Prague 2003

My mother lived in Prague from 1990 to 2008, and so we visited her quite a number of times.  If you do not know the city, it is charming, easy to navigate, affordable, and friendly.  There are so many sights Prague, as well as great day trips out of the city such as Pilsen (yes, the brewery tour is a must!),  Kutna Hora (home of the Sedlec Ossuary – rooms completely made out of human bones!!),  Karlovy Vary (home of 12 healing springs and a 13th: Becherovka liquor!), and so much more!   But I digress.  I could write all day about things to see and do in the Czech Republic.  (message me if you are planning a visit!  I’d love to offer tips!)

A few years ago I was taking my sister-in-law around Prague to see the sites.  We took the tram to Hradcany (Castle hill) and after touring the St Vitus Cathedral and other castle buildings, we decided to walk over to Strahov Monastery.  It has a beautiful library and other rooms with magnificent decorations from the 17th century.

Strahov Monastery Library

As we were walking, we heard a very loud commotion coming from one of the inner courtyards, which we could look into through an archway.  It looked like people were rioting!  I could not understand what was happening!  So being courageous,  we decided to investigate… and as we could see more and more of the courtyard we saw people jumping on parked cars, setting fires (!), etc.

No one was paying any attention to us so we slowly edged our way around the perimeter, and I know my heart was racing!  😳 I just couldn’t figure out why there were no police!!

Suddenly a young man came up to us and shook his head, and pointed to the exit…….and then he pointed to the camera crew over in the opposite corner!!  We hadn’t even seen them!  Turns out they were filming a music video!!  😯 🤣 

We sheepishly made our way out and continued with our walk!



Follies at the Opera

I am an opera buff, I am not ashamed to admit.  I have seen operas in New York, Florida, London, Prague, Italy, and more.  But not all evenings went as well as I had anticipated.

NY Metropolitan Opera House

New York Metropolitan Opera, January 1996 

My father and I were so excited to be at this gala event at the Met, where Jessye Norman was going to be performing in ‘The Makropulos Case’.   We had the best seats ever – right in the center of of the orchestra.

The Makropolous Case by Janacek

The lights dimmed, the curtain came up and there was the tenor, Richard Versalle, up on a 15 foot high ladder singing the opening aria.  It was a stunning set, with giant file cabinets, etc.  All of a sudden, he stopped singing, and fell backward, making no sound, and landed on the stage with an awful thud.  The audience was at first very quiet, and I thought, well, maybe this part of the show?  But then almost immediately the audience erupted in loud exclamations, and the curtain was quickly lowered.  Sadly, Mr. Versalle had suffered a massive heart attack…. and died right there in front of us!

It was unimaginable.  And horrible.

Of course, the performance was cancelled, and my Dad and I went to a local pub to recover and drown our sorrows!

Verona Opera, Arena di Verona, July 1998

Verona Amphitheater

I had been so looking forward to seeing Carmen in this Roman amphitheater that was built in the 1st Century.  It was a beautiful evening, and my friend and I, with my son and his friend, had great seats right on the main floor.  The stage is massive, able to accommodate horses, all sorts of other animals, and a huge ensemble.  It was breathtaking.  But as the opera continued, I began to realize there was something wrong with the tenor’s voice.  It progressively got worse, and my friend leaned over and asked, “Is this the way it is supposed to sound?”  uh, no.

Carmen in Verona

The act ended and I assumed they would substitute an under-study.  But apparently there wasn’t one!  So they made an announcement over the loudspeakers (really!) asking if there were any tenors in the audience!!!  And yes, incredibly enough, there was one!  But instead of going on stage, he sang from the orchestra pit….and the tenor on stage LIP-SYNCED!!!!

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I witnessed the ONLY lip-synced opera in history!!!  and I do not recommend it!  But it made for a good laugh!

PS.  a friend in Washington DC was going to invite me to the Kennedy Center (he had season tickets) but after these two mishaps, he said, “Oh no!  you are the Typhoid Mary of opera!  I can’t let you anywhere near the Kennedy Center.”   sigh.