Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Trip to NYC - Day 7 - New Jersey and The Maryinsky Orchestra

Hey! So, I have great news just before I continue on with my adventures in NYC. I just signed up to take the TOEFL test, it’s an English test all international applicants have to take in order to prove they can speak the language. Steps are being taken toward going to college outside of Brazil and I couldn’t be more excited!

And you know, ever since I got back from my trip I’ve been kind of pissed off about everything that happens here. Because everything is just so wrong, and politicians steal so much money, and people are so disrespectful and try to take advantage of everything and everybody, and at the end of the day everybody laughs about this disgraceful situation and I’ve had just about enough of it. 

I’m not going to linger on much on this subject, but let me give you a solid example of what I, for instance, have to put up with. One of the teachers in my college decided he wanted to give class in a different classroom on another floor, so him and his students left his classroom, where he left his stuff and after he locked the door to his classroom they headed off to the other floor. When the class was done the teacher returned to his classroom to find his door opened, the classroom had been broken into. When he went to check his stuff his MacBook was missing. And this was in the middle of the day, between 12:00 and 1:30 pm! Someone broke in and stole his computer! And this is a school we PAY to go to and have absolutely no security! 

I was so upset to hear about this, and it made me more than ever want to fly away from here. I repeat, Brazil is no cupcake, it’s an AWFUL place to live. Believe me. 

But let’s get on to nicer news! Let’s talk about Thursday, the 10th of October then. So my mum was bugging me about wanting to go to this mall to do massive amounts of shopping. You might think my mum is very shallow because she always wants to shop but actually every Brazilian shops a LOT they come to the US. Why? Simple, I’ll give you a very ordinary example. This is an ordinary dress you’d buy in Forever 21 (a popular brad with accessible prices), it costs $27,80, now that in Brazilian money (reais R$) would be around R$60,00. Now, this is a very similar dress that you’d buy in Renner, also a popular brand, and it’s R$119,00. It’s R$60,00 more expensive. So you guys get what I mean. Stuff in the US for us is very cheap because things in Brazil are VERY expensive indeed!

So she convinced me to go to Jersey Gardens, an outlet mall in New Jersey. So we took the subway and then took a bus and headed on our way to the mall. As you can imagine the majority of people in that mall were Brazilians. Plus, if you were foreign you’d also get a book of discount coupons!

Well, to make the long story short we bought A LOT of stuff, trainers for me, my mum and sis, bags, clothes, useless Victoria Secrets things for $3, $4, the works. Until we got to a point when we had to actually buy a travel bag to transport all the stuff we got otherwise we wouldn’t be able to carry everything. That’s a normal practice in places like this though. We didn’t even eat, it got to a point where we had to leave and I had our “lunch” on a paper bag with me and we were choosing accessories in Clarie’s!

When we got back to the bus stop it was swarming with people. We planned on taking the 4:45 one but there was no chance for that, it was full and they were people actually standing inside the bus. We waited for the 5:15 and were able to get decent seats. But the driver simply opened the compartment for the bags and did not help anybody with the bags, not even me, the helpless girl with the gigantic and heavy red travel bag! Prick! Anyways, we boarded the bus and everything seemed to be going fine, we had gotten there in 30 minutes, we’d be back in the city in time to shower, change and have dinner before the concert in Carnegie Hall at 7:30.

It was all fine. Until it wasn’t. Until the bus simply stopped and as I look out of the window I saw a sea of cars and buses in front of us also static. HOLY SHIT! It took us almost 2 hours to get back to New York City. We got to the 42nd Street Station at 6:55pm! Our hotel was on 57th! We took the subway and don’t forget we had a large heavy bag with us. I ran through that subway like there was no tomorrow, my mum trying to double check if we had gotten into the right train and I’d just tell her “MUM, there’s no time to double check, just trust me and get IN!” .

Of course I knew that we were in the right train, we got off at Columbus Circle and rushed to the Hotel. Got there at about 7:10, changed, got my ticket, my mum thrust a mini red velvet cupcake in my mouth and I was off to Carnegie Hall. Probably the longest run of my life, especially because I hadn’t run in a while and because I’d chosen the most least comfortable shoes you can possibly imagine.

But I did get to Carnegie Hall in time, at 7:25 I was there, panting, but there. When I got there it was impossible not to notice the protest that was happening outside. Same as the protest that happened for the opening night of Eugene Onegin, I actually don’t mind the protest outside, they are on their right to protest. OUTSIDE. 

This was my first time in Carnegie Hall and I was pumped! I had gotten tickets way, way up to the stage left side and I had to lean front to be able to see the full orchestra, but I didn’t mind. But I did get very scared getting to my seat, Carnegie Hall is even more steep than the Met, so the sensation that you are going to fall to your death at the next step is always there.

