Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wednesday and Thursday, June 11 & 12, At sea

We awoke Wednesday morning to an announcement that the ship was unable to dock in Ronne, Denmark, as scheduled. High wind conditions had made the port too shallow. So we were taking a longer route to St. Petersburg, requiring us to be at sea for two days instead of one. They made up for it by offering us a free drink at the bar, but we didn't bother to try to get to one of the many bars at the right time. It didn't quite seem a fair exchange, but then at least they were making sure we stayed safe.

Actually, we still had a very full day, both days. Classical Action provided a second performance by Leila and Jake, whom we have gotten to know quite well through the tour. We have dinner every night with Leila and her boyfriend Dominick and Charlie Hamlen, the founder of Classical Action. Jake and his partner Curt Branom, are at the next table from ours. We enjoyed getting to know them all on the cruise.

The highlight of Thursday was another Classical Action concert featuring mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade (known as "Flicka" to her friends). Since her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1970, she has become "one of the most beloved musical figures of our time" (quoted from her celebrity profile in the daily ship report) with innumerable performances "in opera, concert, and recital." We were thrilled by her performance, to say the least. Then following the concert, we attended a small private reception for her. We were amazed by her graciousness and friendliness when we thanked her for her magnificent performance. She said she had heard about our house and would love to come see it some time, as she lives across the bay in Alameda. Of course we welcomed her any time at her convenience.

Here is a very brief excerpt from the concert.

Also present at the reception was Charlene Baldridge, writer and poet, whose poems were the lyrics of pieces composed by Jake Heggie and which were sung at the concert by Flicka. It was quite a remarkable event to have the composer, the lyricist, and the performer all present at a single event. We got to know all of them on the cruise. Charlene is a delightful woman whose poems are tremendously moving.


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