"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."  --William Shakespeare

Entries in Opera House (1)

Saturday
Nov122011

Fairies in Pastel

Gold balconies. Plush red seats. A spectacular painted curtain in burgundy and gold, with a real rope pull.

We’ll look at the Marc Chagall ceiling later. Who are the gold figures on either side of the stage? Are they muses? Gods and goddesses? Richard thinks one could be Dionysus, with a mask of drama raised above his face.

The curtain rises. The orchestra music swells. Four blue fairies come springing out onto the stage. I’m flooded with tears. They are so light, so quick, and the music mirrors their leaps. One princess in white dances among them. Eight women in various pastel colors circle her. A fairy in pale yellow-green arrives.

 

 

Tears for the artistry of the French. Tears for our friend who is ill. Tears for the nine months of a neighbor who won’t be reasonably quiet “because she doesn’t feel like it,” and who’s hurting our sleep. Tears for someone I love who told me to stop writing this journal, and focus on fiction. Tears for all the women who for centuries have been silencedtold by their husbands or families not to work, to serve them instead.

Isn’t it strange how beauty can release sadness?

The yellow and blue fairies dash about the stage. A man in brown-green, a forest man, comes out among the trees made of ropes, and plays hide and seek with a blue fairy with a few sparkles on his skin.

Two by two, Cossacks in Russian fur hats and fitted coats and boots, march forth, followed by Cossack maidens. Okay, now we’re seeing Christian Lacroix’s costuming genius. Their skirts are orange and red and gold, with soft red boots.

 

 

He has interwoven brocade patterns that look perfectly Russian, and also like the dresses he designed as a couturier.

Out comes a carriage, a stylized version of Cinderella’s pumpkin, and a tragic female emerges, looking like a nineteenth century European version of an “Oriental” woman. Hot pink top with gold thread. Turquoise skirt with silver thread. A gold diadem atop her head crowned with a fuchsia pom-pom.

Twelve maidens dance all around her in long kerchiefs, Cossack costumes and soft red boots that you can dance in. That seems like a feat in itself, to make shoes that look like boots, but allow dancers’ feet to be en pointe

A proud Cossack comes out on stage (you know he’s proud because he keeps holding out his arms straight, palms open in a gesture of Watch it, I’m in charge here). He dances with the Cossack princess, romantic, flirting, then with closed fists.

Then he does one of those Russian dances where you spin around and around. (I don’t, but apparently Russians do.)

 

 

Then, the princess points to a flower hanging from what looks like an orchid tree, suspended in the middle of the forest stage. The proud prince tries to climb up to get it, but his arms aren’t strong enough. He’s wasted all his energy on clenching his fists and pushing people away.

But the forest man can. He climbs up the rope and plucks a flower and hands it to the Cossack princess.

The prince is pissed, and fights with the forest guy, kills him, and puts the princess in the carriage and huffs off. 

A white fairy princess dances out from behind a tree, picks up the fallen orchid and brings it to Forest Man. He slowly revives. She cradles the flower, he reaches for it, she dances away. They dance together; he lifts her into the air. He is a tree. She is a swan.   

More fairies in white appear and circle the forest man. They dash away. Twelve more fairies emerge and all dance around the forest man and the white fairy princess.

The blue fairies and the yellow one join the dance, and then the yellow one passes the orchid to the white fairy princess, and threatening music begins.

Act One is over.

There is too much to see at the Opéra Garnier. It’s like walking around Versailles. You have to get a book to decipher all of its history and splendor, and luckily Richard finds one in the gift shop before we leave.

Act Two is full of intrigue, seductions and counter-seductions, so that you really don’t know who will win the Cossack woman’s heart at the end, the forest man, the proud prince, or Genghis Khan who only has about nine women already in his harem. But you can guess.

 

 

Later I learn that the proud prince was actually the Cossack woman’s brother, and that he was delivering her to the Khan. What I still didn’t understand was why one of the characters had to die. But I’m not going to ruin it for those of you who still haven’t seen La Source. This 1866 ballet was enchanting, but I did notice that all these women ever thought about was love. Didn’t they sometimes long for something to do?

 

 

And afterwards, we had drinks with two great friends who had invited us to spend his birthday at the ballet. We talked about boating around the rivers of Ireland. We talked about their plan to live part of the time in Paris. We talked about our beloved friend who is ill. We talked about my new challenge (inspired by TWO fairies), which is writing 1,000 stories in three years. A story a day, with one month off per year. I’m only on Day Three. But here’s my question: if those fairies in pastel could grant you a wish for your own work, your own artistry of whatever sort, what would it be? 

I’m asking a serious question here. I want to hear your answers. What else can possibly balance all the suffering in the world if not work? 

Oh yes, and love.

 

 

The pastel dancers in this article are from the streets of Paris, courtesy of the street artist Miss Tic.

 

 

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