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Culture For All

Linda Lippner

Since it is getting dark, like at 14:55 in the afternoon these days, whats a girl going to do with her evenings that start halfway into the afternoon? Stay at work, of course, but the mind wanders to planning the evening as the afternoon slips into night in one blink of an eye.

If it is still early in the workweek and sunlight deprivation hasnt turned me into a couch potato whimpering with feigned exhaustion, I mostly consider going out to take in a cheapie cultural event. And by cheapie, I dont mean bad quality ever. We know that Russians excel in all of the arts, and all of the arts are being performed excellently all over town. Cheapie means few rubles. In fact, what a joy to have so much talent on display all over town and not have to pay NYC or London culture vulture prices.

I try to avoid the Bolshoi, since prices can go sky-high. In fact, since we have only the Novy now, we are paying top dollar sorry, ruble, in order to rehab that Stary one. No, I tend to haunt the smaller venues the Small Hall at the Conservatory, or the off-nights at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, or that crazy Helicon venue. There is the Novy Opera, which is lovely, and has nothing to do with the Stary Opera at the Bolshoi. (Have you seen the singers recently at the Bolshoi Opera? Havent they got a retirement plan for those folks yet?) The NO is a great place to see smaller more intimate opera. And they love to dress down for their Carmen or their La Traviata. Fewer ballgowns and more intimate modern settings and youthful and beautiful singers! There is also the International House of Music, which always has something interesting going on every night in every hall, Small or Bolshoi. Plus, you get the added sensation of being in a very well-lighted flying saucer that has touched down for an evening along the Moscow River Embankment. That is certainly worth the price of a discounted weekday ticket!

If you live in Moscow and want to be a cultural sponge, you go out a lot. Exhaustion can set in, but never boredom. When I head home for good and think back on my many evenings out and about, I might not remember the exact performances, but I will remember the piles and piles of flower bouquets delivered up to performers as they take their bows. I will remember the rhythmic clapping that tells the performers that their talent is appreciated. Very strange to American clapping hands, but quickly learned. And I will remember the well-behaved Russian children, dressed in their finest, and actually paying attention to the performance.

And lastly, I will remember the concerts and operas of Moscow for a reason that keeps me buying those cheapie tickets to see if civilization has finally arrived in the concert halls of this city and WILL MUSCOVITES FINALLY TURN OFF THEIR MOBILES DURING THE PERFORMANCES!!!

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