Monday, July 5, 2010

Munich culture vulture style.


I know that Munich is really the land of pretzels, beer, and lederhosen, but that's too many empty (but delicious) carbs, alcohol, and uh, leather rash? for me. Instead, I went to three evening events: "100 Years of the Ballet Russe" at the Bavarian State Ballet, Don Giovanni at the Bavarian State Opera, and Carmen at the National Theater at Gaertnerplatz, which is a smaller, less expensive, more volksoper kind of place.

The ballet ad Don Giovanni were both at the National Theater, a glorious but smaller-than-the-Met venue. I sat in obstructed view for the ballet and had 'stehplatz' (standing room) for the opera. In both cases, the tickets were about €12-15 and were all I could get (except for like €200 seats) for both performances, so I was a pretty uncomfortable and missing about 1/3 of what was going on on stage.

I LOVE going to the ballet. I was especially happy to be in such a beautiful theater and the sound of the music when it started was sonorous and beautiful. The ballets themselves were weird and lovely. I've only been going to the NYC Ballet and only for the last two years, so that's all I can compare it to. I do think the NYC dancers are better--especially the men and the preciseness of the ensemble in the corps de ballet. On the other hand, it was great to see different repertoire. I had never seen Scherezade, and while I understand the context and reasons why the ballet is the way it is, I still found the Persian portrayal (or whatever it is) still a little laughable. Still, the music was wonderful and the orchestra really good. I also saw "Les Biches," a stylish French-set ballet by Nijinska (Nijinsky's sister) with music by Poulenc. Very interesting, different style of movement, very cool-hearted and cool. The last thing was a new ballet that was a modern kind of riff on Swan Lake and other Tchaikovsky ballets. There was a Batman-swan that would scoop the other swans and then there was this weird war between the snowflakes and the black diving swans. All to Tchaik Sixth Symphony. I don't know....But look at this glorious theater. And let's not think TOO hard on who might have sat in that big center fancy box....

The next night I went to Carmen at what I would call the 'second' opera company. Lesser production values (like sometimes the chorus of smugglers would also be trees), a less snotty crowd. And it was in German with no subtitles. Great. I can basically kind of follow it when it's in French, but I had little hope in German. There was a lot of park and bark singing interspersed with weird staging. This is the outside and inside of that theater.

On the last night, after walking/getting lost/avoiding fussball fever crowds, I went to Don Giovanni and stood. Hot, obscured view, smelly, and three really well-behaved 10 year olds next to me. I didn't stay for the second half. Sorry--I know he goes to hell and all and whatever, but I had heard the arias I wanted to hear so THERE. The best part of hearing it was getting to hear high-quality singers not having to scream their guts out to be heard in a giant theater. This theater was much more singer-friendly. Oh, and the Bavarians seem to LOVE Kent Nagano, the conductor.

Ok, that's enough. But I did go to three painting museums, too....another time.

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