Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Bolshoi and the bakery


Tuesday, June 28, 2005 5:06:04 AM

I actually got a straight 8 hours sleep last night - but my timing was still off a bit. Went to sleep about 6 PM, and got up at 2 AM. Now it is dawn, and I am in the office.

Haven't written about the Bolshoi yet - and we went Sunday night. The theater is neo-classical on the exterior - complete with an entirely nude Apollo with 4 horse in giant bronze atop the entrance. The entrance portico has the Atheneum look - Corinthian columns with the angled roof. Inside the theater is a typical older theater - limited walking space in the entrance and hallways. They are meant to convey people in and out without much dallying about. Then you enter the theater proper. Wood floors throughout - real wood, and real hardwood at that. The Czar's box dominates the space dead opposite the stage. There are six sets of box seats, five in balconies. I realize that a modern "nosebleed" seat in an American coliseum is higher, but these really look high up! The seats in the middle are chairs. That's right -chairs. Plush bottom, wooden, armrests and wooden ladder-back chairs. They are fastened in rows on metal frameworks. The frames are very unobtrusive tho. And, the chairs are quite comfortable. While we got cheap seats (1850 rubles, or about $65), we are actually in a very nice position - straight out from center stage, and a little closer to the stage than the back of the theater. When the dancers come out we can hear their steps clearly.

The orchestra and acoustics are lovely - warm, balanced and friendly, not overpowering or thin or favoring one range over another. I do wish the orchestra were a little louder, but they are fine, and top quality musicians. The dance pieces are very entertaining, and the audience is enthusiastic. Almost all of the numbers are accorded bravos - and instead of standing ovations, here they clap rythmically, all the audience together, until another bow is performed. We saw quite a few bows, and many bouquets of flowers presented to the primary ballerinas, and even a couple to the men.

I sit through 3 and one half hours of dance. Two intermissions, on the second I have to locate the bathrooms. That was an interesting problem, since I don't know the Russian - either print or spoken - for bathrooms. However, I once again find a gracious and concerned hostess who perceives the probable direction of my wandering, and points me in the right direction with a couple of English words. It was a lovely night, and I think I could do that every once in a while. Given the human dimensions of the theater, and the attitudes of the audience and the company, I think I would enjoy this occasionally.

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John had told me of this little French bakery a few days ago, and last night I walked by while they were still open. I buy a few mini-quiche, a couple of brown bread rolls (which turn out to be a mild rye/pumpernickel/wheat mix), and a brown flat muffin looking thingy. The brown muffin thingy turns out to be an apple cake - quite good. The bread is excellent, as are the quiche. While I got two varieties, they both have ham. However, they don't have that somewhat ugly flavor/aftertaste I usually associate with ham in a quiche. Very enjoyable, a nice evening snack, and breakfast the next day.

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