"Ten years on VirtualTourist" Nemorino's Profile

VT picnic in Paris, 2011

Hello, my name's Don. I'm an American living in Frankfurt am Main, Land Hessen, Germany, where I teach, ride a bicycle and go to the opera.

In 2014 I have so far added twenty new tips/reviews to my Paris page. I have joined these together in a loop, so if you just want to look at these new reviews you can easily do so by clicking on the link at the bottom of each one.

Twenty Paris tips from March 2014, including the Vauban memorial, the Arsenal Pavilion, the Museum of the Sewers, the Chinese New Year and some street art by Jana & JS.

My latest completely new page here on VirtualTourist is about the French city of Versailles, where I went to the Royal Opera and saw a lively seventeenth century musical comedy by Molière and Lully. The Royal Opera is in the north wing of Versailles Palace, but not many visitors see it since it is closed during the day and only open for shows in the evenings.

Other recent pages:
Reims, Lille, Toulon, Marseille and Montmorency, France.

Thanks to the VirtualTourist staff for including me in the VT Member Spotlight for October 2013.

And of course I was very pleased when my Paris page was chosen as the "Best City Travel Page" of 2012. Thanks, everybody!

Although most of my VirtualTourist pages are about cities in Europe, I have also written some pages about Vietnam, where I served as an American soldier (not voluntarily) in 1964/65. Thirty years later I returned with one of my sons for another look.

My Biên Hòa page is actually about a beautiful village called Tân Ba, where I spent several months in the 1960s and received a surprisingly warm welcome when I returned in 1995.

My Tinh Binh Duong page is about our zone headquarters at Phước Vĩnh, where I spent several months working as a radio operator.

My Ho Chi Minh City page is about my fifteen visits to the city that used to be called Saigon.

My small Xuân Lộc page is about the place where I spent my last five weeks as an American soldier in Vietnam.

Finally, my Vietnam page is about some places in Vietnam that I was unable to visit in the 1960s but saw for the first time in 1995, such as Da Lat, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hanoi, Hue, the Cu Chi tunnels and the Mekong Delta.

In 2013 I went through my Vietnam pages (except Xuan Loc, which only has two tips) and linked the tips on each page, so they can easily be read in chronological order.

I have made some changes to the Frankfurt Skyline Countdown on my Land Hessen page because the old AfE-Tower, which used to be the twenty-first tallest building in Frankfurt, has finally been torn down. It was demolished by explosives in just a few seconds on a Sunday morning in February 2014.

So now there are only twenty-five buildings in the countdown, instead of twenty-six, but that will change again as soon as the new headquarters of the European Central Bank is finished.

Also I have added nine new tips to my Bad Vilbel page, mainly about street art by herakut and colleagues.

So far nine visiting VirtualTourist members have come to the opera with me here in Frankfurt:

gildapaolina (Gil) from Italy, was here on business and came with me to a performance of Fidelio by Ludwig van Beethoven.

• American opera buff yooperprof (Chet) has been here twice so far, for the operas Macbeth -- but the one by Ernest Bloch, not Verdi -- and later Verdi's Don Carlos.

• Australian VT member iandsmith (Ian Smith) came along to a performance of Elektra by Richard Strauss, as staged by the German playwright Falk Richter.

• German members tini58de (Christine) and Madschick (Heinz) from Karlsruhe were here for a performance of Mozart's Magic Flute. Christine has posted a nice travelogue about this called 2007: Magic at the Opera.

• Greek VT member sinequanon (Gala) from Athens came with me to see Puccini's Tosca.

Natrix (Natascha), who lives just up the road in Friedberg, came along to a performance of Verdi's La Traviata.

Gypsystravels (Janet) from New York came with us -- me and some of the people from my English language opera appreciation course Frankfurt OperaTalk -- to the opera La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini.

alza (Lou) from North America joined me at the Frankfurt Opera for a performance of The Tales of Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach. This nineteenth century French opera features a life-size mechanical doll that can sing, dance, bow, roll her eyes and even speak ("oui"), so it was appropriate that a week before attending the opera we went to the German Mechanical Instrument Museum in Bruchsal and saw hundreds of ingenious self-playing clockwork musical devices, many of them made in Jacques Offenbach's own lifetime (1819-1880).

Who's next?

The great nineteenth century opera composers Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner were both born in 1813, so 2013 was their joint bicentenary.

