Saturday, February 23, 2008

Coliseum Theatre

Today I went to see The Mikado at the English National Opera's Coliseum Theatre. This is the Johnathan Miller ("Beyond the Fringe") production, relocated from Tittipu to an English resort hotel in the 1930s. While I must admit I missed the kimonos a tad, I thoroughly enjoyed the cleverness of it, and the splendid performances, particularly Richard Stuart as Ko-Ko, who's been in the production at ENO off and on for twenty years. He's written a book about it, in fact, They'd None of 'Em Be Missed. Another standout was Frances McCafferty as the strong-willed Katisha.
The Coliseum is surprisingly without subtlety in its salute to Rome. Julius Caesar would have approved. The orb at the top rotates and is illuminated at night.
The front top portion of the Coliseum.
Compare this to the photo from 1963, below.

Couldn't they have crammed in a little more decoration in the auditorium?
At one time the Coliseum was not only a cinema, but one of four Cinerama theatres in London. The others were the Casino, now the Prince Edward, the Astoria and the Royalty.

As you can see by this amazing ad, the Casino and the Coliseum were operating at the same time. For more information about Cinerama theatres around the world, visit this comprehensive site.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Royal Opera House Covent Garden

Today I went with my friend Judy to see the Royal Ballet perform Delibes' "Sylvia" at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Here is extensive information about the building and its history. This is the main entrance, and there is an alternate entrance from the Covent Garden side.

A view of the glass Floral Market, which was annexed to the opera house during extensive remodeling in the 1990s.

An interior view of the Floral Market glass canopy.

Here's a shot of the ceiling of the theatre itself. Clever hinged panels, closed here, hide the spots and are are opened during the performance.

Here's a view of the seating along the right side of the auditorium. These are not very good seats as you have obstructed views of one side of the stage. (In those days it was more important to be seen than to see). The top section, however, can be bought at a bargain price. We, however, had perfect seats, dead center in the Amphitheatre on the third row. The production was lavish to say the least though the story was rather obtuse. It dealt with gods and goddesses interacting with humans with the usual misunderstandings and hurt feelings, a rather complex and confounding story to be expected to be conveyed without words, but it hardly mattered considering the degree of splendor that met one's eyes and ears. When a fanciful Arcadian ship glided into dock carrying a bevy of ballerinas, it took the cake, a six layer one, with thick and delicous icing. As with all the ballets I've seen at the Royal Opera, the performances were first rate.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Fortnum and Mason

This is one of the sumptuous windows of the elegant-beyond-words Fortnum and Mason department store. Don't expect bargains, but you'd have to be made of pretty stern stuff not to be just a little tempted by the astonishing variety of luxurious sweets on the ground floor.

Regents Park in February

Though we are supposedly in the dead of winter, you'd never know it if you strolled through Regents Park today as I did. Flowers were in full bloom, birds were singing and some people were sitting on blankets on the short, damp grass.

Regents Park is very formal and elegant with a large rose garden and formal gardens like this one. In the north of the park is the London Zoo.

From Russia

Through April 18th, the Royal Academy of Arts is hosting an exhibit of over 120 paintings of French and Russians working from 1870 through 1925. Read more about this spectacular exhibit here at their official website.

A closer shot of the entrance with a statue of Sir Joshua Reynolds, the first president of the academy.

The magnificent entry arch leading from Picadilly Street.