Friday, 24 July 2015

St Petersburg 2

Walking the city, Fifa obstructing my cultural programme, fresco fatigue, Othello at Mariinski II

Had a fine view of the city rooftops over breakfast. I then walked through the local neighbourhood visiting the St Nicholas church which was full of worshippers and tourists. I passed the new Mariinski 11 so popped in and bought an expensive ticket for a performance of Othello.

Walked along the river admiring all the boats and naval stuff. I then climbed the 262 steps up to St Isaac dome for the view across the city. I then walked along Nevsky prospect which has many impressive shops and lots of cafes. I had planned to visit the Russian museum but I was turned away because it was closed for a Fifa conference about the World Cup in 2018. I was cross that Fifa has such arrogance and power that it can close a major cultural attraction for 2 days

I then went into the Church of the Spilled Blood with its amazing multiple domes of blue and yellow. Inside the frescoes are awesome with panels depicted the life of Christ and the disciples. Russian orthodox churches don't seem to have pictures of the crucifixion which makes them less violent. But I also tire of frescoes quite easily; they don't have the depth of paintings. I tripped as I was coming out of the church and put a fashionable hole in my jeans and a nasty graze on my knee so I took the fastest route home along the canals. Fortunately I was able to rest my knee just long enough before going out to the opera which was also close by.

The Mariinski II theatre is a beautiful modern theatre with sleek elegant lines. The wall is made of a yellow onyx panels and inside pale wood seats. Othello was set in naval uniform and around a lighthouse. It all felt very appropriate for St Petersburg. The conductor was Valery Gergiev with Maxim Akenso as Othello and Asmik Grigorian as Desdemona. As I watched it I compared it with Othello I saw at the NT last year with Rory Kinnear as Iago and that was helpful to see Iago’s destructiveness. The first interval seemed very long but then I discovered that everyone went up a floor to sip champagne so the second and third interval passed quickly as I joined the crowd, caviar bread sandwiches were also quite cheap. The women were quite smartly dressed with many wearing high stilettos, the men were not impressive, there was also a huge range of casual clothes. I wore a black silk outfit that is my smart outfit when I am traveling, no need for stilettos.

First impressions of St Petersburg the architecture is a treat, the canals are beautiful and link the city in a different way. It is also not too crowded; people seem appreciative of the culture here.

It also fells very strange being here after 10 days in the Baltic States, they were such small countries and Russia oozes power and confidence.

Breakfast view of St Petersburg

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