Thanks, Andrew Lloyd Weber. Love that musical. Tonight while continuing with the game of “where to hang stuff to dry,” I needed music. While I almost selected The Messiah, I opted for Weber. And it reminded me – maybe I haven’t shared my Opera Garnier experiences with you.
Last year I went on a tour of the Opera House in French with a French friend. This year I went back with my niece for an English tour. The place is gorgeous. On a MUCH smaller scale, to me it rivals Versailles. And to see that entry stairway – that was replicated on stage in the Masquerade number. Oh my!
While on tour we were able to sit in the audience and marvel at the house. And see the Phantom’s box – “Box 5 is to be kept empty!” Yes. Box 5 has a sign on it saying The Phantom. In French.
But my experience was not complete without attending a show there.
With limited choices, I found an evening of the ballet. And I selected a box for the lowest price. I was so sorry I didn’t have a ball gown and opera fan and long gloves to make my entrance. (With sturdy walking shoes hidden under the silks, of course.) Even in casual dress, it was an experience. You could just imagine the scene in the early 1900s. Just think about all those paintings of Degas and the others. And as I was led to my box, I discovered it was Box 3 – right next to the Phantom’s box!
Do you know the history of the opera? And the box seats? They were meant more to be seen than to see. And that’s very true. You have a great view of the audience. And a limited view of the stage. During the entire production, I had to twist myself in the seat to watch the dancers. And twist my neck. OK. I left at the intermission. The ballet was good. I am just not a dance fanatic. Probably goes back to when I was a theatre student and had to run lights for a dance show. It’s not easy to figure out lighting cues on a dance show. But the whole evening at the Opera Garnier was magical. And now I have all those memories running through my head as I listen to the soundtrack.
The French may love American movies, but they have not discovered the musical theatre – neither American nor British. When the local theatre put on a stage version of Singing in the Rain last year, it was a sellout. They even brought it to Broadway for a short run. Probably the fact it was based on the American movie with Gene Kelly was the reason it was so popular. And it was great so that helped. The theatre then put on Kiss Me Kate – but that was when I was back in the States. A couple weeks ago I went to their latest: 42nd Street! Full on Broadway musical. Full of tap dancing and energy. Several of the actors from Singing in the Rain were also in this. I was so impressed with their command of English. Wow. But I read somewhere that it’s easier to sing without an accent than to speak without one. Must be true. I was so impressed I wanted to know more about them.
Ha. Turns out the leads are all either English or American. No wonder they have such a command… Oh well. It was still fun.