Our chef stepped lightly over the front row's feet and made her way towards the podium. She had on a pin striped jacket with a baroque pink-ribboned bustle, and her frizzy hair had been straightened until its bouncy ends. The outfit lasted till the end of the prologue. Her hairdo flattened entirely now by sweat and her shapely arms visible in a black strappy dress, the designer bustle had been cast off and so had we.
For three weeks now I have been sitting right under the stage, under the spitty diction of some of our greatest singers, in particular the Swedish Godess - clad in a red Adidas T’shirt and long green silk skirt - Ann Sofie von Otter. Her vocal expression as she degorges Medée’s vengence or sucks in her loneliness, has been a thrilling thing to witness so close, her professionalism sharp as a Sabatier. How dare Le Monde say she is hiding her aging voice with over dramatic pianos.
The first night rolls, and rocks. There is a lot of silk swishing around on stage. Our continuo player uses a vicious palette to colour Medées jealousy, muscled gestures for the King and sexy shimmies of the left hand for Aiglée’s adoration of Thésée. We, in the basse de violon section, know the tunes by now, and we ride our rope thick strings with confidence. When they kiss I am sure someone farts. Ah, the joys of being up close and personal.
The audience’ reception is mad: Rhythmic clapping, hysterical shrieks, an ovation….
Afterwards there is what the French call a ‘Pot’. The foie gras, jamon, home made tarama, burgundy, cheeses and tarts plentiful enough to feed the entire court of Versailles but rather over the top at midnight in Paris must have cost the theatre about 10,000 euros; the same theatre who refused to pay eight out of town musicians’ hotel or subsistence because it was ‘hors de budget’.
On the way home I give my change to a man in the metro in a dirty pin stripe suit without a baroque bustle but with an accordian, singing La Vie en Rose.