Sunday, July 24, 2011

Carmen! Wien und Praha, Part XII

Last time, I left you just as a sprinted out of the metro station after a full day of touring Prague, possibly very late to see Carmen at the Státní Opera Praha.

April 12, 2011

I hastily arrived at my hotel room in sweaty disarray with approximately twenty minutes to eat, change, and walk to the opera. That morning, I had the foresight to set out everything I needed for the quick change, so in a whirlwind of flying clothes, shoes, and bags I transformed from City Tourist into Opera Enthusiast. With no time for a shower, my windblown and rain-soaked hair improved very little, but I was presentable. And praise the Lord for protein bars.

Mirror shot of my dress, the same one I wore to the Vienna Opera, in a different configuration:
Dressed up for Carmen at the Prague State Opera!

Out the door I flew! The opera house was only 1.2km from my hotel, but I was in heels and I quickly realized that in this shorter configuration, my dress was quite dangerous in the wind. Surely one of the most stressful walks ever concluded at the gorgeous venue with FIVE MINUTES TO SPARE.

Státní Opera Praha

I have a thing for ceilings.


Velvet and gold

I found my seat, which only cost about $40 and was incredible:
My seat at the Prague State Opera

This view would be a well over a hundred dollars at the Met in NY or the Vienna State Opera House. Note that this picture is not zoomed-in at all. It was my view of the stage:
This is not zoomed-in: this was my view!

Other boxes

My new opera glasses from the Naschmarkt in Vienna were wonderful. My other pair (left safely at home) have a higher zoom, but for this close of a seat, the Vienna glasses sufficed.
Vienna opera glasses chillin' in the Prague opera house.

The subtitles (...surtitles...) were in German, Czech, and English, conveniently.
Vienna opera glasses

Carmen was quite different from Anna Bolena (spoiler alert: except for the tragic ending). The music, of course, is universally recognizable:

The costumes, set, and overall tone were much brighter, more colorful, and quite merry (spoiler alert: until the end). It was beautiful to watch. It was more comfortable to watch--front row parterre box seat vs. back row balcony standing.

However. After such rich, breath-taking, chill-inducing voices in Vienna, only Carmen herself (played wonderfully by Jana Sýkorová) really stood out. Several other voices were jarring and thin. I also didn't resonate with the story. Carmen (the character) just bugged me.

I still completely enjoyed my evening. :)

Like the ticket, the intermission food and drink were quite cheap. I supplemented my earlier protein bar with a delicious prosciutto sandwich and a glass of champagne (as you do). Seats were scarce and my heel-clad feet hurt, so I made friends with an elegant gray-haired couple and shared their table.

Back in the theater, a nice person walking to his orchestra-level seat took my picture from below:
Enjoying my box seats.

The busy day started to catch up with me and I fought to stay awake. But I did, and it finished with a flourish:
Curtain Call!

Crowds of opera-goers headed my direction for a few minutes. Then, I was alone on the dimly-lit streets, trying to keep my dress from blowing away in the wind, not catch my heels in a cobblestone, and walk with purpose and authority should any disreputable person get any ideas. I reveled in the fact that I knew my little area of Praha well enough to do all of this without a map, wrong turn, or confused study of street signs. No one mugged me or even glanced at me shadily. I returned safely to my room, and collapsed, exhausted, in the aftermath of the evening's earlier hurricane.

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