Compared to other places of our past(think Fiji, Ethiopia), we are blessed with a nice offering of cultural events, and going to the beautiful Hanoi Opera House (Nhà Hát Lớn Hà Nội) is always a highlight.
This time we decided that Julius should come as well, though it is past his bedtime on a school night. But he was excited about it, he especially enjoyed spending the first 15 minutes walking around and exploring the place, checking out all those different areas and vantage points.
The concert started with a piece by Elger and then swooped through several movements of Dvořák’s “New World”. Unlike concerts in EU or US or Japan, but much like last time here, the conductor actually turned to the audience in between to explain a bit about the piece and the use of the pentatonic scale.
The second half was really great! After the intermission they started with the overture of Bizet’s Carmen. Not many people know that, but 20 years ago I was very active in stage work back in Germany as a chorus singer / extra and Carmen was my first professional production, so, hearing those first few bars on a live stage sent goosebumps down my spine.
And it went on, they basically performed a Carmen-lite version with soloists somewhat dressed up with some acting. I was totally smitten. Especially when the chorus joined and they started singing those parts I knew by heart (only in a different language) …
When they came to the Habanera, the conductor again turned around and invited the audience to sing along! He had one guy from the chorus say the words slowly (Prends garde à toi!) and during the aria turned to us to make sure we sing our part.
Julius would have loved this, but by then he was knocked out (The concert was planned at 90 minutes, we were over 2h by then). He woke up in time for the last big Carmen piece but then he was glad to get back home.
Ok, so, he slept through a big part of the concert (while I saw kids his age and younger being totally awake, but I also saw people we know to have kids his age coming without them) but that will not deter us from the idea of bringing him again next time.