Marionettes, mommas and music...

Our Sunday began at an opera.  Not just your 'normal' opera however.   "...Haydn's Philemon and Baucis premiered in 1773 to welcome Empress Maria Theresa on her historic visit. Written for orchestra and voices in the pit and marionettes on stage, the opera recounts the story of how the gods Jupiter and Mercury reward Philemon and Baucis for their humble generosity. When you see this production, performed by the incomparable Colla Marionette Company, from Italy, with orchestra and soloists, you will understand why it was considered worthy of a royal visit."

Philemon hobbles across the stage toward his adoring wife Baucis with the slow deliberation of an aged man, and it's easy to forget he's a wooden marionette. The set, deftly hand-painted paper sheets that drop on either side of the stage to create layers of depth, amazes.  I could not believe the emotion these puppets evoked and I was crying over the sadness and then joy the characters expressed.  Extraordinary!

We then went to CONVERSATIONS WITH.  This interview with the Artistic Director Tory Durbin and company dancer, Robert Carter (a native Charlestonian and Olga Supphozova, who danced at the Opening Ceremony) of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo was like an extended encore from Saturday night's performance.  It helped that we were front row, center, sitting next to Robert's very proud momma!  The Piccolo Festival is what introduced ballet to him when he was 7 and now he is a very successful ballerino and a seemingly awesome man.  (The photo is of Steve and I with his mom).  What an enriching experience to hear all the details of this very entertaining group and their evolution.

The cute gal having a delicious dinner with us is Shana Allen.  Very long story about how we've come to know Shana but we do and she was a delight to dine with!  Fun to have such diverse company to be with!

Our day concluded in the very picturesque, outdoor College of Charleston's Cistern listening to Nailor "Proveta" Azevedo, the leader of the acclaimed Banda Mantiqueira big band and recognized as the finest saxophonist and clarinetist in Brazil.  With a quintet that includes the a pianist, a mandolin, a seven-string guitar and a pandeiro (Steve says it's a tambourine), Proveta lead us on a journey through Brazilian musical styles – from choro and samba.  Proveta said of choro, "This was born around 1870, from the Lundu, a dance of the first black slaves that had arrived in Brazil, and from polka brought by Bohemians to Rio De Janeiro."

A side note about his nickname, that totally had us chuckling.  "Proveta" is Portuguese for test tube.  Nailor was one of the first test tube babies in Brazil. 

So when asked, "How was Charleston?" I really don't think we could thoroughly do it justice with any amount of words.  It is indescribably fantastic.

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