Sunday, April 27, 2008

No, I Didn't See Juan Diego Florez In His Underpants

Before I write up my account of my day yesterday, I just need to squeal for a second - It just dawned on me this morning - I MET JUAN DIEGO FLOREZ YESTERDAY!!!! And I didn't even make a fool of myself. At least I don't think so.

Ok, squeal over.

Disclaimer: As I've said before, if you want an official review of the opera, go to Opera Chic or the like. I will not be giving a play-by-play of every scene and musical note.

So we start, of course, with the train.

At the station they have these electronic ticket machines. You type a code in for the station you're going to, slip your cash or credit card in and it spits out the tickets. The station was really crowded yesterday morning. One machine wasn't working. The remaining machines were taking forever to approve the transactions, plus many of the travelers had no clue as to how to use them. I got my ticket as the bell went off to signal the approaching train - WHEW!

It was your standard boring train ride, but luckily it was an express.

Got to Penn Station and it was nice out so I decided to hoof it up to the Met, a mere 30 blocks or so. Luckily my Zankel Hall Footwear Experience taught me a lesson, and I was wearing my hiking shoes. When I got warm I tied my purple raincoat around my waist. I was a real fashion icon, I'm sure. Popped into a Starbucks for iced coffee and a sandwich for my picnic lunch on the ledge on the side wall of the Met. Of course I took my sneaks off and let my feet air out during lunch, then slipped on the Fancy Shoes. Wandered around, bought a silly scrabble-themed mug at the opera shop with all opera words on it, bought an overpriced coffee and snack at Avery Fisher hall and finally went in.

Took a few pictures

then made my way to my seat. Denise came in a few minutes later. Then ...the guy on the other side of me starting making these... noises... you know... snorting... coughing... throat clearing noises. Denise thought it was me and asked if I had a cold. I said, "No, that wasn't ME," and then I turned to the guy and said with a very nice smiley tone, "You're not going to do that during the performance, right?" and he immediately popped a cough drop. No waaaay is some sniveling snorting allergic person going to ruin my Juan Diego Experience!

The opera was great! So funny, so cute. Natalie Dessay was great. Beautiful voice - great high notes, great sound and LOUD!!!! Even when she was facing upstage she was loud. She looked like a little bird, all tiny and fragile, and then That Sound came out of her! She ran all over the set, jumping onto backs and into Juan Diego's arms, collapsing on the floor and doing a lot of physical comedy. Juan Diego... when he first came out... in those leiderhosen and that sweater- he was adorable. Trust me, I've never used the words 'liederhosen' and 'adorable' in the same sentence before. And I was so excited to hear him sing I do believe I might have been trembling. Then, of course, Ah Mes Amis - If it wasn't funny I would have been crying. Seriously, my eyes got moist. That happens a lot to me at the opera. Moist Opera Eyes. Then the cheering and hooting and hollering. He stood there and finally took a little bow and said thank you and the crowd went WILD. WILD!! But no encore this time.

Then... intermission. Denise kept checking to see if I was ok that he didn't do an encore. What? Meh? Why would that bother me? I was truly confused. This was all on the way to the bathroom three levels down. Yes, there is a bathroom on the Balcony/Family Circle level. But the bathroom on I think the Parterre Level had no line! Well, a very short line, compared to upstairs. So she took a couple of pictures of me standing next to a railing:

What's funny about this shot is, I climbed up there under the railing, and didn't realize that I had stepped on my skirt and pulled it down a bit. When I got back in line for the bathroom I was like, what am I feeling? Are my pantyhose falling down? And then I realized... It was my skirt! How funny is that! It was halfway down my butt. Hey at least it didn't come off completely! I was laughing and no one noticed. But it looks like a long skirt in that picture.

After the pit stop we got champagne ($17 a glass!) and went back up to the Cheap Seats where they didn't even offer the same champagne at the bar.

On to Act 2: Just as funny, silly and glorious as act 1. Snuck a few pictures:

The quality stinks but you can get an idea of the view from the balcony. Binocs are a must.

Then... Wild Screaming Standing Ovations at the curtain calls. Everyone had huge grins. It was great.

On our way out Denise was funny - she was like, "You should go to Natalie Dessay's fan page and write that you have earrings for her, then she'll put you on the backstage list next time." I stared at her like she was insane. What? Meh? Huh? "Denise, Denise," I replied, "I have my own way of doing these things." She ignored this and went on, loudly, with her fantasy for me... I had to cut her off and explain that as a super with NJ Opera... at which point she cut ME off all excited and said, "That's IT! You can be a super here at the Met and then you'll meet her!" Ok who ever said I wanted to meet her? And... well... I won't even state the obvious about being a super at the Met lest I offend the intelligence of anyone who might be reading this. So I had to cut her off AGAIN and explain that the best way to meet anyone is to be introduced, and I'll be working with plenty of people this summer who could be my "connection" or whatever to meeting other people. She is very enthusiastic! And has the best intentions so it's hard to be annoyed. By then we had made our way down to the main lobby. She had to run but urged me to go to the stage door. I was unsure. I didn't know where it was. She dragged me over to an Official Looking Person to ask how one finds the stage door. The guy totally misunderstood. He said with an Obnoxious Laugh, "You have to be on the list to get backstage." Yeah no sh** sherlock. I said, "Not BACKSTAGE... I'm looking for the stage door where people wait for the singers to come out." He gave me these wacky directions: Down the stairs, through the glass doors, make a left, go through the opening, follow the signs down a narrow hallway that twists and turns and you'll find it there. And that was pretty accurate! The picture in my last post, of the sign duct-taped to the wall, was pretty much what the whole place was like. Construction equipment on the floor, pipes and wires, debris, a twisting and turning passageway with paper signs duct-taped to the wall. Husband joked that maybe they do it to lure the rich opera-goers to a secluded spot where they can then rob them! But no, it did eventually lead to the stage door. There were a few people waiting there, sort of lined up against the wall of the hall. The guy I was next to was kind of strange - sort of socially off... like someone who'd be next to you on an airplane for a loooong flight. He hadn't been at the opera - he listened on the radio and then came. He had this poster of Juan Diego as Almaviva that he got on sale, blah blah too many details, he showed me all his different colored sharpies. you get the idea. I told him that all I wanted was a picture. He said he would take the picture as long as I promised not to get mad if he didn't go a good job... and, he said, after he got his poster signed. Whatever... he was nice and all, but just... well... a strange egg.

