Posts Tagged ‘travelogue’

New York, Rio, Tokyo

Not in this order and I should include Salvador in the list – but that was more or less my week. My final destination (from where I am writing) is Tokyo, where I’ll be staying for a while. Naturally, I have some good tickets for concerts etc  – and I’ll let you know. In any case, I have just arrived and all I can say is that so far I am truly impressed.


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As you could see, I was in Washington too, a city I had last visited in 1985! I’ve had a great time there – the National Gallery is a must-see: their Da Vinci is lovely, their Bronzinos are amazing, their Pontormo is probably the best one I have ever seen, the Vermeers are a classic, their collection of Impressionists is a very important one. I could also visit a tiny museum named Phillips Collection, where you can see Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. I should also mention the National Portrait Gallery, where you can see the only existing portrait of Pocahontas. Although there are only a few true masterpieces, the historical aspect involving those whose portraits hang there is of great interest. For example, I could discover there the story of the great African-American Shakesperian actor Ira Aldridge (an excellent theme for a movie, isn’t it?)


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I have just noticed that my previous post lacked this piece of information. I am visiting my cousin Leila here in Massachusetts and took the opportunity to see some concerts and visiting again the Isabella Stewart Gardiner Museum, this amazing collection of masterpieces masterly disposed as a sort of prototype of what would be later called “installation” as an independent work of art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, which is unfortunately for me (but fortunately for everyone, including me the next time I am here) being renovated and partially closed. On the other hand, there is a most interesting exhibit of Spanish painter and sculptor Antonio Lopez Garcia, who is probably the man who proved that there is still lots to explore in naturalism.

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I don´t know how Americans feel when they visit England for the first time, but I have to say that the first visit to Portugal by a Brazilian is a very special experience. I often dream of Rio, but in an idealized form, in which favourite places take larger proportions or look renewed or something like that – that is why I couldn´t resist the sensation of being in a dream while visiting Lisbon. It looks like an idealized Rio, with its homogeneous architecture and the impression of being a glimpse of a place in the past.

It is also a place that has resisted bravely the airport-lounge-inization that afflicts many European cities – you will find an Armani or a Prada store in Lisbon, but instead of imposing its own style on the city, it is the city that impose its small-scaled cozy atmosphere on them. Take for instance, the opera house, Teatro São Carlos, a tiny jewel of a theatre at a small square typical of an Italian provincial town, suggesting nothing of the glamour a place like that generally does, but instead a sense of intimacy and calm. On the other side of the square, there is a building with photos of the great Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. He was born there and the building has this verse written in one window “I was born in a village with an opera house”. And that was exactly what I was thinking while having lunch on that square in front of the opera house.

I also profited of my staying in Lisbon to visit the Teatro Nacional Dona Maria II, the Portuguese official venue for the dramatic arts. I cannot really say I had information about this theatre, only bits of stories from friends, actors in general, who had been in Portugal and described the place as a sort of Portuguese version of the Comédie Française, where classical plays receved highly traditional and maybe outdated stagings . Looking at the building and seeing the name of Neil LaBute made me think that maybe not so traditional… In any case, I bought a ticket for Goldoni´s The War, as staged by José Peixoto. Although the actors´ biographies showed that they were trained in some of the best schools in Europe and USA, the style of acting required from them was impressively artifficial as if classical meant “cute”.  As a result, the text, which is not one of Goldoni´s most brilliant works anyway, seemed muted, drowned in lack of spontaneity and convention. Timeout magazine had already suggested that, but I wanted to see with my own eyes.

A curious observation involves FNAC. I visited their shops both in Barcelona and Madrid and found their classical music section a shame to music-lovers, but the Lisbon store (at least the one in Armazéns do Chiado) was definitely better than average. I found good discounts and all the new releases I haven´t found in Spain.

Lisbon was the good surprise of my trip – I thoroughly enjoyed its nonchalant charm and intend to go back soon.

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