Friday, 20 April 2012

The AIDAcara opens the 2012 Scandinavian cruise season

AIDAcara approaching Helsingør at about 06.30 this morning

AIDAcara, the smallest ship in the AIDA Cruises fleet, has opened the Copenhagen (and Scandinavian) 2012 cruise season. The ship made its first Scandinavian cruise already on April 6. The picture on this page is from this mornining, when AIDAcara arrived for its second cruise this season.

The 193 x32 m AIDAcara, previously called Das Clubschiff, entered into service in 1996.

Altogether 375 cruise ship visits and about 840.000 passengers are expected in Copenhagen this year. The busiest days for cruise ships in Copenhagen will be June 3 and 23, and July 7 and 28. On each of these days about 25.000 cruise guests will visit the capital city of Denmark. On thing is certain: The quayside in front of the The Little Mermaid will be crowded on those dates!

Here is a nice video showing AIDAcara in the Kiel Canal last summer:

Thursday, 19 April 2012

The Swedish Royal Navy´s training ship HMS Falken in Helsingborg

The Swedish Royal Navy´s training vessel HMS Falken (33,4 x 7,2) today visited Helsingborg.The full rigged schooner is identical with its sister ship HMS Gladan.

This is the maritime artist James E. Mitchell´s "portrait" of  HMS  Falken´s  twin, HMS  Gladan  in  northern  waters 

Here is a brief fact sheet:
  • Length: 39.30 m
  • Beam: 7.20 m
  • Height: 31.40 m
  • Draft: 4.20 m
  • Hull: Steel
  • Full rigged schooner
  • Sail area: 680 m2
  • Year of construction: 1946
  • Homeport: Karlskrona              

HMS Falken has, together with its sister ship, participated in many Tall Ships races and other nautical events. Both ships have been modernized several times in order to meet the needs of a high standard training ship.

From Helsingborg HMS Falken sails to its home port Karlskrona, from where it will continue to Stockholm. Later on this year Tönsberg (Norway), Dublin, Porto and Las Palmas are some of HMS Falken´s destinations.

Elīna Garanča shines in the Vienna State Opera´s Anna Bolena

Elīna Garanča - the star of the evening

Gaetano Donizetti composed altogether 65 operas, although only a handful of them have maintained a place in the international repertoire. Donizetti´s 30th opera, Anna Bolena (Anne Boleyn) was forgotten for almost 100 years, until it was revived by La Scala in a Lucino Visconti 1957 production with the great Maria Callas as Anna.

On April 2, last year, one of the most famous/hyped sopranos of our time, Anna Netrebko,  made her debut as Anna Bolena at the Vienna State Opera in a staging by Eric Génovèse. It was also the first performance ever of this opera at the Staatsoper.

The reviews were - as usual - rather mixed, although mostly on the positive side.

Having seen the HD recording of the Viennese Anna Bolena,
these are my first impressions:

The "star" of the evening was mezzo Elīna Garanča in the role of Jane Seymour. Garanča´s bel canto technique is flawless, and she is also an excellent actress.

Anna Netrebko as the Queen was also excellent, although not as convincing as Garanča.

Luisa Spinatelli´s 16th beautiful 16th century costumes were another of the evening´s delights. What a blessing, not to be forced to watch e.g. the guarding soldiers dressed in SS uniforms (an all too common "innovation" in modern opera stagings).

Ildebrando D’Arcangelo as Enrico VIII and Elisabeth Kulman as Smeton were also outstanding. 

Maestro Evelino Pido brought out the best in arguably the world´s best opera orchestra´s playing, and that is no small feat.   

Here is a sample from the Vienna performance, with Elīna Garanča:

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

A Graceful Leader passes by

The Bahamas registered vehicle carrier Graceful Leader (200 x 32m) passed by in the Sound last night on its way from Malmö to Bremerhaven. The ship was built by the Stocznia Gdynia S.A.shipyard in 2007.

I could unfortunately not identify the small ship on the photo.

Here is some nice footage showing the Graceful Leader approaching a Chinese(?) port:

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Mahler´s 12 Songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn on ARTE

Cleveland´s Severance Hall - One of the most beautiful concert  halls  in the world

Last Sunday, the French-German culture channel ARTE broadcast one of the classical music highlights of the year; Pierre Boulez conducting the Cleveland Orchestra in Mahler´s 12 Songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn, with the Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená and the German baritone Christian Gerhaher as soloists.

Maestro Boulez has a 45-year relationship with the Cleveland  Orchestra

The concert in Cleveland´s Severance Hall, one of the world´s most beautiful concert halls, was part of the celebration of Boulez´ 85th birthday celebrations, and it also marked the French maestro´s 45-year relationship with the orchestra.