The Maryinsky Orchestra comes in to some applause but when their leader, the great Valery Gergiev, takes the stage the applause is thunderous! But after the applause my fear of a revival of the opening night of the Met came true. A man way up in the Family Circle was standing and pointing his finger at Gergiev, who was with his back to the audience immobile and remained so throughout this entire episode. The man shouted repeatedly “Gergiev, your silence is killing gay Russians”. Some people booed him, some people clapped some people remained silent and some people, like me, were utterly dumbfounded. I couldn’t say anything, I just looked at the man with my mouth hanging opened not really believing that was actually happening. As the security guards escorted him out another man on the other side of the Family Circle stood up and started shouting the very same words. The public got less patient and booed him screaming back “BASTA!” “That’s enough!”. And through all this time Gergiev did not move a finger.

I must admit I felt like shit after this happened. Gergiev immediately started the music after the sound of the protesters was gone and for the first 5 minutes I was completely and utterly hollow. I felt like crying while the whole thing happened, because it was my first time in Carnegie Hall and I strongly believe Gergiev has nothing to do with how the president of his country runs Russia. I think it’s ridiculous how people are harassing a man who isn’t even a politician, he’s a musician for Christ sakes. And most importantly, a musician that depends on government founding in order to continue his work, and what a work! He’s brought all the Russian repertoire to us! So it seems obvious to me that he won’t say a thing about the government because just like here in Brazil if they say something against the government they are FIRED! It actually happens people, I’ve seen it happen in Brazil and Gergiev is not stupid enough to give up the Maryinsky over being able to voice his true opinion!

Anyways, after the shock had passed I was actually able to enjoy the all Stravinsky program the Maryinsky orchestra had put up. And I have to say, holy mother of God, how lucky I was to be able to see this! It’s not every day that you get to see an all Russian orchestra play an all Stravinsky repertoire. I must admit that although I was most excited about the Rite of Spring, the part which I liked the most was the first one “The Firebird”.

This trip is particularly wonderful because even though I’m in New York I feel like I’m in a Russian Music Festival! And most importantly with the upmost best musicians doing this music! And with Stravinsky, at least for me, sometimes time seems to stop and sometimes time flies! It’s such a crazy rollercoaster ride and you never know quite what you are gonna get, so it’s extremely thrilling!

Some people say it was LONG. And it was indeed very long. The first part must have been about an hour and a half or maybe two. But it was amazing. Hearing this orchestra play is like listening to Stravinsky for the very first time, they have it in their blood!

But since I didn’t have anybody really to chat to during the long intermission I ended up calling my opera bff in Brazil. He freaked out when I told him where I was. I spend the intermission telling him how Mariusz Kwiecien told me I was pretty the day before, I’m such a girl!

Then it was time for some more Stravinsky feels. They opened with Pétrouchka, the 1911 version. And then on to the Rite of Spring, man, I was so happy by then. I really like this piece and I’d had many classes in college about this piece so to actually be able to see it performed live by none other than the Maryinsky Orchestra under the unique conducting of Valery Gergiev was sublime! I felt extremely lucky to be there and actually thanked God for this blessing!

When the Rite was done the applause was INSANE! I was on my feet before you could say “Stravinsky” clapping with all my might and shouting my BRAVO, BRAVI like crazy! After about 5 minutes of applause, Valery Gergiev addressed to the audience for the first and only time that evening. Unfortunately his voice is not as powerful as his orchestra’s sound so I could only pick up some things of what he said.

He, obviously, thanked the public for the amazing response to his work and explained that this day was actually the date we had been celebrating for the whole year now. Verdi’s 200th death anniversary. So as a tribute to the date they were doing something by Verdi that was very close to the heart of the Maryinsky Theater. When he said “La Forza Del Destino” my eyes started watering with tears, even as I write this I can’t help but be overcome with tears! Verdi actually wrote “La Forza Del Destino” for the Maryinsky Theater, so it was meant to be played by THIS orchestra! Seriously, it couldn’t get more perfect than that! And they played that Verdi with the easiness that they played that Stravinsky! Ah, I cried and I cried and I cried! It was GORGEOUS! And I was so overcome with joy! Because I really wanted to listen to Verdi on his anniversary and this was such a wonderful and amazing surprise! Guys, really, it was awesome, one of the best musical moments of my life was being able to see them perform the overture of “La Forza Del Destino”.

Wow! Big post! Now I gotta go, I still have to shower and get to São Paulo because the fight continues! I’ll be back later this week with a post on Midsummer Night’s Dream! Cheers everyone!

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