Monday, July 9, 2012

Day 8: Concert at St. Nicholas

The Saint Nicholas church in the Old Town Square is a small but gorgeous example of baroque architecture in white and gold. On the right you can git a dim idea of the ceiling painting in the chancel, while on the left the sky is a deceptive blue; it was really a rather grey and cool day. This building dates to the 1730s and is a smaller, less ornate version of the Cathedral of St. Nicholas in the Lesser Town Square we had seen (from the outside) the night before. And no wonder: shortly after its completion (a fire had destroyed earlier buildings), it was closed down as part of Kaiser Josef II's enlightened reforms, the decorations sold, and used as a granary(!). The Russian Orthodox Church was allowed to use it from 1871, and they installed the glorious Bohemian crystal chandelier (below). In 1920, it became a Hussite Church and got new, Neo-Baroque ornamentation that remains today. St. Nicholas was the site of our scheduled Prague concert, on the afternoon of Day 8.

The hour of rehearsal before the concert was a little hectic, because Dear Husband was figuring out the limitations of the two instruments there (a keyboard and an electronic "organ"--more on that in the next post), and I was figuring out how to choreograph the dance since the concert organizers had filled the aisle with chairs! The woman in charge was very friendly and had two of the rows removed so that I could get down the aisle without excessive danger of whacking someone in the head as I danced.

Chandelier in St. Nicholas Church, with organ up in the loft.
The time to change was very quick, and then suddenly we were all walking out to opening applause. The choir sang quite well, although again, not as well as I think they did in Budapest. The audience was receptive, especially to the spirituals. My dance went off almost without a hitch--I did mis-time a few steps and found myself in line with one of the audience member's chairs instead of staggered for arm room--but it worked out. I had also lengthened and slowed the end to better match the choir's parts. Back in my seat to turn pages, I even sang along on the tunes I knew--like "Here I Am, Lord"--but softly, because I was off-key. And zoom! the whole thing was over.

Afterward, it turned out the guy in the chair was a young American tourist was Ohio who, naturally, understood the lyrics and the maestra's explanations, and who greatly enjoyed the concert. I also had an older woman come to tell me in a combination of Czech, German, and maybe English that I reminded her of her daughter, who studied and dances ballet in Vienna, and how appreciative she was.

Day 8 was only half-way gone at this point. We spent the afternoon at the Charles Bridge and the Old Town Square, had a charming dinner (next post but one), and finally made it to that organ concert (the post after that). The very next blog entry will be about the musical instruments Dear Husband got to play during our tour of Central Europe, including one that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart himself used!

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