it inmensly, and this time it was not less. The ensemble was directed by Steven Fox, and I was in heaven with the work's soaring movements that Rachmaninoff so masterfully molded from ancient Kievan and Byzantine chants. Soloists were Virginia Warnken, mezzo, and Oliver Merce, tenor.
At 11 PM we were in another church, different denomination. I decided to spent the last hour of the year and the very first one of the new one in a musical setting given by William Trafka, the Organist and Director of Music of St. Bartholomew's Church at 51st. St and Park. He played Elgar, Howells, Bach, Debussy, Langlais and Locklair, and at midnight he gave a beautiful rendition of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man', with Chris Nappi and Sam Lazzara as percussionists. It was really beautiful to hear this grand sounds right at midnight, in the middle of the sacral silence of the temple. I was really happy with my choice here, instead of the former one of trying to get close to Times Square to see the dropping ball. After the concert everybody wished each other well and a champagne toast was offered. Later on we strolled the area a bit getting into the Waldorf Astoria.
01/01. We attended the 12 PM service at St. Patrick. I was a little dissapointed. There was no music at all, and the church is under a massive renovation. At 7 Pm we went to another offering of the Twelfth Night Festival, this time by the Gotham Chamber Orchestra directed by Neal Gorem. We saw here the French baroque opera "La Descente d'Orphee aux enfers" by Charpentier at St. Paul's Chapel. This was a lovely two acts work for an original cast of ten singers and eight musicians, which was the way they presented it. The opera ends with Orphee's departure with Euridice from the underworld, without the subsequent tragic events of the myth. There seemed to had been a third and four acts, now lost. Nevertheless, I loved the production. This operas are rarelly staged, and I try to catch every chance to see them live. Orphee was protrayed by Daniel Curran and Euridice by Jamilyn Manning-White.
01/02. We departured the city just in time before the snow storm...