Sunday, April 5, 2009

Florida Grand Nozze

Back in October, for my mother's birthday, I purchased tickets to take her to see Nozze di Figaro at Florida Grand Opera. Before she married my father over 50 years ago, my mother used to go to the Met every week. And this is the old Met. She's never been to what she calls the "new" Met. It all boggles the mind - not just that she's never been to the current Met, but that when she married my father she stopped going to the opera. But let's not even go there...

So when I saw that Elizabeth Caballero was singing the Countess less than an hour from my mother's house, I knew I had to break her non-opera streak and get her out there. My cousin agreed and said she'd buy us all dinner if we "let" her join us. We would have welcomed her without her dinner offer!

So finally 6 months after procuring the tickets, the day of the performance arrived. My brother agreed to watch Alex and I even got him to snap my pre-opera photo on my way out the door:

Then my cousin and I picked up my mom and went down to Ft. Lauderdale. We ate at a nice restaurant called Himmarshee. I had the nut-crusted goat cheese salad and the butternut squash pockets - YUM!! My mom had the striped bass and gnocchi. My cousin had the hanger steak. I still don't know what that is. Ok well I do now that I looked it up to make a link. So I was right, it's not related to airport hangers.

I also had a yummy cucumber-watermelon girltini:

We grabbed one of the waiters and got him to snap a photo:

That's my mom in the brown patterned top and my cousin in the blue shirt. Oh and me in the middle.

For some reason I thought I got tickets in the balcony, but I didn't. The view from my seat:

We were in the 4th to last row in the rear orchestra.

My cousin purchased her tickets several months after I got them. She ended up sitting exactly two rows behind us. Like, right behind us! In the 2700 seat theater. Go figure.

Before the performance I stretched out my arms for a photo of me and Mom. Does she look 81 1/2 to you? Yeah I don't think so either!

The performance itself was really good. Really really good. The orchestra was kind of quiet, but very good. And it was good that they were quiet because except for Lizzy C and one or two other singers, most of them were not loud enough to really fill the hall. Liz, of course, stole the show. And I'm not just saying that - seriously - she is in a total other league than all the other singers in that production. Everyone was very talented, but she just shone out above and beyond everyone else in the cast.

The staging was very very clever. For the first scene there was a bed in the middle and a rack of clothing at an angle on either side:

So all the hiding and misdirection took place around, under, through and in the bed and clothes. Then the scrim behind the bed lifted, the clothing racks were moved aside and the bed was moved back to where a curtain could be pulled around to enclose it - yet another hiding place. Everyone had great comedic timing as they took full advantage of the set. There were lots of supers too. Love a director who uses lots of supers!

Unfortunately, the crowd was less than stellar. What do I mean? Well... in the spirit of Opera Tattler, here's what I noticed. Experienced. Suffered through...

  • There was almost always someone coughing.
  • People around me commented to each other. Constantly.
  • Not only was there almost always someone unwrapping a cellophane candy and folding the wrapper, one nearby person had said cello candies in a velcro section of her purse. It was unbelievable. Imagine... the rip of velcro in the middle of an opera... the cello candy slowly being unwrapped... and of course she folded the wrapper. Ok not worth raising my blood pressure again now.
  • During intermission I overheard someone say, "You really have to be an opera lover to like this one." What???? It's Mozart. It's full of catchy melodies. It has a silly plot. I recommend this to people as a first opera to listen to. What???? Ok calming down now.
  • During intermission I overheard someone say, "Is that it? Is it over" and a few, "Do you want to go now?"
  • People started leaving before the curtain calls. What, is there a last train that they all had to catch? It sort of felt like a baseball game when people leave during the 8th inning to beat traffic because it's obvious who is going to win.
  • People left during curtain calls, ruining my attempts to get a curtain-call pic with my iphone. Not that it would have come out anyway, but still.
And speaking of the curtain call, everyone got a nice reception, but when Liz came out people hooted and hollered and got to their feet. She deserved it!! In fact, the only time there was no coughing, chatting or candy-unwrapping was when she sang her arias. During Porgi Amor and Dove Sono the entire theater went quiet. (Those links are to YouTube videos of Kiri Te Kawana singing those arias) People started applauding before she even finished. So in that way, she stopped the show. She stopped the show of whispers and wrappers.

Afterwards we asked the head usher how to get backstage. I love the directions I always get... This time it was, around the hall, to the left, toward the windows, down the stairs, zig right and then zag left then go through the double doors. And there we were, backstage! Liz was right there, we said hello, she met my mom and cousin and they were starstruck! My mom was still crying from the opera itself. She's a cryer. I get that from her. She doesn't cry when it's sad - obviously Nozze isn't sad - she cries because it's all so beautiful.

Liz had to run - she was on her post-performance high (dare I say, performancegasm?) and she had many friends, relatives and other well-wishers to greet. Then I realized I was standing next to someone with whom I am friends on Facebook because we have many mutual friends and comment on the same stuff all the time, but have never met in person, an adorable tenor named Jason Ferrante. I've actually seen him perform - he was in that Rigoletto I saw way back when. And he's a blogger so I should put him on that list over on the right----> . Anyway of course then I had to try and explain Facebook to my mother. How could I be "friends" with someone I've never met? What do you mean, he's friends with your boyfriend from when you were in the 8th grade, and also friends with a bunch of singers you know? How did you meet? What do you mean, you never have? It was totally surreal to meet him there, but also totally normal, if that makes sense. I should have taken a photo but it my mom and cousin were ready to go - it was past all our bedtimes.

On the way home my mom and cousin couldn't stop talking about " wonderful it all was, especially Liz, and how beautiful she is, and her voice, ohmygod what a voice, and she's so nice and Susan! She shrieked with pleasure when she saw you! And gave you a big hug! And asked about Alex! And remembered that the tickets were for (my mother's) birthday..." it was cute - they were totally starstruck.

Here, listen for yourself - this is from a recent recital.

She's next in another production of Nozze in Seattle, but switching to Susanna. Once she has both parts under her belt, so to speak, I think she should make a video like this:

Heh heh. Love that.

Alex and I spent a couple more days in Florida before heading home to Windy Jersey.

If I get some time home alone in the next few days I'll try to record an "after" to compare with the before.

Next adventure: Rape of Lucretia. Unless rehearsals for Abduction start before that. Assuming the director thinks I'm curvy and "volumptuous" enough...

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