|Not actually taken on this date.|
After spending the morning in Providence with my youngest sister, Colleen, watching her youngest daughter, Kelly, perform at a very impressive cheerleading competition at the Convention Center, I got home in time to change into something a little fancy, and head to Bristol with Larry. Neither of us had ever been to the Blithewold Mansion, but it has been on our "list". Checking it off that list, along with getting my very first opera experience, was really exciting.
Before the "Three Tenors" concert, we were treated to fancy cookies and beverages of our choice. We had champagne, because how fun is that! I've never had champagne on a Sunday afternoon, schmoozing with the Providence opera crowd in a lovely historic dining room. We strolled through the rose garden, laying dormant until it comes to life in spring, on our way to the house. I can't wait to go back and see the grounds in full bloom. We were formally greeted by very friendly women, who took my coat and guided us to the dining room, assuring us we'd be informed when the concert started.
The dining room was just lovely with a gorgeous view of Narragansett Bay. This was a summer cottage, as are all the mansions here and in Newport of the state's historic "rich and famous". It is very small compared to those on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, but stunning all the same. The dining rooms' walls were covered in intricately carved wood. Larry thinks it was walnut. The dining table was in the center of the room, set with gorgeous, flowered dishes and matching serving pieces. Each place-setting had a pretty little green-glass wine glass with polished silver cutlery. And, every setting was laid on a lovely cream-colored antique lace placemat with matching napkin. There was a beautiful built-in hutch, and other pretty wood furniture pieces in the room. The plate shelf near the cream-colored ornate ceiling was lined with a beautiful blue-flowered ceramic vase and dish collection. In one corner, was a glass-front hutch with another collection of dishes and glasses; some labeled as brands from England. There was also a lovely fireplace on one wall with an old painting of a woman over it, that looked built-in as well. The painting's colors were dark, and Larry commented that it probably needed cleaning. It was a lovely room with window seats on either end, and the people there were very nice.
When the concert was ready to begin, we were ushered into the living room at the opposite end of the house. It was an all-cream-colored room (walls and ceiling; window treatments and fireplace), with wood furniture, adornments, including an old sailing ship on top of one cabinet, and a gold-framed mirror over the fireplace mantle. There were about eighty chairs set up "audience-style" in front of a wall of windows on two sides: one faced the Bay; the other a covered patio. There were large stone patios on two sides of the house we saw through the windows. On the way to the living room, we passed a billiard room, that was dark and manly-looking, with another model of an old sailing ship owned by Augustus Van Wickle, the original owner. On the other side of the hallway, was a very small "telephone" room. After watching the PBS show, Downton Abbey, and seeing their first experience with telephones, I was charmed to view an actual room just for using this technological wonder-of-the-day.
The tenors' voices were marvelous. My favorite tenor was Giovanni Formisano. His voice was very strong and he was very Italian. Bellisimo! We also enjoyed Ethan Bremner, who gave me my first "Pretty Woman" experience. Remember that scene in the movie, when Julie Roberts' character was dressed in that tight red gown with that gorgeous ruby necklace and sat in the opera-house box? The song that was sung, made her gasp and choke and cry with its beauty. I recognized this song as the last one of the program, sung by all three tenors: "Nessun dorma" from Turandot (music by Giacomo Puccini). Well, Mr. Bremner made me choke and cry with his rendition of "Amor ti vieta" from Fedora (music by Umperto Giordano). I couldn't believe it. It was pure magic. I felt like "Pretty Woman" in that moment, and jumped to applause when he was done, yelling, "Bravo!" I felt like I was in a movie.
Most of the concert, I just closed my eyes and drank in the music. Melissa's performance was magnificent. The music she played was so hard! I watched her hands and her perfect posture at the old, tinny-sounding piano, and was in awe of her talent. I can't wait to see her at chorus on Thursday night and tell her. Larry and I both left there feeling a new urge to experience opera, and look forward to attending the next Opera Providence concert. The next one will feature the music of Gilbert and Sullivan; Larry's favorite.
Sunset on the Bay painted a gorgeous red and orange sky at the end of the concert, and the entire afternoon was the perfect date. But our date wasn't over yet, because we had a delicious dinner at a restaurant we haven't experienced yet: Le Central. The local oysters were delicious. We enjoyed a lovely Barroso shiraz bottle of wine. He had pork ossobucco, and I had the lightest fried hake I've ever eaten. All the vegetables were perfectly cooked, and it was one of the most flavorful, delicious meals we've eaten so far. The restaurant's ambiance was quiet and we left with a huge smile on our stuffed faces.
It was by far the nicest date we've had in a very long time.