My Dream Shatters – Barcelona’s Liceu Opera House

My knees crack against the seat’s armrest.

Without so much as an “excuse me”, “permiso” or even the Catalan equivalent of “get the hell out of my way”, a woman shoves past me and into her seat next to mine. Since I have an aisle seat, I’m first in the line of fire, with no other bodies next to me to cushion the blows and give fair warning of impending injuries.

I turn to face forward just in time to be rammed sideways again – this time by the woman’s husband as he barrels his way past us and into his seat.

I don’t have a chance to get myself turned around before a third person slams her way into the row – past me, my neighbour (whose turn it is to get pushed sideways), who then, without a pause, points to the seat beside the man, turns and plonks her bottom down without waiting to see if he removes the coat he placed there (he does grab it just in time).

Not a word has been said.

Just:

Shove – Point – Sit

Surviving Intermission #1

I’m in my seat, jotting down a couple of notes about the singers on the piece-of-paper-masquerading-as-playbill.

(Even here, information is hard to come by. I eventually find the paper – with no biographical info about the singers – on a stand next to the main entrance. Ushers do not hand out any type of programmes. Nor do they ask if they can help you find your seat. I never discovered what they actually do.)

What I should have been doing, while sitting in my seat, was check for traffic.

Like when you cross the street – look to one side, then the other.

This time the attack comes, not from the aisle, but somewhere down the row, practically empty as it’s only halfway through intermission.

A woman, picking up speed in the near-vacant row, charges past, heedless of bodies that may be in her way.

I’m almost shoved right out of my seat. The armrest stops my fall.

My purse, originally on my lap, goes airborne and lands in the aisle.

The woman is already up the steps and almost out of the auditorium so she doesn’t hear me.

It’s the only time I’ve sworn out loud in any type of concert venue.

Intermission #2 – Forewarned is Forearmed

During the second intermission (with an opera as short as Boheme, why are two intermissions necessary?), I go to the restroom, stretch my legs a bit, and am still back at my seat ahead of my battle-ready aisle companions.

This time I’m ready. The woman seated next to me arrives and I jump up to let her go by.

Astonishingly, she puts her hand on my shoulder, says “no, no” and tries to push me back into my seat.

Self-preservation is at stake now. I shake my head, smile and remain standing.

I spend the rest of the intermission staring up the aisle, waiting for the rest of my other aggressors to arrive.

I’ve had it.

When I attend operas elsewhere, the mayhem takes place on stage, not in the auditorium.

It’s time to admit defeat and surrender my illusions about this city.

El Liceu – The Architecture

The building itself is a thing of beauty:

Ceiling detail - Liceu Opera House

Grand staircase in marble:

Grand Staircase, Liceu

Ceiling detail, Hall of Mirrors:

Hall of Mirrors ceiling

But despite the Liceu’s architectural elegance and exceptional acoustics, my next operatic experience will take place somewhere safer.

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