My American Independence celebration took me to the Castel Plage (www.castelplage.com) in Nice for a musical evening and dinner, hosted by the American Club of the Riviera. (http://americanclubriviera.com/) Castel Plage is the beach-restaurant furthest east on the Quai des Etats-Unis, (http://www.nice-tourism.com/en/nice-attractions/promenades-and-pedestrian-areas-in-nice/quai-des-etats-unis.html), nestled under the Parc du Chateau (https://www.nice.fr/fr/parcs-et-jardins/le-parc-de-la-colline-du-chateau) on the Promenade des Anglais. Castel Plage is one of the oldest establishments on the Baie de Anges (Bay of Angels).
I enjoyed a three-course dinner and was entertained by “French-American soprano, Amy Christianna Blake” (better known as Amy Blake from West Texas who now lives in Nice), who has been noted for her “beautiful singing” and her “strong energy and stage presence” by The New York Times.
Blake sang songs by Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers and George Gershwin. Really lovely. Reminded me of Kiri Te Kanawa, the New Zealand soprano who has had a successful international opera career since 1968. I saw Te Kanawa at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles during the 90’s.
Kiri Te Kanawa moved me emotionally over the years as did Blake on Tuesday night. AND, Blake’s musicians were outstanding – called the “Cream of the Crop” quartet of musicians. I agree with that. The saxophone player was my favorite, even though the drummer ran a close second. And, two dancers from the Nice Jazz Off Dance Academy did dance numbers. The tap dancer was my favorite.
I had a front row, stage-right seat – by the stage AND by the sea. That worked. When I arrived, I was assigned to Table 3. Being one of the first there, I had a choice of seat. Everyone else was networking. I chose to sit in the shade and look at the sea. Then, I realized my back was to the stage. Sea, or stage? I chose stage, and moved. Besides, I could always turn around and check out the sea – be sure it was still there. The sunset, the lights around the Bay, the moon, the Ferry from Corsica – spectacular. The concert, a close second.
When Blake led us in singing the Star-Spangled Banner, I was moved to tears. I also wept when she sang “There’s a Time for Us” from West Side Story, missing Steve beyond belief. There were not many Americans at my table – four of us U.S. expats. The other six were from different countries. I have found that to be the case at events I’ve attended. Most have been from other countries – always friendly and interesting. I sat between Roger and his wife Sara – from Houston. They moved to the South of France twelve years ago because Roger had a stroke and Sara had (I think she said) breast cancer, but I may be wrong about Sara. She had some health condition that was serious. They had planned to stay a year. Still here. Bought a house in Valbonne, France (20 minutes up the road) – healthy and happy. Plan to spend the summer in the States.
Rick moved here in September 2015 from San Francisco. He is writing a book about business and intuition and plans to stay. He lives 10 minutes up the coast.
In the future, I want to get to know Annie. She sat across the table. And, there was a German couple to my left. They live in Nice. Another couple who live in Nice (I forgot where they are from). And a beautiful woman with lots of energy. Fun group.
Some photos were taken by me; others were taken by Cynthia, better known as “Cy”. She is the Membership Coordinator for the Club. I “borrowed” them from the American Club of the Riviera’s website. Cy was still taking pictures when I left at midnight. I was more taken by the gorgeous setting, good food, interesting conversations, wine, a moon, musicians, and show tunes. Only things missing were Steve and fireworks.