Saturday, August 22, 2015

Classical Music in Athens

Phil and I just returned from an evening in downtown Athens. Earlier in the day, we went to the store, and found this shirt.

This is one of those situations where I don't know if they don't know what the shirt says,
or if they know exactly what the shirt says.
It's 7 euros, if anyone wants me to pick one up for them.

Phil's itinerary for us tonight included dinner at a local restaurant that serves decent pastrami sandwiches, and a free performance of operatic and musical theater numbers by performers from the Curtis Institute of Music at The American School of Classical Studies in Athens. Whew.

New York Sandwiches, where the menus are in English!

This is Phil's grilled cheese pastrami.
It was not bad.
We're just thrilled to find pastrami here.

I didn't know anything about Curtis or The American School for Clas..etc. before tonight. ASCSA is an archaeological institute, and a super-selective center for Americans who want to study everything about Greece. The school is responsible for overseeing all American archaeological projects in Greece, including the Athenian Agora, and Ancient Corinth. It has a really pretty campus, with an abundance of mosquitoes.

Look at the nice building, though!

The Curtis Institute of Music has the lowest acceptance rate of any school in the country. Only 3.2% of applicants are accepted. The conservatory is in Philadelphia, and we probably drove by it at some point during our Philly excursion earlier this year. To be honest, if I had known what we were driving by, I probably still would have been more excited by Federal Donuts. Regardless, the performers were fantastic. They did a few, short arias and duets, then sang a couple show tunes. The pianist kept a running commentary in English between pieces, and was hilarious, though probably not fully appreciated by the non-native speakers in the audience (aka 99% of the people there).

I have two important observations about the performance, and then I'm either going to bed, or going to re-watch South Pacific. First, the audience at classical performances seems to be the same everywhere you go. It's mostly old, white, upper-middle class people. I guess that makes sense, but it makes everything feel a lot stuffier. Phil and I were in cargo shorts and jeans, respectively, just to mix it up a bit. Second, and I may take some heat for this, the single greatest abomination in musical theater is when a white dude deeply entrenched in opera sings "Ol' Man River." Like, come on, man. You wouldn't take Huckleberry Finn to Cate Blanchett and ask her to record an audio book of the novel because she's got a great voice. It just doesn't work.

It just doesn't work.

On that note, please watch this:

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