On Thursday night, we joined Sarah and her friend at the National Center for Performing Arts, also known at the Egg. There is currently an opera festival going on, and we saw the French opera Carmen.
We walked up to the Egg at dusk, and it was spectacular.
We walked down stairs and into the entrance, but what we didn't see was that the Egg is surrounded by water, which creates an interesting visual effect. Once inside, you can look up and see the current moving above. While this was pretty awesome, Adam pointed out that the cost of maintaining the water could probably fund health care for a small Chinese city. Oh, priorities.
Inside is also very well-designed, from the lighting to the small details, like how this building compliments the Bird's Nest Stadium (this is the Egg, that's the Bird's Nest...get it??).
We were "caught" with a camera when going through security and had to check it with the coat check. It was very confusing at first--usually they just say "please, no flash photography" or something. We realized that it actually makes sense based on where we are. The Chinese are notorious for constantly taking pictures and for trying to evade authorities or rules whenever they can (hello bootleg DVDs!); so they probably prohibit cameras from even entering the theaters, knowing that they can't catch everyone but that they will significantly reduce the number of cameras. Luckily, Sarah smuggled hers in and got some pictures of the theater:
The staging and costumes were beautiful, and we got the perfect bird's eye view from the third tier :)
We knew that the three leads would be foreigners (they alternate with Chinese each night), but weren't sure about the rest of the cast. It turned out that everyone was Chinese: kids from an acrobat troupe, a high school theater group, and the NCPA chorus. While the opera was very good and we both enjoyed it, Adam's critique was that the chorus was just too big and that the stage seemed overcrowded. However, it was quite appropriate for China--way too many people!
Afterward, we went outside and took a few pictures with the sparkling Egg behind us:
What a fantastic way to spend an evening in Beijing!