Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cultural Activities (you can ignore this if you're not Dr. Ricks, or even if you are)


1) Symphonie Fantastique. After listening to the score so many times in Music 101, I really enjoyed getting out, getting dressed up, and getting to hear it performed live. I loved watching the conductor, who had more energy than is reasonable for someone past the third grade, and the solo horn parts, which were performed standing and (somewhat) offstage, as dictated by the programme. When the blast signaling the character's execution sounds in the end, I felt a pang of both sadness and relief, knowing what a miserable existence his had been. All that from half an hour of music!

2) La Maison Poupée, with Audrey Tautou. We saw this just about a month into being here, and it made me realize exactly how terrible my French is. I could catch maybe one in every 5 words, and if I hadn't been familiar with the play, would have been totally lost. If I concentrated very hard, I could translate sentences as they came, but I could only do it for a couple of minutes before I could feel the headache coming. I loved being able to experience French theatre, and in such a beautiful venue--I only wish I had seen the play more recently, now that I know my French has improved tenfold.

3) Siddharta. A modern French ballet at its moderniest. I think more than anything, this ballet helped me realize that something being French doesn't make it automatically beautiful, or worthy of my attention. I liked certain elements of the production, but was so thrown off by some of the more interpretive, "artistic" representations of the story of the Buddha that I know I'll be sticking to classical ballet, if any ballet at all, from now on.

4) Agricultural Salon. Awesome. We've spent all this time reading and hearing about the French and their ties to their land, farms, animals, and food, and I got to really see it in action at the Salon d'Agriculture. It would be difficult to choose a favorite part, although the ENORMOUS livestock definitely makes the list, and, who am I kidding, the truffade that Chelsea and I ate left me vowing never to return to the States (seriously, it's this potato-cheese-butter-something delicious dish that's something like a casserole made by the gods). It was just nice to see some down-home French people, in their faded work jeans, next to their prize pig. Soooeeeee!

5) Tour of the Catacombs. One of the coolest extra-curricular (i.e. not included on a walk) things that I did while in Paris, for sure. There's a part of me that's just a little bit morbid, a little bit fascinated with everything skeletons and cemeteries and Halloween, and this trip was a bit of a fix. The way that Paris chooses to deal with its dead is a little bit strange to someone from the States--they're constantly uprooting and moving remains, burying them in the foundations of monuments, and, apparently, storing them en masse in underground caves. So creepy. So cool.

6) The Pierre Boulez concert for tonight counts, yeah? I'm sure it'll be fantastic.

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