Thursday, January 23, 2014

I'm Back

“Don’t Bother Me; I’m Retired.”
Well….what can I say?  After all your lovely comments and e-mails following my decision to retire The French Touch Blog, the only sensible thing to do was to retire my retirement.  

The truth is, not only did I miss you, but I missed the joy of sharing with you.  So, let’s just call my brief retirement a winter sabbatical and move on, n’est-ce pas?  
2013 was a year of highs and lows (sadly more of the latter), and I bid it adieu with a sigh of relief.  
2014 started out on a high note………literally. 

The Metropolitan Opera revived the tradition of ringing out the old year and ringing in the new with a brand new production of Johann Strauss, Jr.’s much loved operetta, Die Fledermaus (translation: The Bat).

Don’t let the term “operetta” fool you.  The vocal demands on the singers are every bit as great as grand opera, particularly for the soprano, Rosalinda, whose show-stopper aria in the second Act, as a mysterious Hungarian Countess in disguise, is a veritable vocal tour de force.  

The clever dialogue, in English, is given a contemporary coat of paint in this version, leading to lots of laugh-out-loud moments.  And the sumptuous turn-of-the century costumes and lavish production make this delightful Viennese romp sparkle like the champagne that flows so freely at Prince Orlofsky’s Party in Act 2. 

The whole thing, a delicious bedroom farce set to gorgeous music, starts off in the drawing room of Herr Eisenstein and his wife, Rosalinda, a well-to-do Viennese couple, who have become a little bored with each other.  It’s New Year’s Eve and poor Herr Eisenstein must begin an eight-day jail sentence on the stroke of midnight for having slapped a policeman.  Enter Rosalinda’s old lover, Alfred, an Italian tenor whose “big” high “C”s make her weak at the knees, so to speak.  

In a case of mistaken identity, (Alfred ends up in Rosalinda’s boudoir wearing Eisenstein’s dressing gown  -- quel scandale!), Alfred is carted off to jail in Eisenstein’s place, leaving everyone else free to attend a fabulous New Year’s Eve party at the palace of the Russian Prince Orlofsky. 

Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Everyone shows up in disguise, including the Eisensteins’ maid, Adele, who has (ahem) “borrowed” one of her Mistress’s ball gowns for the occasion.  

Eisenstein tries to seduce his own wife, who he thinks is a Hungarian Countess, everyone pretends to be someone he/she is not, leading to hilarious complications, and the mystery of “the Bat” is revealed to be an elaborate practical joke that backfires on the perpetrator. 

Photo by Sara Krulwich New York Times

In the end, mysteries are unraveled, love triumphs and the perpetually bored Prince Orlofsky finally has a jolly good laugh. 

Here are a few highlights I know you will enjoy.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a better way to start the New Year than by sipping champagne to the lilting strains of a Viennese waltz, can you?    

Café Maria Theresa

And, of course, the morning after a night of Viennese waltzes and French champagne calls for some coffee fit for an Austrian Empress. 

Named after the beloved Austrian Empress Maria Theresa, the Empress and I not only share the same name, but a love of the finer things in life.  This luscious coffee will not only take the chill out of a cold New Year’s morning, but will get your New Year off to a delicious start. 


Six ounces freshly brewed coffee
One teaspoon sugar
Two tablespoons fine orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau
One tablespoon whipped cream
One-half teaspoon orange zest* for garnish
*Grate the skin of a fresh, clean orange.
Chocolate shavings (optional)


Fill your cup with hot water and set it aside for a minute; this will preheat the cup. Remove the water and combine the liqueur and sugar in the cup. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the coffee and top off with a dollop of whipped cream. Garnish with orange zest and chocolate shavings if desired. Enjoy!

Happy New Year to all my lovely Readers.  It’s good to be back. 


  1. Welcome back M-T. I just had a feeling you would miss your blog and your readers and would *un-retire.* Voilà, i was right... And you return in rare form, ma chère! Bonne année to you as well. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

    1. Apparently, among your many talents is prognostication..........tu es voyante, ma chère........tireuse de cartes aussi??

      Thanks for the warm welcome. Keep in touch,

      Big bisous, M-T

  2. Happy New Year - I've been following your blog silently - Very glad you're back! - Really enjoyed todays article - Grew up with operetta's (Germany), so this was a nice treat for me. Your Cafe Maria Theresa sounds delicious for my afternoon Kaffeestunde (coffee-hour) -

    1. Dear Rosie, I'm glad you have been following my Blog and delighted you decided to break your silence. I look forward to a return visit.

      Enjoy your café "mit schlag."

      Cheers, M-T

  3. Welcome back. I am feeling a bit opera starved at the moment with nothing on the horizon at the moment.

    1. Thanks, Josephine, for the warm welcome back. There's nothing worse than feeling "opera starved." Covent Garden appears to have some interesting productions on offer in the near future.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers, M-T

  4. so glad you decided to unretire...hate that word retire anyway welcome back.

    1. Well, it sounded good when I decided to do it, but, you are quite correct, I hated it.

      Happy to be back and delighted you stopped by.

      Cheers, M-T

  5. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
    What a joy to see you show up on the sidebar of my blog; that shows that several of your readers had not yet given up on you! Welcome back and Happy 2014 to you. Yours started off in grand style; what lovelier way is there?!
    Wishing you and your husband and also your cute Allegro a happy weekend coming your way. Stay cozy and warm.

    1. I am so happy to be back. I guess I'm just not cut out for retirement. It just didn't feel right. Allegra is still retired and prefers not to be bothered unless there is a very good reason to do so: food, crunchy treats, hugs and kisses, warm winter laps, etc.

      Yes, we started off the New Year in high style. Wishing you and your handsome husband a wonderful New Year full of good health and wonderful surprises.

      We are doing our best to stay cozy and warm, which is not easy in -4 degree F weather. Just running to the car runs the risk of frostbite.

      Warm hugs and Big Bisous, M-T

  6. Hello from Toronto. So happy you are back. I did keep checking to see if you were really retired. Looking forward to your blogs once again.

  7. You're back!! How did I miss this?? Bravo, the bogging world and I have missed you. xoJennifer

  8. Last year was an annus horribilis so I too was very glad to see January 1 2014. Consequently I have had a very long break from blogging (and regularly reading the blogs of others). I am now "dipping my toe back into the water" of the blog-sphere", but I still lack energy and have a few more hurdles to jump.

    Best wishes for a fantastic 2014. Warm regards, Elizabeth

    1. I hope 2014 is wonderful for both of us. I think we are overdue for a good year. Glad to see you are testing the blogging waters again. Brava, Elizabeth. I will be popping over to visit your Blog.

      Bonne année, M-T


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