Among all Mahler´s works I myself find the song cycles - particularly Das Lied von der Erde and the above mentioned 12 Des Knaben Wunderhorn songs - most enjoyable.

Christian Gerhaher´s singing was outstanding

Magdalena Kožená was also excellent

The Severance Hall concert does not disappoint on any account. Boulez, the soloists and the orchestra are all in top form, and the end result is pure musical magic. Particularly I enjoyed Christian Gerhaher´s wonderfully emotional, lieder influenced singing.

For those, who did not have a chance to watch the ARTE broadcast the other night, the concert is (together with some other items) available on a blu-ray disc. Strongly recommended!

I noted that some reviewers did not like director William Cozel´s several shots of some decorative details in the Severance Hall. For those - like myself - who are not previously familiar with the wonderful concert hall, these details are most welcome!

Hopefully the pictures below will give you an idea of the beauty of the home of the great Cleveland Orchestra!


A work horse of the Seven Seas

The Cyprus registered container ship Jork Ranger - here passing Helsingør this afternoon - is one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of work horses of the Seven Seas. The containers for this trip were loaded in Vuosaari (Finland), and the next stop is Aarhus in Denmark.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Dark skies over Øresund

Tonight at about half past six, the sky over Øresund suddenly turned dark and grey. Just seconds before a small hailstorm I shot this picture:

This is how the DFDS ferry Pearl Seaways - on its way to Oslo - looked during the bad weather:

The Dutch freighter Missisippiborg (134 x 16m) also passed by on its way  to  Philadelphia

Saying hello to old neighbours

On my afternoon walk today - as so often before - I said hello to some of my old neighbours. And by old I mean really old.

My previous neighbours are located about half a kilometer meter away from my house. Unfortunately I am not able to communicate with these people - who lie somewhere inside the large burial mound from the Early Bronze Age (1700 - 1100 BC) - but their last resting place tells something about the importance of the sea for these early Vikings. This burial mound is - like so many similar mounds in Scania - situated on a high hill with a beautiful view to the sea and Denmark. The people who lived here more than 3000 years ago clearly wanted their forebears to rest in a place, which must have been dear to them.

Close to the burial mound is a sign, with some additional information:

The Scania County Administrative Board also has some general information about the burial mounds in this part of Sweden:

There are a number of burial-mounds from the Bronze Age in Scania (Skåne), especially along the western and southern coastlines. The mounds were created as memorials to women and men of consequence in the society of that time. The deceased person would be buried in his or her clothes, in a coffin made of stone or wood. The grave-gifts buried with him/her might consist of jewellery and weapons, usually of bronze, as well as ceramic vessels containing food and drink for the last journey. The coffin was then covered by a heap of stones, and pieces of turf were piled up on top of them to form a mound. The economic base of Bronze-Age society were stock-farming and agriculture. The climate of that period was somewhat warmer and less damp than ours is today. The landscape looks somewhat like a rural park, with grazed fields and broad-leaf trees.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Spring is in the air - also for wood pigeons!

Spring is definitively in the air, also for wood pigeons!

She was was waiting for Mr Right to arrive this morning

Finally he arrived, but seemed a little bit shy at first

Then they both realized that they actually like each other!

This could be the beginning of something big! 

P.J. O´Rourke on being a failed country gentleman

P.J. O´Rourkes little essay in the Wall Street Journal is good reading, particularly for all those, who dream about joining the ranks of English type country gentlemen:  

I decided to become a rustic squire when I was 32 and stupid as only 32 can be. Youth's frantic idiocy doesn't have the means. Simple-minded old age lacks the energy. In midlife, we're as dumb as we get. So I bought land in New Hampshire—first a little, then more and finally too much.

(This is an earlier version of a country gentleman out "shooting")  
This was not back-to-the-land land. I wasn't trying to get in touch with Mother Nature or even leave a message on her answering machine. I wasn't pursuing the era's whole grain and handicraft dream of self-sustenance that still persists in parts of Brooklyn. I wanted to be Lord Grantham of "Downton Abbey" before he was a figment of the BBC's imagination.
I'd majored in English literature and, as sometimes happens, thought this was supposed to make me English instead of literate. I pictured myself in knickers and a Norfolk jacket striding over my fields with a fine English double-barreled shotgun broken open on my arm and my loyal English setter at heel.
Read the entire article here

A sunset behind the trees

The other night the sun was setting behind the trees in the neighbouring nature reserve.