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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

The Heartbreaking Grace of Claire-Marie Osta

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 12:12 AM  posted by Mark

From the Joyful First Act of Oneguine

I attended Tchaikovsky’s ballet “Oneguine,” choreographed by John Cranko, on Christmas Eve at the Palais Garnier. The venue, of course, is magnificent, from the florid ornamentations and plush red velvet of its balconies and box seats to the refreshing ceiling mural by Marc Chagall. The acoustics of the hall are superb, and the orchestra of the National Opera of Paris played almost flawlessly, so the setting and accompaniment of the ballet were second to none.

Here’s a brief clip of the hall: The Chagall Ceiling and Balconies of the Palais Garnier

The narrative of the ballet is adapted from Pushkin’s verse novel Eugene Onegin, a story of romance, unrequited love, duels of honor and, ultimately, heartbreak, as the heroine Tatyana is forced to give up her love of Onegin to remain faithful to her husband. The performance I saw on Christmas Eve was mesmerizing, as the dancers delivered the cathartic power of Pushkin’s story with grace and strength (the stars were Claire-Marie Osta, Benjamin Pech, Mathilde Froustey, and Josua Hoffalt). Though the following clip can’t do justice to the magic of the performances or the stellar sound of the orchestra in the hall, it at least gives a taste of the ballet. Unfortunately, no video is available of the third act, in which Tatyana breaks both Onegin’s heart and her own in order to keep her honor.

Video excerpts from the First Two Acts of the Ballet Oneguine

This performance reaffirmed my belief in the cathartic power of art, and the otherworldly grace of the dancers conjured a beauty beyond the power of words to describe. I am normally not effusive or sentimental, but this company, the orchestra and the amazing hall combined to make a magical evening.

A Charming Christmas Eve

Sunday, December 25, 2011 @ 11:12 AM  posted by Mark

The Champs Elysees and rue de Rivoli were packed with nervous last-minute shoppers on Christmas Eve, so I avoided the crowds and headed for the back alleys of Village Saint Paul in the Marais, where the atmosphere was calmer and more genial. I had a few last-minute gifts to buy myself before attending Tchaikovsky’s ballet “Oneguine” in the evening, so I strolled toward a lovely anglophile bookstore called the Red Wheelbarrow. Holiday cheer filled the air, and there were a few quiet little surprises for la veille de Noël. I captured a couple of them.

One of thousands of Christmas tree displays around town.

A charming anglophile bookshop in the Marais.

Champagne was flowing at the Red Wheelbarrow.

Penelope, the charming owner of the Red Wheelbarrow.

Here’s a brief video clip of an intriguing Christmas display in Village St. Paul:
Christmas display Rue St Paul

Bouquinistes on the Seine. Occasionally, you find a treasure here: today, I discovered an old copy of Denis de Rougement's "La Part du Diable."

And finally, before heading back to wrap gifts and dress for the ballet, I stopped by the Hotel de Ville to see their charming Christmas pyramids:

The charming lights of the Hotel de Ville.

Ice Skating in Front of the Hotel de Ville

Thursday, December 22, 2011 @ 07:12 AM  posted by Mark

Every winter, the City of Paris sets up an ice skating rink in front of the Hotel de Ville, and you can rent skates all day for a mere 5 euros. Ice skating within a stone’s throw of the Seine in that beautiful plaza makes the holiday seem magical, even if they insist on playing mediocre disco on the sound system. Follow the link for video:

Ice Skating to “I Will Survive”

Or just look at the pretty pictures:

Ice Skating in front of the Hotel de Ville

The Ice is a bit carved up, adding an amusing degree of difficulty.

Christmas Tree in Front of Notre Dame

Friday, November 25, 2011 @ 11:11 PM  posted by Mark

It took 18 hours for the City of Paris to set up the Christmas lights on the massive tree in front of Notre Dame. Blue, as we know from the great prophet Saint Elvis Presley, is the color of Christmas.

Notre Dame with Christmas Tree