Jun 23, 2017

Second day in Venice ~ Part 2 which ended in total fulfillment

We had planned to do the traditional 40 minute gondola ride despite the high cost but it just didn’t appeal to either of us.  There was boat after boat after boat and it just seemed so very commercial and certainly not romantic.  Even before we left Canada for Venice, as we watched this webcam,  which is on the same canal as and just before the Bridge of Sighs, we began to wonder if it was the right thing for us.

Gondoliers are easily found in Venice and some areas seem to be overrun with them.

One day as we were searching for the location of the building I will talk about in this post, we saw bumper to bumper gondolas.  Most were mere inches from each other.  In fact we did see two collide on two separate occasions.  We stood in this spot for about 15 minutes and decided that it was not for us.  Seriously, it reminded us of a Disney ride.  Not worth the 80 – 100 euros for 40 minutes.  It wasn’t the cost, we would have willingly paid it, but the portrayed experience was dismal and not what one reads about in all the Venice travel information.

This was taken the day prior and at an earlier time of day, the gondolas were lining up, bumper to bumper.  I do have to say that it was a great location to watch and listen as almost every third boat had an accordion player and a singer.  A great location to just stop and watch the parade and listen to the music.  Good thing we came the day ahead as it was 6 or 7 different bridges with some odd back and forth to find the place….um the palace.

The white building on the left is called the Palazzo ( or Palace ) Barbarigo Minotto and is owned by a Countess or a Contessa, a title of Italian nobility used in Italy.  This particular Contessa lives in another Palazzo in Venice and rents this home out.  Sadly this one is slowly sinking into the Grand Canal.

At the moment the Musica @ Palazzo is occupying this palace…. www.dictionary.com/browse/palazzo1. an impressive public building or private residence; palace. Origin of palazzo. < Italian: literally, palace.  Per Wikipedia……..

…..Musica a Palazzo is a cultural association of classical musicians who, since 2005, have produced opera performances staged in the Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto, a Venetian Gothic palace facing the Grand Canal. The piano nobile of the palace, with its backdrop of frescoes by Tiepolo and sculptures by Carpoforo Tencalla, is its main performing space.[1] The performing style follows the 19th-century Italian practice of “Salotto Musicale” (Musical Salon). The operas are performed without a stage, with the audience becoming part of the scene.[2][3]

The program alternates famous operas, such as Verdi’s La traviata and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville,[4] with Duetti d’amore, a selection of love duets from La bohème, Tosca, Don Giovanni, Rigoletto and other popular operas.

When I had checked the Trip Advisor top ten and the operas came up, it was a given.  We actually booked the opera and the date before we left Kelowna.  The price was of no matter to me as this was a primary and most important thing to do in Venice, at least for me.  I love opera and my Mom had sung with the Edmonton Opera Association and I had attended umpteen performances growing up and long thereafter and still do and had even sung in the children’s chorus in Carmen.  The cost to see this opera in Venice, actually the word is to experience this opera, is 85 euros each.  Well worth every penny.

We ( actually I ) had chosen to see La Traviata.  Sorry but I could not get this to come up in a link.  The above depicts the opera we saw and how it was performed in three different rooms of the Palazzo.  I love how this opera was first performed at the Teatro La Fenice in 1853 which was only two blocks/alleys away from our apartment and we passed it each day.

Ready for our very special evening, dressed in pearls, diamonds and rhinestones.  The Palazzo is just behind us, where the two tiny yellow lights are.

The scene of the first act.  Guests are seated wherever they can find a chair.  If you come early as we did you can actually be a part of the act.  To the extreme right of the photo next to and just above the candelabra ( real candles by the way ) is a mirror in which Violetta looks at herself and sings about how pale she looks.  I was sitting right next to the table that the mirror is positioned above.  Of course we had no idea how close to the action that we would be.  The floor was decidedly slopping to the right of the room and if you look closely you might detect that the ceiling it tilting very much to the right.  The door to the left did not close properly and hung at an angle.  We did feel like we were sloping as we sat in our chairs.  No wonder the  Italian Contessa moved to another home and is renting this one out.

