Thursday, March 26, 2015

A magical night in Venice

It had been a full day of exploring the sights, eating calzones, taking photographs of picturesque corners, taking a boat ride through the Grand Canal and buying classic masquerade masks.  I was tired and my feet hurt and my face was no longer fit to be in photographs after being in the warm sun for so long.  We were at a fairly quiet street corner where I found some steps to sit on and take a moment to rest.  As I got up to continue my walk through this fabulously gorgeous town, I came across a modest church.  It's small door was open and there sat a small table outside which held flayers for a show tonight, it was an Opera.  This was unexpected! The two young people sitting at the table spoke English and were able to answer my questions: Is this a formal event? No.  Are there seats left? Of course! Price? Inexpensive! When does it start? In about half a hour.  Wow! I never thought going to an Opera in Venice, Italy could be this simple!  Two tickets please!
As we entered the church, I noticed a difference between this church and the other ones that I and all the other travelers toured and took pictures of.  This church did not have elaborate golden altars or sculptures made by Michelangelo or seven story ceilings.  This church was a simple one, it felt cozy and comfortable and friendly with plain walls and wide stair cases.  It did not show off any collectibles or fancy memorabilia.  We casually made a line inside the entrance to wait for the hall doors to open, there were no seat numbers, this Opera show seemed to be very low key.  I could see through the doors that the sun was slowly setting and the day was turning in to dusk.  The doors opened and we entered a large simple hall.  It had a high ceiling with large old wooden windows and painted glass.  The walls were white and bare and the wood floors creaked.  There was no platform or stage for the performance; folding chairs were set up facing the front of the hall, wedding style.  I'm not sure if it was the causal air of the arena or the type of people who chose to go to this event, but whatever it was, it had made the audience highly friendly and kind to one another.  There was a very heavy civilized, smiley, courteous air all around and everyone was happy with the seats they received.  
The Opera was performed on the floor, at the same level of the audience in the front of the hall and at times in the middle of the row between audiences.  The actors/singers were in full costume but minimal make up, it was mostly singing and less acting.  It felt like we were a very large family having an entertaining evening together.  Although I could not understand the Italian language, I could feel all the different emotions portrayed by the performers; maybe it was their close proximity to me, or their great talent but it truly was one of the most enjoyable Operas I have ever been to.
The large wooden windows were open and the fresh night air made it's way into the building, as well as the sound of the narrow street outside and a few passerbys; this made the show even more alluring and romantic.  This casual and down to earth show was shocking to my expectation of a fancy, elaborate and dressed up Italian Operas! 
Then something amazing happened: it started raining! It was one of, if not the first rain fall of the beginning of autumn.  The wonderful smell of earth was raised from the cobble stone streets by the falling rain drops and made it's way into the church hall and into our little show.  The beautiful sound of falling rain was mixed in with the wonderful sound of the music, making it seem like it was coming from heaven.  The smell, the sounds and the feelings at that very moment in time, in that very spot, in that old simple church, amongst those friendly strangers was pure Magic
When the Opera ended and we left the church, the rain had stopped and we were left with the fresh smell of fall's first rain and the sparkle of Venice's narrow alleys.  It was back to being a beautiful moonlit night.
That night, unexpectedly, I had a little taste of magic at a small Opera performance in a simple old church in Venice.

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