Suriyothai – how my quiet Friday evening became the tragedy of the queen

20160527_214227Instead of heading home for a quiet night last Friday, I meet my friend Pam to catch a ballet opera at the Thailand Cultural Center (Main Hall). It was kind of a last minute thing and I didn’t really know what a ballet opera was. I just knew that it would probably be pretty formal with lots of singing, music, and dancing.

burma king

We had some trouble fining the right building when we got to the MRT stop and had to walk more than what I had anticipated, but I was pretty content about it as my work-out plan for Friday night had been overthrown by this invitation. Finally we found the building which is huge and imposing.



As expected, the Thai ladies – a lot of them older – were dressed to their Ts and took pictures in front of the ballet opera’s backdrop.

Pam didn’t really mention anything about the seats until it was time to go in. She said, we are probably near the front. “Near the front” in English-Thai translation means: front row or spitting distance of the orchestra which was tuning their instruments loudly or almost touching distance from the performers. The hall is enormous and sitting in the front row by itself is quite impressive.



The ballet opera which was put on by the Bangkok Opera is a mix of opera and ballet – duuhhh – although I though there would be more singing. My inner
balance was a bit off, because I kept expecting songs and chorus, but they never materialized. The music, the stage, and the performers were all astounding. My brief google research of the piece in the afternoon revealed that we were going to see a successful historical play.


“Suriyothai premiered in 2013 with five sold-out performances and four additional rounds scheduled a few months later, making it the most widely-attended classical music event in the history of the Thailand Cultural Centre, and probably in Thailand.” Bangkok Post


The story of the queen Suriyothai of Ayutthaya transported everyone back to another time. The beautiful queen, disguised in military attire, sacrificed her life in the last battle during the Burma-Siam war in 1548 to save her husband and her country in a single elephant combat with the King of Burma who struck her down with his lance.



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