Wednesday, July 21, 2010

the fat lady has sung........

remember day 1, blog 1? the premise? i’m old?

every so often, even now, in my dotage and senility, i discover something wonderful. to be honest, it’s usually something everybody else has already discovered, and i’m just late to the party. a perfect example is avatar. you know, the movie this past year? it had grossed a billion dollars and everyone on planet earth had seen it, even poor people, at 14 bucks a pop, and the multitudes were ranting and raving and it was winning awards and changing the face of movies, and by the time i saw it there were 9 people in the theater. exactly 7 others, and us, husband and me. and of course i came out all wide-eyed, having just discovered this amazing adventure in 3d that changed my movie world in a way not since 1977, when star wars did the same thing. and it’s always a riot, because after these discoveries, there’s nobody to tell, because i was the last to find out, and if you try to share, people say, yeah, i know. i’ve known all along. so in the words of the old kid’s song, the cheese stands alone.

sometimes, though, it’s just a bandwagon thing, and i don’t jump on, doesn’t matter how much time goes by. an example of that would be….. i don’t know…….. survivor, or american idol. people rave and carry on, i take a look, and decide, ok, but not for me. and then the opposite happens….people want to tell me about david archuleta, or taylor whatshisface, and i just don’t care. (although i will admit carrie underwood has some talent. but i bought her cd and spared myself simon, paula, and the others.

tonight was one of those discoveries.


when i was 12 years old, i had an aunt in jersey city, who was my mother’s older sister, who somehow, growing up in the depression, poor like everyone else, discovered classical music and especially opera, and grew up with a love for it, all her life. she had a husband who had the sensitivity of a cement block, and two children who were multi-faceted, well educated, and bright, who cared nothing for this particular bent of hers. our families summered together at the jersey shore in belmar and the metropolitan opera would send out their touring company each summer to a neighboring town for a couple of shows. i already had a feeling for music (remember the little budding fairy within?), and so at the age of 12, aunt asked me if i’d like to accompany her to an opera, and i said yes. she was a very smart woman, in that taking me to my first, she did not choose a 5 hour, wagner epic, like gotterdammerung. no, she was a clever woman. it was carmen, among the easiest operas for a beginner to digest. lots of familiar music, dancing, singing, costumes, toreador, all of it. and i was smitten. (that day did to my opera world what star wars would later do to my movie world). she was thrilled that i liked it and we spent the summer, she and i, as a couple, aunt and nephew attending various operas. (is this story too sebastian and violet? from suddenly last summer? by tennessee williams? gay boy, lonely aunt?, actually it was gay boy and his mother, (one step removed from psycho).....but unlike those stories, in my tale, nobody gets killed at the end). and from that summer on, my love of opera was born and bred. i’ve loved it with a passion ever since. (including the 5 hour wagner epics).. a deep and abiding love that has withstood the test of time. a passion. a soul fulfilling emotional attachment to it. (oy, i got carried away, but i think you get the picture).


so when friends suggested that we try this new-fangled outlet for opera, i agreed. tonight i discovered the high definition performances of the metropolitan opera broadcasts in one of our local movie theaters. oh i know what you’re thinking, pbs has broadcast live from the met for years. i know that, and i’ve watched with abandon everything they’ve ever shown. and i have cds and dvds and podcasts, but this was really different. you’re in a dark theater with the smell of popcorn wafting in from the lobby and all, and sticky floors and everything, and it starts out like a regular movie going experience (which i might add, i hate. i don’t go to the movies very much at all. i don’t care for people’s behavior in a movie theater anymore. not to be a snob or anything, but it’s all just too uncouth, people munching, talking, using their cel phones, texting, slurping…..too much for me. avatar was the last film i saw in a theater, a year ago. that ought to tell you something. just not for me anymore, thank you very much, unless there’s a real reason.) so i’m sitting in this popcorn smell, and i can tell my clothes reek already, before it even begins, but i’m there because they tell me this is good opera and i can’t resist, and i put up a good front and a happy face, here in "uncouth land", and i’m pleasant. and the lights dim and it begins………..


suddenly, i’m transported into the audience of the met. the video is high def as i mentioned, and the picture is huge and clear and i’m in. sucked in so fast i got whiplash. the conductor comes out and shakes hands with the concertmaster, and you can see he's sweating already, that's how good the picture is. he bows to us, the audience, and turns to his orchestra. i can't tell you how much it was like being in the actual opera house, except it was a way better seat than i could ever afford. with the close ups, it's like your in the pit with the players. or on the actual stage. so real. and, it was one of my favorite operas, turandot, with a great cast and the old franco zeffirelli production which is simply magical. (the picture is so good and so clear, that you can sometimes catch a glimpse of velcro on the soprano's dress, to see how they tuck this rather large woman into all that fabric and still make a shape.) talk about wondrous art!! now you have to understand that i’m a regular operagoer to live opera several times a season, and this was actually better than that. it too is a live performance, but with the sound and the hd and the close-ups it was amazing. i was like that 12 year old kid again, and at the end, i walked out of the theater, and realized that this experience is a deal changer for me, in that i need to subscribe and go often. (how ironic that it was the metropolitan opera on the road again that did this to me, like all those years ago), and of course, i want to tell someone, but i’m thinking i'll get, yeah, i know, i’ve known all along. this is me and again, the cheese, stands alone.

but it’s good to know that there are still wonderful things to discover even now. so people, every so often, i want you to shut off dancing with the stars, put down the remote, and go discover something new.......that everyone else already knows.

1 comment: