Я люблю свой город!

welcome to downtown novosibirsk! this is lenin, with the opera house directly behind him. i’m just gonna throw it out there that this sight alone, was worth my airfare.

so thursday i finally got a chance to go to the opera. final performance of the season, and i saw gogol’s “inspector general” or “ревизор” as its known in russian. opera in siberia is an experience everyone should have in their lifetime. the attitude over here is entirely different than the one we have in the west, and frankly, i think its an attitude that we need to adopt. whereas we in the west view opera as some high society/high culture activity that’s reserved for the elderly/refined/upper class/ivory tower/sophisticated music buffs/wealthy, opera in russia is kind of like going to the movies. except it costs less. for less than the cost of a movie ticket at a discount theater in toronto, i was able to sit in the 7th row in novosibirsk’s opera house. tickets are sold for as little as 50 rubles (aka: $1.96US), and almost no one dresses up to go (especially not by western standards). whereas back home the men put on suits and the ladies get decked out in pearls and black dresses, i saw countless people in jeans or tshirs, and many of the girls were in nice sundresses. this is not to say that people dress like total slobs and take no care over their appearance, though that did turn out to be true in a few cases; for the most part everyone looked nice, but no one there was particularly dressy. and the other difference i noticed was the age range; as opposed to back home where the overwhelming majority of the audience is late middle age – elderly, here there was a much broader age range. i saw everyone from kids and young adults/students, to adults and older couples. it made me very very happy.

the performance itself was not as upscale as what i’ve seen back home, but it was still quite good and certainly more than worth the price of admission. it was a bit hard to follow as i’m used to having subtitles provided on a screen above the stage and here that wasn’t the case, and when talking it over afterwards with the 2 native russian speakers i went with, i was apparently not the only one who was lost. ironically, i ended up understanding more than they did (mind you, i picked up on maybe 5 words out of the whole opera), as i was the only one who had actually read the play beforehand. that being said, i had a good sense of who was who and a general sense of what was going on, and for what i understood i thought they did a really terrific job with some of the characters. khlestakov and the governor’s wife gave brilliant performances, the two were hysterical and did a wonderful job with their characters. khlestakov was brought to life as a positively ridiculous petersburg dandy, who was so over the top you would’ve sworn he was gay, and the governor’s wife was just as ridiculous, as an overweight woman far past her prime, playing the role of an absolutely shameless coquette. from the amount of applause she received both during and after the show, it was clear that she was the audience’s darling. for me however, the most surprising and delightful aspect of the entire show was the conductor’s role in it. both the conductor and orchestra were visible to the audience, and the conductor was dressed up to look like Gogol himself. and not only was he dressed to look like gogol, but he actually had a role in the performance; in the middle of conducting, he would turn his head towards the audience from time to time, and start singing. from what i gathered, he had a sort of small narrator role, and the audience was to understand that it was gogol himself narrating his story. needless to say, it was pretty awesome.

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