La Sylphide

As you know, I went to see La Sylphide at the English National Opera on Wednesday. It was my second ballet ever, and I loved it.

Not too long ago, I wrote about my desire to do more cultural stuff, especially theatre visits and similar, and boy, have I taken it on board. I have booked a bunch of performances that I want to see. Life is too short, people!

Su and I left the office at around 6pm and walked towards ENO, to avoid any problems because of the imminent Tube strike. We walked fast because we wanted to squeeze in a dinner before the show started at 7.30pm. While power-walking, we were trying to figure out where I could eat (hello, Whole37!). Finally, we decided to eat in Bella Italia, near the venue, because she could have pasta and I could have a simple salad with no weird ingredients. I had to ask the waitress about the dressing, but it was just olive oil and lemon, so it was all safe.

We arrived at the English National Opera with plenty time to spare (have you ever paid the bill by card at a restaurant, while still finishing your dinner?) and because I knew we needed to pick up the tickets from the guest desk, I approached the only desk I saw. It turned out it was the press desk, and the guy pointed at the VIP desk, just across the hall. We finally got our tickets, and went to find our seats.

As soon as we entered the room, we were amazed. We were in the stalls, and very close to the stage. Su and I felt like teenage girls in front of their idols (minus the fainting and crying) and couldn’t stop giggling and mentioning how cool the whole experience was.

The show started with the orchestra playing and the curtain down, and it was strange. We knew it wasn’t a mistake, of course, but it was weird to just listen to the music while nothing else was going on. It would have been different if the orchestra wasn’t in the pit but on the stage, but well. It sort of reminded me of the Disney film Fantasia (and gave me a strong desire to watch the film again… Maybe this weekend!).

Finally, the ballet started. I had done some research before going (I didn’t want to have a similar situation to Woolf Works, when I had no idea what was going on!). This story was set in Scotland, so there was a lot of tartan and kilts. The costumes were beautiful and since we were seated so close to the stage, we could see a lot of detail in the outfits.

James was sleeping on an armchair by the fire, and a sylph dancing around him. At some point, she gave him a kiss and he woke up, seeing her. She quickly disappeared and James became enthralled by her. Nobody else seemed to have seen her, so he dismissed it and went to his bride, Effie. There was a lot of fast dancing and many jumps. Thanks to the men wearing kilts (with boxer shorts underneath!) we got the chance to see their amazingly strong legs every time they jumped ad turned. It was hypnotising.

At some points, the stage was completely packed with people dancing and it was beautiful and mesmerising. The characters did quite a lot of mime that reminded me of sign language, so it was easy to follow the story. It also had some funny moments, like Gurn trying to convince everyone that he had seen the sylph with his own eyes.

The ballet was in two acts, and it went by very quickly. The story was really good – Madge, the witch, was rudely kicked out the main hall by James, so she decided to vengefully trick him into gifting a scarf to the sylph to make her fall in love with him while in reality, the scarf would kill her; meanwhile, Gurn was in love with Effie (James’s bride) and Madge helped him get her.

I really enjoyed that ballet, and I got to chat with a lady during the intermission that told me she went on her own very often, because she was a bit older and she realised that there will come a day when she won’t be able to enjoy it any more. She didn’t want to wait for others to join her. I thought she was right, and so I checked a few other ballets and musicals I really wanted to see (and that I had mentioned before here and on social media) and decided to get tickets:

First on the list is The Car Man, at Sadler’s Wells. Loosely based on Carmen, it closes on Sunday and I managed to get tickets to go and see it before it’s over.

Next, American Idiot, at the Arts Theatre. If anyone asks who my favourite band is, I always say Green Day. I knew about this musical since it opened on Broadway, and I’ve been patiently waiting for it to come to London. I know it has mixed reviews, but I just need to watch it. Next week. I’m buying the tickets as you read!

They’re showing Swan Lake, at the ENO. I’ve wanted to see it for ages, but have never had the chance. It’s not on for long, so I decided to see it in a couple of weeks.

Also, Wicked, at the Apollo Theatre. Again, I’ve seen it’s been playing for ages. I remember when I used to work at Zara, and for some reason used Victoria Station much more than I do now, and I kept seeing the big lights for this musical. I don’t know why I’ve never gone to see it before, but I’ve decided to go in September.

Finally, there’s Star Wars at the Secret Cinema, which I’m organising with Oummou at the moment.

All this is happening in the span of two to three weeks, which feels like an overload, but whatever. I’ve been finding cheaper tickets, or even admin fee free tickets, and truth is I don’t really want to wait to watch these shows. I’m keeping an eye out for other shows that I want to go and see (I would love to watch an opera, by the way, and have signed up for Opera Undressed at ENO, which offers you a pretty good package for your first opera ever!).

Wednesday was such a fun evening, and it was relatively unexpected. I love that I am lucky enough to know people who think of me when they get free tickets or stuff, I really appreciate the kindness.

Now, if only I don’t forget to go to the cinema to watch Inside Out before it’s gone, that would be amazing!!