The Slovak National Theatre is a sort of reverse Tardis – big and grand on the outside, surprisingly intimate inside.
I had to hold back on a full report on my brief stay in the Slovakian capital. Now this article has been published in the paying press I can release it on the blog.
That’s a fine way to start a new year, and Bratislava is well worth a few days of any traveller’s time…
We canny travellers don’t usually buy the most expensive opera seats, but in Bratislava I make an exception. They’re a fraction of the price of the cheapest seats in that swanky opera house in that swanky city up the river.
I had my brilliant ‘Visit Bratislava’ idea just seconds after blanching at the hotel prices in neighbouring Vienna, the only place where I’ve seen ATMs issue €100 banknotes. They know you’ll need them there. Continue reading
‘Barman’ at Cafe Iruna, Pamplona Spain.
During our visit to the opera at Soestdijk Palace, where the performance took place on (and often in) the lake, discussion turned to staging shows in unusual venues.
There are a couple of wonderful videos of impromptu opera performances on YouTube. Thanks, Duncan, for directing me to this one in Cafe Iruna in Pamplona, Spain. I feel particularly warm towards it, having enjoyed a good meal here in May.
I’m not the first to discover the YouTube clip – five million people have already watched it, and so should everybody else. Continue reading
Fire on the water, Orfeo ed Euridice, Paleis Soestdijk. (Still shot from de Utrechtse Spelen YouTube promo video.)
We’ve seldom gone to so much trouble to see an opera, and seldom enjoyed one more.
As the gates opened for the Utrechtse Spelen production of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice by the lake behind Soestdijk Palace, so did the heavens. The audience was drenched before the show began. Continue reading
We rode our bikes to the Nederlands Opera last night. It felt a bit strange, dressed in our finest, pedalling around the canals, then joining the Dutch artistic elite in the foyer of the Muziektheater. (This is all a shamelessly contrived introduction so that I can write about opera on a travel blog…)
The show was Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore – the Elixir of Love. We sat down the front, so from our angle it was hard to read the Dutch supertitles, and we don’t speak Italian. However we got the general idea of the story. For those who may have forgotten the plot of L’elisir d’amore, here’s my best guess at what was going on…
A lot of large singing red bottles arrive at a garbage dump and stand around the rusting body of a big American car (maybe a Pontiac). A young man is lying in an old bathtub near some car tyres, singing a song. He is poor, because he wears shorts and braces and socks under his sandals. He is in love with a lady who is also having a bath in the middle of the dump. She is rich because her bath has modern taps and bubbles in it.
Some bodybuilding soldiers arrive. I think they’re supposed to be a Colombian militia, because they wear rough jungle fatigues. Their leader drops in by parachute, sings a song and gets into the bath with the beautiful lady. This makes the young man in the socks and sandals jealous.
Then an Elvis impersonator arrives with some showgirls and sells the young man a bottle of claret. The young man drinks the claret, but in the meantime it seems that the beautiful lady is going to marry the Colombian militia leader. This would be a bad thing because we can see he’s a show-off.
After the interval the young man gets a new suit and singing girls in bikinis drape themselves around him. The beautiful lady changes her mind and goes off with the young man, which is good because the militia guy looked like a jerk and nobody except the bodybuilders seemed to like him. Elvis and the showgirls sing another song, and everybody bows while we stand up and clap.
It was all good fun, the music was great, and we were pleased to see lots of other well-dressed opera buffs unchaining their bikes and heading off down the cycle path when it was over.