Monday, February 26, 2007

Return to Georgia

Another long return journey from Kigali to Tbilisi - this time also landing in Bujumbura, Burundi. This time my luggage is taking an even longer way round - and still travelling.

On the plane chatted to a tall Rwandan who works in China; he had studied computer science in China (and chinese) and now works there as a systems engineer, to make money and return to Rwanda eventually. He does not think he will stay in China or marry a Chinese.

Landed in Vienna, eventually and shot round to my favourite Cafe Landtmann. To my surprise, at 9.30 am it was packed - and I could only just get a seat. Where else would a cafe be so busy? The folks in it all had an age and appearance which suggested they should be sitting at their desks rather than spending time in a cafe. Or is this the 'canteen' for the nearby Foreign Office?

Every time I wander round Vienna I find new, lovely little side streets and corners - the centre really is delightful!

In the evening caught half of Boris Eifman's ballet 'Anna Karenina' in the Volksoper. This is a new production for Vienna - the premiere took place last November - but actually Eifman has produced this ballet for his St Petersburg 'Eifman Ballet' some time ago, and toured other countries, including Germany with it. In Vilnius we have had an alternative 'Anna Karenina' with music by Shchedrin (a Royal Danish production). The Eifman production uses music by Tchaikovsky, and this music lover tended to focus on the music rather than the dancing. Also because she had been travelling for about 36 hours by that time, and it was easier to rest the eyes....

In this production the famous train is a tiny toy train, as opposed to a stage filling train in the Vilnius production. The Eifman production has wonderful, but fairly traditional, costumes, a very flexible set and dancing that ranges from classical ballet to modern dance (in the 1920's sense, not post-modern), with an entrancing final scene at the end of the first act. The quality of the dancing was of course great, as you would expect in Vienna.

I know that Anna Karenina is a very fat book, but reduced to ballet it seems a bit of a thin story - girl meets dashing young officer, falls out of love with elderly husband, is torn between lover, husband and son.....not a great deal happens! I assume that this ballet was as short as the one in Vilnius; the first act was finished in less than 45 minutes and there were only two acts....

Yesterday, in Tbilisi, seeing Hamlet again, this time with simultaneous translation. Fantastic performance again - as thought the Director of the British Council. Funny moment - someone sitting in the fifth row answered his mobile phone - Hamlet, in midflow in a chat with his mates, happening to be looking in the direction of the offender, stopped and waited till the conversation had finished....