Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Kill the Wabbit! Kill the Wabbit!

On Thursday, Becca and I decided to get dressed like real adults and take in a night at the Hungarian Opera House.  Though the season is over, they are having a special festival right now and performing a couple of Verdi's operas. 
First though, we showed up in the afternoon, dripping wet, and after donning protective gear toured the beautiful building. The Budapest Opera House is supposed to be one of the nicer ones on the continent, though much smaller than LaScala, etc.. It actually had made the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph jealous by being nicer than the one in Vienna and by being the first to encorporate a number of technological inventions (such as the first such building to have fire safety attributes and to incorporate air conditioning: blocks of ice under a vent under each seat!). It's just a beautiful, opulent building and we were excited to think about the fact that a few hours later we would be climbing those stairs ourselves.
For the evening, we had tickets to Il Troubador, evidently one of Verdi's most musically impressive but ridiculously plotted operas ( the link). Needless to say the best investment of the evening was the program with an english speaking synopsis of the opera (and of course some opera glasses).
It was the first opera for both of us, and we actually enjoyed it more than I think either of us thought we would (in addition to just enjoying the whole scene of being there).  Fortunately, as this is one of the big time places, the opera was subtitled (since it was performed in Italian). Unfortunately, since we're in Budapest it was subtitled in Hungarian. Ah well...we just had to rely on the program notes and our imagination.
A couple more thoughts about the evening:
a) it was really fun to put on the one nice outfit we had packed and pretend to be real people for the evening
b) we would get really excited the couple of times we either recognized a word or two in Italian or even more rarely, recognized one of the pieces of music. The most famous (to the non-opera connoseurs) part is probably the Anvil Chorus.
c) the budapest opera is probably the cheapest world class opera to see. The most expensive seats (in Empress Sissy's old box) were probably about 75 dollars, standing room ticks were 1 dollar, and our upper level seats were about 16 dollars. Not bad.
d) after being all excited about getting to room these grand staircases and rooms and walk in through the fancy lobby and then into the concert hall for real during the opera we were totally denied. See...our seats were where the commoners would sit back when, so there was actually a separate entrance around the side of the building and you climbed up some side stairs to the top, never actually entering the rarified areas where the nobles socialized. Good thing we took the tour! Though to be fair, the view from our seats wasn't too shabby.
All in all a great cultural experience and we both safely say that we enjoyed the opera alot more than either of us would have imagined.  Perhaps we will try to take in another one before we head out of Europe!
-The Newly Cultured Brian & Becca (yes, a joint post!)

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