Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Cultural Outings for Dummies

We saw this ballet, "Coppelia," at the Opera Bastille last week. I can't really tell you what it was about because I didn't buy a program and the storyline was a bit difficult to follow. Besides the usual leading man and leading lady, the ballet involved a crazed inventor, some automatons, and people in Eastern-European peasant garb, all dancing around in a medieval-looking village. You would think that something interesting could come of such a mix but in fact I found the piece rather boring, lacking in tension. It was not clear if the inventor was a "bad guy" because nothing bad happened to anyone, and similarly, the leading man didn't really do anything so great to prove that he was the "good guy." The prima ballerina danced very well, but neither she nor any of the others had that special charisma which keeps you riveted in your seat. As it was, I found myself being distracted by the amount of people coughing in the audience and wondering why they hadn't thought to bring cough drops or water when they knew they'd be sitting in a crowded theater for an hour and a half.

On the plus side, the sets were quite beautiful, but I was disappointed that there was no heart-soaring climactic moment -- you know, with lots of leaps and bounds, Baryshnikov-style. Of course, this is only the third ballet I've seen in Paris, and maybe the fifth I've seen in my life, so I don't pretend to be any kind of critic. The good news is that the tickets were cheap, each about the price of two movies, hence I don't feel bitter about the experience. On the contrary, there is something very satisfying about going to a big, public theater with lots of other people all dressed up to see a show, even if the show itself is kind of forgettable. (And even if now I am stuck with a throbbing headcold because of all those coughing germs, thank you very much.)


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