Thursday, April 21, 2016

A night of good food and the best of opera favourites at Silken Voices, Silken Roads. And about seeing the Aida in Verona and going to the La Scala Opera House in Milan.

The other night, in Manila living a #Travelife, we traipsed across town at rush-hour to attend a grand evening of music and dining at the Marco Polo Ortigas Hotel.

I was expecting chaotic traffic madness on the way over from Makati, but it was surprisingly not unpleasant. With the help of Waze, we made it in 43 minutes as C5 was full but moving.


As always, lucky in a #Travelife, we missed cocktails but we walked in just as the first courses of a degustation dinner were being served and the show was about to begin, passing by tables to say hello to the Ambassadors of Germany, India, Israel and Thailand and their families as we made our way to our seats.

I don't ordinarily cross the city at rush hour except when absolutely essential, but the invitation of Marco Polo Ortigas Hotel General Manager Frank Reichenbach to Silken Voices, Silken Roads: An Opera Gala Dinner was too intriguing to resist.


This was an evening of food and music that was to trace Marco Polo's route from Europe to China along the Silk Road, and the grand ballroom had a full crowd.

This opera evening was conceptualised by Mr. Reichenbach and his team to celebrate the hotel's 2nd anniversary, with performances by Frankie Aseniero, Gerphil Flores, Karla Gutierrez and the Philippine Opera Company, combined with a good dinner created by the hotel's executive chef.

Apparently, many people felt this evening was worth the trip across town, indeed, as many of Manila's Who's Who were there, and everyone was obviously having a wonderful time.


The Philippine Opera Company, headed by the indefatigable Karla Gutierrez, was in charge of the performances and they matched each course to a selection of great opera favourites like Nessum Dorma from the Puccini opera Turandot, which of course is Chinese-inspired.

This made me remember some of my favourite opera experiences.


I said to my companion at dinner: "Do you know that my friend Marivic and I, a very long time ago, spent three weeks driving through Switzerland and Italy, and in Verona we'd stayed in an estate once lived in by Dante Alighieri and then we'd booked tickets to see the grand production of the Aida in Verona's amphitheater?"

The opera had been amazing, but we'd sat for about five hours of a grand performance of the Aida on hard stone benches with thin cushions and no backrests, so thank goodness we were younger then. It was a tiring but unforgettable evening.

Scroll down to read more about the Bulgari Hotel and the Park Hyatt in Milan... 


My other favorite opera memory, although I do have way too many, is the time I was in Milan staying at the Park Hyatt Milan with a group of friends when it was the best hotel in Milan along with the newly opened Bulgari.

The Bulgari in Milan was incredibly cool when it first opened so of course we went there for drinks, but I preferred staying at the Park Hyatt Milan, however, as it was just adjacent to the Corso Vittorio Emanuel, the lifeline of the city.

At Silken Voices, Silken Roads the other night,
living a #Travelife...


It was also near enough to the Via Montenapoleone, the fashion district of Milan. I'd stayed with a group of friends in Milan for about four days on our way back from a holiday in Lake Como, but everyone had left on the same day, including my companion, to encamp to London en masse.

However I wanted to stay one more night in Milan, so I extended my stay at the Park Hyatt Milan before joining them in London. It was the height of the Milan summer sales, after all.


Walking around by myself, I chanced upon the ticket centre for the La Scala just in front of the cathedral, and here a very nice man at the counter let me have one of the best tickets in the house for an opera at La Scala that night for about 80 euros -- which was a steal for the best seat in La Scala -- because all I needed was a single ticket and these were harder to sell.

At Silken Voices, Silken Roads the other night,
living a #Travelife...


You must admit. It takes a little bit of chutzpah to get very dressed up for a solo evening at La Scala -- black dress, pearls and all -- and that's exactly what I did.

The La Scala, which had closed for a major renovation, had just reopened then and the opera that night was La Cenerentola by Rossini, an opera version of the favourite children's story of Cinderella.

I so enjoyed this from my best seat at the La Scala, especially since the new La Scala now had ticker tape translations of the lyrics in front of each chair so there was no excuse to miss a thing.

And I was so glad I decided to go ahead and do an evening at La Scala on my own, in Milan, living a #Travelife.

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