This post is the fifth (part two) in MIPTC's travel series, which started on April 5, if you're interested in reading from the beginning. Otherwise, jump in and travel along in this continuing day from part one, above.
Before we stroll through the rest of the city, I would be remiss if I failed to describe the utter beauty of last night's organ, oboe and opera performance at St. Francis of Assisi church, which is next to the Vltava river. It's a bit cold outside and as full-fledged and thoroughly thin-blooded Californians, we're bundled up to the gills. There's a ticket-taker outside the towering, semi-circular at the top and long down the side, red-leather covered in thick gold straps that form multiple diamond shapes in the doors, punctuated by a equally shiny gold button in the middle of each diamond. She charges us each 450 Korunas, or Crowns, about $3.00 at current exchange rates (which given the exchange rate last year would have been about $1.50).
Inside, I am awestruck with the pompous and ostentatious display of gargantuan paintings in the two side naves and back of the church, the brightly colored murals on every inch of the four-story high vaulted cathedral ceiling, the more than life-sized marble statutes littered throughout the church, a raised pulpit with its own "roof," decorated with a raft of smaller statues, that would have made even Billy Graham envious and the multi-level display of Christ's crucifixion splayed from wall to wall and floor to ceiling above the dark marble and gold-inlaid altar. Even the floor is a patterned mosaic worthy of an art gallery. Then there's the organ, certainly not out of place in this church, but much smaller than I would have anticipated given the rest of the architecture.
I am likewise struck remembering Judas' comment to Jesus about what Judas perceived as wasted money used by Mary Magdalene to pay for oil to anoint Jesus' feet. Judas argued that the money spent to purchase the oil should have been spent on the poor, to which Christ replied, "there will always be poor people in the world."
We're advised to sit in the church folding chairs situated to the left of the beautifully carved, ornate wooden pews in order to have a better view of the organ, organist and soloist (I was kidding about the opera part, but she's a soprano, and I wanted to take the opportunity to alliterate the words). Good advice, indeed, although any seat in the church requires you to crane your neck upward at a almost uncomfortable angle. Nonetheless, the music certainly does not disappoint. It is fit for a Pope, if he were there. The music is classical, and from Bach and Mozart, who obviously wrote for the three instruments in use during the concert. Despite all its production, the Easter Glory service at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California can't even compare.
But again, I'm getting off track. I'm not making much progress toward this evening's masquerade ball.