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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Country Mouse In New York, Vol. III: The Metropolitan Opera, Where Opera Is Not Fucking Around, Bitches

With the audition done Saturday night, I got to the real treat of the weekend:  Rigoletto at the Met.  I cannot fully explain how exhilarating it is to walk across the plaza at Lincoln Center at night when the fountain is going and the crowds of little old ladies are walking (very slowly, and usually right in front of you) toward the Met, which is one of the most beautiful performance venues I have ever seen.  It’s breathtaking.  The front windows are beautiful, and the chandeliers are just unreal.  They were a gift from the Austrian government, and they’re dripping with real Swarovski crystals.  With all the lights on, in the main lobby with its looping starcases and red and gold decor, the chandeliers sparkle fiercely, reflecting in the windows until you see stars everywhere.  It’s magical.

With the money I saved by train-ing rather than plane-ing, I sprang for a balcony ticket instead of one in the Family Circle (i.e., the nosebleed section).  I’m glad I did.  I could see and hear everything.  And if you’ve ever been to a production at the Met, you kow how visually stunning the productions are, especially the ones in lavish period costume.  Rigoletto, set in Renaissance-era Mantua, was positively sumptuous.  The gowns were SO EPIC and I WANTED ONE.  The ducal palace was just AHHHHH, Rigoletto’s house was the perfect balance between quaint, ramshackle and macabre, and the tavern and pier next to it were just fantastic.  The singers were wonderful.  If you for some reason don’t know the plot, I won’t spoil it, but let me just say it’s good.  Go see it now.  And the music?  Psssssht girl, you know it’s good.  I’m still humming “La donna e mobile.

And then, because opera loves me like tequila loves Kenny Chesney, I discovered that the Met conducts backstage tours.  So Sunday morning before I checked out, I took the tour.  It’s only $10 for students, and worth every penny.  I highly recommend it. 

They don’t let you take pictures, but other than that, it’s perfect.  I stood in the principal tenor dressing room (Rolando Villazon has stood there naked.  Probably.), saw the rich golden “Wagner curtain” from the back, saw the orchestra pit and conductor’s door, touched June Anderson’s and Dmitri Hvorostosky’s costumes, rode in the “head-of-state” elevator, and touched the handle of the door to the orchestra rehearsal room that James Levine touches on a regular basis.  It’s fascinating.  The sheer engineering and architectural genius that goes into every production – forget about the musical genius – is unreal.  There are seven elevators on the main stage, four side/back/beneath stages for other sets, and so much other amazing stuff in that opera house.  It’s a little city of its own.  Populated by music.  WITH FUCKING AWESOME CHANDELIERS ALL OVER THE PLACE.

The Met tour was my last big hurrah; after that I checked out, got some lunch, and walked through Central Park to kill some time before the train left.  But it was totally worth it.

Train ride back:  mixed.  I sat next to a semi-cute guy on the way back from New York.  And then we stopped for a long time at the Albany station, I watched a lot of Castle on my computer, and a guy got on the train who looked like Buffalo Bill.  Then at dinner, I was seated at a table with a woman and her 15-year-old son (he’s a nice kid), and it was all I could do not to comment on the fact that this mid-40’s art design professor was wearing Harry Potter glasses.  Somewhere after Syracuse, the train got delayed because something about the cold messed up something with the tracks – your guess is as good as mine here – so I watched more Castle.  After fitful sleep, and it’s impossible to get comfortable, and the train was freezing anyway, the train which was supposed to arrive at my stop at 6AM pulled in at 8:30AM instead.  I drove home, took a shower, and collapsed into bed for a beautiful nap.  All in all, a good weekend.

Goodbye, New York.  I’ll be back someday soon.

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