4.1 The Death of a King

With the beginning of classes and endless rounds of who’s-going-to-be-my-friends, it has taken a toll on my blogging time. My apologies. I promise, there will be at least one post a week!

Let’s move on to my witnessing the death of a king.

He died.

I’m sorry to spoil it for all of you, but the king died.

Last Friday night, I went to the National Centre for Performing Arts beside Tiananmen Square to see an Italian play named Un Ballo in Maschera (which from my years of Italian experience, translates to somewhere along the lines of a Zorro-masked balloon…?)

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Unfortunately, it’s illegal to film or take any pictures during the opera, so I refrained from breaking the law that night. But I did snap one before the show!

I’ve attended Madame Butterfly in Vancouver. The most interesting thing about these two experiences is how different the crowds were around me.

In Vancouver, once the opera started, the doors would be closed and late-comers would be penalized by having to step and move light as a feather through the darkness, and forced to sit in aisle seats until concession, in order so on-timers would not be disrupted from the gorgeous singing and orchestra echoing through the opera house.

In China, this was not the case. People would be shuffling by without any care as to the unfitting, ruinous sounds of their stilettos on the stairs nor to the momentary blindness caused by the flashlight app on their phones as they beam it across the seats to find theirs.

If you are expecting utter silence from the audience during the performance, you best not come to China for that kind of experience. Unless, of course, you can afford to cash out a few notes to get mezzanine seating, where the people are, perhaps more attuned to the unspoken etiquette of being an audience of the opera.

We were blessed enough to be seated next to two Chinese girls, in jeans, having absolutely no clue what is happening because the top narration panel (the only one that can be viewed from the high-up seats where we were) spewed out only English translations of what the actors were singing. The Chinese panels were small as ants, wiggling out on the two sides of the stage, unreadable except for those with eagle eye-vision.

By the end of the opera, one of these two lovely ladies had slouched so low into her seat that she was nearly assuming the kow-tow position. She obviously didn’t enjoy it, especially with all the whispering she was doing with her friend throughout the entire performance.

Suffice to say I won’t be attending another opera here in Beijing. My next classical experience should be Beijing Opera. Let’s see if I’ll be fortunate enough to experience some more classics with Chinese characteristics.

Lastly, cheers to the lovely cast of the opera though! They were fantastic.

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