Saturday, October 27, 2012

A whirlwind trip to the Big City:Part II. The Bolshoi Theatre

The metro station 'teatralnaya' just two stops from the hotel where we stayed

 Im gonna cheat a bit here and post lots of photos and the article that my daughter Elsa wrote for our local paper, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. This post isn't directly related to the work Im here to do, but it is really important from the perspective of our experiences as visitors to Russia and especially Moscow. In about 2003 I was lucky enough to see the Russian National Ballet perform in that incredible theatre. I remember there was something special about that night because a Ballerina who was a favorite of the people was dancing, and there had been talk of her being 'too big' and the company not being happy with it or something.  I think that night people were out to show their appreciation and love.  I dont even remember what ballet it was, but it was my first time in Russia and I was with some amazing Adirondackers.  We were on our way to Irkutsk, with Dan Plumley as our leader.  I think it was the most 'romantic evening' I have ever spent.  In the most grand sense it was 'romantic'.  The balconies and seats all plush red with gold trim on everything.  The ceiling was painted with angelic figures.   The lights on the sides of the Theatre were so ornate and a huge chandelier was  hanging in the middle. 
The newly renovated Bolshoi theatre, Moscow
We were up high but directly in the center, and I don't care if the seats are considered less valuable, it was amazing getting that perspective on the whole affair and a great view of the orchestra pit.  I remember distinctly being shocked when the audience broke out in applause in the middle of some parts of the performance.  Lots of emotion, not the stayed silence we have come to know in the middle of these types of things in the States..

 Anyway, a little trot down memory lane! But I remember wishing my girls could see it. And so, it was first on our list of things we had to do if there was a performance to see when we were in Moscow.  The Theatre is just very recently renovated.. but more on that from Elsas article in a minute.
We saw La Traviatta. Thank goodness for two lovely Irishwomen sitting next to us who knew something about opera, and gave us the general story line. At the intermission, there was champagne and gorgeous food and snacks to be purchased in a lovely cafe. Just not much time to eat if you are at the end of the line, but we got some drinks and strawberries, just to say we did. 
The whole inside of the building outside of the main theatre, stairs and walls etc. is some kind of light colored marble.. I think.. Its just stunning. And another sophisticated thing is that in Russia in many places you dont have to take your coat, you leave it in the gardarobe, at no cost, and get a ticket so there are no coats over the backs of seats (even in the Universities, you cant bring coats into classes)

      The opera was in Italian and the sub-titles were in Russian. I was so fixated on trying to read a word or two of the subtitles, I didnt delve into the opera emotionally too deeply, but it didnt matter to me. The two leads were great, there were beautiful arias, some fun dance numbers. At the end, Willa was pretty sleepy (to be expected, it was late) and Elsa had tears running down her cheeks. Pretty cool.
Elsas article is below and really says it all.  Enjoy!

From Russia with: A Grand Performance.



            During my recent five day-long vacation in Moscow, I was privileged enough to witness something most people may only dream of.  I am very proud to inform anyone who may be reading, that I saw an Italian opera in the Bolshoi Theater!

            Walking in was like stepping back into the 1800's because that is the style of the building and the furniture and... In fact the only thing that was not styled in 1800's fashion were the people who, though dressed in fancy attire, were not wearing ball gowns. 

          Just a few facts about Bolshoi: First, six months ago it was refurbished. Thankfully the design and color were kept the same, a rich red with gold-leaf accents.  The refurbishing took 6 years! Second, this theater is pretty old. There has been a theater across from Red Square since 1776 (until 1812, when it burned down, a theater called the Petrovka Theater stood were the Bolshoi stands now).  In 1825 the new Bolshoi Theater held its grand opening.  And, on Friday October 12th 2012, I went and saw La Traviatta, an Italian opera.

            We were in the fourth balcony (the cheap seats) so we had a nice view of the grand chandelier as well as the performance. We also got a pretty nice view of the ceiling. It was, like any other ceiling you may expect to find in an old important Russian building, painted with Angels and such things. The opera was a tragic romance (go figure) about a woman – of the wrong sort -  with T.B. who could not marry the Gentleman she loved.  From what I've heard of operas this is to be expected.  Despite the sadness, her death in the finale and the other depressing parts, it was still very beautiful and certainly made an impression.

            October 12th 2012 was not all together a pleasant day.  It was drizzly and gray but for some reason the dreary effect such days often have on me, did not come. No, that day i spent traipsing around Moscow city with a rainbow umbrella (which I lost by the end of our expedition) and two Moscow State University students who were kind enough to show us their home “town.”  It really is a beautiful city.  They say that the ones who come to Moscow, always come back.  I totally and completely 100% believe it.   New York City is big, 319 square miles to be exact.  Think of all the things to see in that city... billions. Now double that and that’s the size of Moscow.  Just think about the history that has taken place in Moscow! There are buildings that have been around since the 1500s! I'm generally not a fan of cities but this one’s amazing!  So to wrap up the rambling, I agree, that one time in Moscow and you're guaranteed another trip.




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