So you know my dictum, the title of my blog: I live to travel. And when I'm not traveling, I am often planning the next trip. Like right now I am putting together preliminary ideas for a trip next September to Belgium with my girlfriend and her mom, and planning out a trip to Florida next spring to see a baseball game and visit friends.
But that's not enough. So... since I live in New York City, a place that thousands if not millions of travelers come to every year, I figure I can treat my own hometown as if it were some place I was traveling in. I can turn my tourist's eyes on what is already familiar, look on things with a fresh perspective, as things to be discovered, as places to be explored.
Like last Thursday. Friends of mine gave me tickets to a concert at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall. Therese and I were excited to go, and decided to have dinner beforehand.
Therese's first idea was to go to Shelly's Trattoria on 57th Street, one of her favorite restaurants. She had taken me there the last time we went to a concert at Carnegie Hall (which, sad to say, was more than a year ago), and I remember the king crab legs being amazing, so that sounded great to me. However, when I started nailing down exactly where Shelly's is on 57th Street, I found out that it has closed!
So now what? Well, I remembered that a partner at a law firm I worked for a few years ago, whenever he would take clients to concerts at Carnegie Hall, would always have me make reservations at Trattoria dell' arte, which is on Seventh Avenue between 56th and 57th street, just across the street from Carnegie Hall. I took Therese and some of her work colleagues there several months ago, and everybody loved it. Plus, I remembered that the bar area was pretty cozy, so I figured we could meet there and have a quick dinner before our concert.
It worked out fabulously. We just ordered antipastos, but at Trattoria dell' arte, that is not a terrible thing. They actually have an antipasto bar, with more than a dozen options. We had shrimp and scallop cocktail, olives, roasted red beets, eggplant caponata and fennel sausage. And we were good to go! The next time we go there, we will have to sit at the actual antipasto bar, with all the bowls of vegetables and seafood and so forth displayed on beds of ice.
On to our concert! It was the English Concert directed by Harry Bicket with special guest, countertenor Andreas Scholl, performing music of Henry Purcell, Heinrich Biber and Georg Muffat. Now, I am not scared off by early music by composers who are outside the standard A list of composers that everyone knows - and I hope that doesn't scare you off, either. Truth be told, I am at home in all kinds of music, but I am particularly enamored of the obscure music of the European Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods.
And I have loved the music of Henry Purcell for many many years. To hear it sung by Andreas Scholl was a special opportunity. And the concert did not disappoint. There was plenty of sublime music making going on here. Not just Mr. Scholl's singing, but also the playing of this small orchestra with its trio of woodwinds - two oboists alternating as needed on recorders and bassoon - and duo of trumpeters. All extremely satisfying. And Zankel Hall is lovely: bright blond wood, intimate, acoustically sound from what I could tell.
Ironic that it was my first time hearing English Concert, since they have been around for 30 plus years. And Mr. Bicket and Mr. Scholl made good music together, a great sign since they are to be reunited in December at the Metropolitan Opera for their production of Handel's "Rodelinda". There Mr. Scholl will play Bertarido, the lead male character and husband to the title character portrayed by Renee Fleming. I hope Mr. Scholl holds his own there - his voice is delicate and I hope he won't get drowned out by the combined forces of the Met Orchestra and Ms. Fleming.
Therese and I left Zankel Hall feeling as if we had been transported to another place. We crossed 57th Street to have a snack and some tea at Europa Cafe before hopping on the M57 bus home to our apartment on the Upper Westside. The one benefit of not being a tourist in New York City is being able to sleep in our own beds after our wonderful night on the town.
Our next such excursion is on November 5th, when we will taxi to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to see and hear the Met's Live in HD broadcast of Wagner's "Siegfried." Going to Brooklyn is almost like going on a trip - and I say that even though I lived in Brooklyn from 2001 to 2010. So I will have my tourist's eyes tuned that day, and tell you all about it. And in the meantime, hopefully if I am not lazy I will start to fill you in on some of the traveling that I have done in recent months and years.