Every now and then I get *the look* when I tell someone that I live in Versailles. A look of profound respect and deep consideration, which stopped to take me by surprise eventually because I learnt to know the cause: the interlocutor associates right away Versailles with the French royal house and reckons by extension that everyone who lives in Versailles has to be either a descendant of blue blood or at least a magnate who just bought half of the château (that's right: our castle - which, of course, is better than yours! - is magic! It must have at least 86110 halves, to follow the widespread prejudice with dignity...).
The town's reputation is really hard to break, and, while it's true that sometimes you have to spend a small fortune to go to the Opera House, people think that the residents are some overly rich bourgeois who live in castles and whose women are dressed in Chanel suits with Peter Pan collars.
But enough is enough, I decided, so I will try to show to the world, in special posts like this one, that living and having fun and eating well in Versailles don't have to be prohibitorily expensive, nor more frustrating compared with other Paris suburbs (shhhh, don't tell a Versailler that I said Versailles is a suburb, I have the feeling she's not gonna like it...).
Here you go: Versailles' going out for free tip no.1: free classical music concerts at the Auditorium of the Versailles Conservatory.
I am yet to meet a Versailles child of more than 6 years old who's not playing an instrument (with the mention that no, I haven't met *all* of them yet, but I'm making progress!). Some have even turned out quite famous, like The Cure drummer, Boris Williams, or the members of Daft Punk and Phoenix, all born and/or educated in Versailles, and that's because there's a large pool of talent to choose from. In my residence I hear at random times the intricate and enthralling trills of piano playing or violin, flute, cello, trombone, you name it, and even a nice soprano training herself (and yes, it even happens to hear loud rock music from one of my neighbors, on the sound system, and I imagine there must be a teenager in town, home alone. Dear, sweet memories!...)
All these super-talented children have a Conservatory where to spend their young energies and produce themselves in public every now and then, while their parents arduously pray for the youngsters to follow the footsteps of some illustrious predecessors (in case you missed it, Philippe Jaroussky began his career at the Versailles Conservatory, yay to Versailles!!!). Btw, you can recognize who's the parent of whom by following who's recording whose performance.
This evening, the students and their professors performed a piano-four-hands concerto of several Russian pieces (of the well-known Borodin, Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Khatchaturian, Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky but also of the lesser known Arensky, Spendiaryan, Rebikov or Balakirev). In the intimate Auditorium with great acoustics, the magic of the Russian soul was palpable from pair of players to another, on a splendid instrument, a magnificent Steinway piano. I was definitely charmed and will return!
Here's the program for the next representations:
- La musique pour piano de S. Rachmaninov et l'école russe - February 14, 8:30pm
- Concert de musique de chambre - February 15, 6:30pm
- Audition de trompette - February 16, 4pm
- Une soirée avec Francis Poulenc - February 22, 8:30pm