Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Snow and really bad, expensive burgers (Tour: Days 8 &9)

It snowed in Paris!

I took it as a good omen: waking up to snow flurries in Paris isn't something that happens every day of the week, for their winters tend more towards grey skies (which generally aren't gonna clear up), and drizzle. Much as I love Paris, I never have warmed to their winters - for if it's going to precipitate in the unending winter months, I would prefer the white stuff, thank you very much! Call me midwestern!

But there it was: SNOW! It was beautiful, and put me in a great frame of mind to arrive at the Salle Pleyel concert hall for the first time, ready to make the very most of it.


The warm up had a great feel to it, as immediately the orchestra felt at ease in the beautiful accoustic, as did I - I was worried that perhaps I had been terribly spoiled in Amsterdam, but this newly refurbished concert hall cooperated beautifully in relaxing us, knowing that the full palette of dynamics would be ours for the taking.

Now, I'm experienced, and I should know better - but sure enough, in the hallway as the orchestra was tuning up, I say to Christophe, "You know, it's kind of stupid of me to start the concert directly with such an exposed aria, much as I love it!" And we had a little laugh. Well, what did I do? Open my mouth and bobble the very first note like an idiot! But it passed quite quickly, and maybe those friendly acoustics helped mask the "hiccup" a bit (surely not for the live radio, however!), but I was once again reminded about being careful about what you put your attention on!!!! I laughed internally, grabbed my concentration as quickly as I could, and hopefully by the second phrase no one was dwelling on the first!

The concert proceeded really well - immediately I felt the immense warmth of the public (merçi BEAUCOUP, Pareeee!), and both the orchestra and I continue to grow into the program, which feels wonderful. Again, the public here in Paris makes me feel unbelievably fortunate, for there were so many kind words, (and gifts - thank you so much!) and overwhelming good will.

This was very much on my mind today as I did one of four (!) interviews - as the question was posed" "Do you worry about the future of opera?" And I didn't hesitate in my answer. I do not. I know times are hard. I know fear permeates nearly every decision most people are making in these days. I know everyone is on pins and needles waiting for answers to these huge questions floating around the globe - but I think about the energy and the feelings that I have felt on this short tour so far, and I've seen and witnessed first hand the appetite for beauty, for art, for feeling, and for connection. These are things that I think have drawn people for CENTURIES to this art form (and others as well), and will CONTINUE to attract us all in generations to come. I think of the atrocities of humanity that "music" has vanquished, and I just can't imagine that our global "hiccup" will do us in! After all, we have history on our side...

I suppose this doesn't mean there won't be very trying growing pains, adjustments, closings or disasters. There may be. But I do know that we are an imaginative, resourceful and determined people who believe in the power and need for art - so I'm positive we will find our way.

And to put my money where my mouth is, I went out and about for a few hours today on a date with the Eiffel Tower, which, to my surprise, is BLUE! In honor of Sarkozy serving as President of the European Union they have turned the most recognizable structure into a celebration of this appointment:

Eiffel Tower 1

I personally LOVE it and had a ball shooting picture after picture. (As always, you can see more shots on my FLICKR photo page) and after my fingers became frozen from shooting, I hurried home to warm up, called room service and ordered the most expensive, but by far, THE WORST hamburger I have ever had. (I'm sure it tasted worse knowing how much I was paying for it!). I know Paris knows food: fois gras, salmon, haricots verts? All sublime. But come on, mes amis - learn to grill a burger!!! (Or at the very least, cut the price by 80%!)

Eiffel Tower 7

Congratulations to the Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Martti Ahtisaari, who also offers words of comfort with the following quote: "Every conflict can be solved." That is most reassuring.

Next up: London!


janhuigenindeton said...

Hi Joyce!
Love you blog, where do you find the time to write that coherently and so beautifully illustrated with your superb photos ?
Once more success in Barbican. The friend from Switzerland whom I met in CGA will be there also. Say hello to her if she dares to speak 2 u , her name is Gudrun.
She can't almost keep her tears when she hears you 'handle' Handel.
Read the Dutch reviews? Superb!
BTW here in Holland also only 1 Starbucks at Schiphol..;-(
Regards , Joop

Larissa said...

Sorry about that bad burger! Glad the concert went well, and I LVOE the 4 interviews - hot hot hot. So much for Paris snow - whoo baby - we got 2-3 inches of snow last night here - yes, in Houston! I wish I was there - the Eiffel looks very cool.

William V. Madison said...

Every time you set foot in Paris, Madame, it is a good omen.

And what extraordinary pictures! The Eiffel Tower shots are better than the real thing!

Drammy said...

I caught Salle Pleyel on the radio and it was just spectacular! And you can just tell from the applause that the audience absolutely _loved_ everything. Annnd your French is awesome :-]



Paul said...

When you get back home I will cook a burger the way you like

Rachel Budde said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures with us. I set the second one as the backgroun on my computer- love it. I leave for Paris two weeks from today and I am SO EXCITED. It'll be my first time, and I'll be there for both Christmas and New Years. So it was really cool for me to see these, both here and on your Flickr page. Thanks!!

Hariclea said...

Oh wow!! Paris :-) Glad the concert went good, shame on the cook!! Next time, try a cute little brasserie next to the Opera Garnier and ask for Antoine. Charming service, good simple food and the deadliest mousse au chocolat i have ever had! ;-) And I can't thank you enoughhhhhh for the blue wonder which are the pictures of the Eiffel tower! You have magic fingers with the camera. All i got a couple of weeks ago was a bluse flash :-S. Yours is just simply beatiful!!

See and hear you on Saturday!! Can't waiiitttt!! Safe and quiet journey across the channel :-)

pepita said...

i'm so sorry to say that, but how do you dare ordering a Burger here in France ??!!!!! :))))
I would have understood if you have cooked one .. but ordering ... arrrrhhhh ....

I was thinking that you may one day publish a recipes-restaurants-best-meals-places-you've-cooked-or-been-to,but you may also add the worst part of it !

Hopefully, this burger was not an obstacle to your wonderful Pleyel performance. Such a good time once again.

Thanks and enjoy the rest of the tour !

Ann said...

STUNNING shots of the tower!