In preparation for the Verdi bicentenary, I updated my VirtualTourist page on his home town of Busseto in the north of Italy. I connected the tips, cleaned up the formatting, repaired broken links and added a new link to the National Museum Giuseppe Verdi, which didn’t even exist when I visited Busseto in 2008.

My Busseto intro page includes an annotated list of Verdi’s twenty-eight operas, with links to some of my other VirtualTourist pages and tips where I have discussed them in more detail.

My most detailed Verdi page is the one on Bregenz, where I was able to make seventeen Favorites aka General Tips recounting the story of Verdi’s opera Il trovatore (The Troubadour), along with an unusual security precaution that I have never seen at any other opera venue.

As for Wagner, I made an annotated list of his operas and put it in an album here at the bottom of my homepage. Also I have written a new tip/review Richard Wagner slept here for my Bad Soden am Taunus page.

Quiz results

Congratulations to the winners of the two quizzes that I conducted when I first joined VirtualTourist to celebrate the Grand Opening of my New Homepage.

As a PRIZE, each winner will receive a free ticket to the Frankfurt Opera (third balcony) for a performance of her choice within the next twenty years -- preferably on a day when I am in town so I can come along.

Quiz #1
The QUESTION for Quiz #1 was:
What is the origin of my member name "Nemorino"?

The winner is lacristina of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, who wrote: Guten tag, buon giorno, and I'm sure it has been a beautiful day in Chicago. Are you fond of Donizetti? And elixers? Do they sing Italian opera in Italian or German in Frankfurt? Have I found you out?

Which indeed she has, since Nemorino is a character in Gaetano Donizetti's comic opera L'elisir d'amore, which I have seen numerous times here in Frankfurt am Main (also in Darmstadt, Gießen, Halle, Paris and Vienna) over the past few years.

Nemorino in this opera is a guy who does everything wrong but gets the girl anyway, which is more or less the story of my life up to now, so I decided that might make an appropriate member name.

Quiz #2
The QUESTION this time was:
What is the origin of my motto?
My motto at that time was: It’s a beautiful day in Chicago!

This one took a bit longer, so I eventually dropped a hint on my Chicago page: "It comes from the most popular program in the history of American radio."

Shortly after that I got some answers, and the winner was tini58de of Karlsruhe, Germany.

A mere two and a half years later -- well within the twenty-year time limit! -- she came to Frankfurt with her husband Heinz (Madschick) and we went to Mozart's opera The Magic Flute. Christine has posted a travelogue about this called 2007: Magic at the Opera.

Back in 2004 she won the prize by writing: I used your pages and hints, google and especially American friends' help from another forum. And this is what we found out: Everett Mitchell, who more than sixty years ago began a radio broadcast with these famous words: "It's a beautiful day in Chicago!"

Yes, indeed. Everett Mitchell was the host of the nationally broadcast NBC radio program called (deep breath here) THE NATIONAL FARM AND HOME HOUR. It came on every Saturday at 12 noon and was broadcast live from WMAQ's legendary Studio A on the twentieth floor of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, with a live band and a studio audience.

The ritual was that after the band had finished playing their opening march music -- The Stars and Stripes Forever by John Philip Sousa (1854-1932), a march better known to us grade-school twerps as Be kind to your web-footed friends for that duck may be somebody's mother -- Everett Mitchell would step up to the microphone and say:

"It's a beautiful day in Chicago!"

Of course he would usually have to qualify that in some way, for instance:

"Well, it is a bit on the cloudy side, and there's some rain and thunder and sleet and hailstorms and gale-force winds and slush piling up on the streets" or whatever the weather was like in Chicago on that particular day. Then he always said:

"But it's a great day to be alive, and we hope it's even more beautiful wherever you are."

At which point I usually turned off the big Zenith radio in the living room and went outside to play, since I was a suburban child with absolutely no interest in the week's agricultural news, I just wanted to hear the opening ritual.

When I was six or seven years old I pestered my mother for weeks about it, and she finally took me down to the Merchandise Mart on the El (we lived in Evanston) so I could be in the studio audience and see a live performance of the show. Everett Mitchell was rather more corpulent that I had imagined, but otherwise I was very impressed. From that day on I was determined to be a radio announcer when I grew up, and in fact I later did spend several years working as the news director of a California radio station.

For more information on Everett Mitchell and the National Farm and Home Hour, have a look at my Chicago page.

  • Intro Updated Apr 15, 2014
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Real Name
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Member Since
Apr 16, 2004

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