Dinner and the Opera

Last night we met our good friends Randy and Margaret for dinner at Toulouse Petit and then on to opening night of Madama Butterfly at the Seattle Opera.  Michael and I had never been to Toulouse, but were excited to go after Margaret had recommended we go before attending the opera together.

Upon entering the restaurant I noticed Toulouse was a happening place.  A good number of people were already there at 5:30 pm, along with the festive noise level and bustling energy, it seemed to be hip location with the local crowd.  The menu was daunting with an overwhelming number of pages, so I opted for the pre-fix menu $35 for three courses.  For a salad, I chose the Hearts of Romaine with Crispy Hot Coppa and Shaved Grana Padano.  My second course was Bruschetta Peppornata with Prosciutto, Roasted Peppers and Fontina Cheese (photo).  For my main course I chose Aromatic Lamb Ragu over Papparedlle.  Each was amazingly good.  I was particularly taken with the Bruschetta.  Served on a single hearty slice of Tuscan style bread, the roasted peppers were pilled high along with sautéed onions and roasted chilies.  Salty capers and rich balsamic vinegar accompanied and added to the complex flavor profile of the dish.

I would recommend Toulouse Petit, perhaps as a great place to meet up with friends to have a drink or a meal.  It’s very energetic and lively, so if you want a romantic or private evening, I would go elsewhere.  As I mentioned the menu is a bit much to wrap ones head around as they make note of on their web site, but don’t let that stop you.  Ask your server for help and what they like.  After all, that’s what they are there for, and they love to share their favorite choices.

This was my second time to the opera and Michael’s first.  As operas go, I recommend starting with a classic, and if it’s Puccini you really can’t go wrong!  Most operas are sung in Italian with English subtitles projected onto a screen above the stage.  You get used to glancing up at the subtitles and then down to the stage.  It’s also helpful to read the libretto or operas story before the performance so you have some sense of the tale.  Operas can also tend to run on the longer side, our show last night was two hours, forty-five minutes with an intermission.  However, some cycles of Wagner’s Ring can be a five-hour show, excluding breaks.  Probably best to have some snacks stashed.

Madama Butterfly was wonderful to experience and a delight to see.  The buzz and energy of opening night was palpable.  The final scene was full of all the passion and emotion that one expects from opera.  Without giving anything away, the most moving gesture came at the very end, only to be made more dramatic by the black out of the stage lights and the pull of the final curtain.  The audience showered the cast with a standing ovation and several curtain calls.  At the same time as the performance last night in McCaw Hall, a free simulcast was happening at Key Arena for 8,000 ticket holders.  Now that is some genius marketing!

I must take a short moment and stand on my soapbox.  I’m fully aware that I live in the Pacific Northwest, home to grunge music, Microsoft, Starbucks, endless black clothing, Amazon, unlimited rainy days and the Pacific Northwest Hipster.  That is no reason to not show some respect and dress appropriately to an artistic event.  Under no circumstances is it acceptable to wear jeans to the opera!  And yes, I saw jeans last night.  Not many, but I did see them.  Gone are the days (or so it seems in the PNW) to really dress for an evening out.  For heavens sake people, do you think you can manage to at least throw on some black slacks or perhaps a dress for the ladies?  In my opinion, it’s disrespectful to the art form.  Enough said.

It was truly an awesome evening with friends.  I’m sincerely hoping we all will be able to attend Tourandot when it comes to the Seattle Opera in August.  And it just so happens to open the day before someone’s birthday.  Hmmm, that’s mighty convenient.

Bon Appétit!



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