Eyre Affairs

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Location: New York, United States

Thursday, November 10, 2005

"I lay on you my sovereign behest to furbish up your lungs and other vocal organs, as they will be wanted on my royal service." ~ Jane Eyre

My favorite opera aria was written by Puccini: O Mio Babbino Caro.

I first heard the aria in the opening credits of my favorite movie, A Room With a View. I remember being twelve and watching the movie on Masterpiece Theatre. I purchased the book and read it (I taught the novel to my seniors last year), but I also purchased the VHS. I had to find out what the aria was called. I recall asking my father to drive me to Tower Records, and the old woman in the classical music section helped me find a version of the piece performed by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

That was 15 years ago.

To this day, I do not tire of hearing that piece.

In my cd player right now is one of Sarah Brightman's; she does an excellent rendition of it.

The narration is that of a young girl who begs her father to allow her to marry her boyfriend.

The aria is not from my favorite opera, though.

My favorite opera is Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin (based on a poem by Pushkin).

I saw the opera performed a few years ago at the Metropolitan Opera House with my sister, Missy. It was a lovely evening. We had dinner at Fiorello's with lots of wine and delicious anti-pasti, and then we spent a lovely evening watching and listening to a beautiful production.

My favorite part of the story is when the young heroine, Tatiana, writes a letter declaring her love for Onegin. She is much younger than he is. She is a simple country girl, and he is an urban playboy. He comes to take care of the estate of a dead uncle, and their first meeting is when she comes to the estate. His uncle lent Tatiana books, and she comes to borrow another from the library. Their discourse is formal, but already there are signs of attraction between the two. She takes her book, but with her she also takes affection for Onegin. Their paths cross throughout the weeks, and finally one night she cannot hold in her passion any longer.

Tatiana is awake late at night, unable to keep still in her bed. She rises, grabs a feather quill and a piece of paper, and writes a beautiful love letter to Onegin. Tatiana is a gifted writer. She gives the letter to a servant and it is delivered to Onegin in the early morning.

Their next encounter is at a party. He gives her back the letter, stating that he is too old for love and is resigned to be a bachelor. He thinks her too young and too naive. He takes out the letter and gives it back to her, stating that he does not want to keep a document that would embarrass her. He rejects not only her love, but her passionate words. She is heartbroken, and as much as he tries to console her, because deep down he cares, she is devastated.

There is more to the story, but these are my favorite moments. The rest of the story is for you to learn...

What has inspired this entry? Dinner tonight. Right now Chicken Tetrazzini is baking in the oven for an hour ~ a perfect meal for a cold evening. Here is the background on the opera star, and the recipe follows that.

Luisa Tetrazzini (June 29, 1871 - April 28, 1940) was an Italian soprano. She was born in Florence, where she also studied at the Istituto Musicale and made her debut in 1890. She toured the world, making a sensation at her Covent Garden debut as Violetta, and a lucrative career both in opera and concerts. Her final appearance was in London in 1934. She died in Milan.Tetrazzini performed Rigoletto (Verdi), Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky), Elissir D'Amore (Donizetti), and Gianni Schicchi (Puccini). She sang in Mexico City, Madrid, Buenos Aires and Rome. Tetrazzini sang with Enrico Caruso, Francesco Tamagno, Lorenzo Salvi and Beniamino Gigli.Luisa is thought to be eponymous of the moderately popular American dish Tetrazzini, which seems to have originated in San Francisco, where she resided for years.

10 ounces mushrooms, sliced thin (about 4 cups)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
10 ounces spaghetti
3 cups coarsely chopped cooked chicken, including cooked giblets if desired
1 cup cooked peas
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan 1/3 cup fine fresh bread crumbs
In a large heavy saucepan cook the mushrooms in 1/4 cup of the butter over moderate heat, stirring, until most of the liquid they give off has evaporated, stir in the flour, and cook the mixture over low heat, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add in a stream the milk, the broth, and the wine, stirring, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring, and simmer the sauce for 5 minutes. In a kettle of boiling salted water cook the spaghetti until it is al dente and drain it well. In a large bowl combine well the spaghetti, the mushroom sauce, the chicken, the peas, and salt and pepper to taste, stir in 1/3 cup of the Parmesan, and transfer the mixture to a buttered shallow 3 quart casserole. In a small bowl combine well the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan, the bread crumbs, and salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle the mixture evenly over the Tetrazzini, and dot the top with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, cut into bits. The Tetrazzini may be prepared up to this point 1 month in advance and kept frozen, covered. Bake the Tetrazzini in the middle of a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it is bubbling and the top is golden.


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