Tag Archives: events

2012 Grec Festival: Long-awaited

Another year, another Grec

Another year, another Grec

Give it a try if… What Barcelona offers in terms of world-class performing arts leaves you hungry for more.

Steer clear if… Your main concern in summer is where to get the best bikini wax.

Every year, as I climb the steps leading up to Teatre Grec and reach its impeccable gardens, two feelings invariably take over: I am grateful for having the chance to savour its magic one more time, and bewilder at the idea that someone might not even know it exists. If you are one of them, wait no longer.

Out in the Open

Built on Montjuic in 1929, when the prettier sister of the current economic crisis was raging, Teatre Grec was modeled after a classic open-air Greek amphitheatre. It has turned into a symbol of the performing arts in Barcelona, and every summer it opens its doors to host part of the events of a festival which has widened its scope in the years by adding more and more locations in town. Theatre, music, dance, circus and more: several recognized international productions, complemented by a selection of top-class national projects, enrich the program of this festival, considered by many the peak of the cultural season in Barcelona. A responsive audience – mostly locals, joined by a solid expat segment – usually flocks to the Grec without reserve. They hardly forget to reach the gardens in advance to enjoy some food or a glass of cava and do some gossiping, catwalking or hunting for this year’s summer romance, making this a social event as much as a cultural one.

A stage that may frighten, but often inspires (photo by Josep Aznar)

A stage that may frighten, but often inspires (photo by Josep Aznar)

A Subprime Edition?

The crisis seems to have left its mark on this year’s edition. The 2012 Grec Festival will only last for the whole month of July, one or two weeks less than usual – and the prestige of some shows is perhaps a bit less patent, an inevitable reflection of a tighter budget. While a quick online check suggests that both Jane Birkin and Toquinho may have lost a bit of their shine lately, relative newcomers like Esperanza Spalding and respected veterans like Pascal Comelade ennoble a program that otherwise struggles to fly high in the musical department. Theatre looks more promising, with an ambitious production of “The Master and Margarita” and an Icelandic take on Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” at Teatre Lliure among the jewels of the crown. Circus shows have apparently been emphasized (see “Le Grand C”), while dance proposals verge on the weak side, apart from shows like “Poppea//Poppea” at Mercat de Les Flors or “Concierto/Concepto” (do not miss either!).

A still image from the bizarrely titled "Poppea//Poppea" (photo by Regina Brocke)

A still image from the bizarrely titled “Poppea//Poppea” (photo by Regina Brocke)

Keep the Faith

The festival management – led by newly-appointed director Ramon Simó – has generally lowered prices this year, but also reduced some discounts (just 20% off any show if you see three or more), conceived an irritating redesign of price areas and allowed Tiquet Ramblas to turn the buying process at the box-office into a disgraceful obstacle race in which every possible detail has become a hassle. Yet as I said, never mind! It is always worth making the effort to work your way up to the Grec as often as you can afford – and the other locations are definitely worth a visit.  So do your homework by studying the program (usually published in the second half of May, this time at the beginning of June), and buy the tickets with your most interesting and dependable friends a.s.a.p. to get good seats. Get there early on the chosen night/s, bringing a light jacket just in case; as you wait for the performance, pick a sandwich bar or a café in the gardens and let the summer in. Or even better, book a table with significant advance at the slightly upscale associated restaurant, which boasts amazing views and interesting food at a premium price. See you up there!

UPS Score (Utmost Perfection Scale): 8 out of 10.

Visit Grec Festival – Official website.

Advertisements

Vespres Inedit’s: Refreshing

Not a bad way to start a late spring evening

Not a bad way to start a late spring evening

Give it a try if…
You would like to take an exclusive perspective on Barcelona.

Steer clear if… You are easily scared of heights, or gourmet tapas, or both.

Being in Barcelona at this time of year and not spending the proper amount of time on some terrace is absolutely insane. And how would I ever want you to go insane, my friend – especially with such a great summer ahead. So let me tell you about Vespres Inedit’s.

Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on You

As you prepare to strive for access to a terrace party – the topic of a bold upcoming post – let me suggest you to have a cocktail at the panoramic bar of a cool hotel. Until 22 June, fourteen upscale hotels in different areas of the city (from Casa Fuster to Hotel Me, Majestic and Mandarin Oriental – download the PDF map) are opening their terrace every day from 18h to 21h. Twenty euros will buy you a bottle of Inedit beer and three tapas, or you can simply pay for the cocktails you order. Perfect both as an afterwork option with mates or a romantic weekend treat.

Have one on me...

Have one on me…

The Magic of High Places

I have only visited Hotel Cram’s terrace so far, and found it small but quite relaxing and sophisticated (loved the elegant pool). Who cares if the proposed micro-tapas are a bit useless and ferranadrially pretentious? The magic of such places invites the wittiest conversations, and the sunset washes away the hassles of the day better than Crème de la mer. Considering the wide choice, I will certainly visit other locations on the coming days. Who would miss the most politically correct opportunity to look down on the whole city?

UPS Score (Utmost Perfection Scale): 8 out of 10 + wow!

Visit the official website of Vespres Inedit’s (including a list of the tapas proposed by each venue).’

Download the PDF map of participating hotels.