Summer is not just beaches, sun tanning and red toenails. Summer is also a time to entertain the mind with new sights and sounds and images.

Last week we went to the National Museum of Ancient Art in Lisbon, along with other pale skinned visitors moving through the taut air of the museum. We went to see again Hieronymus Bosch’s XV Century masterpiece, “The Temptation of St. Anthony”. Bosch’s visionary images cover three panels depicting a hostile world full of mysticism. Bosch holds a mirror to the world with his bizarre irony and magical symbolism, sparing no one: the hypocrisy of the clergy, the extravagance of the nobility and the immorality of the people. His images are hallucinatory and fascinating. I can spend hours looking at each one and always discover new things.

Another evening found us in a fairy tale scenario of the square in front of the São Carlos opera theater for the summer festival of opera, ballet, and theatre. The beach crowds mingled with the pale skinned museum-viewers. The buildings around glowed in the indigo evening of summer. Every 20 minutes the tram went by, but we were hardly aware of it. In that magical atmosphere we were neither old nor young, we were outside time.

The first dance was a Cantata with Bach’s concerto for harpsichord, played at the corner of the stage. The one female and three male dancers were dressed in black suits and white shirts. She was fantastic, her youth not mortal yet, her bones as fine as a cat’s. She danced with her three companions in pursuit, dominating, in control, the stage her kingdom.

The second dance was a splash of color and music based on southern Italian folk music, again played live by a quartet of women with their tambourines, drums and accordion, a moonlit choreographed spectacle. The girls flounced their skirts in joy, passion and exuberance. The men pranced and gestured. It was brilliant.

Last night we went to see “Miss Julia”, Strindberg’s play written 120 years ago. The story is of a wild young woman of nobility who sets her sights on her father’s valet. The valet was engaged to the cook, but that does not stop Miss Julia. She enjoys seducing the young man, who is apparently educated but turns out to be an insensitive brute. Strindberg obviously did not believe or approve of feminism. Strindberg’s heroine’s life is ruined once she lowers herself to the servants’ level, by having sex with her father’s employee. Strindberg gives her two choices, either to steal money and leave behind everything she knows for a new life elsewhere, or to kill herself. Strindberg has her choose death. Fortunately we do not have such moral absolutes in the 21st century.

There is still a lot to look forward until the end of August, from José Carreras, to Leonard Cohen, to Marisa Monte, to Gilberto Gil and other great Brazilian singers in the various stages around the bay, and jazz in the dramatic stage of the XV century fort in Cascais. Meanwhile, there are always the fireworks over the bay at midnight.

NB: Sorry the photos are not up to par. Between the darkness and my excitment, the camera got in the way.


  1. Desejo-lhe um Verão inesquecível!!!!

    um beijinho

  2. Wonderful descriptions, makes me want to get out and see more of art as a surround...

    Very envious about Marisa Monte. I have heard she comes here sometimes, must check again.

  3. I think the photos are marvelous, lighting, etc. notwithstanding. They, along with your words, convey the mood of the summer night and the crowds as well as what you are watching.
    Those of the paintings are very clear and sharp. And such an intricate painting. I am not familiar with this one. It will take some close examination.

  4. What a wonderful description of a lovly night and obviously of more to come.

  5. Good morning from Athens,
    first of all would like to thank you for your comment. Half past five already, sun soon to rise again, but very much worth to spend time reading what you wrote.
    So nice to read that people are still interested in life and culture, even during hot temperatures of summer.
    Just returned from Vienna, where I spend two out of four afternoons inside of museums.
    Wish you a nice start into the new week.

  6. Celeste,
    Thank you so much for sharing your fabulous evenings in Portugal! That Strindberg play sounds a bit depressing! Teresa Is here with me, we have been visiting you together and enjoying every second. Teresa loves the photographs and the lively words.
    She will phone you when she goes to Lisbon on the 29th for a few days.
    I agree with Bobbie that the photos convey the summer evening beautifully.
    You looked ravishing that evening of the Sao Carlos!
    Your description of the Bosch painting is fantastic and so true!
    You are a force of nature, a vibrant manifestation of Divine Energy, you are a Winged Victory!!! As the Bodhi tree, with deep roots and thousands of branches and enormous strength and beauty.
    Another triumph!

  7. Your pictures are so wonderful and so much going on. We don't have that much going on in our small town even though we live just minutes from the capitol of our state. I envy you.


  8. Hi Celeste,
    So very nice to meet you. It is not often that I meet someone with the same name. I was named after my grandmother Celestina, which was made shorter when I started school, to Celeste.

    Thank you for your visit to my blog and your kind comments.
    I have so enjoyed visiting you as well and reading your lovely posts and viewing your great pictures.
    I invite you to come by anytime and I look forward to visiting you again soon.

    Have a wonderful day and great week.
    Celestina Marie

  9. Spectacular pictures!! I am so sorry I did not get back to you yesterday but my modem was down most of the day, so I could not get on line much. Last night I wrote a group thank you to all who
    expressed their interest in my wonderful son. He was a joy and I miss him terribly and I want to thank you for your kind words. You are right, their is nothing harder than to watch a child, no matter how old or how young they are, leave us. I will not dwell on that anymore. It throws me for a curve each birthday and Christmas. He died Dec 21, 1992 but never a day goes by that I din't think of him. Thanks again for sharing your pictures and experiences.

  10. Celeste,
    Beautiful entry. I especially love the picture showing the crowd, stage and water..
    I am envious!
    Thank you for sharing a beautiful summer night.

  11. Yes beautiful post and inspiring photos.

  12. What a treasure to be entertained with special events of the summer. I hope you still wore you red toenails too.

  13. Your photos looked fine to me! Your summer sounds so much fun! (it's curently winter here in Australia :( I love the work of Hieronymus Bosch, but sadly I've only ever seen picures of his art in books. I'm a big fan of Gilberto Gil. To see him and other Brazilian performers would be such a thrill! Your blog is lovely!

  14. Celeste for people like me who have only been to areas close to Nebraska, this is a joy to follow your pictures and your descriptions and it makes me feel that I am seeing a little more of the world. Thank you for sharing. Lucy

  15. Must have been quite an evening! Wonderful to read about, and so very different than my life at this moment in time. So, great to see!

  16. I didn't find them bad if not superb! Thanks for sharing :)

    Moon and Sun in One Photograph

  17. The photos, the words, and the hope therein are quite up to par........I'm reading on with great enjoyment.

  18. Celeste you are probably gone by now but if you get online somewhere you will know I am thinking of you and hope you have a great time, expecially with a dog for company.

  19. I still remember the first time I sood before Bosch's Temptation of St. Anthony at the Museu de Arte Antiga and forgot to follow all the other kids on the tour. It is breathtaking!

  20. Outdoor stage, very entertaining, beautiful summer you had. Yeah about the heading was taken in Kruger Safari Park. Before it was me walking at Der Rhine tourist place. Hope you are enjoying Madrid, I know you always do :)Gracias :)