Monday, 8 September 2014

Mid-Autumn Open Air Concert

The Mid-Autumn moon at midnight over Terme di Montecatini
This year's Mid-Autumn Festival will be a memorable one for me.

First of all I brought to Italy some mooncakes from Hong Kong to celebrate this special event with my parents and their friends.

I brought both the highly prized egg custard mooncakes from The Peninsula, andd also traditional ones from a place in Fanling where the baker may retire any time now.

After a dinner of rustic barley soup, swordfish and tiramisu, we tucked into some mooncakes and then headed to Terme di Montecatini to listen to a gala evening of music.

The beautiful setting for tonight's concert
The spa itself is gorgeous -- built in the 17th century, it has painted tiles on the walls, frescoes on the domed ceilings and marble columns and floors. The property is large and spacious, and off to one side are the actual waters -- Regina, Rinfresco and Tettviccio to name three of the six that come out of taps.

With the full moon slowly rising above, we sat outside in the open air to watch a concert featuring four opera singers in an exercise in musical diplomacy between Italy and Russia, or more specifically Montecatini and St Petersburg.

It seems ironic the concert is happening now with the current conflict in Ukraine, but perhaps that's what music does -- trying to bridge political gaps through mutual interest.

The fantastic tenor and soprano with the conductor in between
Nevertheless, it started off late, well after 9.30pm and then there were the translations of welcome messages from the Montecatini mayor and a Russian representative in Italian, English and Russian, so the concert didn't actually start until after 10pm.

Half an hour later there was a 15-minute intermission which made us wonder what was going on. But it seemed like many of the locals were there to socialize and didn't mind the early break.

Following the intermission was when the concert really came together and the audience was rapt by the performances of the tenor and soprano in particular. The other soprano had fallen ill and the conductor called another to replace her yesterday. She did a fine job.

The conductor even sang a few lines in a duet with the substitute singer which was amusing. It was also impressive that he could speak in the three languages relatively effortlessly.

So who can forget a Mid-Autumn Festival with a full moon overhead and listening to the operatic works of Tchaikovsky and Puccini like La Boheme and Turandot in a gorgeous Italian spa?

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