Saturday, February 16, 2013

Popcorn at the Opera

It's Rigoletto on the menu again; you know that tubular pasta with a red sauce?  After a hearty plateful this afternoon, I am on an opera high.  It goes like this:  for months now I have been anticipating the Metropolitan Opera live broadcast of Rigoletto at a neighborhood movie theatre.  A cultural pinnacle as this is a mere 6 minute car drive away; 2.45 miles and costs only $22.  I can wear sweat clothes, no makeup, and slouch in the seats.  I can binge on a big bag of buttery popcorn while taking in a world class production.  Definitely puts the pop in the opera!

The Duke (Piotr Beczala) doing his opening lounge act
Set Designer - Christine Jones
Choreographer - Steven Hoggett

I settle in to watch a Rigoletto first shown in 1851 Venice, time-warped to 60's Las Vegas and I am swept away and on for the ride. Director Michael Mayer believably brings the past to present with the Duke presiding over a casino and living in a palatial penthouse. He is the head of a rat pack and surrounded by show girls and an entourage.  Rigoletto is his funnyman. Yikes!

Rigoletto (Zeljko Lucic) crooning in a fashionable sweater of the times
Costume Designer - Susan Hilferty

As is often the case at these operas, I see absolutely no one that I know and although no spring chicken myself, everyone seems REALLY old.  Where are the young singers?  At the first intermission, Styrofoam containers of hot dogs and such disgusting foodstuffs appear, along with big gulps, providing vivid contrast to the televised Met intermission of well-dressed attendees sipping from stemware. However, the Esquire has a nice and informal ambiance and it is lunchtime, after all!

Intermission at the Metropolitan Opera House

I take the opportunity to move to a better seat and make a new friend with a seat-mate who is ingesting a double decker portabella sandwich with onions and pickles...His bravas, bravos, and bellissimas make the experience all the more fun and he applauds the screen.  Although not a singer, he offers me a recitation of Shakespeare's Sonnet #116. I'm overdosing with high culture! There are all sorts of opportunities and good things that can happen if you go to events alone and strike up conversations with strangers.
Act III - Gilda (Diana Damrau) and Rigoletto in the neon rain
Lighting design by Kevin Adams

One of my favorite parts in this Sin City rendition is Act III.  Neon lights arc above the stage, simulating the lightening and impending storm, and are synchronized with the music.  Alas, it's over too soon, at 3 hours and 31 minutes, two intermissions.

Esquire Theatre - seating for an intimate 221 - not a bad seat in the house

The music is changed to some pop pap as ushers pick up the trash...As always, I was the last to arrive and the last to leave.

The Met seats 3,800

Meanwhile, at the Met, the crew waxes the slanted stage floor...Farewell, till when I return in 2 weeks for Parsifal; find me in orchestra seating, row 10 center.  I'll share my popcorn with you!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Dog of Flanders Wins in Westminster

The Westminster Kennel Club has proclaimed that Chewbacca, a briard, is the best dog in the world.

Every public outing of his life has never failed to elicit comments such as, "What a face!", or questions such as, "What kind of dog is that?", or even, "What kind of animal is that?"

Chewbacca is a devoted and faithful companion.  He is an excellent tail-wagger, knows when it is time for his walks, and can vocalize to the point of nearly talking.  He is a classical music lover, particularly of piano and voice. He works part-time as both a dishwasher and a dust mop.  At 15 years of age, he still manages to be irresistibly cute and as playful as a puppy. Judges were unanimous in designating him as top dog of Westminster Kennel Club, as I am sure you would agree!