Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bolshoi: A grand performance!

Hi, everyone!  First off, I'm sorry I didn't get this up sooner.  I wanted to do it the moment I finished watching the performance.  Alas, I have to occasionally spend some time doing other things besides sitting around watching and writing about opera.  But be that as it may, here goes.  In short, it was a spectacular event!  The theater is beautiful, and the dimensions are staggering:

After a few minutes of opening remarks from Medvedev and shots of the auditorium, the curtain opened.... to several dozen construction workers with noisy machinery working on renovations!  Well, those construction workers turned out to be members of the chorus and orchestra, and they burst into Glinka's "Glory to the Russian People!"  The performance continued with an all-Russian program of opera, ballet, and various other orchestral and choral works.  At times during the evening (or morning, for us) the music would stop completely and we would be treated to various fully-staged street views of the theater from several points in its history.  And then there was the ballet.  Ballet doesn't usually do much for me, and at times I found my attention wandering from it.  But at others...  There was a beautifully elegant performance from Swan Lake, and the Polovetzian Dances from Prince Igor were a joy to watch.  And finally, the opera.  First of all, no Placido Domingo.  I guess squeezing a night in Moscow in between two nights in London would have been too much even for him.  The soprano bits were lovely but unmemorable, with Angela Gheorghiu, Natalia Dessay, and Violeta Urmana all giving nice enough performances.  I am pretty new to Russian opera, though, and I wasn't really familiar with anything they sang.  In fact, where Russian opera is concerned, I pretty much know Eugene Onegin and Prince Yeletsky's aria from The Queen of Spades.  Oh, but what an aria!  Performed, of course, by none other than the great Siberian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky.  I could go on about the rich, velvety voice, but I'd rather just share the moment we were all (or at least, I was) waiting for:

The evening finished off with nearly every singer and dancer on the stage for Tchaikovsky's Coronation March.  It was a truly grand event, and we were very fortunate to have the opportunity to participate!

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