Owing to its proximity and imposing nature, l’eglise de la madeleine was one of the first churches that we wandered into when we arrived in Paris. When we saw that l’eglise was often used for concerts, our collective interest was piqued, and thus nearly every version of The List, The Schedule, and finally, The Calendar, have come with some version of “concert at Madeleine.”
It was thus with genuine enthusiasm that on Saturday evening, I tucked our tickets into my coat pocket, confirmed that my heat-tech vest was interfacing well with my overcoat (I’m typically neutral on the subject of layering clothes, as I loathe the tangled feeling that often results from multiple layers of sleeves interacting), and donned my gloves as we walked out of our building and into the piercing wind. Arriving after our brief ride on Ligne 8, I hopped up a few steps, snapped a picture of the edifice while telling the Purrito that “I’m going to need a header for the blog post,” and then headed inside. Madeleine has no glass and a bit of a non-traditional layout; I had heard that the acoustics were excellent. The music, Le requiem de Mozart, was something that I know and love, and often occupied space on my World of Warcraft background music playlist (in the olden days before the world moved on from raiding Onyxia, after which I departed).
I was prepared to have a great evening. I was prepared to love this concert. I was prepared for a repeat of our experience with Orféo at Versailles.
I was not prepared for the orchestra to be fucking terrible.
It may be of note that things didn’t fall apart, but rather they began already-broken; after struggling to recognize even the introduction, I asked the Purrito if something was echoing strangely, or if the music was a near-unrecognizable mess to her as well. She confirmed that an entire section of the small orchestra seemed to be mysteriously off-time, and that it was not just me. As the intro ended, we looked at each other; I said “maybe they’re just in need of a bit more time to warm up.”
Nine minutes into Le requiem de Mozart, we quietly snuck out. In the end, the evening was saved by the discovery of a “Roman” bar (replete with tiled floors, chairs that look like they were stolen from the set of HBO’s Rome, and reproductions of various Roman frescoes) and a nice bottle of Crozes-Hermitage.
We thus had a subdued wake for the not-particularly-dearly-departed Requiem, uncomfortable in our newfound knowledge as to how concerts in hell must sound.