Sunday, June 19, 2011

Stanislavsky and the Bolshoi

The morning of the 18th we took a tour of the apartment that Stanislavsky was given by the Soviet government after they collectivized all of the country’s assets.  The apartment was a pretty nice spread… until you look at a picture of his original residence, and you realize that this must have felt like pretty cramped quarters.  Still, it was pretty wild seeing the literal places that I’ve read about and heard anecdotes about.  There’s even a large door that he had brought in from one of the sets from the first season of the Moscow Art Theatre and it’s become a ritual for actors starting on new projects to come touch the door handle for good luck.  So… of course… we all did.  Ah, it’s good to be a tourist. The afternoon was taken up by our Michael Chekhov class with Misha, who just continues to amaze me every single day.  He’s working on monologues from Three Sisters with us, and it’s ridiculous how well he knows these plays.  We tell him a character and an act, and he knows what monologue it is.  And though he doesn’t understand most of the actual words we’re saying, he still gives us these crazy insightful notes based on exactly what we’re saying and doing.  He’s a master.  And he’s adorable.  I want to put him in my pocket. The evening was an excursion to the Большой (Bolshoi) for a preview performance of the Rimsky-Korsakov opera Золотой Петушок (The Golden Cockerel).  It’s a crazy little fairy tale about a foolish tsar and the magical bird he’s given to help tell his future.  Of course, there’s a beautiful Tsaritsa, a mysterious old man, and the bird ends up pecking a hold in the tsar’s jugular… so you know it’s going to be a good time.  And this production was really amazing in every possible way.  Of course the voices were stellar, and the production values were out of this world!  THAT is what it looks like when you put money on stage.  The building itself is an absolute monument.  And we were in the alternate space that they built to house the Bolshoi shows while they’re renovating the original Bolshoi.  But even so, it was magnificent.  The lights were alive, the sets were amazing, there was a cast of about a gazillion (including a chorus of creepy lollipop guild dancing children).  I bought the program and discovered that there was a full libretto inside in both Russian and English, so as the show began I was prepared to try to follow along in English… when we discovered that they were projecting subtitles in English!   Huzzah!  This was the first show we’ve been to where we were able to simply sit back and follow the show the way we would in the states, so that was a nice relief.  Plus, the seats were definitely more comfortable than any of the other shows we’ve attended, so that was a double treat.  The only thing that sullied the experience in the least was that our translator was all pissy at us for not getting dressed up for the show – even though no one told us to.  And frankly, we all would have loved the opportunity to get dolled up, but we didn’t know.  There were plenty of people dressed casually, so we weren’t completely out of place, but in such a sort of fairy tale setting, it would have been pretty cool to have felt a little fancy-schmancier.  Oh well.  The show was so much damn fun, we didn’t spend too much time worrying about it.  Besides, our other liaison showed up in jeans, so we just dismissed it as part of our first translator’s constant negative demeanor.  So there!  We went to the Bolshoi, bitches! PS – the show did include a guy doing that Russian dance where he squats and does a bunch of front kicks… so that’s another Russian stereotype to cross of the list! 

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