Monday 11 December 2017

The Pleasure List: Elena stars in Cavalleria

Elena Zhidkova
Elena Zhidkova
Bone Chair at Solomon Gallery
Burren Chocolate
Bloom Garden Festival

When Cavalleria Rusticana - a one-act opera telling of love, betrayal and violent revenge set in Sicily and adapted from a short story by Giovanni Verga - was first performed in 1890, it smashed the box office records of its day and launched Italian composer Mascagni from obscurity to stardom.

Both the emotionally charged Intermezzo and the stirring Easter Hymn, have since become highly popular stand-alone pieces. On May 30, at the National Concert Hall, the wonderful Russian star Elena Zhidkova, playing the part of Santuzza, will head a starry cast that includes Chilean tenor Giancarlo Monsalve as Turiddu, Anne-Marie Owens as Mamma Lucia, and Anne-Marie Gibbons as Lola.

The newly-established RTE Concert Orchestra Chorus will be making their debut appearance, all accompanied by the RTE Concert Orchestra, conducted by John Wilson.

The first half of the concert features Rossini's brilliant and instantly recognisable Overture to The Thieving Magpie and Puccini's Capriccio sinfonico, with the Cavalleria Rusticana as the much anticipated main event.

Bean to Bar chocolate festival at the Burren

Given the wildly-growing enthusiasm for all things chocolate, it was only a matter of time before a vastly more discerning approach was adopted. Hazel Mountain Chocolate is a bean-to-bar chocolate factory located on a 300 year-old farm in the Burren Mountains, and was founded in 2014 by John and Kasha Connolly.

At Hazel Mountain, the process starts with cacao beans sourced from all around the world through direct trade. These are roasted, cracked, winnowed, stone-ground and finally finished and packed, all under the one roof. In order to complement this good work, Hazel Mountain, with the help of Clare County Council, are now organising a Bean to Bar Chocolate Festival, running May 30th to June 1st.

With talks, tours and chocolate tastings, a secret tea party up the mountain, chocolate-infused dinner, a cacao sack race, yoga bean class followed by cacao healthy breakfast, this seems pretty unmissable.

Fine furniture and design at Solomon Gallery

LyonsKelly is a collaboration between architect John Kelly and interior designer Eoin Lyons, author of two best-selling source books on design in Ireland.

Together they offer archi-tecture, interiors and landscape advice and vision, and now, they have joined with the excellent Solomon Gallery to curate a new exhibition, Portfolio: Furniture, in conjunction with the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, Irish Design 2015 and The Doyle Collection.

Pieces include a gorgeous Japanese-style cabinet embellished with ceremonial cranes, made from tanganika, taba, sycamore and ebony, by Zelouf+Bell, a stunning coffee table made from brass, maple and glass by Martin Gallagher, and an elegant, retro-inspired chair by Stephen O'Briain, made from oak with a Danish cord seat. The exhibition takes place in both Solomon Gallery settings - on Balfe Street and across the road in the Westbury Mall - and runs until July 4th. For acquisition, inspiration, or sheer admiration of beautiful things, this is a must.

Back in Bloom at the park

To call Bloom Ireland's largest garden festival may be entirely accurate, but it rather misses out the many other facets of what has grown into one of the best-loved events in the summer calendar. Now nine years old, Bloom, sponsored by Bord Bia, is not just a chance to visit the remarkable show gardens created by top garden designers, but also a celebration of food, fun and family. The Food Village is full of delicious local produce, including fresh fruit from Keelings, handcrafted beers and spirits, artisan food stalls, along with demonstrations from some of Ireland's top chefs.

A botanical art exhibition will feature floral and nursery displays, while a plant village is a chance to examine a variety of different displays, and Fun On The Farm a delightful opportunity for kids to try out loading trailers, diggers and tractors. Running for five days over the June bank holiday weekend, from Thursday 28th May to Monday 1st June, in the Phoenix Park, the festival attracted over 106,000 people last year and looks set to match or exceed that.

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