February 28, 2008
On Wednesday, we spent our first full day in Ferrara, which was one of our three days off on the tour where we have no travel and no performance or rehearsal. When we woke up, we walked down the hall of the hotel and heard various violins and violas playing, which was a great sensation. Julie Gigante said she’d been awakened by Allan Vogel’s oboe in the next room, fortunately not horribly early, but of course that’s something you can’t miss, and some people even heard the horns. This orchestra has definitely taken over the hotel here in a wonderful kind of way! There’s a common breakfast room, breakfast comes with the room, so we see one another at breakfast, although there’s a long period during which you can eat. Some of us are still somewhat jet-lagged and sleep until our alarms go off so that we can make it to breakfast just before it cuts off at 10 o’clock. In any case, those who are diligent spend quite some time practicing, even on a day off.
I spent the day off sightseeing in Ferrara, which is a lovely town (as I mentioned before). It’s cold, it’s very wintry feeling, and there’s fog everywhere, so it’s really quite different from what we’re used to, and we know we’re not in Los Angeles anymore! Various people were seen on the streets, that it is to say that the town is small enough that if you walk around for long enough you’ll run into almost everybody, which we did. One of the pictures being sent to the Flickr site is of the Castello Estense. It is the castle of the Este family, who were dukes in this part of the world when Ferrara was still an important city. That castle is kind of the symbol of the city of Ferrara, so we thought we should send that along so that people can see what it looks like.
I visited the castle with Julie Gigante and Margaret Batjer. It is brick, as so many of the buildings here are, and it is surrounded by a moat. We got a real sense for what it must have been like in the 14th century when that castle was first built, and that kind of put us into our European mentalities, because of course everything here is so much older than it is at home. We also visited a wonderful Renaissance house, which was a fantastic private home, and we also visited a convent that had six chapels.
At the convent we were joined by Vicky Misckolsczy and Jacquie Brand, and at that point actually Margaret had gone back to practice some. We got the tour of the convent from one of the 16 Benedictine nuns who live there, and she was about 4’7”. It was quite amazing to see these frescoes, the earliest ones dating back to the 14th century, and going on up to the 17th century. We had to ring the bell to get in, we were the only visitors at the time, and the nun who showed us around and told us the stories of the frescoes, so it was quite spectacular.
We came back and in the evening got to go out to dinner at a wonderful local restaurant where we had a table of 10 people. By that time Jeffrey and Martha Kahane had arrived from Venice and so they joined us for dinner, which was great fun.
Today is Thursday, the concert is tonight, and there’s a rehearsal this afternoon. Uri Caine has arrived, as has Vesselina Kasarova, although the presenter has housed both of them in a different hotel from us, so we haven’t yet seen them. But we will of course see them this afternoon. Devin will be busy at 11 am loading in with Bob Dolan and Arthur Granados. So we are back to work!
Visit the LACO gallery to see pictures from the tour.