donderdag 12 april 2012

7. Date with an old, unknown friend in La Scala…


La Scala. Nothing special, right?
I don’t know what you think about La Scala, but personally, I can’t help but feel disappointed every time I see it. I mean… aren’t opera buildings supposed to look enormously imposing and impressive and baroque? Take the opera building of a small city like Antwerp for example. Difficult to ignore that one. Or its cousin in Brussels. At least as present. But La Scala? A huge disappointment, I tell you. Some tiny arched gallery and a roof, nothing more to say about it. And yet people everywhere in the world start screaming wooooow and waaaaaaaaw from the moment you even only pronounce its name. I suppose it must have something to do with the inside. The inside of La Scala has to be immensely spectacular to have earned the place such a prestigious reputation. Today I’m going to check if my hypothesis is right and I will do so without paying an expensive entrance ticket. At least, if the seventh point on my Milanese to-do list isn’t too optimistic.
So how is this supposed to work? It’s very simple. You just pay a visit to the La Scala museum. This museum is directly linked to the opera building itself and allows you to see the place where the fancy opera lovers go and drink their glass of champagne during the break. On top, you are able to have a look at the inside of the opera house from the little balconies where people actually sit during the opera. So let’s check it out. Filled with the highest expectations, I step on one of the balconies and see… nothing! Or at least very little. Apparently, I arrived in the middle of the rehearsals of a ballet performance with music of Vasco Rossi. Pinching my eyes, I try to make something out of the dark contours, but it’s all quite in vain. According to my guide, the La Scala interior is completely covered with elegant red velvet and visitors are dazzled by the most beautiful crystal chandeliers and a giant stage. This giant stage is more or less the only thing I can clearly distinguish but unfortunately it’s empty! I arrived two minutes too late and the dancers just went out for lunch break.

I shrug my shoulders and decide to go for a visit of the rest of the museum. I find the personal piano of Franz Liszt, an expensive crystal flute and then I hear the name of an old and dear friend of mine, even if I never saw her face. Malibran. Millions of times, I have walked through the Rue Malibran in Brussels knowing only that Malibran was a famous opera singer who had been living in a charming villa on a little square close by. Now, I find myself suddenly eye to eye with this ardent, Spanish lady to whom the museum has dedicated a whole room. I look at the busts and paintings of this opera legend and eavesdrop on a lady who is telling a group of students the story of Malibran’s tragic life. Apparently, the genius singer used to be a true rebel and insisted on steering the horses of her own coach (quite a scandalous thing to do in those days). One day - Malibran was only 28 years old - a pig escaped and ended up in between the legs of Malibran’s horses causing her to be catapulted in the air, straight in the arms of Death. I look into the dark eyes of this free spirited lady and all of a sudden I don’t feel disappointed anymore. Because even if I continue to ignore what the interior of La Scala looks like, thanks to this visit, my old unknown lady friend of the Rue Malibran finally has a face...

Finally, I know what my old friend looks like...

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