Monday, December 12, 2011

Heaven and Hell... or maybe the reverse?

Faust at the Met

Toulouse has sent me both to heaven and hell. I guess we could start with Hell, since our second night here coincided with Live at the Met! The event? Faust!  This version (music by Gounod, libretto thanks to Goethe) was set in between the two world wars, with Faust as a scientist responsible for creating the atomic bomb.  Interesting.  Though it was already sold out here in Toulouse (the filmed Live at the Met version), someone had returned two tickets just before Marie-Claire and I went into the theatre to ask if any were left.  lucky us!

The Carosel in Place Wilson
So, after a day of hard work on our project (working at a table in the basement of a great creperie), we headed off to the theatre, wandering down the evening streets crowded with revellers: wandering, eating roasted chestnuts, drinking mulled wine, laughing, singing, riding the carosel.  All the elements one might need for a 14th century painting of the temptations! The sweet lure of hell!

Of course, while faust made his deal with the devil, the opera pointed us in the direction of salvation:  heaven awaiting the righteous!  Margueritte was saved in the end (well... actually "hanged" in the end, but saved by being able to renounce her desire for her lover - and the father of the baby she ended up drowning in a baptismal font).  I will say, beautiful opera and all that, but was struck once again by the gendered punishments in the whole thing.  but that is another story.

But having sat through 3.5 hours of Faust (this version by a frenchman), and BEING in France, it did seem that hell needed to be situated against heaven, so I did try to capture a few shots of the churches that were within walking distance of our apartment. The steeples of two churches were visible down one of the streets that turns off La Capitol, so i headed in that direction.  The first church I passed was L'Eglise Notrel-Dame du Taur

Notredame with the shadows climbing

According to the french wikipedia (the source of all my knowledge in this context), legend has it that the church was build on the exact spot where the body of Saint Saturnin came off the bull he was being dragged behind. Not sure if that (being dragged to death by a bull) counts as heaven or hell.  It apparently gets you sainthood, but I can think of more pleasant ways of arriving there!  Still.... lovely to look at, and as I stood watching, I could see the shadows begin to creep up the front of the facade.

St. Sernin
Further down the street, I arrived at the basillica of St. Sernin. Again, you can head off to wikipedia to read more.  Another heavenly building, and another heavenly day....

1 comment:

  1. Loved the pictures. Have one question about the roasted chestnuts. Did you taste them? When I am walking along a street I smell them first and think ... what is that awful smell.

    The next time I am in London I am going to stop and try them ... or at least one. My only experience with chestnuts is making a turkey dressing that called for them, one Xmas. Kelvin must have peeled them for an hour. When Xmas was over, he asked, "Was the dressing really better because of the chestnuts?"

    I couldn't give a resounding yes.

    But as I said above, I think I will stop and try them, for it is not just once that I have passed the fire roasting the chestnuts and thought, "Do people really eat these?"

    I shall report back when I do.


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