About halfway through the ballet I leaned over to Amelia to ask, “the swans aren’t usually men, are they?”
No, the swans in the ballet Swan Lake are generally female – that’s the whole point of the story. Prince Siegfried falls in love with Odette, a woman under a sorcerer’s curse – swan by day, woman by night. At least that’s how it went down in the original Bolshoi Ballet version in 1877.
The Swan Lake A and I saw today was no traditional Russian ballet. Tchaikovsky was still the composer, and there were indeed swans, but other than that, it was a completely modern ballet.
Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake debuted in 1995 in London and immediately generated rave reviews. In addition to its three Tony Awards, it apparently became the longest-running ballet on London’s Broadway. (And yes, it is the same version of Swan Lake featured at the end of Billy Elliot – furry pants and white-painted bodies included).
Amelia and I had both really been looking forward to seeing the show, so I made sure to complete enough homework yesterday that we could just have a fun Sunday. The ballet wasn’t until 15h, so we took a walk around the jardin des Tuileries and stopped for a glass of vin chaud in one of the little cafés in the park. On this rainy and windy Sunday, it was a lovely break to drink warm wine with cinnamon with a good friend from home and watch cold and wet people through the windows of the café. From there we headed up rue de la Paix through place Vendôme to the Théâtre Mogador (located behind l’Opéra Garnier).
Being that we are cheap and students, we were only able to bring ourselves to spring for the cheapest of tickets. Our forty euro a piece secured us seats in row XX in the very back corner of the theatre’s balcony. As I completely forgot yesterday to ask Cassie for a pair of opera glasses to borrow, A and I arrived at the theatre hoping to be able some.
When we handed our tickets to the usher, however, we were informed that “le balcon est fermé aujourd’hui.” (The balcony is closed today). We were directed instead to the orchestre, where we found ourselves with seats upgraded by about 65 euro. We were close enough to see the sweat dripping down the backs of the swans (yeah, not sure that was such a bonus). The opera glasses proved to be entirely unnecessary.
Despite some initial confusion about the lack of female swans, and the fact that the ballet was set in Britain today (supposed by some to be a kind of satirical commentary on Charles, Prince of Wales and the rest of the current monarchy), A and I were both riveted. Oh, it was so good.
After the show A and I went to diner at my favorite Arrmenian restaurant on rue Mouffetard, then walked back to my apartment via all of the best Christmas lights we could find. It was a good day.