Thursday, 24 January 2013

Caroline vs. A Night at the NAC

Growing up in Ottawa, I never quite settled into the holiday season without at least one trip to the National Arts Centre.  This year I forewent seeing The Nutcracker, and instead saw a performance of Handel's Messiah.  Seeing the Messiah isn't as big a tradition for my family, but I always love going to a performance; I constantly listen to the music on my iPod (and the Messiah was even a unit in a music history course I took last year - fun fact, it was actually composed to be performed at Easter!), but with a live performance one really gets to enjoy how animated the singers and orchestra get.
Baritone soloist Alex Dobson, and conductor Paul Goodwin.  From The Ottawa Citizen's review.
Every year the NAC puts on two performances the week before Christmas, and my parents and I were lucky enough to get seats right in the middle of the hall, mere rows from the stage - juuuuuust outside of the "spit zone!"  The choir was made up of singers from the Cantata Singers of Ottawa and Seventeen Voyces, and the orchestra was the NAC orchestra, led by the talented Paul Goodwin.  They were all amazing to watch and listen to, and my eyes would always go back to concert master Yosuke Kawasaki, who would move around in his chair in ways I've never seen a violinist do before.  The soloists were tremendously talented, but as an alto myself I really enjoyed mezzo-soprano Diana Moore; some of my favourite parts of the Messiah belong to the alto soloist, and I almost found myself wanting to sing along.  The performance was given a standing ovation from a full house, and you could really see the happiness in the eyes of the musicians at the realization that their craft had touched so many people.
View of Le Café from across the Canal.  From LE CAFE NAC.
Before the performance, my parents took my brother and me to Le Café, the restaurant in the NAC.  I've always known it was there but had never been before, and I very much enjoyed myself.  It's very popular for office lunches and dinners because of its proximity to Parliament Hill, National Defense HQ, as well as plenty of downtown offices, and both my parents frequent the restaurant with their colleagues.  We even saw MP David McGuinty having dinner when we were there! #OttawaLyfe.  I probably wouldn't choose to eat at Le Café if I was just hanging out with friends - the menu isn't really built to accomodate the student/starving artist budget.  But the food was very, very good, and the service was impeccable, so I'd go back again if someone else was footing the bill, or if I had a real job that provided me more disposable income than the tips I earn as a bartender.  Another selling point for Le Café is that because it is part of the NAC complex, it is easy to get from the dining room to any of the theatres, and the chefs and servers are conscious

I haven't spent much time in Ottawa for the past five years, so when I am at home I always try to rediscover a little bit more of the city I grew up in.

xx, C.

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