Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Phillip’s Phantastic Phindings: Prague, and my final thoughts.

Written on 1/27/13

Hello everyone,

I’m safely back at home, sitting at my computer thinking of what to write for you this one last time, now that I have this European experience under my belt. It’s a bit hard picking out particular moments… it certainly was an exciting, whirlwind journey full of wonderful sights and sounds, and amazing experiences that I will never, ever forget.

Sorry that I haven’t gotten back about the concerts in Prague yet… all that travel and walking around really diminishes one’s stamina (“Do I have to think right now? I‘m so tired!”). Well, wait no longer… read below for the juicy details!

On Tuesday, our group went to quite a unique concert. Inside an intimate, historical church in the center of Prague, we heard a fantastic pair of piano players perform an exquisite collection of Mozart and J.C. Bach piano sonatas. Not so unique, you say? Well, listen to this: the pieces were played on an authentic fortepiano! Hearing these compositions beautifully executed on this historical instrument certainly expanded upon my musical experience, and most certainly assisted me in contextualizing these great composers… this is how it would been performed in Mozart’s time. Wow! It was truly a delightful surprise to hear the works of masters on this instrument, with its warm, one-of-a-kind timbre.

The next night, we traveled over to the Prague State Opera House for our last major performance of the trip - how sad, I could have gone to many more. :-) ) Their presentation of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly was a wonderful and fitting conclusion to our trip. Set in early-1900s Japan, this classic, tragic love story (complete with the main character killing herself… it is Italian verismo opera, you know) was superbly carried out; every aspect of this production was wonderful to experience. The singing was on the verge on mind-blowing (and even came on the verge of audience-blowing, with its expressive power), the orchestra was an excellent musical backdrop to the exceptional on-stage acting and drama, and the set was visually stunning. After taking a look at the calendar, I just wonder how this opera company does it… with all the different shows going on at the same time, night-after-night, how can they maintain such a world-class level of quality? I’ll never know… I guess all I can say is “extremely well done.”

Europe was an amazing and unforgettable experience. Salzburg, Vienna, Bratislava, Prague… all had their virtues and qualities that made each worthy of my time to see, hear, and visit. All in all, this journey was most certainly worth the $4500 I spent. Thank you ACFEA, thank you to our gracious guide Eva, and certainly not least,  thank you PLU and Dr. Powell… thank you for putting together this irreplaceable experience in my life. It has truly broadened my global horizons, and has left me wanting more… I will be back here someday.

Thanks for taking the time to read my posts, my loyal readers; I truly appreciate your patronage.
For the last time (and with a tear in my eye), I say farewell. [ “With such sweet sorrow!” ;-) ]

- Phillip

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