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I won't be travelling anywhere in the nearest future, so my opera & ballet challenge is slightly on hold due to the coronavirus. I'm staying positive though and here's hoping I'll be back up in the air by mid summer.

A few weeks ago, the world famous mecca of ballet, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, put on some live streaming performances on Youtube, so I happily tuned into Swan Lake from the comfort of my kitchen.

Can I tick off Moscow from my opera & ballet house list? I guess not...but for the time being, it's the only way I'll be able to enjoy the arts: on my laptop screen.

The Bolshoi represents the creme de la creme of world ballet and seeing it for free, without the hassle of visas and travelling all the way to Russia, is actually quite nice. I was able to drink copious amounts of tea and nibble on snacks while watching it, all the while wearing PJs and slippers. Very comfy.

But otherwise, I miss the experience of travel, dressing up for the night, making it a special occasion. And above all, online streaming will just never beat live music and dance. However good your screen and speakers are, it hasn't got the same power as the real thing. And it's easily forgettable, unlike when you sit in the audience and give it your full attention. I got distracted several times by the sounds of the kettle and kept checking the cupboards for more biscuits.

Swan Lake is one of Tchaikovsky's 'biggest hits', apart from The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty which you can read about in my previous posts. Tchaikovsky's music is rich and mesmerising, and I get shivers down my spine everytime I hear it. The Bolshoi dancers are the best of the best, pure in their moves, as if taken straight out of a fairytale. They certainly don't do biscuits.

Here's my traditional one paragraph summary of the storyline: Swan Lake is a love story between Prince Siegfreid and swan princess Odette. By day she is a swan, but by night she takes on the form of a young, beautiful woman. The spell put on Odette can only be broken if someone truly falls in love with her and it looks like Siegfried will do the job . But during one of the nights, the prince mistakes Odette for another swan/human, Odile, and breaks the original vow. When he and Odette realise the gravity of the mistake, they decide to die together by throwing themselves into the lake. So that's that.

I've actually been to a performance at the Bolshoi many years ago, but I don't really have a recollection of the actual performance or the building itself. I was too young to appreciate these things and didn't pay much attention to sight-seeing back then.

At some stage I have to do a proper trip to Moscow (and St Petersburg) to tick off the two most famous Russian ballet theatres. But despite the lockdown, at least I'm trying to keep up with this challenge, even though it's just virtual travel for now.


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