Malibu Seen: On the Road

Local opera buff Barry Glaser checks out the sounds of the season at the exquisite La Fenice theater in Venice, Italy.

It’s time for a splashy new season at the music center and longtime local executives like Marc Stern couldn’t be happier. In the meantime, Malibu Seen decided to explore other musical snippets from the world’s most famed venues.

We started our journey by checking out United Airlines’ heavily promoted Polaris set-up on the flight over. Polaris, puleeze! The new configuration was made up of plastic barrels, which made you feel you were in an MRI machine. Give me a cushy leather upright anytime. 

Our next stop was at the Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal, a lovely spot that’s been there with its picturesque views of the glorious Santa Maria della Salute church for years. But the rooms have been completely upgraded with rain showers and amenities galore from sun screen to sewing kits.

Once a quaint little secret spot, I was worried I would miss the old place, but they did a great job of preserving the indoor-outdoor feeling—yet it still feels like an intimate abode.

The Monaco is conveniently located across from historic Harry’s Bar, which was the favorite watering hole of legendary author Ernest Hemmingway. In the 30 years I have been going, they haven’t changed a thing—except the absence of ashtrays. If not for the missing cigarette smoke, you’d think you were in a time warp.

In general, dining in Venice does not come cheap (take Da Ivo, George and Amal Clooney’s favorite, where entrees can run $130 or more). 

The same could be said of Harry’s. But, after three decades, Seen has found a few ways to work the system. Portions are abundant—make it a split and you’ll have two generous portions at no extra charge. At Harry’s, for example, you can even split the gelato. In the end, that 100 Euro plate of pasta will cost you closer to $50 than $100.

It’s tough to find a good quality, reasonably priced restaurant with anytime hours. But, like VinoVino, a few do exist.

Be sure to check out opera venues like the Teatro La Fenice. Like the mythical story of the Phoenix rising out of its own ashes, it survived three major fires. 

If you look at the elaborate gilded ceilings above, I can’t feel anything but pride as my charity group “Save Venice” raised millions to restore.

Finally, it was show time. We had our choice of Donozetti or Verdi and opted for the second. From the moment they broke out with the “Drinking Song,” the voices were wonderfully blended. It was a great time to experience an old favorite with a fresh, modern twist. Throw all the magical elements together and you have a one-of-a-kind opera experience that can only mean one thing—La Serenissima BRAVI!