A brochure in yesterday's mail brought back memories and made me seek out an old program. The brochure itself is about a Black Sea tour by boat this July organized by Johns Hopkins University and led by the pianist and Peabody faculty member Leon Fleisher. (This is not meant to be endorsement, but in case you're interested there are "just a few spaces left". Cabin prices start at $7,895.)
I won't be able to join this tour, but among legendary sightseeing desinations like Trebzon, Odessa and Yalta listed in the brochure is Bakhchisarai (Bakhchysaray) in the Crimea. Well, I've never been to this seat of power of the Crimean khans, but I've seen the ballet. Back in December 1981, our class group was on its way out of the Soviet Union after a semester in Moscow. We stopped in Leningrad (Saint Petersburg) for a week. (After a few months of experiencing life in the Soviet economy not quite as closely as Soviet citizens but closely enough, we were now being coddled by the Soviet tourist industry.) One evening, the class was taken to see the Kirov Ballet perform "The Fountain of Bakhchisarai" (Bakhchisarayskiy fontan), music by Boris Asafiev, story based on a poem by Pushkin. Briefly, Girey Khan of the Crimean Khanate raids a Polish estate and runs off with the nobleman's daughter. She becomes the gem of his harem with tragic consequences. I can't remember much about the music, but there was a polonaise during a ball scene at home in Poland, as there is a polonaise in many Russian ballets and operas. I think the music mainly provided good support for the spectacle of the staging, and the khan's palace was particularly beautiful. Anyone who goes on Johns Hopkins' Black Sea tour will visit the real "imperial Khan's Palace in Bakhchysaray in the Crimean interior".
May 4, Brighton Dam Azalea Gardens
2 weeks ago