I attended the Aida Monumental Opera on Fire last night. The event took place at the gardens of the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi.
When we reached Emirates Palace, there was a huge lineup of cars, and in my head, I thought "here we go...this is Shakira all over again!". But with some creative maneuvering from my dad, we managed to find a parking spot rather quickly. But it seems that the parking area and the opera area were not the same...We had to take a bus that would take us to the place where the opera was taking place. So we waited in line, behind a few other people. There was already a bus waiting there, but it was full. The bus left, and we waited for the next one. And waited. And waited.
Fifteen minutes later, we decided to walk, because we heard an Emirates Palace employee telling someone: "it's a 5 minute walk towards the hotel". So a bunch of us start walking, then another employee sees us and says: "what are you doing? The opera is in the opposite direction, and you can't walk there it's too far, you need the bus".
So we head back to the ever-expanding line, and wait, and wait...and wait some more. Finally, 3 buses show up, and they stop towards the middle of the line. People were being disrespectful and rude, with everyone rushing towards the buses, rather than wait calmly in line like civilized people. We were at the front of the line, but by the time we made it to the bus, there were almost no seats left! But thankfully, at the last moment, we managed to make it on the bus.
The bus took us out of the hotel, and back into the traffic jam of people trying to find parking...ridiculous! But we made it through eventually, and reached the opera area.
Once we got there, we made it through security and ticketing quickly, and managed to find our seats. We had to walk through some sandy areas, which is not ideal when you're wearing high-healed sandals, but it was OK (hey, at least it wasn't a new pair of shoes!).
Unfortunately for us, the weather conditions were not ideal for an outdoor opera that involves pyrotechnic effects. Because of the wind, the backdrop could not be lowered, and the special fire effects were cancelled due to security reasons. And it was so windy, that we actually decided to leave halfway through the performance, because we couldn't take the cold anymore.
The show itself was good (well, the first half at least...). I'd never been to an opera before, and I initially throught that I'd be annoyed by all the high-pitched singing, but I wasn't...As a matter of fact, I was really into the whole thing, and the story of star-crossed lovers Aida and Radames was intriguing. The only thing is that our seats were a bit far, and the subtitles on the screens could have been a little bigger to make them easier to read.
I just really wish we could have toughed it out till the end...But I'm glad to see that Abu Dhabi is taking a step in the right direction by bringing some arts and culture to the city. And it was cool to see so many Dubai people coming to Abu Dhabi to attend an event for a change, rather than the other way round!