Sunday, November 8, 2009

an afternoon at the opera

I am ridiculously tired this morning since I was up past one last night celebrating the simulcast and music in general. But I still want to write this (though parts of it are lifted directly from an email that I wrote to Lynn last night, since there are some things that I can't imagine saying any other way).

Yesterday was one of the busiest Saturdays that I've had in a while. I woke up at about eight and until I left for the opera I was a blur: getting breakfast, packing like crazy (I went home after the performance), ironing my shirt and pants (on the way home I asked Mom to get me an iron for Christmas, since the one at MJC is crap), getting lunch, getting dressed, putting on makeup, and then flying out the door.

All morning I was worried (there I go again) that I wouldn't have enough time to get everything done and I was constantly rushing to cross the various tasks off my list.

I skidded out the door at about twenty to one and walked as fast as I could to the Kings Place Mall (which is the hub for all the buses). I met another NBCCD student whom I'd seen around school (it's a small enough place that you eventually get to the point where you recognize a lot of faces) and we chatted for several minutes while I waited for my bus (which wasn't due for another TEN MINUTES).

A few minutes later I looked up from studying the bus schedule, and there it was: 16 Prospect. So once again I rushed to get to the bus (which was only a few metres away). Once there, I paid the fare ($2), chose a seat, sat down, and waited some more.

The bus stop is at the opposite side of the mall (where the theatre is) from the entrance that I usually use, so I spent several minutes walking around outside.

"After a while I gave up, and just chose a random entrance, found a map of the mall, located the theatre, found the theatre, gave them my booking reference number, asked which theatre the simulcast was in (theatre one), went in, had a moment where I said to myself, "I'm fulfilling a promise!," had another moment of amazement at how many people were there (it was almost sold out), found a pretty darn good seat, sat down, and waited (again)."

I chose a seat that was quite high up (it was stadium seating, which meant that your seat is high enough that the head of the person sitting in front of you won't obscure your vision. The seat backs were much higher then I'm familiar with--also very nice.). The screen was one of the biggest I've ever seen--I'm guessing that it was about two stories high--and it was very wide.

When I arrived, you could hear the orchestra (ONE OF MY FAVOURITES!) tuning and going over the hard parts one last time (which is a cacophony that I absolutely love--to me it adds a feeling of suspense and expectation). But you couldn't see them: instead there was info about the Met's HD Live series, supporting the Met, stuff about the stars of the opera, etc. There was also a countdown (first in minutes, then in seconds) on the right side of the screen.

When they started showing images of the inside of the opera house I thought that it was just photos until I looked more carefully and realized that--wait a sec!--the people were moving! We were in New York!

The performance wasn't a perfect one: the sound kept cutting in and out. It was a problem that was Canada-wide apparently and during the first intermission a staff member came in and told us that we weren't the only ones with the problem, and that they were working with New York to get the problem fixed. I'd come prepared, though: on the Met's website they have a series of FAQs about the simulcasts and one of them is "Broadcasting a live theatrical performance to movie theatres must present some technical challenges. Do you experience any?" According to the Met, most of the problems are local: one theatre might be having issues, but another theatre a couple of blocks away could be having a perfect transmission--which is why I was really surprised when the guy said that our glitches were happening not just in Freddy, but also in Halifax, Vancouver, St. John's, Ottawa--you name it, they were experiencing the same thing.

He also offered a free ticket to anything at the theatre: a movie, the encore of Turandot--anything. I chose not to get a ticket because even with the glitches, I thoroughly enjoyed the performance. At times I was so absorbed in it that "I felt as though it was just me and the Met."

Also during the first intermission I went and got a snack, since I would be in the theatre a little past supper-time and I knew I'd be hungry. Since the Pretzel Maker stand was only a few metres from the theatre, I decided to go there and get one of their cinnamon pretzels (soo good!) to tide me over.

Of course, one of the high points was Nessun dorma (at the beginning of the third act), which is one of the most famous arias ever written. As soon as I heard the opening notes, I started sobbing: this was it! It was live! At the Met! With one of my favourite orchestras in the pit! (There were no glitches during the aria: they happened less often in the second act, and even less than that in the third act.)

"[...] everything came together to create this one, perfect moment. By the end, I was almost bent double, I was crying so hard. Little did I know how powerful the end would be (both musically and emotionally).

"I have said before that I'm in love with the Met. Well, those times are looking more and more like infatuation: during the finale my love for the Met hit the roof and kept on going, it was so strong and powerful, and I was completely consumed by it. So consumed, in fact, that when combined with the music it was enough to make me start sobbing--again. I've never felt that much love towards the Met before."

When I came out of the theatre I immediately whipped out my cell and dialled Mom's number--but just after I hit the 'send' button I looked up--and there she was. I immediately started squealing like mad and gushing about the opera as we walked out to the car to go get my stuff at MJC and then drive home.

That evening I stayed up dancing like crazy (and being reduced to tears yet again--this time by the Bangor Symphony's violin section, though I did listen to Tom's recording of Nessun dorma, which is the same version as the video that I included in my last entry) to blow off some of the energy and emotion of the day. I also wrote the email that I sent to Lynn.

And then I crashed into bed, thoroughly worn out and feeling like the happiest woman this side of the Metropolitan Opera House.

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