Friday, May 3, 2013

A second posh Big City weekend

Jennifer[attempting, for humor's sake, to sound jaded, but not really succeeding because in truth it was fun of course] “...Oh, it was lovely but so wearing to take the first long walk in the sunshine on the first even remotely warm day of the year. It’s a good thing that the crocuses have finally broken through at the church grounds to cheer us up, although watching the local youths taking their longboards down the steep steep church hill was also cheering if a little scary – of course we were going past that just as the camera decided to fuss and refuse to take pictures – typical! And then we walked down to the water past the Solidarity House (which reminded me that soon it would May Day and time to hear the various agitators giving their various agitatory speeches), and by the time we got there we were so tired from all the fresh air and exercise that we stopped for a sip (in what I must say was an extremely fussy little cup) and a bite at a lovely little place by the canal, in order to restore ourselves. The sight of the ski hill still partly covered with snow made us feel perhaps even more grateful for the sunshine and enough warmth to sit outside, not that any such prompting was needed.

“Then it was off to the Royal Opera for Culture Night in Stockholm, with the company offering us Die Fledermaus (Läderlappen på svenska) – we got a short review of the plot, which sounded to me like a typical hair-brained opera mish-mash plot of jails and masked balls and mistaken identities, or perhaps that was just my impression because she was speaking Swedish. The interior of the Opera is fine and the company was in good voice but I can’t help but feel that the view would have been a slight bit better if we had not had a basketball team sit down right in front of us, my goodness gracious, what a tall lot of boys that was. (One of them, when they stood up, was revealed to be wearing a kilt, and he claimed, to the usher behind us, that he was Scottish. Scottish he may have been, by descent perhaps, but the Glaswegian who was with me arched an acerbic eyebrow at his accent and muttered something about her arse as he continued on out to the lobby. I agree that he sounded about as Scottish as my cat, but on the other hand I do think it’s fun that the natives are taking Culture Night as an excuse to dress up in unusual folk costumes.)
selections from Johan Strauss’

“We fought our way through the throngs King Gustav III’s favorite room, the Golden Foyer (or Guldfoajén in the curious Frenchified Swedish that one often runs into with words involving luxury or comfort), which is indeed absolutely coated in gold leaf and dripping with chandeliers and includes paintings by Carl Larsson on the ceiling. I parked by the grand piano that no one was playing, thinking I’d found a clever quiet spot a bit out of the way, where I could sit and marvel unmolested. The ballet company had other plans, and I had only been there for about two minute when a fellow sat down and started to play said piano practically in my lap. A number of scruffy looking young people in sweatpants and hoodies started dancing – they turned out to be members of the ballet, here to give us More Culture after our bit of Opera. We sipped sparkling wine and watched as they contorted and flopped around, sometimes going so far as to slither around on the floor under the piano, nearly giving me a fright, and certainly giving me a laugh, and then the piano player had a hearty chuckle as well after this dancer pulled herself up off the ground by means of grabbing the piano’s other edge and giving it a mighty wrench, thereby pulling the whole instrument out of his grasp while he was playing. And she was such a tiny thing too! Whoever had the job to lock the piano’s casters? To the player’s credit, he hardly missed a beat.

Anyway. Eventually the performance ran out, as did the bubbly, so we took a quick turn out onto the Golden Foyer’s balcony to get a view of the city and a good look at the facade. Then we were off, treated along the way to a bell concert by the church right next door to the Opera, and so we made our way back to S.’s fabulous digs on trendy Södermalm, for a late night post-theater repast of fortified wines and an assortment of amusing cheeses...”