Saturday, April 10, 2010

Almaty - Opera House

After eating at the restaurant, we continued our walk down Furmanov Street. I was interested in making it to Panfilov Park, which has a magnificent Russian Orthodox Cathedral, among other things.

As we were walking, we came across a large building to our left. "I think that's the opera house," Rebeca said. We decided it was worth checking out, and so we went in. We were lucky--it was the opera house, and a performance started in 10 minutes. Tickets for decent seats were 800 Tenge each, and we bought tickets before giving my brother and the girls a chance to weigh in with their opinion. "What is it?" my brother kept asking, and all I could say was, "I don't know." I could tell that the ballet "Sleeping Beauty" would be performed tomorrow night, ending half an hour before our plane took off. Bad timing.

It turned out to be a 2-hour composite, mixing scenes from opera and ballet. Rebeca says she thinks the performers were new performers, and this was a way of showcasing new talent. The opera hall was large and impressive, decorated in a way that made us feel extremely under-dressed. (I was wearing blue corduroy pants and white tennis shoes!!)

The girls amazingly were mostly good for the first hour. They giggled and wiggled a bit, but other people were whispering and cell phones went off, so I don't think Sophia & Alison were any more of an annoyance than others.

The audience clapped and cheered often. I had been taught to wait until the end of an act to clap or cheer, not just a dying down of the music, or an amazing leap. Perhaps it's Kazakh to clap often, perhaps it's because they were showing support for the new talent.

The first piece was a large group of people in traditional Kazakh costume, singing. After that, it was more European-style opera and ballet. A scene from "Sleeping Beauty" was included.

Halfway through, I took Sophia and Rebeca out for a much-needed break. But they were able to return and sit still for the remaining hour.

The second to last song was "Troubadour" from "Carmen," my favorite opera.

Leaving the opera house, we met one of the opera singers, which impressed the two girls, and they had their picture taken with her.

Sophia & Alison skipped and danced for quite a bit, singing in their best opera voices. I was glad that we'd decided to expose them to some culture.

We walked for quite a bit, but did manage to find a bus to take us home. The opera house is only two blocks from the street our apartment was on, but several kilometers away. When we got off the bus, we were quite lost and wandered for a bit before finding our home.

So, yes, we did spend quite a bit of the day going up and down a mountain that was, for all intents and purposes, closed, but in the end, I think it was a worthwhile day. Sophia & Alison played on a hill in the snow, we ate at a Russian-style restaurant, and we saw opera and ballet. A good day in Almaty.

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