Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A night at the Opera

Since the day I  realized Dubai Opera's first musical would be Les Misérables, my imagination has been buzzing and building up extraordinary expectations of what the show would be. With hubby's travels, it was difficult to find a date that suited everyone as we were double-dating with another couple. I carefully refrained from reading any review but by the time I had reached Downtown that night, those expectations had peaked to unimaginable heights so I slowly attempted to pace myself for a little bit of reality check.

Photo: Dubai Opera

I walked out of the car thinking, "what a great job they did with the parking organization" and took the lift up to the box office trying not to get excited about the show. But as we were collecting our tickets, the fountains behind us exploded with beautiful lights and the promise that something magical was about to happen. What can I say? The universe told me.

Photo: R. Abouzeid

And indeed, it did feel magical walking in that building. 

Maybe the beautiful night and the prospect of being at The Opera awoke the starry-eyed girl within. Or the wind that suddenly surprised us brought back with a fresh breeze the romantic dreamer I had been missing and an air of Beirut and those nights at the theater. 

I am not sure what it was but I know for certain that everything converged and aligned perfectly to remind me of the person I was... and still am. That girl who loves the theater with a passion and who had been missing it without even realizing. Everyday life can sneak up on you like that. Then some moments will just transport you in time to a place that matters and that happens to be right there, within your soul, and which you simply had forgotten even existed. 

Video: R. Abouzeid

As we entered the Opera I felt like it was much smaller than I had imagined. Which was a ridiculous thought when you consider the theater's capacity which can accommodate up to 2,000 guests! Then again, my imagination pushed so far through the wilderness of my mind, I think I would have felt Versailles to be miniscule in that instant. Worry not about my sanity, this state did not last.

Photo: R. Abouzeid

The lights went out and the Opera majestically expanded in a second. It was like someone had slipped some of Alice's "Drink Me Potion" in my glass! I felt so small. The music and the voices shattered like a storm and filled the room and my entire person. It was the most beautiful manifestation I had witnessed on a stage in a long while. 

So much in fact, all I wanted to do was to run backstage and beg them to take me. I would do anything. Sweep the floor of the dressing rooms. Run errands and make coffee. Anything! Just to be close to that stage and that much magic every night.

Video: R. Abouzeid

The performers were phenomenal. The voices of John Owen-Jones, Hayden Tee and Carrie Hope Fletcher still echo. 

The orchestra was brilliant as well and deserved a standing ovation of their own.

Photo: R. Abouzeid

The entire direction was absolute perfection. The set, the costumes, the make-up, the lighting, the sound, the special effects and the amazing projections... Even the smells. That is one sense you cannot really awake when you are watching a screen. But the theater? It is something else. And what would a revolution be without the scent of rifle powder and explosions? Every detail was thought of and executed in harmony, even the most gut wrenching and disturbing moments of the story. Akin to an exceptional piece of music.

Photo: R. Abouzeid

The story is well-known and the musical probably even more. I am not worried about spoilers but I do not want to fill your heads with preconceived images.  

I will confess though, I cried. Three times. These spectacular humans, with nothing other than their voices managed to stir emotions I could not contain. Well, their voices, piercing words, and superb music of course. But still. I am always left like a little girl in awe when I go to the theater. The power of the raw performance is mesmerizing. That human presence completely naked in front of our eyes, larger than life and yet so fragile. There is something magnificent about what happens on a stage.

We understand we are watching a play. We are aware none of it is real. We know the story and the ending. And yet, sure enough, I cried repeatedly. That is the superpower of actors. They can transport us to another plane, a parallel reality which can be as sharp as the actual world we live in.

And to be honest, it is in fact incredibly sad that Les Misérables strikes as a painfully depictive reflection of that very actual world we live in. Wars. Senseless deaths. Children. Humans. Lovers. Enemies. And that glorious urge to rise against injustice. Les Misérables remains as contemporary and relatable as ever. The themes are timeless. History repeats itself. Lessons are leaned and forgotten and taught again. For as long as humans will be humans I guess. There is something painfully eternal and universal about this story and its characters. And it is all the more beautiful because of how it speaks and will continue to speak to all generations.

Photo: R. Abouzeid

The entire experience was massively impressive and days later, I find myself still captivated by the fascination of it all. 

So, why not give yourself the gift of magic too? Les Misérables is still on throughout this long weekend until December 2. Well worth your time if you are staying in Dubai.  



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