Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Double Dose

First off: This blogging format has me stumped. It adds lines that I'm not inserting. So if there's a gap after the picture, scroll down for more text. I have spent far too much time fiddling with the formatting to no avail...

So here we go!

Having some serious sighing sighing moments here. I’ve been in this position before. It’s all Juan Diego Florez’s fault. You see, I saw him at the Met in L’elisir D’amore on March 9, then I won the weekly Met drawing for the $25 orchestra seat tickets. For the same opera. Juan Diego Florez and Diana Damrau. Again. So of course I went! Two weeks later. And now I’m in that euphoria that only comes from seeing Juan Diego Florez sing, twice in two weeks.

The opera was amazing. Basic plot: Nemorino (Juan Diego Florez) loves Adina (Diana Damrau) but she keeps brushing him off. She reads everyone the story of Tristan and Isolde, how Tristan drinks a potion to make Isolde love him. An army regiment comes to town and Sergeant Belcore (Mariusz Kwiecien) sees Adina and proposes marriage. She finally gives in and accepts. Nemorino is heartbroken. Then a traveling quack doctor comes to town, selling a potion that can cure anything. Nemorino asks about the love potion. Of course the doctor says he makes it. He sells a bottle to Nemorino, telling him that it’ll take a day to work, but once it does, every girl will find him irresistible.

Nemorino is very excited and drinks it at once. Of course it’s actually a bottle of wine and he gets drunk. The best part of the opera: Juan Diego Florez doing a drunken happy dance. Some brave soul recorded it from one of the performances:

If the blogger format cuts off the edge, click through you YouTube. It was HILARIOUS!

Nemorino decides to ignore Adina because he believes that tomorrow she’ll love him, so why bother her now. She notices this, and is upset that he’s suddenly not paying attention to her anymore. He didn’t even come to the banquet to celebrate her upcoming wedding to Belcore. Nemorino decides he needs to buy another bottle, and joins Belcore’s regiment for the sign-on salary so he can afford the elixir.

Next, the village girls share the news that Nemorino’s uncle has died, leaving him a pile of money. So naturally he’s suddenly an excellent catch. The next time they see him, they’re all over him, trying to get his attention and win his affection. He hasn’t yet heard the news of his uncle’s death, so he thinks that the potion is working! Adina sees the girls fawning over him and gets very jealous.

Nemorino is packed to join the army, and he sings the famous “Una furtive lagrima” on his way. You could hear a pin drop, that’s how quiet the audience got. Did Adina shed a small tear at the news of his leaving? If so, he can die happy. Meanwhile she bought his contract back from Belcore to keep him there, and blah blah blah happy ending she and Nemorino end up together, her friend ends up with Belcore and the doctor declares another successful outcome of his marvelous potion.

Adventure number 1, March 9
Train to Penn Station:

Walk uptown to Cafe Fiorello. Get seated here:

Yummy food, as always, including this rum-soaked cake topped with meringue.

We got out of there with minutes to spare. We literally ran across the street to the Met and dashed up the stairs as the chimes were ringing. Keeping our momentum, after the usher directed us to our seats (2 rows down and to the left, for row F) we went straight down to Row A (6 rows down and to the right) where as of that morning there were still 2 unsold tickets. The seats were still empty and most of the audience was already in, so we figured we were safe. We settled in, took a “view from our seat” picture and then up went the chandeliers, like, right in front of us. Holy cow! We had upgraded our seats, ninja-style!

During intermission we posed for a few pictures on the outdoor balcony on the Grand Tier level:

And at the end, we all turned on our cameras (and I do mean all, like everyone in my section) to take pics and vids of the curtain call. Here is a zoomed-in shot of the picture I took:

All in all, a fabulous evening at the opera.
Adventure number 2, March 24
So like I said, every week the Metropolitan Opera has a drawing for $25 orchestra seats for the upcoming weekend. I enter almost every week, and have never had my name drawn... until last week! Even though it was for the very same opera I had seen 10 days earlier... a chance to see Juan Diego Florez and Diana Damrau again... from the orchestra... for $25... I didn't hesitate.
I grabbed a different friend, one who had never been to the opera before in her life, and off we went. We decided to drive rather than take the train. My very first time driving in New York City! It wasn't a big deal at all, really. We parked in the Lincoln Center garage, grabbed the tickets from the box office and went across the street to find some dinner. Ended up at Fiorello again... but outside. With this view:

Of course we didn't skip dessert ... nom nom nom chocolate mousse!


