Breaking News. The Opera House, newly restored, opens on Sept 16, 2013 for its 162nd season. I will miss it, I leave Tbilisi on Sept 14.
In a 2004 letter I wrote: “The Opera House looks like it came from the tails of Scheherazade, which have probably been preformed there many times.”
In 2005 I wrote:
“On Thursday Lika took me to the Opera. It was the opening production of the season, which meant, in Georgia, the opera is Abesalom and Eteri (Esther) by Zakaria Paliashvilli. It is kind of the Georgian national opera.”
“The plot is sufficiently operatic; a love triangle, an enchanted necklace, the hero’s death from lovesickness and the heroine’s suicide after she spends most of the fourth act popping out from behind rocks. From the first time I saw the outside of the opera house, a Tsarist Central Asian Fantasy, I wanted to go in, and the opera was worth it just to see the inside, complete with chandeliers, exotic decoration, and seats with incredibly generous legroom.”
“Lika was afraid I would not like the opera because many of the choruses are based on traditional Georgian folk melodies or church music but, of course those were the parts I liked the best, along with the dance sequences. I found myself rooting for the villain (a baritone) who seemed much better for her, and much more likable than the hero, a prince (and a tenor, of course). He seemed a spoiled brat, being fawned over by his mother and sister. Lika said “typical spoiled Georgian male.” He spent a lot of time striking heroic poses. The heroine would be much happier with the villain.”
“I asked for permission to take pictures in the opera house before the performance. I got permission if I promised not to take pictures during the performance. I honored that. However, during the whole performance, especially the wedding dances and the death, suicide (with the hero’s mother and sister watching) cell phones with built in cameras popped out. I could see the glow of cell phone screens along each row.”
“The opera got a standing ovation, restrained, rhythmic clapping not a spontaneous outburst. At each curtain call the clapping was more intense but the tempo remained the same. The audience liked the villain as well.”