Thursday, January 31, 2013

Vintage Cherry Rewards

Remember a few months ago when I begged everyone I knew, and many people I didn’t know, to vote daily for my entry in the Met Opera’s “Elixir of Love” contest? And remember how I won!

Not because my drink was the best, but because I nagged the most people to vote. The prize was, two tickets to see Elixir of Love at the Met, plus a “special gift” from the Metropolitan Opera. Well, finally, this coming Saturday, Husband and I will be seeing the opera. It’ll be interesting to see this new production, especially since I saw the other production TWICE last year. This one stars Anna Netrebko and Matthew Polenzani.

So the tickets will be waiting for us at the box office, along with the “special gift.” We have no idea where the seats are, or what the gift is. I will, of course, post again afterwards with all the boring details. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Comte Ory, Take 2

I had no idea when I purchased opera tickets on a hot day in August that the performance date I chose would turn out to be one of the coldest days of the year. Last week’s cold weather (highs in the 20 degrees F) made wardrobe planning a little tricky. How much time would I actually be spending outside? How overheated will I get on a crowded subway, if I’m dressed for the outside weather? Of course I tackled this problem with my usual over-thinking, and ended up in leggings under a long skirt, also a many-layered shirt ensemble that ended up being pretty nice. And, as usual, I wore my hiking shoes, and stashed my heels in my pink purse. Here I am on the train, sneakily putting my feet up on the opposing seat.

I met my friend at Penn Station and we headed uptown on the subway. We had a little time to kill so we puttered around the Met Opera shop, which was amazingly empty. I’ve only ever been there just before an opera, when it’s wall-to-wall people. Then we went to Avery Fisher Hall to use the Secret Public Bathroom. Anyone who is stuck uptown in that area of Manhattan, there is a nice bathroom in AFH open to the public. There’s even a bench and a full-length mirror. So we got ourselves together and switched out of our traveling shoes into our heels for the short walk to the restaurant.

As usual, we went to CafĂ© Fiorello. Don’t know why I always go there. Habit? It seems about as good as any other place in the area, and I do love the seafood. This time we shared a “Seafood Supreme Pizza”

and for dessert, a tiramisu cake:

I’m not that into tiramisu, to be honest, but the cake was nice and light and fluffy. And of course we enjoyed a cocktail – this is a “metropolitan daquari” and was quite yummy.

Next, on to the Met. And guess what? It had snowed during dinner. The sidewalk was a slushy slippery mess! We clung to each other like old ladies as we minced our way across the street.

Our seats were in the last row of the Grand Tier. There are only 7 or 8 rows so it’s not such a big deal…however that didn’t stop us from upgrading ourselves to empty seats directly in front of us in the first row. Here’s the upgraded view:

The soprano – Pretty Yende – was A M A Z I N G. This was her Met debut, filling in for someone who dropped out before rehearsals began, due to illness. As usual, the legato poured out of Juan Diego Florez like honey. And Nathan Gunn was pretty good too, except that he was kind of hard to hear over the orchestra. I’ve read reviews of other things he’s done where people commented on that, but I’d never actually experienced it until then. Anyway, I must admit, it was pretty funny seeing him and JDF dressed as nuns.  You can see some of that here, a few minutes in.

Usually during intermission I like to go out on the Grand Tier balcony but the door was locked... Yeah, that's snow. You can see the fountain all blurry in the background.

At the end of intermission we decided to put our snow-worthy boots on because we knew we'd want to make the mad dash for the subway the moment the curtain calls ended. So we were very stylish, sitting in our fancy clothes and clunky boots. 

People went NUTS at the curtain calls, hooting and hollering for the singers. It was kind of awesome. Everyone left the building with a smile. My friend and I joined the press of people entering the subway. There were so many people, someone had opened the emergency gate and we were herded through with the crowd. Finally made it home at 1am! Long day but totally worth it. Plus, I broke 3 rules!!! 1. Feet on train seat. 2. Upgraded opera seat. 3. Unpaid subway ride. I'm seriously living the rebellious life.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


The Opera Project WING concert was fun!!! The first part was scenes from Magic Flute, dialogue and some songs in English, some in German. It was cute! It’s amazing to hear these gorgeous, gorgeous voices coming out of such young bodies! Some of the girls are in 8th grade. How old is that, 14?


Here’s the Iolanthe scene:

See that tall girl with the long, dark hair, all the way to the left? Listen to her when she sings. Then remind yourself that she’s in EIGHTH GRADE! Imagine that voice in 10 years! We had a lot of fun with that scene. Some of it was improvised. I actually got some of my lines wrong, using words that have the same meaning, but still… not the right words. For example, my line was, “He’s extremely pretty,” but for some reason I said, “He’s exceptionally pretty.” Why? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. We had a lot of fun, also backstage was fun sharing glitter makeup to make everyone more fairy-like.

Before Iolanthe, I sang Sposa:

As usual, I hear all the mistakes… especially that weirdo crack sound near the end… a sound I have never ever made before in my life, and couldn’t reproduce if I wanted to. It was as if a gallon of mucous suddenly poured out over my vocal chords. Most people told me they didn’t even hear it. It seems so LOUD to me but I’m taking their word for it. I did pretty well otherwise, although I know I can sound richer. I was a little nervous, you can hear it in the 2nd syllable when I first started to sing. But I’ve practiced the song so much that the nervousness sort of went away as I continued singing. In the past, it used to creep up and get worse, so there’s something.

I was thinking this weekend how thankful I am that the Guy In Charge of the Opera Project saw my potential back when I auditioned… him letting me sing with the group opened up a whole world of singing to me, allowed me to find a great teacher and gave me these opportunities to grow and perform that I never would have had otherwise. I should write him a note. Although how to do that, without being awkward? Hmm. Maybe I’ll tell him, the next time I see him.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Prancing Around

We’ve had one rehearsal for the upcoming concert and I have to say I think it’s going to be fun! I don’t do much in the Iolanthe scene except creep up on stage when I’m “called” from the deep, then sing my 2 lines, throw off my robe and happily greet my “fairy” sisters. I do a lot of smiling, I greet my son, smile at him as he sings and then the fairy sisters and I prance off stage. We will be wearing long flowy skirts and dresses. What are the chances I’ll step on the edge of my skirt and fall flat on my face, or even better, somehow end up pulling it off? Hopefully slim…

We didn’t yet get to practice it all together. They were all learning a dance while I was shown my staging. We have another rehearsal this weekend, it should be fun. Even though I do sort of feel like a den mother, or girl scout leader, or whatever. I think (but I’m not sure) that all but one of the fairies are in high school. It doesn't matter. But I do sense a sort of distance. I'm the grown-up. If only they knew how much like a 16 year old I feel inside!

At the rehearsal I also got to run through Sposa son Disprezzata with the accompanist. I finally have the timing and tempo correct. I think. There are a few parts where I have to remember to hold back on the breath at first, not to blurt it all out, so I have enough to finish the line. The other singers were coming in (with their parents, some of whom I might be older than…) while I was singing so it was good practice for me to have other people in the room and keep my focus. I did waver a little when I saw them look over. During the performance I focus on the back of the room, sort of toward the point where the wall meets the ceiling. And of course I will become the distraught, betrayed woman in the song, and try to get that emotion into my voice, all without losing my focus. That's the plan, at least.

They’re also doing a few scenes from Magic Flute, in English. I could overhear the 3 spirits singing, 3 girls, they sounded great. I’m looking forward to seeing it all.