Travel to a country at war VI

Sunday 02-04-2023, Odessa.

Zaterdagnacht viel de elektriciteit uit. Liever dan overdag. Alsof je in de wolken zit: sinds de ochtend opnieuw een mysterieuze deken van mist over de stad. Soldaten op straat bij het Grote Pattriottische Oorlogsmonument voor de schouwburg. Hartelijk treffen met twee choreografen uit Odessa, -ex ballerina’s van de schouwburg. Ze repeteren met het balletgezelschap van Odessa een kinderchoreografie voor een sprookjesballet.

On the way back to the hotel I see that in the Pushkinskaya street in front of the Pushkin museum the bronze statue of the great poet is hidden in wooden planks.

The Eastern European equivalent of Shakespeare and Goethe: Pushkin, recognized as one of the greatest poets in world literature. Born in the capital of Moscovia in 1799. Grew up to be small, sinewy, precocious smart and irresistible male for females, with his exotic dark skin – inherited from his great-grandfather, Ibrahim Hannibal, an Ethiopian prince who was adopted by the Great ruler Peter of Moscovia.

His impact on the residents of Odessa was so great that his bust now overlooks the boardwalk in front of Odessa's mayor's office on Primorski Boulevard. A main road is named after him. The Odessa Pushkin Museum is dedicated to him. Pushkin spoke out against the autocratic Moscovite regime and was exiled to Kishinau and Odessa.

The poet lived thirteen months in 1823 in the apartment where this museum is located. He seems to have enjoyed himself in Odessa, but the local governor was by no means happy with him. Annoyed by Pushkin's behavior, he had his post intercepted. He managed to find passages in letters that supported atheism, and thus he was able to persuade the Tsar to banish Pushkin from Odessa as well.

The museum displays original manuscripts of Pushkin's writings and a copy of a page from his masterpiece Eugene Onegin.

Pushkin published his first verses at the age of 15 and was famous before he was 20, both for his poetry and for his passion for noble women, ballerinas and prostitutes. He soon began to keep a list of his conquests and divided them into two categories, "platonic" and "sexual". His astute humor and magnetism made him the darling of the Petersburg salons, as did the fashionable young man he portrays in his great novel in verse, Eugene Onegin. The poet died in 1837 in a duel out of jealousy of his last wife with a Dutch envoy.

Next to the Pushkin museum is the pompous but also magical Bristol Hotel. Walking through the center you make a deep journey in time without prejudice. Am I living in the 21st century? Where can I access the time machine?

Also in the theatre I find myself again and again a completely different time dimension. Back to Carmina Burana: warm reunion with the dancers in the large ballet hall of the theatre. Three hours of fruitful rehearsal from 18:00. It performs excellently. And in between with humor chocolates from the Netherlands. Chocolates with eggnog. To be continued.