Last night I took two of the girls and a friend of theirs, Julien, to Coppelia at the Grand Theatre in Bordeaux. I have to admit that I hadn’t been particularly wild about going as the OH and I saw this production a couple of years ago and while it was OK, it definitely wasn’t the stuff that makes you wild to see it again.
Julien, an ex of one of my daughter’s, had never been to the Grand Theatre or to a ballet. I got the impression that he’d accepted the offer of a ticket going spare because he’s the type who likes to try everything once and was pretty certain that while ballet might be interesting it wasn’t really going to be his sort of thing.
The Grand Theatre in Bordeaux is one of the oldest wooden framed opera houses in Europe that hasn’t either been burnt down or needed completely rebuilding and was cleaned up and the interior completely restored in the 1990’s. And it makes your jaw drop.
It’s almost ridiculously pretty.
This picture doesn’t do it justice at all – in fact none of the pictures of the interior do, because they don’t bring out all the wonderful colours – all blue and gold (the swags at the back of the boxes are painted) with trompe l’oeil curtains around the proscenium arch in rich crimson.
The boxes give you a terrible view of the stage but they’re wonderful to admire from the relative comfort of a better seat (it has to be admitted that the “authentic” Louis whatever type seating looks pretty but lacks something in the springs and padding department compared to the modern theatre version);
If you look upwards you see this;
That chandelier is huge and I think it’s the only time I’ve seen the underneath of a horse like that.
Each time I go to the Grand Theatre I realise that I’ve forgotten how sumptuous and gorgeous it, Julien, my daughter’s ex, on his first time was temporarily reduced to silence (rare for him) then started on a strong of ‘Magnifiques’ and ‘Wows!’
And the ballet? It was fabulous. Bordeaux has its own ballet company and I haven’t seen a poor production yet; when everything comes together their performances are stupendous. It was like that last night. It helps of course that the Grand Theatre is quite small so you’re never miles away from the stage and we were lucky enough to have excellent seats but the dancing – especially the two stars – and the music was so good that it probably wouldn’t have mattered if we’d been in one of the boxes.
Julien, the ballet virgin, was motionless and transfixed though he was slightly startled to realise the sailors were all wearing thongs under their costumes. I don’t think he’d come across men in thongs before but agreed after a moment’s thought that it was probably necessary to avoid wobble.
He’s got a new passion and is longing to see more but added that he wouldn’t be telling his workmates about this. He works on a building site and doesn’t think they’d understand.