Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Grapes, Chocolate, Laughter and Rain

Had THE MOST FABULOUS adventure yesterday!!!

My friend Anna and I stepped out of our "mom" shoes and cleaned ourselves up for a night out. We caught a late afternoon train and arrived at Penn Station at about 4pm. It wasn't really raining, just spritzing a little, so we decided to walk up to the restaurant, a mere 24 short blocks up 7th Ave. Of course along the way it started to pour. We were leaping over puddles and trying to avoid other people's umbrellas. It was a short walk and we found ourselves at the restaurant rather early, but since it was pouring we had no choice really but to go in. We hung around and when eventually we sat down, along came Johnny O to join us. He's in NYC rehearsing for Armida and I had invited him along. We all had a blast! The food was good but we were having such a silly time I actually forgot to take photos of it. But then... the desserts. Oh.My.God.

I had the panettonne , a tall cake with raisins and hazelnuts that was served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. It was so huge I couldn't finish it. I'm still thinking about that cake and drooling.

John ordered the chocolate mousse. They came to the table with two metal buckets and started scooping mousse and whipped cream out onto his plate until he told them to stop. Scoop, scoop, scoop...

I was so eager to get started on my chocolate thing that I forgot to take a photo of Anna's limoncello creme brulee. I didn't forget to taste it though. It was to die for. Death by desserts. Still drooling as I type this.

While I had the camera out we took some more photos:

Anna and John:

Me and John:

And the other photos are on John's camera so I'm waiting... waiting... waiting for him to email them or post them to Facebook.

When Anna was in the ladies' room she overheard two women talking in excited hushed tones, "Did you see??? John Osborn is here! In the restaurant!"
Isn't that cool, that they recognized him?

He wasn't going to GoW so after taking pics of us under the marquee we parted ways. Once I get those photos, if they're decent, I'll post them.

Inside was crowded!! People everywhere going every which way. It was hard to get around. We did make it to our seat and I snapped a couple photos of my view from row D... which was indeed the 4th row.

The Chorale sat behind the orchestra. I could barely see them if I peeked through the orchestra. Then in front of the orchestra, as you can see, were the music stands for the singers. Jane Fonda, the narrator, sat off to one side. On the other side of the stage were some chairs for the cast members who weren't in the particular scene. It was semi-staged, so they wore costumes and moved about a little, but there were no props and they sang with books.

The music was so much better than I expected! I guess I was thinking, modern opera = modern, atonal music, but that was not the case at all. It was very accessible yet original. The story followed the book very closely. Some parts of the book were left out, understandably, but nothing different was added.

Jane Fonda was so very thin!! She was very glamorous in a long black skirt. She perched on a stool and read some parts aloud - much seemed to be directly from the book. I wonder how much she rehearsed because some lines she seemed to stop before the end of the sentence, and then pick up the next line as if it were a new sentence when it was actually part of the sentence before. It sounded a little awkward. She did that only a few times. Otherwise hear reading really added to the effect. A couple times she began reading as soon as the singers stopped, and she was cut off by applause. It was no big deal.

The singing was FABULOUS!!! Nathan Gunn, of course, was awesome. So what else is new. His daughter Madelyn was very good! While I believe that she would not have gotten the part if he wasn't in it, she was fine in the role. She has a clear, sweet voice and her acting was good. If she hadn't played the part I imagine that one of those childhood career performance kids would have gotten it. You know the kind, with the stage mother in the background pushing, pushing, pushing. But she was fine, she held her own and did a great job. There was a little boy in the production and he was just fabulous. Elizabeth Futral had a little too much vibrato for my taste, the type of vibrato that takes over the notes, but she was amazing. The entire cast was amazing. And it was so moving. You have to read the book. The events the family endures are simply heartbreaking, but the hope and goodwill shines through. The composer did an excellent job of showing how, although all this tragic stuff is happening, they still have hope, they can still smile about things... and the ending... well... I know when I read the book the ending was a huge surprise for me, and got me wondering how often that happened, because it must have... and it was in the opera too. I was expecting it but that didn't stop me from bawling. I could write the details here but it would sound very weird ... but basically, Rosasharn, who was pregnant, gives birth to a stillborn baby. Later when they're escaping to higher ground she and Ma come across a young boy and his dying father. R's milk has come in but she has no baby to nurse. The man is starving and needs food. The book and the music alike convey the seriousness as Ma and Rosasharn stare into eachother's eyes and Rosasharn agrees to nurse this man to save his life. As a mother who nursed a child, and Anna, who is still nursing her youngest, this draws out these deep feelings of nurturing mixed with the oddness and the question, would I have done that? And while I know I would have nursed any baby that was hungry, I honestly don't know how I would have acted in the same horrible situation. But that's just one of the many tragic (loss of baby) and hopeful (giving sustenance to a starving person) juxtapositions in the story. They caught it wonderfully in the music.

I also cried when Noah, the oldest, in order to obey Ma and "help the family" drowns himself in the creek, meanwhile Ma is calling, calling, calling for him. And then when the baby died and they put it in flowing flood waters as a message to people downstream... and earlier, in another tragic/hopeful moment she sang that if it were a boy she would name it Moses... luckily Anna had brought a handkerchief and we were passing it back and forth to dry our eyes.

Intermission was insanely crowded. The same as when we first got there, people were milling about in every direction. Anna and I made our way toward the restrooms and actually got separated by the crowd. I ducked around the line for the mens' restroom to call Husband. While there I ran into someone I knew from several years ago - a chorus member back from when I supered in Romeo. It was so chaotic and crowded, all we could really do was shout hellos to each other before getting pushed apart by the crowd.

Afterward, it was raining lightly so we decided to walk to Penn Station. It's a 20 minute walk and we had 35 minutes until our train. Well, half way there it began to POUR, and I do mean POUR. We ended up dashing along 7th Ave, leaping over puddles, getting soaking wet and laughing like teenagers. We made the train with time to spare where we learned that the ink on the back of the program runs when it gets wet. Anna had this huge purse and had put my gray pumps in when I changed to my hiking shoes. The program left blobs of black all over the shoes, and forget about the handkerchief. The shoes I managed to wash with a damp clean corner of the hankie, and then after doing our own Rorschach tests on it, we tossed it into the trash. We were soaking wet and having a blast. I laughed so much and so hard yesterday (except during the performance, of course) that I think I woke up with a laughter hangover today. Is that even possible? We didn't drink anything but overpriced sparkling mineral water so what else could it be? Can't wait to do it all again!


Banawoman said...

Great Review! You always make me feel like I was there. The photos prove that we all look more gorgeous sitting next to handsome opera stars.

Susan said...

Thank you!