A (Saturday) Night at the Opera

On Saturday we decided to try our luck at the Paris Opera. We got lucky. So here’s a Parisian secret for you: if you arrive 90 minutes before a show starts at Opera Garnier (even for a sold-out show!), you might just get one of the returned or last remaining tickets. The box office opens 45 minutes before the show starts, but the queue gets long quickly, so arrive ahead of time! The best tickets? In the “Chicken Coop” at the very top and almost under-neat the rafters. They are reduced visibility seats but cost only 10 Euro for an opera and 8 Euro for a ballet. Simon and I happened to be in the back corner which, surprisingly, had decent visibility (75%).

The opera showing on Saturday was Handel’s Julius Caesar. It had two intermissions and lasted a total of 4 hours. That’s right: 4 hours of opera at one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world with superb musicians and singers for 10 Euros. I have a feeling this may become a regular activity! The opera itself was minimally staged, with modern props (wooden crates were used for many different thing, for example), and modern costumes. Handel’s music is pretty, but not extremely passionate like say, Verdi, yet the opera somehow held together and didn’t seem like 4 hours of repetition. The most confusing part, however, was that the roles of Julius Caesar, Ptolemy and Sextus Pompey were all written for male sopranos (Sextus was actually played by a woman). I had such difficulty following the story (and the French subtitles only helps 50% of the time!)…but nonetheless it all turned out to be an enjoyable evening. I can’t wait to go to another!

Here’s a photo from the closing bows.

Giulio Cesare at Opera Garnier, Paris

And a video as an example of the music and the male soprano: (just ignore the costumes, I’m a bigger fan of Garnier’s minimalism!)


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