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.
Here (above) is what the venue looked like the day before while they were getting it set up.
Here (above) it’s already looking a bit stormy. The building is Luxembourg Palace, which is the meeting place of the French Senate.
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.
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.
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.
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.