Friday, April 21, 2017

Barcelona's Maritime Museum

On our last day, I also visited Barcelona's Maritime Museum, at Drassanes, near the (duh...) harbor. The museum is built into the former shipyard site, a collection of huge buildings, dating to the 13th century. It was a shipyard from the 13th to 18th centuries, then a cannon foundry, and then presumably a variety of other things...military barracks, prison, high tech business incubator, etc. The buildings, even as renovated, are huge, and one doesn't doubt for a second that they were a ship-building site. Maybe whole fleets.

Evidently it was decided early on that Gothic
arches wouldn't do...

Helpful model...the site is still of this size although the port
was filled in here, enlarged elsewhere...

Helpful model of The Royal Galley, flagship of the Holy Rollers
at the battle of Lepanto ("the Naval," as Cervantes said; he was
wounded in the battle, losing use of his right arm), when the
Christians finally turned back the Turks in the Mediterranean;
1571; muy importante battle, since the Turks were on a roll,
having finally taken Constantinople and besieging Vienna,
threatening all the coasts...

Pride of the museum, a full-scale replica of The Royal Galley,
constructed in 1971, to commemorate the 400th anniversary
of the Naval

It's huge...occupies an entire hall, 62 meters from stem to stern;
shallow draft and not particularly fast; for use strictly on the
Mediterranean, and not the high seas; lightly armed, it attacked
by ramming and the boarding and then "cutlasses, me hardies!"

And in English, too; the museum has ample interpretive
signage; here, we learn that average life expectancy of a galley
slave, after reporting for duty, was two years; you were
shackled in, if a slave, and would stay there until you died; the
other really useful thing learned here was that galley ships
like The Royal Galley were incapable of surprise attack: the
downwind stench of the ship usually arrived hours before the
attack could be mounted

Poop deck, the VIP area; upwind...

Art Nouveau lighthouse lamp; the Modernistas
just loved the dioptric and catadioptric lenses


Typical family-owned Catalonian fishing boat, early 20th

A model of the frigate Barcelona, under construction

I studied this for a while, hoping to learn the differences between
sloops and yachts and frigates and ketches and such; then decided
maybe I'll stay on land

The Museum has halls and halls of other displays, models,
mostly maritime, not naval

Assorted accoutrements (not in English too)

Full scale model of oar from The Royal Galley

Where is Errol Flynn when you need him?

Wait! Errol! We're in Spain!

Interestingly, I thought, many of the pictorial displays were
housed in sea-going containers

The Museum has some interesting artwork here and there: here,
a large mobile in its whale position; when flipped, it
becomes a boat; Whale/Sailboat, Raul Martinez Beteta

And here, Bench Panca, by Jadran Stenico, with Vicki posing
for scale

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Liceu, 2

Continuing our tour of the The Liceu, Barcelona's grand opera house, on La Rambla...and emphasizing its Modernista rooms...

The wainscoting was a knock-out...more to come

The real KO was this circular room filled with Ramon Casas
paintings, many centered on music and performance, nearly
all on women; gloriously preserved and displayed

Also stained glass

Drinking red wine, not absinthe, in Spain

Incredible stuff

Said to be the first painting of an automobile...with a female
driver, too!

Shooting into a Modernista elevator

Wowsers, as Vicki said

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Liceu, 1

We've walked past Barncelona's grand opera, The Liceu, dozens of times on La Rambla, always peeking in, looking at what's playing, even visiting the excellent shoppe, but never doing the tour. It's just another 19th century bourgeois monstrosity, indeed modeled on La Scala. I've seen the great ones, and then some. Vicki often has encouraged me to attend a performance, but, in general, I don't care that much for live performances (other people, actually...coughing, snorting, sneezing, clearing their nasal and other passages, talking, crinkling their candy wrappers, snoring, gathering their things to be in the aisle, on the way to the street, even before the music has ended). For the price of a decent seat, moreover, I could own every video of whatever opera was being performed. No thanks. But then we read that the adjunct rooms of The Liceu were done in Modernista, and that one in particular had stained glass depicting the Rhinemaidens. That got my interest--alas the Rhinemaidens are in a section that really is private and off limits--but, on our last day in Barcelona, exercising our wonderful jubilado privileges, we did the tour. It was great!

Helpful model #13,449; actually, it shows pretty well how The
Liceu can have as many as four operas in the,
construction, rehearsal, production,'s the
enormous 10-story back stage

Grand staircase

Inside, seven tiers of seats; no royal box; largest in Europe, in
terms of # of seats; only one with no royal box (the bourgeois
subscribers didn't like the royalty); indeed, looks pretty much
like La Scala, only bigger


Alas, no fotos of the stage...

Dragon chandelier thing

All works are performed in the original language, so all seats
have little monitors that translate (like La Scala, some years
back); the excellent guide noted that in the 19th century the
house lights were left on during performances (he failed to note
which composer changed this); something about ladies'
modesty, reputations, etc. And in English, too

Now we are in the grand hall outside the main hall; for mingling
during intermissions; also for weddings, birthdays, bar mitzvahs;
as Wagner said, the opera of his day, until he changed it, was
"merely an excuse for social gathering," "meretricious glitter,"
...yes, I do these lines whenever I'm in such a house

Very grand hall


Up closer

The room adorned with pix of the greatest stars of the 19th
century opera, Wagner's arch-rival, Meyerbeer; I
wonder whether there are a thousand people now who know
anything of Meyerbeer; Sic transit, Gloria

At the top of the staircase, the one Modernista
adornment in the house, proper

Now we are in the side rooms, the Club

Where the Modernistas ran gloriously amuck

All in the details, and all the details coordinated

In an anteroom, the first of a dozen paintings
by Ramon Casas; quite a new and different
pose for the late 19th

To be continued