Do you know much about cellists? Honestly, I don’t. In fact, I might be the only person in the world to admit this, but: in my life, daily activities, I’m really not that into music. When I’m working at my computer (which is most of the time), I tend to forget about itunes. Though I have an iphone (which is now in the last pangs of a long, slow, death because it’s over two years old), when I’m walking around I rarely ever use its ipod function, not least of all because I never remember headphones. Despite this, I do have a mean fascination for opera and when I lived within striking distance of Manhattan I made it a regular habit to fill-up one of the cheap seats at the Met. This long preamble is all to say that I’m spectacularly lucky. My dear companion knows a thing or two about cellists and though he was out of town (out of the country even!) last weekend, because of his knowledge, I was able to see the cellist Misha Maisky at the Teatro Olimpico here in Rome:
The Teatro is in a part of the city I have never been before, way up north beyond the Piazza del Popolo and the Vatican, near the MAXXI museum, the stadium where the soccer teams play and the other remnants of Rome’s Olympic past. It’s also right, right by the recently opened Ponte della Musica, a lovely/weird pedestrian/bikes-only bridge across the Tiber:
I was expecting the interior of the Teatro to be all lavish with red velvet and gilding, like so many theaters in Italy can be, but it actually turned out to be really plain, which is typical of Roman architecture built in the 1930s (mostly due to the architectural interests of the Fascist government at the time). What was really nice about the theater was that it was relatively small. I was in the second row of the balcony and I had an excellent view:
And once Misha Maisky (who prior to being told of this event by my dear companion, I had never heard of) began playing, the room was electrified, it was awesome in the dictionary definition of the word– I was awed. The man sitting next to me kept leaning further and further forward, straining to better see and hear the wonder of what was happening on stage. If you have never head decent cello playing, go on youtube and search for “Misha Maisky Bach Cello Suite 6” (or 4, or you’ve certainly heard the prelude to #1, even if you don’t know what it is) and prepare to be blown away. I am now officially a cello groupie, and will be on the lookout for any and all future cello performances here in Rome. And if you’re ever lucky enough to have Misha Maisky playing in your city, RUN to buy tickets.
The crowd seemed to be primarily filled with Romans, and generally dedicated cello-lovers, though I did notice that there were a few obviously American tourists in the crowd. And it seemed like such a wonderful thing to do during a vacation; to get WAY off the beaten path to experience a cultural event. For a tourist, going up to the Teatro Olimpico to see a concert would not really be the same as going to La Scala in Milan or the Paris Opera in Paris, or even an event at Lincoln Center or Carnegie Hall in NYC. Those are all well-known tourist destinations. In my perch up in the fifth balcony of the Met Opera, I’ve definitely been surrounded by visiting high-school groups, and obvious, obvious tourists. The Teatro Olimpico on the other hand, is not in any way a tourist destination. If you look for it on tripadvisor and similar sites, it only has one or two reviews and is (erroneously) really poorly rated. But I think this idea, going to smaller, less-well known venues, to see something, is a concept I’m going to adopt in my various travels from this point forward. And in this instance, for those of us lucky enough to see Misha Maisky, we got to see something really, truly astonishing.