Opera Manon at the Royal Opera House was brilliant. It’s all about Belle Époque and fascination with fallen women. Which is kind of funny to think about these days in London. Bit first things first. In 2000 I came to stay in London for 3 months to learn English and fell completely in love with the city. It was fascinating, successful, promising and had a lot to offer. “One day, – I though, – when I can afford living here, I’d come”. I still do come for a visit, 3-4 times a year, ant that’s it.
What I absolutely love about London is choices – theaters, shops, museums, musicals, restaurants… They are endless. And even affordable, most of the time. What is becoming harder and harder to me is an adjustment I need to make in the beginning of every visit, switching off from from punctuated, timely, refined and filtered life in Germany or Luxembourg to a massive wave of all sorts of people and surprises, delays, crowds and, most of all, visible and almost palpable gap between wealth and “bare social minimum”. I literally need to force myself each time to go with the flow and to stop noticing, because my inquisitive mind cannot quite come to terms with the facts and clearly define where I am: it is still a union of subsidized farmers (aka EU) or is it something fast-paced, full of risks and inequalities, like Moscow or Rio?
That is probably why Manon made such an impression. Belle Époque was all about luxury, beauty, pleasures, eating your cake and living in a moment. Courtesans were not only beautiful and expensive, they were independent, influential and attracted the smartest and the most talented minds of the time. It was probably the only career path for a woman back then outside of a marriage and it’s actually amazing how someone could be so strong, independent, tragical and pathetic at the same time. Next to me in the theater were elegant Asians ladies with their predictable LV bags, some of them even wearing evening gowns, and there were noisy students, hurried corporate suites looking at their blackberries, backpacked tourists who brought in hamburgers. Yes, London is all about choices.