Still working backwards: Saturday was a full, fun day. We started with a visit to the Picasso Museum, whose main interest for me is the 1950s series of paintings dedicated to Velazquez's Las Meninas. I never tire of admiring Picasso's obsessive homage to the master. (One of the Fallas in Valencia this year played with the idea of a Time Machine and included among its many 'sketches' Velazquez jumping forward to the XX century to strangle Picasso for his 'heretical' interpretations of his work.) From the museum it was a stroll through the "barrio gótico" and a failed visit to the cathedral- something going on with a bishop, so it was closed to tourists. Then we walked over to La Rambla and up to La Boqueria, the famous central market. Tourist madness! It's just incredible what a tourist magnet Barcelona has become ever since the 92 olympics; that's old news, but this year seemed worse than ever. I thought we were in some kind of huge economic crisis? After the market we sent the students off to explore on their own and Asun, Daniela and I took a taxi up to Parc Güel, the Gaudi designed park. More tourist madness! Then a quick stop at the hotel before starting our stroll in search of lunch. We lucked out again: La Botiga, a simple, contemporary kind of place with excellent food. I had black rice with a dab of ali oli that was wonderful, but I admit not as incredible as the one we were lucky enough to have late last summer at Estado Puro in Madrid (see "Madrid", 9/15/08). Daniela's cod was fantastic, and Asun's monkfish was apparently exquisite. After lunch we continued our walk down La Rambla towards our destination, El Liceu, the famous Barcelona opera house where we were going to see Nederlands Dance Theatre. The Liceu suffered a devastating fire back in 1994 and had to be completely rebuilt. Well, they did a fantastic job, that's for sure. It's quite reminiscent of the Teatro Real in Madrid, but a little bigger and with all kinds of contemporary comforts. It has a good sized orchestra section with layers of vertical u-shaped rings going straight up to the ceiling. I would guess it seats about 1500, maybe 2000. The dance was interesting. We enjoyed the first half of the program ("Silent Screen") very much, but the second piece ("Tar and Feathers") was hard to figure. It was inspired by a very late poem by Samuel Beckett, "What is the Word?" Dance? The whole experience to me seemed rather pretentious and ultimately unconvincing. Charlotte Kasner, in a review from a performance last year, called it "a real downer". My evaluation was pretty much the same as hers: "much slapping of flesh against flesh and frantic flapping of arms and hands to no particular avail. It all became far too much when dancers ran on in a parody of ballet tutus that rattled like dried bones. Too long, too empty and too, too self-indulgent... The music was murdered Mozart."And what's with the title? Absolutely nothing to suggest it, neither in the Becket poem nor in the dance. Nonetheless, we had a grand time and it was a satisfying experience. Back to Friday, very briefly: we visited Gaudi's Sagrada Familia and Casa Milá, a modernist apartment building that is actually quite interesting. And another spectacular lunch at a place whose name now escapes me. The perfect cod! And we finished Friday in fine fashion: Mozart's Requiem performed by the Prague National Chamber Orchestra and Choir at Santa Maria del Mar, a huge, beautiful gothic church with seating for a good two thousand people. That was Mozart. Sublime. (In the photo, Daniela and me at the Liceu.)