About Me

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Split personality. Liking the arts, especially opera, and hockey and Los Toros. I know, I know THAT one is non pc currently. But I can't help it saw some in Spain and got hooked, but good. But on the other hand right now opera and hockey are in the forefront!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Back from the 1880's

The Athenaeum Hotel of a gracious era past!

Meeting Hall-'outdoors' full of Sunday worshippers

Lake Chautauqua

A Village Street - cobblestones, 'cottages', Hydrangeas
Temple of Philosophy

The Village Green
The Amphitheater-stage set for Bellini's NORMA
The feeling of being in a time warp followed us wherever we strolled...on cobblestone lanes, across the Village Green, along Lake Chautauqua front...up and down lakeside hills, past a plethora of hydrangeas and other flowers blooming profusely in the shade of old trees.
Children on bikes, trikes and on foot heading for a swim.
Old and Older 'guests ambling towards lecture halls & church services of multiple denominations, brunch at the venerable Athenaeum (at $45 a pop not too shabby -selection and service were great)
and always with the ubiquitous stadium 'tushy' cushions!
well needed everywhere - the seats were church pews! Hard as a rock (not of ages) but creaky and wobbly...well, there was NO way one could sleep through a lecture, service or performance..even WITH the softest cushions : -)! The place: THE Chautauqua Institution.
"The spirit of Chautauqua spread via Independent Chautauqua assemblies, and a series of traveling Circuit Chautauqua assemblies, incorporating many of the program components of the Institution, including lectures, music, nondenominational preaching, and a focus on current issues. Several Independent Chautauquas continue into the 21st century.It was founded in 1874 by inventor Lewis Miller and Methodist Bishop John Heyl Vincent as a teaching camp for Sunday school teachers. The teachers would disembark at Palestine Park, and begin a course of Bible study that used the Park to teach of the geography of the Holy Land."
And so it continues now.
The 'village' is a protected landmark -historic place. There are private residences and public places.
A postoffice, a fire department, a deli, a grocery store, galleries, 'drugstore'...
Minds, and especially souls, are nourished through lectures, services, concerts by Chautauqua Symphony, Theater, Plays, Entertainments, Operas and ever more sermons, and lectures all summer long over 9 weeks.
Every imaginable church has a 'cottage' there as retreat for its adherents!
But there IS also boating, sailing, kayaking and swimming on the lake;
and for lovers of the grape numerous wineries in the vicinity - Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York.
And for "I love Lucy" fans.. Jamestown has a museum and playhouse in her honor!
The reason for our visit was, of course, NORMA.
Bel Canto singing at its best. All 4 principals were outstanding.
Soprano BARBARA QUINTILIANI portrayed the troubled Druid priestess Norma with huge lower register sounds, and astounding flexibility in the upper register.
Her pianos floated upwards with an agility and purity,
her chest voice produced sounds so low almost like growling.
She expressed the emotions superbly! And was well matched in sound and power of delivery by Mezzo Elizabeth Bishop as Adalgisa, Tenor Roy Cornelius Smith as Pollione, Norma's sometime lover and father of her 2 children; and Bass Philip Cokorinos as Oroveso, Norma's Father and Archdruid.
The Chautauqua Symphony under the baton of Joseph Colaneri,and the chorus of mostly young singers did stunning work.
This one only, and first time in the Amphitheater, opera performance in Italian with surttiles, was a 'sell out' (5000 plus attended)..'tushy' cushions and all. It was truly spectacular and a sensational event.
Naturally in this kind of space, there are good acoustics to some extent, but the performers were mic'ed nevertheless. But it was done delicately and did not overpower their natural voices.
Alas, no photography was allowed, so the photo of Barbara Qu. is from her earlier performance elsewhere.

Ambling home after was quite an adventure - no bright street lights...they, after all,
did NOT exist in 1880..;-) - and cobblestones do make for uneven walking!
No cars, just some jitneys for the less mobile among the guests, or the ones overcome by the unusual warmth and humidity for the area! Although owners of houses/condos/ apartments are allowed to park cars. All others MUST park outside the gates at 8 per car per day, and walk/jitney back in.
Day passes are issued at $50 per person to enter the grounds.
It certainly would NOT be cheap to spend all 9 weeks there!!
A night at the Athenaeum would run per person between $299 and 499 plus taxes etc.
The most reasonable inn is from $ 130 t0 300 plus per night-no breakfast, no food.
But is is a haven for families.. kids literally run loose.. no traffic to watch out!


Bonnie said...

You have painted a wonderful picture with words. Thanks for sharing. I'm googling Lake Chautauqua as soon as this comment is posted! Best to you and Allen!

artandhockey said...

Thanks. It was an experience, am expensive one, but a nice one!