Tuesday I got to do something fun (something much better than the other 10 days after Dublin, which involved working ridiculous hours and battling a nasty cold). I went to see Eugene Onegin at the Royal Opera House in London. Now aside from my continuing confusion over the English transliteration (my minimal college Russian would make it more like Yevgeniy Onyegin) I really enjoyed the opera, and I really really enjoyed the overall experience.
More unexpected than anything, I had a second-in-my-time-here very unexpected interaction with a lovely English couple. I arrived early and due to a mobile phone number snafu, had my ticket but no way to meet my friends until showtime. I thus went to the bar to get a glass of white and people watch. I was joined by this lovely and extremely friendly couple, probably about my parents’ age, to whom I chatted for the 45 minutes before I needed to go find my seat. They invited me to come down and have a drink with them during the interval, an extremely kind offer which I had to decline due to my expectation that my friends and I would be catching up. It was the second such unexpected interaction for me: when I saw Rufus Wainwright in concert a few months back, the lovely couple sitting next to me not only chatted with me like old friends but bought me a drink at the interval.
I really like the English tendency to purchase drinks for each other. As a stranger here, you have to work hard to understand the rules (or read a lot of Kate Fox) but in the end, my interval beverage was purchased by yet another stranger, a friend of the friend who had invited me to the opera in the first place. So, for those counting, although I have had plenty to complain about in my time here, this is an unadulterated paragraph of appreciation for the kindness of English strangers, both the chatting at concerts sort and the buying a beverage sort.
Oh yes, the opera. The Royal Opera House was amazing, I felt as though I was transported back to the era of Tolstoy (yes, my Russian obsession in college included literature as well as language courses). The set was unlike anything I had ever seen, there was a lake in the centre of the stage and the lighting was used in combination with the water to great effect. As I have not ever seen a west-end musical, I guess there is only more amazing-ness where this came from. Ironically enough, in the second half, the setting with the snow and bare trees reminded me of two things from home, first a fantastic production of Chekhov’s Three Sisters I saw at my beloved Guthrie in Minneapolis, and also a little photography project I did a few years back called Tanglewood. I miss snow. And I miss ice skating, which featured in the opera staging as well.