French Word of the Day: ballet (you already know how to pronounce this)- ballet
I’m writing this post, so I haven’t been kidnapped. I hope you’re not all as upset by this turn of events as I am. Really, the Phantom needs to step up his game. Maybe he left because the Opera Garnier has become mostly ballets? I suppose I can accept that.
During the last ballet I attended, Le Parc, I had no idea what was going on. (to view my complete and utter incomprehension, go here: http://meghantravelstheworld.blogspot.com/2009/03/last-night-i-saw-ballet-entitled-le.html ) Although to be fair, it was entirely symbolic. You can’t exactly find a plot when there isn’t one (but of course, I tried).
Paquita, however, HAS a plot. Go Paquita! I know this because I wikipediaed it. I wasn’t having another Le Parc incident. Wikipedia informed me that the main character was a girl named Paquita. (Suddenly, the name of the ballet makes sense!) Paquita is kidnapped by gypsies as a child. She falls in love with a Spanish officer and saves his life when the gypsy king tries to kill him. He returns with her to his family, and they discover that she’s actually of noble birth and (gasp) his cousin. Incest has always been encouraged among nobility, so they marry.
That sounds like a play of a decent length, right? I thought too. I said, “AWESOME! I don’t see any room for symbolism here.”
Eventually I’ll learn that ballets don’t follow the norms of literature what with the rising action and the falling action and the saving the climax until the very end to keep the audience enthralled.
The first 25 minutes didn’t involve an introduction of main characters or plot. Instead, it was what I assume to be the ballet equivalent of break-dance fighting. I was trying to figure out where Paquita and her Spanish officer were, but they hadn’t even entered the scene.
After the 25th minute, the scene changed and the gypsies entered. A girl in a white dress came on who looked like Natalie Portman (from my seat at the back of the opera house she looked like Natalie Portman. I’m sure at the front of the opera house she looks like Danny Devito). I thought to myself, “Self, Natalie HAS to be Paquita!” And then a man who was wearing pants more tight and more padded in the family jewels area than any of the other men on stage entered, and I thought to myself, “Self, only the Spanish officer would try that hard.”
It should be noted that he looked like Paul Rudd with a fro (or 70’s Ken; your choice). Therefore, in my head I referred to the two main characters as Paul and Natalie for the rest of the play.
Because they’re both hot, Paul and Natalie fall in love right away and have the traditional holy-crap-I-love-you-after-two-minutes-together dance.
Then they exit and more break-dance ballet ensues.
I suppose at this point, the writer of the ballet said to himself, “I should probably get this plot moving at some point, shouldn’t I? I mean, nothing really has happened for the first 35 minutes.” So within the next ten minutes before the intermission, he threw in the arrangement of the murder of Paul Rudd, the murder attempt, and Natalie Portman’s brave save of Paul.
It was a rather eventful ten minutes.
When the curtain closed, I thought, “How are they going to spread out the end? There’s not much else happening. Oh! Maybe Paul’s family is going to reject Natalie for awhile before they realize they’re related to each other?”
There I go again, thinking about capturing audience attention with plot. Silly Meghan!
Jenna and I used the intermission to buy overpriced-but-fabulous glasses of white wine and drink them on the balcony. It was the prettiest venue in which I have consumed alcohol. Also, I wanted to make myself readily available in case the Phantom wanted to appear.
(We were on one of the balconies of the second floor- a.k.a. the PRETTY ones.)
When the curtain raised for the second act, Paul and Natalie rushed in and accused the general who plotted with the gypsy king to kill Paul, the general was arrested, Natalie saw a portrait of her father and made a gesture (people can’t talk in ballet. it’s forbidden to have vocal chords) that she had the exact same medallion he was painted with in the picture. Everyone realized that this meant she was his daughter and of noble birth (it doesn’t occur to them that she could have stolen it or that more than one medallion was made and she just has a copy). They began planning her marriage to Paul after a minute of hugging, because while it’s not okay to marry a talented, beautiful gypsy dancer of no relation who just saved your life, marrying your cousin is awesome.
If that was confusing to read, it was also a bit confusing to watch. Thankfully, I had wikipediaed it or I would have wondered why Natalie kept gesturing at the portrait and why she had fainted onstage. Also, the white wine I had consumed at intermission added to my comprehension, because everything makes more sense after a glass of wine.
Again, this part took ten minutes.
I might have tried to spread the plot out a bit more, but the writer decided that 20 minutes of plot was sufficient for a 90 minute ballet. Who really needs a plot for more than a third of the play?
Like I said, I would have done it differently, but then, I’ve never written a successful ballet. Coincidence?
Despite its smashed plot, it really was a gorgeous ballet. It made me wish I could dance like that. And that I lived in the opera house.
Still waiting, Phantom.
Pain au chocolat count: 20