Verona: the land of famous balconies and Shakespeare. Even though I only had a small look at Juliet’s balcony where the scene of Letters to Juliet was shot, and although we didn’t see anything of Juliet and Romeo which we all would have liked much better, or even Phantom of the Opera, or even Giggle and Hoot if it were an option, but Carmen was all that was up for offer, so that had to do!
Although the story of Carmen wasn’t what you would call family-friendly (AT ALL), just going to the production and seeing the first two Acts was plenty of excitement for me. I was so exhilarated that apparently it was obvious just to look at me. I was bouncing on my seat with a huge grin on my face while we waited for the show to begin.
And for good reasons too! The production was held inside a real Roman arena, and one of the best preserved arenas in Italy. Although the arches forming the highest level where pretty much all gone (the arches helped bounce the sound around) the acoustics were still pretty good, all things considered.
85% of the audience would sit on the actual stone seats that had survived centuries, which I thought was pretty cool. Why anyone would pay more money to sit on chairs in the centre of the arena just to be closest to the stage instead of sitting on the real deal –I have no idea.
Besides the colourful lighting, the orchestra, and maybe some of the mechanisms and props, most everything was as it would have been when showing a production in the old days. People think that this particular arena was built in Augustus’ time, roughly 27 BC – 14 AD.
There’s not really much to say for the production Carmen, it wasn’t really much of a story and although I haven’t seen or read all of it, I’ve read the summary of the four Acts and I really don’t know what the author (Georges Bizet) was thinking about while he held the pen. If there is someone out there reading this that has read the story of Carmen and knows what Bizet is on about then I’d like to know.
So the story isn’t that great in my eyes, but since the whole thing was sung in Italian, you could easily forget about the story (in most occasions) and just enjoy the music, costumes, stage settings and dancing. We had heard two or three of the tunes before so it was great being able to swing my hands in a conductor’s sort of way to the tune. So there was a little bit of familiarity to the night, yet most of it was an entirely new experience. And although we only stayed the first two out of four Acts, it was definitely worth the going.
Previous to all of that, we (we being dad and us kids) climbed up four hundred seventy-six stairs to reach The Florence Duomo (a huge dome atop a church overlooking Florence in a perfect panoramic view) and then trekked four hundred seventy-six stairs back down again –our exercise for the day. We felt pretty good for doing it, although the leg-jelly-shaking phenomenon was a little queer. The view was pretty awesome, I’m pretty sure I managed to take a full, successful, all-the-way-around-the-dome panorama. It was pretty neat-o. It was also pretty high-up. Good thing I have a head for heights.
On our way back from the Duomo we passed a parade parading down the street in a parady-like parade fashion. Everyone in the parade was dressed up from the sixteen- and seventeen-hundreds: HUGE dresses that must weigh a ton and be so hot to wear, long colourful feathers in inflated-like hats, tights and puffy little pants that basically ended straight after they started, high hairdo’s for the ladies, jewellery- the whole shebang. A very interesting parade, although the reason for it is unknown. But who needs a reason for a parade anyway?!!
And then we saw Juliet’s balcony. The exact same to what I saw in the movie Letters to Juliet (if you’ve seen it you’ll know what I’m talking about). It closed before I could get there, but dad managed to slip in just before and get a few quick snaps of the corridor leading into the open space where it is supposed Romeo stood and talked to Juliet. The walls were covered in writings: names, love letters and drawings. Everything written on the wall was only recognisable as colours and squiggles. It was all so close together and overlapping one another that the only thing you could make out on the walls where hearts. And then there was the wall that was layered atop the love letters and names with every lover’s used bubble- and chewing-gum, plus the odd cigarette to add to the show. Very charming and romantic, I know. But hey, it’s original… if not slightly unsanitary…