Sunday, November 6, 2011

My first ballet in Astana

Friday, 28 October 2011

It wasn't until the end of last school year that I finally managed to get on the US Embassy's unofficial newsletter, a bi-monthly email with information about goings-on in Astana. So now, every two weeks, I learn about events such as ballets and operas, as well as symphonies, art exhibits, and other information.

The National Ballet & Opera Theater is located by the train station, an odd location for such a place, since that area isn't exactly the nicest area of town, nor is it near much else. And as far as I know, tickets have to be bought from there (but maybe I'm wrong?)

Most ballets and operas are Friday, Saturday, or Sunday evenings, and this year my friend's daughter has afternoon school -- half-day classes from 2 until 7 pm, Monday through Saturdays. And Sophia & I have church Sunday evenings. So it's difficult to fit in an opera or ballet.

But "Coppelia" (a ballet) was showing on Friday, 28 October, and Sophia & I were on Fall Break, and my friend decided that she and her daughter would just show up late. So Sophia & I took bus 12 for quite some ways to the theater to get tickets, and on Friday we went to the ballet.

We paid 1000 Tenge (under $7) for our tickets and had good seats, near the front. The theater is small, so just about everyone can see, but it's also very beautiful, very elaborately decorated inside. I later learned that the cheap balcony seats are awful--you can't see the entire stage.

My friend didn't show up until Intermission, which was good, because I was worried I'd get in trouble when my cell phone beeped (I told her to text me when she arrived, because I had her tickets). And luckily it was a 3-act play, so we still had 2 acts to go.

Not the most impressive story (guy falls in love with a doll, girlfriend pretends she's a doll to show him how ridiculous it is to love a doll, then they marry and everyone dances). But a weak story can make for a great ballet, and it was really well-done and the dancing was impressive to watch.

The audience really got into it, and during the final act they clapped enthusiastically in beat to the music. We all cheered quite a bit when it ended.

My friend's daughter wanted her picture taken with a ballerina, so after it ended, we climbed on stage and went backstage. No one told us not to, so we went backstage and met some of the dancers. They were all very friendly and quite happy to have their photo taken with Sophia and her friend. The lead ballerina talked to us for a while. She's 18 and has been practicing ballet for 8 years now.

I was happy that Sophia and her friend enjoyed it; we look forward to going to a ballet or opera again soon!

(Update--That night we learned that the opera "Madame Butterfly" would be playing Monday, 7 November, which is a Kazakh holiday, meaning we both would be free to go. After getting a co-teacher to watch Sophia, I took the bus to the theater after school one day--to find out it'd been canceled! The whole trip took close to two hours, just for nothing! On a positive note, I learned that I knew the Russian word for "canceled".)

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