There is only one Bolshoi. Last spring, to finish that sentence, I would have said “there is only one Bolshoi Ballet.” But, when I got to the famed theater in Moscow I was schooled. It is actually called, “the Bolshoi Theater.” This matters to me simply because I had intended to go to the imperial palace to see ballerinas glide across the stage and fly around on wires. But what I had unknowingly purchased, was tickets to the opera.
The Enchantress, Tchaikovsky’s obscure opera about a bewitching innkeeper named Kuma (Faust’s’ eternal feminine’), was captivating from curtain up. By act II, though, I still awaited a prima ballerina en point to sneak on to stage — knowing fully at this point that this was an opera and not a ballet. “No! Seeing the ballet here is my destiny!” And apparently, so was seeing the opera. Beneath more than one hundred sparkling chandeliers, among ornate walls of plaster statuettes and gold embellishments dripped in red velvet, I watched the otherworldly, masterful opera. What an unexpected joy (and a fortuitous cause to return.)