This Monday, I had a ticket to see the opera La Boheme at the Royal Opera House. I had purchased it back in October. I decided to spend the afternoon at the National Art Gallery in Trafalgar Square, grab a bite to eat after the museum closed and then go to the opera.
I didn’t have anything special that I wanted to see at the museum so just kind of wandered through the galleries. I visited the Richard Hamilton exhibit currently being offered at the museum. I had never heard of him but he is one of the pioneers of Pop Art. He was born in London in 1922. He is known for his collages and in later works, his experimentation with computers and printers in his art. The exhibit was showing work from his last decade of his career. I can’t say that I was overly inspired or that any of his work “jumped” out at me.
From this exhibit, I wandered through the Spanish and Italian gallery. I enjoyed seeing the works done by Diego Velazquez and Murillo. I remember discovering Murillo years ago and his delightful paintings of street children. Also, saw some of Goya’s paintings, too. In the Italian gallery, I saw paintings by Lorenzo Lotto from Northern Italy. He is well-known for his portraits.
One painting that made me make a direct line to was of a horse. It was a large painting (9.5 ft by 8 ft) in the English gallery where Constable, Gainsborough and Turner were being displayed. This painting that caught my eye was by the English painter George Stubbs (1724-1806). He is best known for his paintings of horses. The painting that I was admiring was of an Arabian stallion, Whistlejacket. The picture that I got of it off the internet doesn’t do it justice but gives you the idea. It is easy to see by this piece how Stubbs became well known for his paintings of horses! I just think that this is a majestic piece!
I was in the process of trying to figure out where the museum was displaying “El Greco” when I suddenly remembered that I had left a towel over the radiator at the apartment….DARN!!! I have a washing machine but not a dryer in this apartment. For the most part, the drying rack that I use works fine except for towels. To help the drying process, I drape them over the radiator when I am in the apartment. However, I don’t tend to leave items on the radiator when I am gone…..except for the times I forget! I didn’t feel comfortable leaving it until I got back from the opera, so made the trip back to the apartment.
It was a quick trip…it was 5:30 when I remembered the towel and the opera started at 7:30. I took the bus which took a half-hour bus ride and 15 minute walk back to the apartment. Took the towel off the radiator. It probably would have been fine but I didn’t want to chance it. A quick snack and then heading back to the subway to get to the opera. I arrived around 7:00 and fortunately, didn’t have to pick my ticket up.
I didn’t think I had seen La Boheme but I had in Portland, ME a couple of years ago. It was wonderful to see it all over again and so very good. At the beginning of the performance, there was an announcement that the part of Rodolfo was being played by Dmytro Popov due to illness of the original singer, Rolando Villazon. There was a huge groan throughout the audience. I thought that Popov did a great job and evidently the audience did as well because there was many “bravos” and cheering when he took his bow at the end.
Tuesday, I was going to go to the movie The Impossible in the afternoon. When I was getting ready to leave, the sun came out and I couldn’t justify spending a sunny day (so rare lately) in the movie theater. I decided to do a walking tour with my guide book. As I made my way to the start point of the walk, the sun went in and it was rather cold. I changed my plans, again and headed for the Victoria and Albert museum where I took the tour offered on the British wing. The guide was so knowledgable!
The British wing is situated on two floors and the tour was only an hour. So much to see, so little time to do it! She showed us the music room from the Norfolk House that was formerly located at St James’s Square in London. Before the house was torn down, the music room was donated and removed panel by panel. It gives the museum an elegant touch!
Another display she discussed was the three piece silver set of a fountain, wine cistern and wine cooler. It is the only known matching set of three pieces to be in existence today. It was commissioned in 1719 by Thomas Parker who later became the 1st Earl of Macclesfield. During this time, if you had wealth, you flaunted it. Well, Parker, certainly was flaunting it by ordering this silver set. It cost 1200 pounds (almost $2,000 today). To put it in perspective, a new coach cost between $100 to $200!
When I visited Kensington Palace last October, I mentioned in my blog about the Great Exhibition of 1851 that Prince Albert helped to organize. They had a display for the Great Exhibition held in Hyde Park. One interesting piece was a model of the Crystal Palace. It was quite a building made of a cast-iron frame and glass. They even had a full size tree in the center of the dome area! After the exhibition, the Crystal Palace was dismantled and reconstructed in Sydenham, south London. Sadly, it was destroyed by fire in November, 1936. I would have loved to have seen this!
After the tour, I was making my way to the cafe to have a coffee and saw this piece of art entitled Breathless. I like it very much. The artist, Cornelia Parker, took old instruments and flattened them to create it.
While drinking my coffee, I decided to go to the movie after all. I walked to the theater and caught the 6:00 PM show. With the exchange rate, my 11 pound ticket cost $18!! Ouch, right? David and I learned early on not to figure the actual cost of things or we would never go anywhere or buy anything. We have decided that this is a chance in a lifetime to be enjoyed and as you have observed by reading this blog…enjoying I am!
The movie I saw was The Impossible based on a true story of a Spanish family who were vacationing over Christmas in Thailand in 2004. They were around the pool at their resort when the tsunami hit. I don’t think that a movie or pictures can capture the magnitude of the devastation but this movie was very well done. I would highly recommend it to anyone. Yes, it was a tragic event but the story is such a beautiful one of human strength and tenacity. Go see it and let me know what you think! I just saw where Naomi Watts received a Golden Globe and Oscar nomination for her role in the movie. Yea!!!
Thursday (1/9) night, I went to see Sleeping Beauty at the Coliseum Theater, just behind Trafalgar Square. It was a magical ballet performed by the English National Ballet. I got my ticket for half-price through “Time Out London”. You pay for the ticket not quite knowing where your seat will be. I have had fairly good luck with past theater performances that I have attended through Time Out London. This time, though, my seat was incredible – first balcony, middle of the stage. It is exactly where I like to sit!
The ballet was very traditional and magical, in my opinion! The ballerinas were wearing tiaras, had costumes with large tutus and danced so gracefully to Tchaikovsky melodious composition. It was a very enjoyable evening!
After such a full week, I was a tad tired on Friday and mostly stayed in. I did make it to the hardware store to buy lightbulbs to replace a couple that had burned out in the apartment. On my way back, I stopped by the grocery store and then came home.
As I write this, it is Saturday, Jan 12. The weather has turned much cooler…the high today was 39* and cloudy. I spent the day inside. Tomorrow is going to be sunny and I plan to visit the Camden Town area, east of Regent Park. Monday and Tuesday, the weather is suppose to be cold and rainy…possibly snow. I hope to see the movie Les Miserable on Monday. Tuesday, I am going to clean the apartment and get ready for my friends, Kyle and Michael’s visit on Wednesday. I am looking forward to playing tour guide and having company for a few days!