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The Best Show on Television

Laurence Jarvik

Posted on April 27, 2020 14:26

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...May be 24/7 coverage of a Northern Royal Albatross nest near Dunedin, New Zealand.

One compensation of isolation has been watching television from all over the world on the internet, providing much-welcomed distractions from news about the Coronavirus.

The recent Metropolitan Opera At-Home Gala featured stars singing from their homes. American soprano Erin Morley stole the show by accompanying herself on the piano in Connecticut. Other superb performers included Roberto Alagna and Aleksandra Kurzak in France, Angel Blue in New Jersey, Lawrence Brownlee in Florida, Diana Damrau and Nicolas Testé in France, Rene Fleming in Virginia,  Gunther Groissböck in Switzerland, Jonas Kaufmann in Germany, Anna Netrebko in Austria, Lisette Oropesa in Louisiana, and Bryn Terfel with Hannah Stone in Wales.

Hosted by General Manager Peter Gelb and Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the almost four-hour-long production reminded me of a television "special" from my childhood. It was a reminder that talent doesn't need expensive sets, costumes or flashy stage direction to shine.

Another favorite is Philip Mould's "Art in Isolation," produced by his son Oliver on an iPhone at their country house in England. Art-dealer Mould is famous as co-host of BBC TV's "Fake or Fortune," on the air for a decade in Britain.

However, instead of jetting around the world to discover lost masterpieces in Paris, Florence, or New York, Mould now just goes from room to room in his house, and sometimes his garden, showing his collection. He even sits in a wing-chair like Alistair Cooke on Masterpiece Theatre, generating a nostalgic glow.

Yet my favorite program of all must be 24/7 coverage of a nest at the Royal Albatross Centre on the Otago Peninsula near Dunedin, New Zealand, like PBS's 1971 "An American Family" for birds.

The nest is currently occupied by a female Northern Royal Albatross chick nicknamed "Pippa." She may be watched on her own YouTube channel as she readies herself for her first flight, which may come in September.

Pippa hatched at the end of January from an egg laid in November 2019. Her mother, nicknamed "YRK" for her yellow and red tag, and her father, named "OGK," for the orange and green on his leg, took turns sitting on the egg, night-and-day, for months through wind, rain, storm, sun and dark of night.

Nowadays Pippa's parents come and go, fishing daily to feed their amazingly rapidly growing chick — who seems to have thrilling adventures despite staying home in her nest, just like TV viewers in isolation.

She's been visited by feral cats, brush-tail possums, owls, and hawks, as well as bunny rabbits. These potential predators and friends alike may be observed thanks to a night-vision camera installed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Sometimes Albatrosses try to force her out of the nest, pecking or biting furiously. Sometimes flocks sing to her, or males do mating dances. Occasionally she just waddles off-screen after rearranging her nest ... creating mystery and suspense.

Yet Pippa keeps busy — an example to us all.

Laurence Jarvik

Posted on April 27, 2020 14:26

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