Outside the theater, groups of Florentines in heavy coats and furs smoked cigarettes and the few little girls that got to stay out this late wore sparkly shoes and jumped in place with excitement. Even though the furs were a bit much in this warmer weather, it was a night at the theater, so we are were dressed as such. La Pergola was built over 350 years ago by the Medici (of course) and is one of the oldest in Italy. Mozart was applauded here, as well as Verdi – nevermind so many famous artists that came after.
We walked through the doors and under the chandeliers. The marble gleamed and the frescoes were brazen against the white walls – painted over and over again over the years. As we walk up the staircase, the noise softens and we’re left following a quiet hallway of numbered wooden doors, but once we find ours and step through, it’s magic.
For wooden chairs upholstered in red velvet sit in the darkened booth overlooking the theater, and as we walk to the edge, I’m reminded again of what old beauty is – detailed.
The ceiling catches your eye first – a giant cascading chandelier throws light up onto the frescoed sky on the ceiling – pastel blues and pink clouds encircle the light with delicate figures draped in unfurling fabrics look down onto the audience. The molding is intricately carved, painted with gold accents and the curved walls hold curtained boxes – one of the first theaters to do so – accented with the dull glow of the blown-glass lamps. Each and every surface was thought out, artfully crafted and cared for – even through the years of refurbishings and renovations. We are so lucky to be able to still enjoy this history under the layers of paint and memories.
The lamps dimmed then and the curtain rose onto the beginning of the Russain Ballet and The Nutcracker – and I can only say that it was truly magical – especially because of the beauty of the theater we got to see it in – just right down the street.