There were probably about 10 people bunched up by the stage door, and then a line of people down the wall. I, of course, was in the bunch. I was the youngest of the bunch too. One person in the production was a woman who spoke but didn't sing - she is/was a famous Broadway actress from the 1970s. About 6 of the10 there were there to see her. None of them were under 70. Then a few others in their 60s, then... me.

Every time the door opened, everyone looked and let out a breath. It was like a surprise party, waiting for the guest of honor and each time the door opened it was someone else. One short, dark-haired guy came out and immediately said, "I'm not him!" It was funny.

After about half an hour, the door opened and some nobody came out but someone said, "Oh, I see him on the stairs, he's on his way out. So of course my cool calm demeanor just vanished. Out the door. I had this adrenaline rush, my heart started pounding and my hands were shaking. That just wouldn't do - the iPhone needs a steady hand to take a clear picture! Juan Diego came out about 30 seconds later. I forced myself to be calm. The people right there shoved stuff in his face, "Will you sign this?" Some people were asking him to sign more than one thing. What's up with that? One guy said all dorkily, "Your music makes me happy." I decided then and there: No autograph. I'm introducing myself. In Spanish. So he signed a few autographs and then I Made My Move. I arranged my blouse (ahem), stepped forward (cutting off the weird guy) and said with a smile, "Hola Juan Diego, me llamo Susan" and he smiled said "Hola" and then my Spanish went out the window. I said, "I'm a really big fan... can we take a picture together?" and he said, "Of course," and several people offered to take it. So that weird guy took my iPhone and tried to take the picture. He said he thought it came out blurry. Juan Diego took it from him and said, "Let's see how it came out." He looked at it and it was blurry so we gave it someone else. I showed and explained how to take the picture. It's very easy. You just tap the picture of the camera. No squeezing, no pressing, just... tap. No one could get it. This batch of photos had his head cut in half. Then he was waving the phone in the air, "Does anyone here know how to use an iPhone?" And then I wrote about what ensued in my previous post.

But here's the fun stuff: THEN his WIFE came over and whined, "Juan Diegoooo, you made me RUSH and now what are you DoooOING?" And he was like, "Oh! I'm sorry" and he said he had to go back in but he'd come back out. I congratulated her on their wedding and she very sweetly said thank you. She is GORGEOUS in person, very glamorous. And it's clear who is in charge in that relationship! So anyway he went in and I left. I wasn't going to wait around for him to return - I got my set of blurry pictures.

While we were posing there, several people were taking pictures of us with their own cameras. I'm kicking myself now for running off without giving them my email address. Hopefully eventually one of them will come across my blog or myspace page and contact me. It's a small world, right?

And THAT is the whole story.

One of my friends pointed out that it's a good thing I already met Nathan and also John Osborn because that prepped me not to totally lose it when Juan Diego came out. She's right!

One thing I'm happy about is the fact that I introduced myself to him. Everyone else was just, "Would you sign this?" and shoving things at him. I think that was kind of rude. It's like people forget that a celebrity is a real person and treat them like an object.

I also must say that he's much cuter in person than he is in any photo or video I've ever seen of him. It's what I call the Derek Jeter syndrome, who is also much cuter in person. No, I never met Derek Jeter but we went to see him play with the Trenton Thunder several years ago when he was coming off the disabled list. So photos don't do him justice.

Ok so... the question on everyone's mind: Nathan Gunn or Juan Diego? I already know the answer but I'll save that for another post. It deserves its own post, don't you think?


Lydia said...

I know the feeling of people shoving stuff in star's faces for them to sign. I had Hvorostovsky sign my program, but I made sure I actually talked to him and said more than "You're amazing." I was going to speak to him in Russian, but I totally forgot every bit of it I know as soon as I could talk to him...=)

Anonymous said...

Hi Suzuki Sue! I think I might have found a way to actually post a comment! You know my opera history consists of Madame Butterfly and various assorted Italian operas from I don't always know what you're talking about, but I know it excites you and that that makes me happy! As for which over which, JDF is a good looking man, but I'm all about the Gunn. His voice is simply amazing (not that JDF can't belt it out in grand style!) but I just prefer Nathan...and his arms (snort!). I love the pics though, and you are right, he looks better in these pics than anything commercial I've ever seen. Your story is amazing, and I'm so happy you got to meet him, if even briefly and say hello. TTFN ~Michele

Lydia said...

So I realized my comment on this post didn't make a lot of sense; I'm blonde, what can you do? What I ment to saw was this; I'm also irritated by how rude people can be at the stage door. This is the reason I made sure to actually have a real conversation with Hvorostovsky (and I forgot to tell him my name!) and not just throw something at him to sign, although I did have him sign my program.

OK I hope that made more sense. Time to study!

Susan said...

Lydia, Your comment made sense to me, but I published your follow up comment too. :)

Lilly said...

OMG! If I were to meet Hvorostovsky I'd probably just stand there with my jaw on the floor, not being able to say a word.