Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Baroque, Palaces and Opera

Day 5

Today I wasn't feeling 100%, the dust and stuff in the air was really getting to me.  I relaxed most of the day, while Ashley and Jared wandered some, then I got up and Ashley and I went to the mall before going to a concert.  Ashley agreed to go with me not knowing what she was getting herself into.

The Mall
This place is huge.  The Pallidium is not far from our apartment and is right across from the Municipal House and the dome.  Over 200 shops, multi level and wasn't all that different than American malls... except for the fact that most of the shops were designer.  I suppose you could liken it to Fashion Valley in San Diego or Valley Fair in San Jose.  I was on the hunt for some good walking shoes, as I mentioned before that the shoes I had were not helping me with my arch issues when walking so much.  

The Concert
This concert was a celebration of early music from the Baroque period.  The concert centered around the work of Claudio Monteverdi and his followers.  It was put on by Opera Barocca, and prior to setting foot at the place, I didn't actually know where it was.  I thought originally it was by the Palladium, but about 18 minutes before the show I realized that I was 900 meters from the actual venue, the beautiful and historic Clam-Gallas Palace, built in the 18th century and was the site of performances and visits by Beethoven and Mozart.  The host for the evening told us that at that palace ballroom, the city of Prague puts on a big masquerade ball each year and many people attend it every year in October.  

The concert was actually in a room on the top floor, about 600 square feet by my estimation (I'm using my apartment for comparison).  The ceilings are easily at least 15-20 feet high, and the ceiling is decorated by beautiful paintings by some artist.  The walls are covered with a damask yellow wallpaper, and then trimmed by black artistic trimming draping the sections.  In one corner was a large piece of furniture that looked like a white stove, along the window wall with giant tall narrow windows was an enormously tall mirror that turned into a vanity like desk at waist level.  At the front of the room, there was a harpsichord and three chairs along with music stands in front of each chair.

When the artists came out, the first thing one notices is the fact that they are all dressed in period attire that musicians would have worn in the 18th century.  The pants, the high socks, blouse style shirts, powdered wigs, the shoes.  Two of the artists were violinists, the third a cellist, and finally there was the harpsichordist.  They began to play and the room was filled with beautiful music.  After a couple of songs, a woman came out all made up and in an exquisite dress.  She sang with her strong operatic soprano voice a beautiful song, and then retreated again until the next song she was to sing in.

At intermission, we all came out into the stairway and mingled.  I was fascinated by the tall ceilings, the detail on the railings, the romantic look of the candlelit stairway, and the interesting hardware on the windows.  This was some person's house!  Truly amazing.

I was a little worried about Ashley getting bored or not having fun, but to my surprise as I stole several glances at her throughout the performance, she had a big smile on her face, or her eyes were closed and a soft smile graced her lips.  She said later that she felt transported to another time, as if she lived in that time when this music was new and could see what it was like then.

The whole experience was intimate and royal, in my mind this must have been what it would have been like when the Count who owned the palace wanted to entertain his family or a guest or two.  In his room, just for him and his guests.  Words cannot describe how amazing this experience was for me.

Dinner
We had a late dinner at Prague's TGI Friday's not far from the apartment.  We were served by one of the bartenders, which was awesome.  It was a nice ending for the evening.

Observations:

  • The Clam-Gallas Palace is huge, almost an entire city block (no joke!)
  • The original artwork on the ceilings intrigue me.  How hard must it have been for the artists to pain them, not only on a ceiling that is over 15 feet high, but the ceiling is also curved/domed
  • The walls were so big it makes sense why they decorated them the way they did
  • Baroque was all about showing wealth it seems
  • Found some shoes at the Adidas store, ironically enough they say "Los Angeles" on them :)
  • Some of the most amazing experiences are right in front of you, if you dare to just try something outside of your norm
  • My daughter continuously surprises me.  Who knew she would enjoy this concert as much as I?


Photos... https://picasaweb.google.com/113411654203106744219/0205PragueDay5?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCPj0pfrhheOnIg&feat=directlink


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