Little diva, NJD and I are thriving on the screen culture scene thanks to all the awesome stuff coming to the Meydan IMAX Theatre – tomorrow night they will the exclusive Metropolitan Opera program from New York, which is gaining momentum in the Dubai art and culture scene.
It’s the season for Opera….after a tryst I had with little diva a couple of weeks ago at IMAX Meydan (which Tash enjoyed heaps), now Art Sawa is, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility program, hosting another live Opera recital performed by Clare and David Lesser.
The programme includes highlights from some of the most beautiful music of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, including ravishing French songs by Duparc and Fauré, the heart-rending Verismo operatic style of Puccini and Cilea and spectacular vocal fireworks in Meyerbeer¹s Ombra Leggera.
Clare Lesser studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, Birmingham University and Birmingham Conservatoire. Then, at the University of Sussex, she completed groundbreaking research on the music of B.A. Zimmermann. She specializes in the performance of 20th and 21st century music, and has collaborated with many composers on new works, giving over fifty premieres.
She has recorded Lieder by Wolfgang Rihm, chamber music by Richard Emsley, the works for solo soprano and soprano with instrumental trio by Michael Finnissy, and many other contemporary classics. She has performed throughout Europe, including at the Edinburgh and Avignon International Festivals. She was nominated for the Royal Philharmonic Society Singing Award in 2003.
David Lesser studied the piano at the Royal College of Music in London and then the music composition at the University of Huddersfield. He was Senior Teaching Fellow in Music and Open Studies Certificate coordinator at the University of Warwick (1993-2007). His music has been widely performed in Britain and Europe by Ensemble Aleph, Accroche Note, Linda Hirst, Ian Pace and others. As a performer he specializes in the music of the Twentieth century, vocal repertoire, and has given a number of world and British premieres. He is active as a composer, performer, lecturer and teacher.
Art Sawa is provides a rare opportunity to enjoy these two exceptionally talented musicians performing arias and songs by Mozart, Puccini, Gretry, Duparc, Faure, Mahler, Meyerbeer, Cilea and Benjamin Britten .
Last week I spent an evening after work at my favourite snack place, Bo House Café, the home of modern bohemians with Houri, Fadi and a couple of awesome young artists. The weather is perfect to hang out at JBR Walk anyway but what was awesome that evening was the BOZART Exhibition at Bo House in celebration of Dubai based artists. lt showcases the talented and creative work of Dubai‘s aspiring artists, Lisa Fabian, Sarah Khalil and Ishtar Al Shaybani. I had a lovely chat with Sarah and Ishtar who are as delightful as their art pieces.
I loved the art, the food and of course it was awesome to catch up with friends like Lisa and gorgeous Fadi who I normally would not see for months. It’s great to see Bo House giving local talents an opportunity to showcase their artwork on a creative and free artistic platform and its a perfect opportunity for art lovers to enjoy the café’s new menu with hearty home cooking, some made entirely from vegan friendly products.
Also the renowned Chef Giovannino Fittipaldi, conitues to create his award winning gelato, which should not be missed. I had a shot that night of a virgin cocktail that had goji berries which I got introduced to in Bahrain before as a super food …it was lush!
Bo House Cafe has been designed especially for the young, educated, and art savvy crowd who seek a haven from the bustle of daily life to a place where they can get together for fun, for love, for a scoop of award-winning Gelato, for no reason, for endless simple facts and emotions. The organically shaped rounded tables create a catalyst for creative minds to feed off each other’s talents and ideas. Its inspiring views of the coast, with waves that rhythmically lap against the shore, Bo House Café always keeps the vibe fresh and chilled.
It is naturally a concept by my favourite Pragma Group – an organisation that balances the art and science of business and the management are just awesome fun people who are also behind the concept of the Cavalli Club, which is possibly the only night venue I love being in for snacks and chill out time with Pragma friends. Bo house Café is one place I would happily endorse as a quality venue in Dubai for chilling out with artistic and intellectual friends.
I just received my Mandarin lessons for this week which I do every night before I sleep – that is if I am a good girl. Most nights I just keel over and the end of the week I struggle to learn all my 6 words of the week with correct pronunciation. It may sound easy to learn 6 words a week but trust me, in Mandarin, it’s a Herculean task.
Moon cake月饼(yuè bing) is a Chinese baked food product…..they look very nice too.
In Malaysia and Singapore, my nine years there had many of my friends trying to get me eat them but I more often than not didn’t take to it. But they are very tempting with some amazing presentations during the Mid Autumn Festival or the Zhongqiu Festival.
Typical moon cakes are round or rectangular pastries that measure about 10 cm in diameter and are 4–5 cm thick. The rich, thick filling is usually made from red bean or lotus seed paste and sometimes contain yolks from salted duck eggs, surrounded by a thin (2–3 mm) crust and it was those ones I avoided.
During my visit to Hong Kong and then later to Macau and more recently to Korea, I tried moon cakes again which were slightly different to the ones I ate in Malaysia and Singapore but I still prefer the traditional cakes a lot more. Most people eat moon cakes in small wedges accompanied by Chinese tea which makes it a really nice , traditional experience, especially when it’s with good friends.
Now although I may know a bit about moon cakes, I am still struggling with my pronunciations in this lesson today – wish I had more Chinese and Asian friends in Dubai who could help me with this so my last-minute rush to complete lessons becomes a less traumatic experience.
Last week I went through memory lane as I saw signs of the Onam celebrations around me in Dubai Supermarkets, jewellery stores etc. Living in Fiji I never came across this festival and had no clue of its significance until I came to Malaysia to study. My parents, being anxious about me in a country where I didn’t know a single soul at the age of 19 arranged with family friends that I should spend some weekends at their sisters house in Subang Jaya.
The family, who I still love and adore happened to be Malayali or Keralite, a community known to be highly literate, cultural and very warm. I thought at first all Indians were the same, spoke the same language etc but instead was introduced to a whole new world of cuisine, dance, theatre and met specialists in English literature that would leave some of the Harvard Professors gaping in awe.
As a Fijian I am used to being hospitable and having an open house policy to guests but my family friends went way beyond that to the point of making my favourite dishes on weekends, taking me to visit the extended family on trips and dropping me off to University (30 minutes away) when I had early morning classes.
Going back to Onam which is a ten day festival…..one of the things I remember in the nine years I spent in Kuala Lumpur was that every September, we ate a dozen or so dishes off a banana leaf in various family gatherings also known as sadya. My favourite sadya dish was payasam of course which is a dessert cooked in milk.
The community organises dances, numerous theatrical productions during this period and famous singers are called on for performances etc. I can almost smell the string of jasmine flowers in my hair when we set off for a dinner performance or a sadya outstation. Women buy gold during this 10 day period and many wear the traditional cream sari with a gold border (known as the kasavu yarn) that looks so awesome on them. I’m told that historically kasavu sari’s appeared in ancient Jain and Buddhist literature and over the years the material may have changed to suit the fashion trends but the colour and look remains the same.
Onam is over but the memories of yesteryears and my time with the Venugopal family, their extended families and friends in Malaysia still linger. I learnt so much from them that I feel I gained knowledge of an entirely new community from their perspective. Another thing I have to thank my parents for – they certainly guided me into situations that helped me learn and understand what the world is all about outside my comfort circle.