Friday, December 24, 2010
Lighting up the Dark
A full moon shining down on the golden angel on top of the Bastille column brightened the night last Sunday after one of our intense but fleeting snowstorms. Much prettier than the slush on the ground.
A couple of nights later we took the chance of waiting for some tickets to become available for the sold out performance of Balanchine/Brown/Bausch at the Palais Garnier. Between house seats and returns there are often 15 or 20 tickets available immediately before the show. Luckily the waiting area has a few seats for the first comers because it's a long wait. We brought books.
After an hour and a half we snagged the last two, in the 10th row of the orchestra. The dozens of people in line behind us were out of luck. The three dance pieces included George Balanchine's Apollo to the music of Igor Stravinsky, a piece by Trisha Brown to Laurie Anderson's music, and Pina Bausch's extraordinary Rite of Spring, also by Stravinsky. You can understand why this piece caused a riot in Paris when the Diaghilev version was first performed in 1913. The music and the dance are blunt, vivid, mysterious and gripping, about as far as you can get from the Swan Lake being performed at the Opera Bastille the same night.
The Beaux Arts style building, as I've said before, is fabulous, lit with dozens of chandeliers reflecting light off the gilded walls and the large mirrors. One can imagine the balls and dinners given here during the Belle Epoque.
The large tree at the end of the grand hall was lit a daring red.
And the Chagall ceiling never fails to stun.
A few nights later we made our way in the rain to dinner at Hidden Kitchen, an "underground" restaurant that operates a couple of times a week out of the home of its chef/proprietaires. A 10 course tasting menu with wines was delicious and just right, leaving us feeling satisfied but not stuffed. I'd been thinking for a couple of years of doing this and finally reserved in August. The first available date was in December. It was worth the wait.
On the way over we came across these Christmas trees near the Palais Royal. Made of recycled water bottles (the red ones are Badoit Rouge), they're available from the designers at about the price of a real sapin de Noël, and 2 euros of that price goes to the World Wildlife Fund.
And handily, all the information you need to find your very own is right nearby.