* Between The Sea (the Med) and The Alps -- {Pronounce: ontruh la mair eh lay zalp}

Sunday, March 26, 2017

An evening with Carmen

Evening with Carmen 1Some British friends of ours decided to treat themselves to a trip to the opera when they came down for their annual winter visit.  After booking about six months in advance, they found that they were going to be unable to attend after all.  However, rather than letting the tickets go to waste, we were asked if we were available and interested.

Well, let's see.  Would it be interesting enough to skip one of our two weekly chorale practices?  What a hard choice! 

Thus, we ditched sweaters and jeans and decked ourselves out in more fancy duds and took ourselves into the Old Town for a delightful evening of culture.

Evening with Carmen 2
Doc Leo actually going to the opera!  What a handsome fella!
The weather was supposed to be just awful, but it managed to behave itself until after the performance, at which point it wasn't so much of an issue.  However, we apparently lost power at our house shortly after we left, and it looked like perhaps we missed a fairly large storm, so we felt fairly blessed we managed to stay dry. 

There isn't a lot of street space in front of the theatre, but I did manage to catch Doc Leo waiting his turn at the entrance.

Evening with Carmen 3
Lady Liberty

While there has been a theatre at this location since 1776, a previous building burned down and was replaced by this one in 1885, now classified as an historical monument. 

It was designed by a student of Gustave Eiffel, but it's probably just a coincidence that a new replica of the Statue of Liberty is located across the street (inaugurated in 2014) behind the building.  It can seat almost 1,100 people and is also home to the local 100-piece Philharmonic Orchestra.

Evening with Carmen 4
Modern electronic ticket

Carmen is a four-act French opera by Bizet, first performed in Paris in 1875, just a few years before this opera house was built.  It's one of the most popular and frequently performed operas.  This particular performance actually takes place in 1936, rather than during the original 1820's.  Despite being in French, I only understood a few words here and there.  I don't know if better French speakers could follow the story or not.

As a small child, I had a record with one of the most famous arias, The Toreador Song, as the background for a story about little budding matadors in Spain playing with bulls in a field (exciting tension when one of them charges the boys!).  I can't find anything about that record now, and I had no clue for many years that the music was from an opera.  But I have retained fond memories of that record, probably making Carmen my own favorite opera.

Evening with Carmen 5
Partying in the loges

While I obviously could not take any photos of the performance, the artists, or the costuming, we did have the right to visit the building, so I thought I would take you on a tour of a typical European opera house.  (You can see a few professionally gorgeous photos here.)

Evening with Carmen 6
View of the interior of the opera house from a loge.

This one was conceived in an Italian style, which is why the loges were designed as little private salons, creating an appearance of many bay windows scattered around the main room.

Our seats were actually on benches above the top row of loges, but these boxes were twice the price!

Evening with Carmen 7
The beautiful chandelier
Because we were seated fairly high up, that put us quite close to the lovely chandelier holding 600 bulbs.

Evening with Carmen 8
Bas relief above the stage
We also had a close-up view of the décor at the ceiling level above the stage.

Evening with Carmen 9
The stage
Evening with Carmen 10
Our view of the Philharmonic Orchestra

Although we did have to lean over the railing to fully see the stage, we did have a decent view of it as we were only about halfway back. 

The Doc was especially pleased to have such good access for viewing the orchestra, something the more expensive seats did not have.

Evening with Carmen 11
The ground floor filling up

By the time the performance started, I think just about every seat was filled.

Evening with Carmen 12
Spying into the VIP box
While I was admiring the view and trying to take focused photos, the Doc happened to recognize the occupant of the VIP box.  He was a fairly important regional politician who has been at many of our village activities over the years.  He doesn't know us personally, but he does recognize us when he sees us around.  So that was a rather fun addition to the evening, too.

Evening with Carmen 13
In the lounge

In case it's interesting just how we attended this glamorous affair, I thought I'd show you what we wore.  I made myself a silver and white brocade jacket just for the occasion, as well as a little sleeveless sweater. 

Evening with Carmen 14
Checking out the view from a miniature salon
Doc Leo was all set with the new shirt and jacket I'd just made him for his birthday.

We were some of the best dressed there on this particular evening, but we also were probably among a very limited group sporting attire created by their own personal couturiere and tailor.

Evening with Carmen 15
Beautiful artwork
Evening with Carmen 16
VIP caryatid
All in all, it was a fabulous experience and a delightful evening.  I think the last time I was at an actual opera was back when our school put on annual performances.  At the time, I did not appreciate all this weird foreign heavy music.  It does make a difference seeing it performed in its original setting, however.

On the other hand, the Doc was on the crew working those productions, so being on the audience side was a different perspective for him.  I'm sure it was also fairly nostalgic of our own days long gone by.

So here's a tremendous thank you to our friends who thought of us when they had to miss out on their own experience.


  1. I'm not a huge fan of opera but I'm sure hearing it in a place like that would be completely different. I'm with Dad: watching the orchestra would have been icing on the cake. His jacket looks really nice "in real life" which sometimes isn't obvious in pattern review pics.

  2. Oh my gosh! What a fabulous opportunity! You both look stunning! Carmen is one of my favorite operas and Leah and I are hoping to get to go in September when it returns to the Music Center... How special! Love both your outfits and what a gorgeous opera house! Good for you!

  3. Barbara, you both look wonderful. Craig is smashing in his outfit, and your jacket is beautiful. The opera house is like a little jewel box.
    What a wonderful gift, and of all the Operas, Carmen is so lively and colorful.


Blogger seo tips