Liia Svimonishvili about Estonian National Opera’s production of “My Fair Lady”

My Fair Lady, one of the most popular musicals of all times, is performed at the Estonian National Opera in Tallinn. I can guarantee you will fall in love with a beautiful story of two completely different worlds meeting with a pinch of great romantic, comic and philosophical songs and hilarious dialogues. The main characters are Henry Higgins, a scholar of phonetics, Colonel Pickering, Higgins’s friend and fellow phoneticist, and Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower seller. The main plotline starts from a bet between ambitious Higgins, stating he can make a Cockney speak like a duchess and Pickering doubting that Higgins is successful.

Adorable but ill-mannered Eliza Doolittle is used to making a living selling violets. Her business is far from successful, but her persistent nature and a sharp tongue help her out. Living such a simple and hard life, she is dreaming of becoming a flower girl in a store. Therefore, when she meets a professor who can teach her true English and good manners needed for a dream work, she immediately jumps at the chance. The story of a poorly educated and naughty girl strikes with its simplicity and brevity. Even though the plot is not full of action, it is never too boring to watch Eliza Doolittle grow and change.

A strict teacher of Eliza Doolittle is Henry Higgins, a connoisseur of traditional English and good manners. The presence of his talent is undeniable, but a nasty and selfish character turns him into a real tyrant who is ready to spend days and nights teaching poor exhausted girl just to win his bet. The part of Henry Higgins is played brilliantly. The narcissistic bachelor, unable to get along with any women except for his housekeeper, is a perfect pair with Eliza, even if he does not want to admit it. Their joint scenes with Eliza are explosive and attention absorbing.

This is a musical, full of deep and touching emotions: feeling of freedom and happiness when dancing in the middle of the street, anger and disappointment, crazy love and complete understanding. The director and actors have done everything not to disappoint fans of the famous story. The costumes are gorgeous: every time the fashionable ladies and gentlemen are on the scene, spectators are impressed with all the colours and shapes of the costumes. There is no feeling you are at a theatrical performance but it feels like a real-time event.

Broadway writers Frederic Lowe and Alan Jay Lerner did a great job creating the musical scenes. The most memorable ones are Eliza’s “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” and Henry’s “I am an Ordinary Man…” skilfully translated into Estonian.

The last part of the play is the most impressive one — magnificent and touching ending, once again proving that everyone is made to love and be loved. Even when both a man and a woman are bad-tempered and rebellious, they can successfully change if they will be lucky enough to find each other.

What also should be mentioned is a perfect translation of the play into Estonian. There is no feeling that any of the jokes or dialogs are out of place as everything is successfully adapted to a language that is completely different and full of its own nuances.

Last but not least, good news for those who wish to explore a famous musical in Estonian interpretation but do not feel skilled enough to understand everything in Estonian: the main hall of the Estonian National Opera provides English subtitles that are easy to follow.