Monday, April 30, 2012

10 in Tianjin

Farewell single figures, Alyssa is 10 today. Turned out to be an action-packed, slightly weird day. Presents at breakfast, frantic morning at work (that's me, not Alyssa), then met up for lunch of burgers & chips with friends... and who should be sitting on the next table but Ai Weiwei. So I had a bit of a chat, and then he left with his friends. Sort of normal, but with an air of unreality about it. Anyway...

We then headed off to Tianjin for the opening of the Philharmonia's Re-rite exhibition/installation. We've been preparing this thing for six months or so and I never know what to call it; I don't think they do either. Suffice it to say, it's a sophisticated video installation of an orchestra (needless to say the Philharmonia) performing Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, filmed with 29 cameras, and then re-presented in the labyrinthian back-rooms of Tianjin's new and very large Grand Theatre. The idea is to break down the gap between platform and audience so you can experience indivudual sections of the orchestra, control their respective volumes on a huge screen, have a go at conducting, have a go at some percussion... get it on, bang a gong, etc.

It was fun. Made more so by Liz and the girls being with me. I don't think A&N have ever witnessed Daddy giving a speech before. But what made it extra special was the Theatre staff bringing in a cake for Alyssa and then everyone singing Happy Birthday. One of those great moments. It didn't end there either. Off we went to see the snappily named Moscow State Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theatre's Ballet (hereafter called MSSNDMTB) perform Prokofiev's Midsummer Night's Dream in the new and very impressive Opera Hall upstairs - all 3 hours of it. The girls managed to stay awake, helped by the extended death scenes which they found funny, but trumped by the hilarious curtain call. For some reason, staff brought on not just bouquets but large potted plants which they placed in a neat row. Unfortunately this was precisely in line with the curtain which, opening & closing, proceeded to knock them over and they rolled around the stage, resulting in hysterics from our two... which continued all the way back to the hotel and in bed eating salami sandwiches.

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