Sunday, May 17, 2009

Paris-May 2009

Mary in Paris-May 2009

The Kiss-Rodin sculpture in the Rodin Museum on the beautiful rue Varenne


Head sculpture in front of the Église Saint-Eustache

L’Eglise Saint-Eustache is a church in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, built between 1532 and 1632.  Situated at the entrance to Paris’s ancient markets (Les Halles) and the beginning of rue Montorgueil, the Église de Saint-Eustache is considered a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. The small Place René Cassin is located between St-Eustache Church and the gardens of the Forum des Halles.  Its centre is occupied by a monumental sculpture, l’Ecoute - The Listener, sculpted in 1986 by the French artist Henri Miller.    
My standing between the hand and the head gives an idea of the enormity of the sculpture.

Arc de Triomphe-at the center of Place L'Etoile or just L'Etoile, as it is called by the Parisians

Sacré Coeur-my favorite monument in Paris

George V--Lobby Lounge-Galerie

George V Lobby

Fouqet's--declared a National Historical Site

Place Bastille--taken from within Opéra Bastille

Marc Chagall ceiling--Palais (Opéra) Garnier

Palais (Opéra) Garnier-Foyer

This turned out to be a fantastic trip: the flights on Air France, the weather, the hotel. I stayed at the Paris Marriott Champs-Elysées. The hotel is extremely well located as long as you do not object to the hustle and bustle of the Champs-Elysées. However, once you are inside the hotel it is quiet, comfortable, luxurious with well-appointed rooms, and the personnel are gracious, accommodating, friendly, professional.

I attended the ballet Onéguine (Onegin) at the Palais Garnier, the setting for the very popular musical Phantom of the Opera. This was the John Cranko version danced to excerpts of music by Tchaikovsky. The Danseur Etoile (male principal dancer) Manuel Legris will be leaving to become the Artistic Director of the Vienna State Opera. Legris danced the role of Onegin; Clairemarie Osta danced Tatiana and Mathias Heymann was Lenski. Heymann has now been promoted to Danseur Etoile. The orchestra conducted by James Tuggle was outstanding. Although the whole performance was magnificent, I did not feel that Mme Osta conveyed the intense emotional pain of the Tatiana that I had seen at the Vienna State Opera in October 2006.

I also attended Verdi's Un Bal Masqué (Un Ballo in Maschera, A Masked Ball) at the Opéra Bastille. It was sung in Italian with surtitles in French! Evan Bowers (Ramon Vargas, originally scheduled, was ill.) sang the role of Riccardo; Ludovic Tézier was Renato and Deborah Voight was a delightful, if a little robust, Amelia. Renato Palumbo was the conductor. Again the orchestra was magnificent.

The Opéra Bastille, one of Mitterrand's many commissioned monuments, is an architectural wonder as a musical performance hall. The acoustics are superb and the sightline from any seat in the parterre (orchestra) is perfect. In both the Garnier and the Bastille opera/ballet houses the balconies do not overhang any part of the orchestra so that one hears the full beauty of the music.

Both performances were sold out. Indeed, the only indications of the recession were the availability of numerous taxis even when it was raining heavily and the easy access to museums and upscale restaurants.

The Four Seasons-George V is outstanding: the personnel, the service, the cuisine, the friendliness, the decor, the fresh, unique flower arrangements, everything, from the moment you enter this beautiful hotel. I love the lounge (Galerie) with its live piano music, and it overlooks a delightful patio/garden. I have been there many times for a light supper. I have never been to the bar...too much noise. The dining room, Cinq, is exquisite. Everyone should experience it at least once!


  1. Sorry that you did not get to hear Senor Vargas in Ballo.

    Thought you may like to read this (maybe you already have):


    He is also going to sing Ballo in London. I think it starts today.

    Here is an interview he gave recently:


  2. Thank you very much for the info.

    I was sorry to learn that Rolando Villazon will not be singing for a while because of a problem with his vocal chords.