There are no photos allowed during the performance.  This was not a proper full first act but mostly the arias with minimal props.  It was truly lovely having the female lead soprano and the male lead tenor directly in front of you.  You could not help but be caught up in the moment of the music, their voices and the fact that they were just a few feet away from you.  Something you never experience in a real theater.  It was mesmerizing to say the least.  Then Violetta came to the mirror and sang her heart out as she saw her pallor and wondered if she was ill.  Of course I knew the story and somehow I seemed to understand the words as she sang them, mere inches away from me.  If I had moved I would have touched her gown.  Pure enjoyment.  Then Violetta decides to throw her sorrows to the side and the tempo and her voice pick up as she pours champagne into about 6  or 7 glasses.  She then begins to distribute the champagne, all the while singing, to the audience.  She gave me her third glass. I was overwhelmed.  She then held up her glass, looked at me and offered a toast, I toasted her back and so ended the first act. So very very emotional as I knew that she was faking her happiness for the benefit of her guests attending the ball in that first act.  I was speechless and close to tears.

Intermission was in yet another room of the palace but we we too emotional to take photos.  Champagne was being offered to everyone.  I had not one but two more small glasses in addition to my very very special first glass.  I was floating and totally happy with the evening. There was no way it could get better.

The second act was in yet another wonderful room. We were late to to enter and sat in the second row.  This was good as I could better listen to the voices, observe the drama, acting and facial expressions, not to mention the singing and the overall interaction of the singers.  In this act Alfredo’s father, Giorgio, ( baritone ) was added to the scene.  As I had written earlier I have attended many operas and a few La Traviatas.  I have to say that this Violetta was the very best ever.  I was beyond impressed.  This particular scene was so emotional  with tears running down her cheeks.  You could see the raw emotion that she was experiencing as she sung.  And then the savage end to the act  as Alfredo flung his gambling earnings at her feet as he humiliates and denounces her in front of her guests…us in the audience.  I think that anyone who had never attended an opera before could not help but be moved.  Totally heart – stirring.

The third act takes place in Violetta’s bedroom where she dies at the end of the story.  What is amazing is that we are in an actual bedroom in a Palazzo on the Grand Canal.  We were seated in the front row in the two seats just above the word ‘where’ in the first sentence.  It is not easy to see but the walls here did not meet the ceiling.  This Palazzo is sadly doomed unless a great deal of money is infused into the property.

I won’t go into a great deal of detail as to the story line but suffice to day that Violetta is ill and gets in and out of bed and collapses here and there, all  the while singing her heart out.  At one point she gets up from the floor and…from the internet…

Dr. Grenvil tells Annina that Violetta will not live long since her tuberculosis has worsened. Alone in her room, Violetta reads a letter from Alfredo’s father telling her that the Baron was only wounded in his duel with Alfredo; that he has informed Alfredo of the sacrifice she has made for him and his sister; and that he is sending his son to see her as quickly as possible to ask for her forgiveness. But Violetta senses it is too late (Violetta: Addio, del passato bei sogni ridenti – “Farewell, lovely, happy dreams of the past”).

So as she sings this farewell aria, Violetta is acting and moving about…..suddenly she comes and stands before me and grasps my hands from my lap and holds them up between us as she sings, impeaching in my mind for me to understand her loss and how very alone she is.  She sings for a minute or two or three with my hands clasped in hers……as she starts to move away, with her eyes and her hands she implores me to help her.  At that moment there is no one in the room but her and I.  I am stricken that I can’t help her……so very very slowly she slips her hands away from me ( which are held mid air between us ) all the while imploring me to help her.  I keep holding my hands out to her as she backs away…..I am in the moment, a part of the act.

Shortly thereafter the act ends. Tears are streaming down my face.  I have a severe pain in my heart.  My mind flits to my mother and back to the moment.

I am in Venice.  Magic has happened.  I can’t stop crying.  In fact as other audience members come up to say how fortunate I was or to congratulate me all I could do was cry on their shoulder.  It took me a few hours before I settled down.  I told that Colin that I could die happy.  Now that was a magical evening.

This Canadian Contessa was more then impressed to have been a part of this enchanted evening in a Palazzo owned by the Italian Contessa.







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5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Second day in Venice ~ Part 2 which ended in total fulfillment”

  1. ARIZONA GAL says:


  2. Wow! What an amazing experience…

  3. Dolores T says:

    Wow!!! What a special night!! To be in the right place, right time… Lovely Venice

  4. Carol says:

    It sounds like a lovely evening.

  5. Rae says:

    I also love the opera! Haven’t had a chance to go in years, but when I was a student in Ottawa, I had a season pass at the National Arts Centre.

    I couldn’t believe the price you paid for the experience — much lower than expected.

    Thank you for sharing!

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