Apr 18, 2016

Mermaids and Vampires in Helsinki

Pieni merenneito; Suvi Honkanen, Iga Krata, Eun-Ji Ha, Claire Voss, Stefania Cardaci
Image from http://oopperabaletti.fi//
Whew, what a busy weekend! Hubby and I took the train to Helsinki to see The Little Mermaid at Kansallisooppera on Friday. Another beautiful performance from the Finnish National Ballet.  I was quite exited about it, because this was the first ballet I've seen that utilises 3D-glasses! And it did work, quite well, actually. The 3D added a certain depth to the stage, and I'm sure the little ones loved seeing the turtles and sharks swim into the audience. I'm glad they didn't use it too much, though, as it could easily distract from the the dancing.  Overall, I loved the sets and costuming, but I did have a minor quibble: what was up with the sea witch's costume? A tutu? What were they thinking? She looked like Nosferatu in drag. While I enjoyed The Little Mermaid a lot, this wasn't quite up to The Snow Queen, which will be back this December, yay!

Most of the performances are sold out, but they're showing the ballet live on Friday, April 22nd at 19:00 on their web service. Best of all, it's free! I'm not sure if it'll work for anyone outside Finland, though.  


Before the show, we had dinner at Ravintola Kuu (The name means "moon" in Finnish). The restaurant's been up and running since the sixties. It has a retro, Mad Men vibe; a perfect place to kick back after work and sip a Manhattan cocktail. And the food was amazing. I had their goat cheese salad and the risotto, with a kind of deconstructed carrot cake thing for dessert. Everything was perfectly prepared, and although the menu is quite classic, the dishes had a fresh, modern twist. As a bonus, it's only a block away from the opera house, so it's very convenient for pre-opera/ballet dining.


We also checked out the Japanomania exhibition at the Ateneum. Japanese culture was very much in vogue in the late 1800s, and traditional Japanese art inspired many artists of the age. The exhibition features original Japanese art and works from Nordic artists that incorporate the Japanese aesthetic. Well worth a look, and the gift shop had a bunch of interesting books on Japanese art and culture, as well as bento boxes and other assorted knick-knacks. 

On Saturday, I headed over to Linnanmäki for another performance of Vampyyrien Tanssi (Dance of the Vampires.) I saw it on Valentine's day, and I loved it so much that I immediately booked another ticket. (Hubby went home. He doesn't find singing and dancing vampires in leather pants all that fascinating, apparently.)


The amusement park wasn't open yet, but here's a picture of a creepy woodcarving from the entrance. 


                 The show's at the Peacock Theater, right next to the Sea Life aquarium. 


                                                Don't you love the costumes? 


               It worked out pretty well, as I got to see the alternate cast perform this time. Both casts were     
               amazing. I can't even decide which count I preferred. Jonas Saari was a bit more campy 
               with his gestures and expressions, but in a good way.
                                             (Images from the program booklet.)


 Even though I didn't have time to check out any bookstores on this visit, I did manage to pick up a          
                                           few books from the museum gift shop.


Melkein Geisha ("Almost a Geisha: Charming and Crazy Japan") by Minna Eväsoja, a docent  of Japanese Aesthetics at Helsinki University, is a collection of stories based on her experiences of living and studying in Japan, and the other one is In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki. I also got a new writing notebook in a kimono print and some more blueberry tea. 

And I finished reading Wuthering Heights on the train back to Turku. I really, really hated the book, but more on that later. 

Hope you had a good weekend, too. 

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