How was your weekend?

I crammed so much into two days (especially when we are still in slow-living mode - i.e. no car). We went swimming as our family activity. Which reminds me, I'm looking for a cute new 1950s style swimsuit.

I ate at this cosy Mexican restaurant bar, Neon Cactus in Leeds -  (top marks to their sourcing free range chicken and local outdoor reared pork). Yummy food and fab cocktails. I never knew there were so many different tequilas out there.

Then best of all this weekend saw the European Opera Days - where opera houses all over Europe open their doors to the public with free performances. This year the theme was "passion" and Opera North, based in Leeds gave a wonderful one hour performance of the greatest opera duets.  For me, a total opera noob I can honestly say I was entranced. The music was absolutely aural gorgeousness - from Lakme's 'Sous le dome epais'  to Verdi's Rigoletto quartet "Bella figlia dell'amore". Oh my, I can't choose which I want to fully discover first.  Not only the choice and layout of the venue but the The venue was perfect - the Howard Assembly room where casual seating was arranged around the perimeter with the singers taking the middle without a raised stage. It felt so natural, almost like you were in a private performance in your living room. If the aim of the weekend is to introduce people to opera music then it achieved its goal with me.  Here's my favourite from last night, from L'incoronazione di Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea).

*The Coronation of Poppea was first performed in 1642-3 in Venice, and was one of the first operas to use real historical events and people rather than classical mythology.

Previous to this scene Nero has his wife Ottavia exiled and has now crowned his mistress, Poppea the new Empress of Rome. This duet manages to be so powerful and moving although of course we, the audience know how the story eventually plays out. Love felt so strongly at this moment was really hollow and worthless. History tells us that this same Nerone not so long after kicked his pregnant Poppea to death.
Then this morning I was on baking duty - the perfect Victoria sandwich for a lunchtime family party with impromptu magic show, courtesy of Master Rory.


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