Thursday, June 28, 2012

Best Great Big Night of Culture and Class

Today, with a bit of a shrug and a "Hey, why not?" I signed up to go with Emily to see the ABT dance Swan Lake at the Met.  I guess, incredibly, this was my fifth ballet?  I settled into my rather good seat and said to myself, "Okay, world's most famous ballet.  Here we go."

I was not ready for what happened.  By the time the swan lady was dancing at her lake (you know, Act II) the audience was losing its collective mind.  People were shouting out in praise and honor right in the middle of everything, the staid Met crowd was clapping and screaming whenever the spirit moved them.  The opera house roared and rumbled with applause.  I hadn't experienced anything like it since witnessing the audience's response to Song of the Moon in the first act of Rusalka in 2004. (see, it's not like I hadn't left the house before.)

For me, Swan Lake was a slow burn, but at some point (like watching Breathless) I found myself drawn in, swept up, and enthralled.  I find myself completely without the vocabulary to understand what I saw or how to explain it to you, like if you took a Beduin to the Arctic Circle and showed him the Northern Lights or, more accurately, if you took a polar bear to Arizona and showed him the Grand Canyon.

While the Swan was pretty great and the clear crowd favorite by a hundred miles, and in fact probably astoundingly great, I just don't know astoundingly great ballet when I see it, my favorite dancers were the swans.  When they quiver down into the fog beneath the rising sun at the very end of the ballet?  It was nearly more than this poor guy could take.  Riding home on the train tonight, walking home down Hester, I battled a lump in my throat.  What on earth happened to me tonight?  Swan Lake, what did you do to me?

Additional Observations:

  • Even though she was evil, I guess, it did kind of seem to me that Sigfried and Odile had a more reasonable and real basis to their relationship.  I'm sorry it didn't work out for them.
  • When the Odette first appears, and the harp music plays?  Doesn't that sound just like the start of Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past?
  • All I knew about the Swan Lake music before I got there I learned from music boxes from my youth.
  • The funny thing is now I'm reading reviews of this production online and they're not kind. (Not kind at all.)  Well, what do I know?  Clearly nothing!

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