Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pins and Wings - The Full Adventure

Finally ready, I think, to tell about the entire day of the opera. Surreal as it was.

It didn't start out surreal. Looking back, I realized I wasn't feeling 100% earlier in the day but attributed it to nervous excitement. I even remember thinking, funny, this isn't usually what my body does when I'm excited, but what else could it be. Ha!

Anyway, I actually fell asleep on the train on the way into the city. Another red flag. I fell asleep? On the train? I don't do that. For so many reasons, I simply don't do that. Apparently I do... when I'm not in 100% health.

Met my voice teacher (who is also my friend) and we walked uptown. I was fine, no problems. We had drinks and a very nice dinner at Rosa Mexicano. They made guacamole for us at the table, that's their shtick. They serve it with red and green sauce, chips and warm soft tortillas.

It was part of the prix-fixe dinner.

For entrees, we both had salmon over tropical fruit mole. It was delish. I was so full from the guac that I ate only half.

That triangle is a slice of pineapple, in case you were wondering.

Then, a chocolate hazelnut cupcake for dessert! YUM! I managed to eat all of that of course.

Then we rolled out of there, filled to the gills. I ignored that strange feeling in my stomach, attributing it to overindulgence in food and drink. We crossed the street to the Met where we took the usual photos.


Check out my $2 gloves with the sparkly hearts.


View from my seat in the front row of the balcony... you can see the titles system they have there on the panel in front of the seat.

Me in my seat:

And so the opera began. And as I sat there... the odd feeling in my stomach got... odder... and uncomfortable... and suddenly I felt quite unwell... hot prickly... cold sweat... nausea... stomach gurgles... shaking... I did my best to suppress these feelings while my mind began racing... "Ohmygod I can't be getting sick, here at the Met, during an opera. This isn't happening. And Ohmygod if I am sick how the heck am I going to manage going home on the train? What am I going to do? I can't be sick!!!" And my next thought... "...Maybe I'll just sit on the floor and put my head down on my seat, to rest..." and then my rational brain, what was left of it, said, "Uh... no... better to get out of here..." and then I realized that, as much as I wanted to be there, if part of my brain wanted me to get out of there, I should probably listen... I realized that I no longer cared where I was... so I stumbled up the stairs where the usher immediately came over to see if I was ok. She assisted me to the lobby where I was suddenly surrounded by ushers and the bartender, asking if I was ok, can they help, here's some water, here's a damp cloth, and meanwhile I was quite woozy and my brain had pretty much had left my head and I was sort of watching this all happen. I thought I'd be sick so they brought me to the bathroom. Everyone was so concerned and friendly and caring.

When I came out of the bathroom the house doctor was there and he asked me a few questions. After my trip to the bathroom I was feeling a bit better and the head usher actually unlocked the doors and let me back in! Didn't expect that. (I'll credit my dress for that!) I managed to hold it together until intermission, practically passed out in my seat. People probably thought I was drunk. Whatever. I made myself alert for the singing and snoozed during the talking. And with La Fille, that meant I had a lot of snooze time.

At intermission I realized there was no way I could make it through the rest so my companion asked the usher to call the doctor. The doc and the lead usher brought me down to the doc office, which is this tiny room backstage with a too-large desk squeezed in, a little bathroom and a closet with a gurney in it. It was cluttered with medical equipment.

The doctor was so so nice. I was feeling rather stupid for getting ill (irrational but whatever) and was annoyed at myself that I was missing the performance. He told me that there are 4000 seats there and that someone gets ill every night. Every night. And tonight was my night. Then he asked if I'd ever had acupuncture and would I be willing to try it? And in my woozy state I said, "Sure, why not." So there I was, backstage. On a gurney. With pins stuck in me. I could hear the opera going on. I thought I was hearing on a monitor. Little did I know that this little "treatment" room was basically a short hop, skip and a jump down the hall from the stage and I was hearing it live.

I cannot express now nice the doctor was. He stayed with me the whole time. He treated my physical symptoms and made me feel better about the situation. When I was feeling better, he said that if I promise not to throw up on Diana Damrau he'd let me watch from the stage. I guess I wasn't clear on what he meant, exactly... because surely he couldn't mean, from the stage, right?

So I jumped down from the table and he led me through a set of doors and the next thing I knew, we were in the wings! I was like, holy crap! He kept urging me forward, closer to the stage. It was unreal. I was so excited and still vaguely ill and I was right there like 10 feet from Juan Diego Florez and Diana Damrau and they were singing the trio as I mentioned in my last post. Like, right there. Next to me. And my brain was still floating a bit above my body, it was so bizarre. After we left I joked that had I known I'd get to watch from the wings I'd have gotten sick at the Met long before this. And it was also a sort of familiar feeling since I often watch from the wings when I super. But this wasn't my local opera company. This was the Metropolitan Opera. And that was Juan Diego Florez. And Diana Damrau. Right there. Ahhhhh!!!!!

I watched the rest of the performance on a television monitor from this little couch in the hallway. My friend collected me before the curtain calls and we made our way through the freezing rain into a taxi and eventually back to NJ. I stayed home from work the next day and really wasn't myself until the evening - about 24 hours after it all began.

What an adventure!!! Obviously it was no picnic getting sick and almost passing out, but the experience - acupuncture backstage and a view from the wings - totally bizarre - totally surreal - and looking back - It was almost like a gift!!

Everyone at the Met was so so nice, from the bathroom attendant to the ushers, the bartender to the doctor. Today I sent them a thank-you note.

I'm sure there's more to tell, and no doubt I'll remember once I publish the post. But for now, that pretty much covers it.


Anonymous said...

wow... i didn't know they kept a doctor in house... is this common for most opera houses?

Susan said...

No idea... maybe? I imagine that any venue that holds a certain number of people is required to have some sort of medical person on staff to handle emergencies.