RHETORICAL QUESTION: Why is it that I come to Mongolia and for the first time in my life I attend:

The Opera and The Ballet?

My having seen The Phantom of the Opera 20 or 30 times does not count as ‘opera’.

“Dahlings! Phantom is theatre.”

When I went to see MADAM BUTTERFLY ..


I KNEW  that (1) it has a sad / pitiful / tragic ending and (2) I was NOT  going to stay for the second half of the show following the intermission.

When I purchased my ticket for SWAN LAKE I had NO CLUE about its story line / plot. All I knew was that SWAN LAKE is famous for beautiful music and it was a ballet and NOT an opera and that I intended to stay the entire production.

House lights dim .. Curtain raised .. A beautiful maiden wearing a white ballet outfit is on stage. A male (Von Rothbart) wearing all black (head dress and cape) swoops down upon her! The two of them suddenly disappear off-stage house right.

I thought .. “Hum-m-m what-in-the-hell was that all about?”

After the ballet I came home and went (and I mean immediately!) on-line to Google and Wikipedia ..


SWAN LAKE is a ballet composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1875–76. Despite its initial failure, it is now one of the most popular of all ballets.

Odette, a beautiful princess is turned into a swan by Von Rathbart and his curse.

I learn that Von Rothbart is a powerful repulsive, reptilian-like evil sorcerer who casts a spell on Odette that turns her into a swan every day and returns her to human form at night. The reason for Von Rothbart’s curse upon Odette is unknown; several versions, including two feature films, have suggested reasons, but none is typically explained by the ballet.

“Voila! So that is what happened in the first moments of the ballet!”

For the entire rest of the production Von Rathbart wearing all black (head dress and cape) continues to be a presence either lurking just off-stage or lurking on-stage or actively creating mischief front and center-stage.

I am doing what I do not usually do in my Posts, I am getting into details. Gullible does this with grace and ease and pulls-it-off magnificently. I will surely eventually fall head-over-heals into deep water far beyond where I need or want to be. Ah BUT I was absolutely fascinated about SWAN LAKE as I studied Wikipedia.

It turns out that there are MANY various versions / productions / endings of SWAN LAKE.

The biggest difference of productions all over the world is that the ending varies from romantic to tragic. In some Princess Odette and Prince Siegfried together throw themselves into the lake and drown going up to heaven to live forever-in-love.

In other productions the rascal Von Rathbart is totally defeated and destroyed either by all of his other transformed imprisoned swans who turn upon him as Odette and her Prince commit suicide or he is destroyed by Prince Siegfried himself.

Can you non-ballet readers imagine? When you attend SWAN LAKE you do not know which outcome you are going to see. Tragic, suicide by the lovers or Romantic, the destruction of Von Rathbart by the Prince.

Taa-Daa .. I lucked-out!

Yesterday .. Sunday April the 24th 2016 .. in my SWAN LAKE .. at the conclusion of the production Prince Siegfreid snatches Von Rathbart’s evil black head dress from him and throws it at him as Von Rathbart frantically exits the stage house-right.

Where was I before I got totally lost en route to The Forum here?

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A Cap Truth: Be it a sporting event or theatre or you-name-it .. I like to sit-up-high and look-down-upon the event. Tippy top row of the stadium. I crave the balcony in the theatre.

When I purchased my ticket to SWAN LAKE two weeks ago after I saw MADAM BUTTERFLY I could NOT get a seat in the balcony. So I was destined to sit downstairs one row from the back of the main center seating area. I did get a seat on-the-aisle.
DSCN9130[1]My photographic achievements were from zero to nil.

Going in I had decided that I was NOT going to push the envelope photographically and have the staff hit me with the red laser light as happened in MADAM BUTTERFLY. I did however get one photo.
DSCN9132[1]I am downstairs at the back of the theatre. NOT NOT NOT where I want to be.

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RHETORICAL QUESTION: Why Me God? What have I ever done to deserve this God? I don’t understand why these things continue to happen-to-me!

At the intermission I made a bee-line to the ticket office. No one was in-line BUT the lady was very busy doing some paperwork. She simply refused to look-up at me. Patiently I just waited. I could have left and walked off. I didn’t.  She finished her paperwork and (she is one very stern lady) looked up at me.

I handed her my ticket and I said ..

“Ma’am would it be all right IF I go up to the balcony for the second half of the performance. Some people always leave at the intermission and I will just find an empty seat.”

She speaks very little (but some) English.

She smiled. She looked at her computer for a moment.

She made a numerical notation ( 1. 13. )  on the upper right of my ticket ..
DSCN9200[1]Above and below .. see for yourselves .. the ..  1.  13.  ..DSCN9202[1]

And then she handed it back to me. She pulled out the seating chart for the opera house and pointed with a sharp pencil exactly and precisely where I could legally and without fear of embarrassment from an usher sit.

“But But But Ma’am ..” I gasped / I choked ..

She smiled and went back to her paperwork.

Stunned I looked at her notation .. Front Row (the 1) .. One seat to the left (the 13) of the center aisle .. The 50,000 Mongolian tughrik ₮ seats always occupied by season ticket holders.

