Tonight I regretted not having better clothes for the opera with me. The other women stepped out of the New Bolshoi theatre, Tosca’s final notes still echoing in their ears, into the long twilight: the highest of heels gingerly avoiding the cobblestone gaps, the lightest of chiffons rivalling the shades of the sunset, tiny clutches grasped in manicured hands; and I got to clump out in my hiking boots – heedless of cobblestones – zip up my fleece over the best top I have with me, and feel berated by the burnished gold onion domes in every direction.
This is a city for looking good during the day, and even better at night. The Moscovite women are beautifully turned out and a good 4 inches taller than their back-packer counter parks in fast food joints, amusement parks and metro stations. Admittedly the city returns the favour: the metro stations are decked with chandeliers, mosiacs, bronze detailing and stained glass panels; the churches are decked with gold inside and out; there are icecream parlours and supermarkets lined with marble and hung with chandeliers.
But to return to Tosca: her sucide was perhaps the most moving moment in the ballets and operas we’ve been lucky enough to see over the last few weeks. This could perhaps partially be because someone’s mobile phone rang during Herman’s in the Queen of Spades.
Here in Moscow we also saw the Bolshoi company perform Sleeping Beauty in the State theatre in the Kremlin, (the theatre – designed for large party gatherings – is in itself an experience). You know the story so here are just the take away lessons:
1. Love may conquer all, but it sure helps if you have a large band of good fairies on your team.
2. You may be the lead dancer in the most prestigious ballet company on earth, but egg yolk yellow lycra doesn’t look good on anyone.