Bolshoi

Today was a first, we went into Covent Garden to the Royal Opera House in order to see the ballet. Now, this wasn't something that I got dragged to, it was my idea. I made a decision to try new things, even if I was a bit unsure. After all, how do we know if we like it otherwise? Some time back I was out in the Surrey countryside on a work related event, and whilst I waited I was browsing a newspaper. I saw the Bolshoi Ballet was in town, the 50th anniversary of their first visit. I thought 'Why not try the ballet'.

Then I thought 'If you're going to try the ballet, you may as well see the best'. I suggested this to Monica, and she said she'd like to go.

We had a choice of 'The Pharaoh's Daughter', 'Swan Lake', 'Cinderella', 'Go for Broke / Pique Dame / Symphony in C' or 'Don Quixote'.

For various reasons, such as Monica having seen 'Swan Lake', and plain old scheduling, it came to a choice between 'The Pharaoh's Daughter' and 'Don Quixote'. I had a slight preference for 'Don Quixote', but Monica was keen on 'The Pharaoh's Daughter', so that was the choice.

Performances are pretty pricey, but it's the Bolshoi for goodness sake! It should be world class! Our seats were up high, up in the ampitheatre, seats K70 and 71. This helped to keep the price down. On the Royal Opera House website, there is a good seating plan which allows the user to see photos from selected seats, one of those seats is adjacent to where we sat.

The principle ballerina was Svetlana Lunkina. Contrary to what it says in the programme, the conductor was Igor Dronov

The Royal Opera House itself is splendid, it has a sumptuous feel to it, and the views from the ampitheatre are good. We had a little look around after, and it was only in the slips approaching the stage that the performance would have really suffered.

The number of people involved in the performance was incredible, the sheer number of dancers on stage, the orchestra, plus the people behind the scenes. The sets were very well done, and exquisite in detail. At one point they had a horse on stage. A real one.

The plot is necessarily pretty simple, but a few times I found myself wondering what was going on. At one point a monkey appeared for no apparent reason (not a real one), and the sidekick would run across stage for reasons I couldn't fathom, but for the most part it was easy to follow. A couple of times there were a few people in the corps de ballet who didn't quite seem to be in the right place at the right time. Nothing serious, but surprising for the Bolshoi.

Nevertheless, I really enjoyed it, which was a pleasant surprise (as I'd booked tickets with the 'try it once' viewpoint). Those are some really stretchy women! It takes a special kind of athleticism to be able to stand on the points of ones toes, with the other leg sticking out horizontally, wrapping round so the foot is behind the back, and spinning at the same time.

In fact, I think I'd like to go again. Gosh. Who'd have thought?

I'm now considering the Opera. We bought tickets for Carmen in December, but I've a yen to really leaping into the deep end with Der Ring des Nibelungen in 2007 - we'd need to think about booking before having seen Carmen.

Rather annoyingly, the three Wagnerian cycles all have operas at 4pm or 5pm on a weekday, this simply isn't practical for me - the one possibility is cycle 2, this has only one difficulty, Die Walküre is at 5pm on the 19th October 2007, a friday before a break at work.

I know now that I'll be free for the 4pm performance the following week. It's possible that I may be able to get permission to leave on Friday 19th in the early afternoon from the head honcho, I'd need to be sure I had that permission before I booked.

It's rather inconsiderate of the Royal Opera House not to organise at least one cycle to be exclusively evening performances - I couldn't even mix and match them without seeing them out of order!