Everything is Beautiful at the Ballet

Curtain calls at the Royal Ballet
Scottish Breakfast

Today we said farewell to Scotland, but before leaving Edinburgh we thought we should experience a full Scottish breakfast. In the past few years I’ve tried to follow a low-sugar, low-carb diet, but I try not to be too obsessive about it. I make exceptions for special occasions (like birthdays and vacations), so I didn’t feel guilty about this. And I’ve decided haggis isn’t as awful as I was lead to believe.

Wind Turbines

After breakfast, we packed and boarded the train for London. Actually, the train only took us to Preston where we had to switch trains, but it was a relatively painless procedure. Out the window we saw many more sheep, some cows and horses, and a lot of wind turbines. I spent a lot of the time on the train reading the The Scotsman and trying to figure out Brexit. The Scots, of course, voted to stay with the EU in the first place, so this paper’s reporting may be a bit biased against Mr. Johnson.

The Royal Opera House

Our evening entertainment in London was the Royal Ballet. We’ve been to Covent Garden in past visits to London, but this was our first opportunity to attend a performance in the Royal Opera House. We had great seats and a gentleman sitting near us pointed out the royal box where the Queen would sit if she ever came to the opera or the ballet. He then described how he once met the Queen and said she’s more friendly than people think. The three dances were Concerto (Shostakovich), Enigma Variations (Elgar), and Raymonda Act III (Glazunov with choreography by Rudolf Nureyev). It was a lovely evening and we thoroughly enjoyed it because (quoting from A Chorus Line), “Everything is beautiful at the ballet.”

They Can’t All Be Gems

Covent Garden Flower Cart

We started our fourth day in London with a walk to Covent Garden, home of the Royal Opera House . When I think of Covent Garden, I think of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady and Drury Lane, home of the muffin man. We strolled through the markets, looked in the shops, and then made our way to the Royal Opera House. We saw people queuing up in the lobby and learned they were going to a rehearsal of the Royal Ballet. We tried to get tickets but were informed it was for members only. Instead we walked around the building, enjoying the views and the historical displays. It’s a beautiful venue and I hope one day we have the opportunity to see a performance there.

Covent Garden
Street Performers at Covent Garden

We went back out on to the piazza to check out the street performers. At Covent Garden, street acts have to audition for a permit and are given a scheduled time when they can perform. We heard a quartet in the courtyard and then watched a weirdly compelling act by a contortionist. I wish we had more time to explore this area, but we decided to head back to Trafalgar Square and St. Martin-in-the-Fields, a church known for its music and charitable work. Today they had a free lunch concert featuring St. Martin’s Voices Fellows, seven young singers who are participating in the fellowship program of the St. Martin Voices vocal ensemble. They performed choral works and solos by Handel, Purcell, and Mozart and it was a very pleasant hour.

St. Martin-in-the-Fields

Since we were at Trafalgar Square and had a little time to kill, we went back to the National Gallery to see the Courtauld Impressionists  exhibit that we missed yesterday. It’s a small exhibit but worth seeing if you love impressionist painting as we do.

After an early dinner at a pub, we returned to the hotel to change and board a bus to take us to the evening’s show, Strictly Ballroom at the Piccadilly Theater. I really wanted to like this show, but I didn’t. It had a great band, good dancers, spectacular costumes, and lots of energy, but no heart. It was fluff piece that was funny at times but not at all moving. In our discussion afterward, many people said the movie was better (I haven’t seen it), and there was some talk about how theaters have to put on shows that reflect modern musical taste and will draw large audiences (like Mamma Mia) to stay in business.  I’m not sure I believe that.

Strictly Ballroom Marquee

Tomorrow we have a daylong tour including afternoon tea at Westminster Abbey and then Company in the evening. Company is one of my favorite shows and I’ve been looking forward to this new production. I hope it does not disappoint.