Monday, October 22, 2007

I Don't Think We Are in Disneyland Anymore...

How did Disney screw around so much with these fairytales and give me false expectations for life, when really I am destined to view a world that does not work like that? Don’t worry, I’m not talking about my own personal life, but two new shows I saw here in Prague.
Wednesday night, I was quite excited to see Dvořak’s famous Rusalka. I know it was a cross between a Czech folktale and Hans Christian Anderson’s ‘The Little Mermaid’, but I had no idea that the story was so sad. I kept hoping that somehow the mermaid would be able to find a happy ending, but her choice to become a human had cursed her to a life of hell on earth. Prince charming cheats on her with another princess, and only too late discovers his mistake. Rusalka is forced to bring him to his untimely death, and spends the rest of eternity wandering the world, luring travelers into the mist. Happy, right?
Another huge difference is Disney’s glamourous portrayal of these characters. But when you need a fantastic voice, you don’t look for physical beauty. When we switched to the third row of the theater, the prince was no longer so charming, and Rusalka certainly would not have stolen very many hearts...
Saturday morning we had the chance to see Tchaikovsky’s ballet Sleeping Beauty, and were treated to a happy ending. But my goodness, this fluffiness of this performance was so far on the other side of the spectrum that it made Disney look like a frightening story. The battles were more beautiful than dangerous, and after the beauty woke up, there were about 30 minutes of solo dancing by kittens and Little Red Riding Hood. The theater was filled with children, and I think we were a little old for the kitschiness of the performance... Regardless, the dancing was magnificent.
I guess the lesson I learned is you need a happy medium. When it is too tragic, it is to lifelike and I cannot look at the story as a fairytale. But if you do a fouette in order to defeat to kill the evil wizard, something is wrong.
Couple of questions to answer:
1) From mom: Tell me more about your professor Jan and how he has survived psychologically after the Holocaust. How old is he and therefore how old was he during the Holocaust?
Jan seems to be in a pretty good shape psychologically. Like I mentioned before, the one downfall I have seen in his psychological state is he is very stubborn, set in his ways, and he is still a fighter. He has problems listening to other people’s viewpoints, but that may also be just an effect of his age. He lost all of his family in the holocaust, his father committed suicide in front of Jan to escape being capture, so I am sure there is a lot of grief he still faces. I believe he was born in 1919... eventually he was a pilot for England during WWII after he escaped, and this led to his imprisonment in Communist Czechoslovakia for helping the West. Great way to honor a war hero.
2) From Colleen: how do you say i love you and thank you and let's go (like vamanos) in czech?
Well, I love you is mám tě rád, thank you is děkuju, and lets go is jdeme. Vowels with the accent are pronounced exactly twice as long as vowels without an accent, and the haček changes vowels to soft (like pronouncing a y before the vowel). Hope that answers the otazka.

ps, I illegally taped part of Rusalka... you can watch it if you like:

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