Mozart in the rain

It only rained once during the ten days I was in Paris in June 2006, and that was — you guessed it — ten minutes before show time at an open-air opera performance in the Senate Gardens, which are in the Luxembourg Gardens right behind Luxembourg Palace.

A nice announcer on the PA system said the shower had been “annoncé pour cinq minutes” and thanked us for remaining in our seats. After five minutes the rain seemed to be letting up a bit, so they started the overture (the orchestra was under a roof, but someone had to hold an umbrella over the conductor) and the singers and dancers started doing their thing in the rain.

After a few more minutes it became clear that “ça n’a pas l’air de s’arranger”, so they asked us to retain our tickets and come back the following Sunday evening, same time same place. This was lucky for me because Sunday was the only evening I still had free.

Later they sent an e-mail confirming the change of date, which I thought was very good service. They had my e-mail address because I had originally booked online.

Bleachers in the sun

Here (above) is what the venue looked like the day before while they were getting it set up.

Luxembourg Palace

Here (above) it’s already looking a bit stormy. The building is Luxembourg Palace, which is the meeting place of the French Senate.

Medici fountain 2006

I wasn’t the only one to stop and take a picture of the Medici Fountain, which was commissioned in 1624 by the notorious Marie de Medici, widow of the murdered King Henri IV. I wondered what that voluminous lady would have thought of the funny addition to her reflecting pool that was there temporarily in 2006.

La Flûte Enchantée

On Sunday the weather held, so we had an uninterrupted performance of The Magic Flute in honor of the 250th birthday of its composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It was sung in German with French titles. The performance was adequate but not outstanding. There were no Germans in the cast, but they sang the German text well enough; most professional singers can sing in any language if they are well enough prepared. But the spoken dialogues were something else again. They sounded like a class play after an intermediate German class at the Goethe Institute. I would have given the tenor a B- and flunked everybody else.

After the performance of La Flûte Enchantée

But it was fun just seeing and hearing that great and very familiar opera in such a brilliant setting on a cool evening after a hot day of cycling.

Luxembourg Gardens from Montparnasse Tower

Here are the Luxembourg Gardens as seen from the Montparnasse Tower. If you look carefully you might just be able to make out the bleachers behind the palace.

My photos in this post are from 2006. I revised the text in 2020.

See more posts on operas in Paris.
See more posts on open-air performances.

8 thoughts on “Mozart in the rain”

  1. I’ve just taken my B1 German exam at the Goethe Institute I hope I performed well in the speaking test of the four tests that day, I practice every week and take part in a German online group class each week and have a tough teacher. I’m taking on more hours of Italian from next week, it is very important as you indicate to actually learn what you are singing or speaking in depth.
    Best wishes

    1. Good that you’re using the virus-time to improve your German and Italian.
      It really is important to know what you are singing or speaking about.
      I remember one embarrassing revival of Mozart’s Abduction from the Serail where it was obvious from the start that the tenor didn’t understand the spoken German text he was trying to recite.

      1. I agree, I decided to put myself in for the exam because I like to have a goal with a deadline to stay focused on the task at hand. I prefer German because that is the language I have worked on the most but I have taken lessons regularly in Italian and French for years now.

        When I learnt the Grieg cycle Haugtussa in Norwegian I was fortunate that I had a Norwegian friend in the Conservatoire who gave me time to test my pronunciation but before I even asked her to work with me I made sure I’d translated the songs and understood the meaning of them all, perhaps the tenor hadn’t had long to prepare. I draw songs out in storyboards to help to memorise them, it is easier to practice when you have native speakers to practice with too.

  2. Don, Glad you were finally able to see the performance even though the quality of voices may not have been as good as you had hoped for and the dialogues were lacking. However, the Senate Gardens at the Luxembourg Palace is certainly a beautiful outdoor setting for a performance though!

  3. It seems there is no adequate German translation for “bleachers”, maybe “Billige Plätze” ?

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