Then we trotted across the street in our heels where there was plenty of time to hit the ladies room. We even did a little shopping at the table they have in the lobby from the gift shop.

The seats were far back enough that we were under the overhang of the balconies above. But there was no one directly in front of us, so we had a nice view:

Intermission, I dragged my companion to the Grand Tier outdoor balcony for the requisite pictures:

 People caught us taking that picture...

Then as the final chimes were ringing before act 2, two very tall people came and sat directly in front of us! We immediately moved forward to two empty seats about 5 rows up:



Now we were no longer under the overhand and WOW! What a difference in the sound!

I think the singers were even better the 2nd time I saw them. Juan Diego Florez sang one legato line the entire opera. Music flows out of him like honey, sweet and luscious and yum. Diana Damrau’s voice moved me to tears at some points. The opera is a comedy and I was sitting there with moist eyes because her voice was just that beautiful. And again, like on the 1st night I was there, for Una Furtiva Lagrima, you could hear a pin drop, the audience was that quiet, until the end, when everyone hooted and hollered. The people we were sitting next to in Act 2 were whooping and yelling like we were at a rock concert. So was I… At the curtain call too. I didn’t take any pictures during the curtain call, but almost everyone around me pulled out their cameras.

The rest of the adventure involved driving around New York City looking for the hidden entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel, driving in the rain and fog on a road that suddenly exited into Newark with no warning, and eventually getting ourselves home safely.

I'm so happy that I got to see this opera again. I am in total Juan Diego Florez mode right now, listening to everything and anything I have. And melting. And wanting to see him perform again. And sad that I'll have a to wait a year for that to happen.  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Old Wish (Hopefully) Coming True!

Waaaaay back near the beginning of this blog I wrote about how totally awesome it would be to see Juan Diego Florez and Nathan Gunn in the same opera. Then, it almost happened, until the infamous fishbone incident. That all worked out for the best in the end… and at the time I thought, eventually, EVENTUALLY, they’ll be in something together at the Met. Well, finally, FINALLY, that eventuality has arrived! Or, it will arrive, a year from now. Look! So, the question is, do I go see Le Comte Ory again? Ok. Dumb question. Nathan Gunn and Juan Diego Florez in the same opera. Of course I do. And I drag along as many people as I can!!! Hopefully neither of them will swallow anything throat-scratching.

Other tasty looking picks, for me, include La Traviata with Diana Damrau, and possibly the holiday performance, which next season will be a shortened, English version of Barber of Seville. What are the chances that I can drag Alex to that? He’ll be 8 ½ then. He’s familiar with the opera. He likes it. Hm. It’s a definite possibility.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


The days are just flying by!

I sang in the first Opera Project Wing performance last week. I sang two songs – Nel cor piu non mi sento and Voi che sapete. I did ok, but would you believe I actually FORGOT THE WORDS at one point? I fudged it and no one seemed to notice. People who know Voi che sapete will know where I made up a word. Hey at least the vowel was the same. And a few people actually approached me afterwards to compliment my voice and say how much they liked my performance. That was nice! I'm always so surprised when that happens. All I hear are mistakes, so I always assume that people are just being nice. But I also know they wouldn't approach me and say that just to be nice. So it's pretty cool!

The voice lesson following that recital I was lucky enough to have two teachers at once. Sometimes they talked about me like I wasn’t there. I was fine with that. I learned a lot about breath and legato line and how to really incorporate the two. Like my voice teacher says, sometimes you just need a different person to explain the concept to you a different way in order for you to get it. So I’ll see her today for a lesson, then I’ll be seeing the other teacher later in the week.

Then… on Friday. FINALLY! L’Elisir D’amore at the Met!! Juan Diego Florez. Ahhhh. And then on Sunday, another recital, where I plan to tackle Ombra mai fu. Then I'll write all about both adventures, hopefully while they're still both fresh in my mind.