Monday, July 21, 2014

The Chamber Hall of the Opera & Ballet Theatre

October 2014

My first visit to the new, lavish Opera & Ballet Theatre of Astana, Kazakhstan, was to a concert in its Chamber Hall. The Chamber Hall is a smallish room, lavishly decorated with painted horses on the ceiling.

This event was a fantastic experience, and I only wish I'd had the foresight to take Sophia with me! But you never know ahead of time...

The first half consisted of short pieces, usually with only a few musicians, usually showing off a particular kind of muscial instrument. There was a “contest” between two violinists, wherein they each played a piece (separately) named after an insect (such as a bee), and they had a time limit. The conductor put his computer on stage and set the timer. They had to beat the timer. One guy almost made it, he was a few seconds short. But the second guy beat it.

Then, a small group played “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Edward Grieg. The lights were dimmed, and they came on slowly, with makeup on (maybe to look like trolls?) and one wore a fake crown.

I don't know my musical instruments well, I think another group consisted of cello players. They seemed to have a blast playing, smiling and laughing as they twirled their cellos.

Before the intermission, the conductor explained that for the final piece, the entire orchestra was needed and there just wasn't enough room on stage. So the people in the first row had to move. During intermission, they moved chairs to ground level. We were in the second row, so this meant we were extremely close to the musicans.

They played “Carmen Suite” by Shchedrin, music based on the opera “Carmen” by Bizet. I love the opera, but had never heard this version before, and was quite enthralled.

Overall, this experience at the Opera Theatre was quite marvelous. The musicians were quite happy and thrilled to be there, the music itself filled the air, and the setting (Chamber Hall) was exquisite.
The gorgeous ceiling in the Chamber Hall

Playing "Carmen Suite" - so close!

The exquisite entrance hall to the Opera & Ballet Theatre

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