Saturday, July 28, 2012

Barcelona, Day 3 - Flamenco

We had tickets tonight to see a flamenco concert at the Palau de la Musica Catalana.  The primary motivation was to see the interior of the concert hall, especially the famous stained glass ceiling.  They were impressive in their fanciful, Modernista way, but clearly designed by someone more interested in making a pretty building than a hall with good acoustics -- there was so much glass and tile in that room that it sounded like singing in a subway station.


The acoustics didn't affect the flamenco concert, though.  In fact, the super liveness of the room helped the dancers' stomps and claps ring out clearly in the room.  I'm no expert on flamenco, but the dancers and musicians seemed to be very good at what they did.  It was all extremely intense and passionate.  Kind of like soap opera characters on steroids.  Pictures, naturally, were not allowed, but here's roughly how it went:

Two guitars strumming, one singer hollering incoherently (except for the words "mi nino!"), two more singers clapping, occasionally joining in with the song.  Two dancers, a man and a woman striding to the center of the floor, glaring intensely at each other . . . then STOMPING! TWIRLING! DEVOURING EYES! RUFFLES! and then stop . . . circling in slow motion . . . very s-l-o-w  m-o-t-i-o-n . . . until STOMPING! GLARING! KICKING! POLKA DOTS! WRISTS! . . . and now posing dramatically . . . even more dramatically . . . then circling again . . . slow wrists . . . snapping fingers . . . maybe a clap or a little heel tap . . . and then STOMPING! ARMS! FRINGE! IT'S TOO MUCH TO BEAR BUT IT'S THE FINALE SO NOW EVEN MORE STOMPING!! MORE ARMS!!! EVERYTHING FASTER!!!!!  SO MUCH FRINGE!!!!!!!! -- and stop.  Wild applause from the audience.  Standing ovation (they've been waiting to give a standing ovation since before the lights first dimmed).  Best. Thing. Ever.

It was fun enough, as concerts go.  The real drawback was the staging and the audience.  The whole performance took place as far forward on the stage as possible, which meant that for most people in the room the dancers' feet were below the heads of the people sitting in front of them.  So everyone spent the whole night straining to see around those heads, causing a ripple effect as one person's movement forced another to move as well.  People didn't understand that if everyone would just sit back and hold still, everyone would be able to see a lot better.  (Granted, I still blame the presenters for not raising the stage or moving the show further upstage to mitigate the problem). In addition, many people in the audience just didn't understand etiquette:  They were clapping or stomping along with the music, taking flash photos, checking their cell phones, talking, draping shawls over their heads and around their boyfriend's neck so that they could lean in and whisper and/or kiss during the show.  It was annoying and indicated that these were not concert-going folk.  I found myself wishing I was in the opera house in Paris, where people know how to behave.

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