Wednesday, February 2, 2011
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
Port Elizabeth Opera House, South Africa
Yes, the title line is a link to the website ;-)
This is one of the few remaining British buildings that had NOT been destroyed or renamed inappropriately by the "new" government and I am very thankful it is still standing, because it is the most beautiful little theatre, the oldest in Africa in fact, having being built in 1892.
Unfortunately I was unable to obtain any pictures of its fancy old world interior, but I have been inside for a production I went to see (in 2005, when I lived at a hotel a few yards away) and I must say, aside from the distinct ghost vibe in it, that of bygone patrons still having wine and standing amongst modern day guests, the interior does make one forget what era one lives in.
The curtains and carpeting lies regally in dark maroon and the wall decorations are laid in gold, giving it a very royal feel. The furniture and design of the balustrades are truly old English, with heavy Rosewood furniture and velvet drapes, and engraved posts along the majestic corridors and stairs that go up to the gallery. Even the odor in the Opera House is delectably musty, reminiscent of a well-kept museum, because, well, that is what it is.
The top end of the road with the modern Opera House on the left. This pic must've been taken VERY EARLY, as this road in the city center is usually overcrowded with Nigerian drug dealers, vagrants and hookers that makes it one of the most dangerous places in the city.
Today's story comes from Nush's one school friend, Matt.
He told us that he had gone to see a show there and was one of the first people to be seated up in the gallery. Matt had two friends with him who sat three seats in from the side isle and he seated himself two seats in, as not to be bothered by passing people selecting their seats.
He sat for a while chatting to his friends when he noticed a gentleman come down from the back of the entrance and seat himself right next to Matt in the first seat.
The old man was approximately 70 years old, well dressed and had a newspaper which he proceeded to read after he sat down. Matt greeted the old boy and the man returned his gesture with a polite nod.
And so they waited for the rest of the audience to fill the seats below on the ground floor when Matt passed a glance to the gentleman's newspaper, in which the old man seemed quite interested.
To Matt's surprise, the newspaper was dated 6 July 1956!!!
His body shivered at the oddity of it and he quickly turned to tell his friends of this in a most secretive whisper, of course.....but as he turned back and his friends peeked round, the old man had disappeared without a trace, never having walked out of the gallery area!
As they were seated toward the very front, they would have seen the man leave, because it took a bit of a walk to the exit and Matt only had his head turned for a second.
I guess the old man still enjoyed a good show now and then and like many other specters one can clearly feel in the Port Elizabeth Opera House, he fancied a bit of entertainment before joining his gravemates in a toast to bygone days.