As I slowly gained my composure, the music in the Phantom of the Opera had started growing louder. The magnificent melody made it impossible to even hear the sound of my breath, and I inhaled the music as if it was the last amount of oxygen left in the room. I did not only feel goosebumps in my arms but in my entire body, and was slowly transported to another dimension. A huge chandelier in a white sheet shook its cover beautifully as it attempted to create jealousy among the actors, and started to rise and shine gracefully. It swung back and forth like a weightless ghost until it was as high above us as someone on the fourth floor of a building. At that very moment, I recalled the words of our tour guide Banu who swore we would not have single boring moment in this world famous musical. She was absolutely right. My excitement only grew more with each passing moment, just like the fog on the stage. The loud song disrupted my train of thought as the entrance of the first actor sent a shiver down my spine though I was already overwhelmed by the beauty of visual and musical elements of the performance. I had not known until that moment that the arts culture in the City of London was far beyond my imagination. Now I just wanted to close my eyes and get lost in the musical.
Even though I still had not recovered my sense of reality after the dazzling performance of the Phantom of the Opera, I decided to watch another world famous musical with strong connection to London called Les Miserables. But good things do not always come easily as I and two of my friends learned through our attempts to secure last minute tickets. My friends could not stop complaining about having to visit every single ticket office in London to find just three tickets, though it soon became apparent after stepping into the theatre that our tickets were worth every single step we had wasted in their pursuit. Our seats were on the top floor balcony with a spectacular view of the stage. The musical created a rainbow of emotions in me: I cried with Fantine, got angry at Javert, and fell in love with Cosette. It was a very loyal rendition of the classic book, accompanied by great special effects. The huge round part of the stage was rotating to enable Eponine walk through endless streets of Paris while singing the heartbreaking song “On my Own”. The song sent me to a jungle of emotions such as sadness, pity, and anger. Later, when Marius and his friends were singing “Red and Black”, I felt a rebel inside me for the first time in my life. I fought for freedom along with them; I sang, screamed, and cried as if I was their comrade. This musical had turned me into another person. Experiencing the world’s longest running musical has helped me realize that art and music is a lot more than just a harmony of colors and sounds; they are the means to transmit messages between generations, and all of us are part of these messages.
Musicals were not the only form of art I fell in love with, in the City of London. While strolling through the streets, I saw a giant poster in front of the National Gallery, announcing the presence of two sunflower paintings of Van Gogh in the exhibition. Although I am not an expert on paintings, it seemed like a good opportunity to see the work of a renowned artist. I only attended the exhibition on a whim and could not predict its deep impact on me. Making my way through a crowd of thousands of people, I came across Van Gogh’s paintings that had conquered the hearts of millions over time. The moment I took a glance at the paintings, their beauty paralyzed me. The colors in the paintings were the liveliest colors I had ever seen. The shades of yellow casted a spell on me, and my mind was overwhelmed by a bunch of questions. I wondered if it is even possible for a human being to paint these gorgeous flowers, and not only once but multiple times. The flowers transmitted different kinds of energy and different shades of colors represented a variety of emotions: love, passion, hatred, loneliness, despair, and pride among others. This little trip to the National Gallery completely changed my perspectives on art.
Music, visual effects, dance, theatre, and paintings embellished my life with magic whose existence was not known to me before. London was not just a city for me anymore but a magic land where an art fairy turns people into art lovers. I was under the spell of this art fairy during the entire duration of my visit, and find myself under the spell even years later. Now I theatre and musicals like a voracious predator; whenever I see an exhibition, I sense an opportunity for a new adventure. The City of London has left a deep scar on my soul which has come to appreciate art in all of its forms.
Phantom of the Opera. Dir. Harold Prince. Chor. Gillian Lynne. By Andrew Lloyd Webber. Her Majesty’s Theatre, London. 24 Jan. 2014. Performance.
Les Miserables. By CLAUDE-Micheal SCHÖNBERG. Dir. TREVOR NUNN andJohn CAIRD. Chor. John NAPIER. The Queen’s Theatre, London. 24 Jan. 2014. Performance.