Patti I just heard you squeel ! 

Listen to me sports fans. Sitting up high is my way BUT BUT BUT front and center is not all bad either. I could see the sweat on the actors foreheads. See the sweat? Hell I could smell them!

Looking back from my new seat front and center.DSCN9139[1]To snap the below photos I just leaned forward and Voila! Below is the red Maestro’s podium.DSCN9148[1]I told Patti I was amazed at the number of ladies in the orchestra.DSCN9147[1]I remain amazed at the number of ladies in the orchestra.

“Ladies I feel like I know you all personally.”
DSCN9149[1]One quick aside here. I was absolutely fascinated watching the percussionist. She would sit there wide-eyed (she was a beautiful lady with large dark eyes) totally idle for long stretches of time .. her drum sticks across her lap .. intently watching both the Maestro and her music. Then she would pick one (or both) of her drum sticks up .. and at a precise moment (sometimes just one single stroke with one drum stick for musical emphasis!) perform her mission. Unbelievable concentration and patience.

I could have reached out and shaken The Maestro’s hand! I mean I WAS RIGHT THERE ..DSCN9153[1]He just reeked of charisma! The penultimate gentleman!

For me it was an .. Absolutely Positively Stunning Experience. Patti it was you and I .. front and center .. at River Dance in Killarney Ireland in May 2006.

The Party’s Over .. It’s Time To Call It A Day .. I had no idea of why these two stayed a little late. I know why .. they have the passion to get it absolutely and totally correct for the next performance. That’s why!

The below photos of the УЛААНБААТАР (ULAANBAATAR) opera house have been my strongest visual impressions of the opera house going back to last July 2015.
DSCN8269[1]Now I have another totally-new-to-me vision of the УЛААНБААТАР (ULAANBAATAR) opera house.
DSCN9179[1]I watched many of the members of the cast exit the venue. I couldn’t leave. The magic of the performance remained with me.DSCN9178[1]The magic is still with me.

Next weekend? Saturday the 30th of April. I will attend a performance of Carmen. Balcony seat .. front row center.

With Love .. With Joy .. The Luckiest Man in the World?

One of them and that’s for sure.

Cap ..

Go ahead Gullible .. Tell ’em .. You watched it happening yourself !  Why me? I’ve no answer ..

7 thoughts on “APR 25, 16 .. THE BALLET .. SWAN LAKE

  1. Jeanne Follett

    Rhetorical question: Why would anyone leave mid-performance? The production saves the best for last.

    Rhetorical question: Why does someone get the seats he wants? Persistence.

    Rhetorical question: Why are people not allowed to photograph live performances, the interiors of certain buildings like Neuschwanstein Castle, some art exhibits, etc? Copyrights.

    You certainly are having an adventure in Mongolia, aren’t you?

    1. Cap Chastain Post author

      Thanks Gullible .. By the numbers ..

      1.1 I did NOT leave the SWAN LAKE production at mid-performance. The users finally asked me to vacate the venue 1/2-hour after the curtain fell.

      1.2 Why did I leave mid-performance during MADAM BUTTERFLY. I went to MADAM BUTTERFLY 100% only to see the interior of the opera house. My mental health did not want any visions of poor little gentle MADAM BUTTERFLY and her sorrow.

      2. You get your seats IF you are early and they are not sold out. I was after a balcony seat after the intermission. No way was I after front and center on top of the orchestra pit!

      3. Other reasons for no photos. Idiots with active flash cameras can break an actors concentration. One time there was a theory (true or not I don’t know) photographing works of art damaged them. In today’s world you don’t want the wrong people photographing the interior of your buildings then attacking same building and occupants. It also disturbs seat mates around you because you camera / cell phone screen is illuminated.

      4. YOU NOT I SAID THIS : You want to slide into your grave with nothing left shouting .. “What a ride!” ..

      Much Joy .. Cap ..

      1. Jeanne Follett

        The entire quote (and it isn’t mine) says, “Life’s journey is not to arrive safely at the grave in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, and shouting ‘Holt shit! What a ride!'”

        I’ve also seen it as “slide in sideways, wine in one hand, chocolate in the other…”etc.

  2. Patti

    Thank you for taking me to the ballet through this post … felt like I was right there with you. Looks like you might have been able to feel the movement of the air as the maestro waved his baton! You are definitely IN THE GROOVE there in Mongolia. Hugs. Patti

    1. Cap Chastain Post author

      I kept ducking and shying away to avoid being hit by his baton!

      I AM in the groove here ..

      Baba Kaps you’re such a clown .. What goes up MUST come down. I really am having to watch my over revving mood.

      Thanks for the feedback .. I feel very good about the post. Love .. Cap ..

  3. Karolynn

    I just read your 4/26 blog on your other site about trying to find the time and track for the train and then you and Patti not getting the same compartment – or something about Patti not being able to do an upper berth. I swear I read that blog before???

    1. Cap Chastain Post author

      YES YES YES you did Karolynn. Right here on Dot.NET. I repeated the story over on blogspot combing several posts here so as to have a clean transition there on blogspot from leaving Goa to arriving into Pondicherry. Smiles .. Cap ..

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