Monday, March 23, 2009

Bravo Bravo!

On my first full day of Rio (the 11th) Gary took me out in the evening to Lapa to see the Brazilian Symphonic Orchestra in concert. They were awesome. A world famous pianist named Maria Joao Pires helped them play Beethoven's 4th symphony for piano and orchestra, and because of her recognition, the prices were higher than normal, but still very affordable compared to American prices at $30 a person.

It was an orchestra like any other, but to see it in Rio, that was pretty cool. One thing that was different about the whole thing was that the production was much more informal that it would have been in the states. When they were going to move the piano out to the front of the stage, they manually had 2 guys moving chairs and stands around to roll the concert grand out. It was sort of funny to watch while sitting in our chairs in somewhat of a silence because it took nearly 15 minutes. It wasn't an intermission even though it felt like it should have been one. Also, the orchestra members exited the stage in the rear, but not all the way, so there were members sticking their heads out from the back looking at the audience. That was pretty funny. They didn't care that we could see their heads. You just wouldn't see that kind of relaxed atmosphere in an American performance.

Gary loved the performance so much. I think he had the loudest and most number of "Bravos!" that I could tell in the audience. I was happy for him. I mean I enjoyed it too, but I could tell he enjoyed it more.

Gary and I were definitely the most underdressed though. I was still dressed in backpacker style, wearing a t-shirt and my convertible light pants from North Face. Gary was wearing camo army pants and a t-shirt as well. The Brazilians in this concert were definitely from a higher class than what I was used to previously. They wore very nice expensive looking clothes just like they would fit right in on Broadway in NYC. When they would get out of their taxis, there were about 30 security guards standing outside escorting them into the music hall. I didn't even know why. It wasn't like there are hundreds of poor people standing there trying to rob them, but maybe they are worried about it because they are so much richer than the poor here.

It's so apparently obvious sometimes how different the rich and the poor are here. The prices of the blocos during Carnaval and the orchestra are just major examples. The football game tickets are like $2.50 because if they were any higher the majority of Brazilians that would attend football games wouldn't go.

Before we headed to the orchestra hall, we walked around Lapa a bit and had some amazing pizza at a place called Carioca de Gemma. Carioca is the word used to describe people who are born in Rio. During dinner there was a 15 minute bout of crazy rain, and I mean *crazy* because during that time the street flooded to knee high level. It was fun to watch from the 2nd floor until we went downstairs and realized we would have to walk through it as well to get to the orchestra hall. I was fortunately able to just take off the bottom half of my convertible pants and walk through the water in my sandals. That made it easier.

Speaking of rich and poor, after the orchestra, we walked outside like 50 meters to the left and joined the Friday night street party. It was like we entered a different world in a 1 minute span of time. Nobody wearing anything fancy. All t-shirts and jeans and shorts, and some women wearing some fancier lighter options. People dancing on the street. Music blaring everywhere from every food and drink cart. Guys walking around selling beers for $1. Just a straight up chilled out venue with no cover charge just to hang out and talk and meet others. That's what it was. It felt like Carnaval but without the blocos.


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