This is the third in our series of travel blogs by the Mesdames. This month we feature Mme. Caro Soles, whose most recent novel, A Friend of Mr. Nijinsky, was published this spring. Here Caro shares her passion for opera and the ballet, the inspiration for much of her writing.
Follow Your Love! or Why I Love Opera Tours
By Caro Soles
I have always loved the theatre. I love just going into the buildings, letting the atmosphere wrap around me! Even our quite new Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts with its warm wood and airy light pouring in all those huge windows is exciting. But so much more are the old history-soaked theatres of Europe.
I have traveled in Europe many times since, visiting friends, doing research in the Comédie Française for my thesis, but I didn’t start seriously seeking out opera on my travels until my brother began organizing trips for opera-lovers in London and Toronto. I had never gone on any organized tours before, thinking it would be too much like being shuffled about like cattle, but going with this group, many of whom were familiar to me from the opera here, was different. We did not hop from place to place, with no real time to get to know the atmosphere of the cities and towns we visited. There was time to sit in cafes and people-watch, time to wander, time to get familiar with the byways, as well as the highways.
And then there is the incomparable Saltzberg Festival! It is very difficult to get good tickets so going with a group is the easiest way to do it. This is a formal event, which does much to lift the experience! Imagine yourself in your long dress wandering through the elegant crowds of Austrians, dressed in silk and satin and velvet versions of their national consumes, carrying your champagne out into the cobbled courtyard at intermission, as the moon rises over the battlements of a castle. Around you the polyglot crowd ebbs and flows, discussing the production. And these productions tend to be amazing! The singers are all superb, of course and the directors outdo themselves in their efforts to catch the bravos of the opera-lovers. It does not always work! Don Giovanni shooting up in the park comes to mind. It’s a production one would never forget!
I could go on and on, waxing poetic about theatres, opera, and travel, but I think I have made my point! I love it all: the trips, the music, the old buildings with their wonderful atmosphere of bygone days, but I will spare you. I leave you with this photo of me at Saltzberg, about to head out for yet another wonderful evening in Europe.