What Fresh Hell?

Berlin - March 8, 2018


I woke up last night – not unusual – I wake up many nights at two or three regardless of wine or coffee – I’ve heard that sleep is disrupted at my age – people joke about it, although it’s not so amusing when it’s dark and one’s mind churns. I try to remember my German lessons, which article, das, der, die – which one adheres to which noun. Then a name becomes stuck. I can’t remember someone’s name a name that would have at one point in the past tripped off my tongue but now it unglues itself and only hours or days later will it pop unbidden into my head and I think I’m coming down with my heritable brand of cognitive decline.

Night at the Opera

October 10, 2017

Operatic Consumption


What’s on YOUR list? Please, you know the list I mean. . .

I can’t bear to write the word because it’s such a cliché, but it’s that list of things you’d like to do before you bite the big one, push up daisies, take a dirt nap. . . Oh, fuckit, THAT list and La Bohème at the Met in NYC is on mine.

On Friday, October 6, 2017 I took myself to Puccini’s romantic masterwork at 8:00 p.m. at the Metropolitan Opera House. My son Simon gamely offered to attend with me but I spared him, certainly, and me too, actually, from having to sit next to someone who’d much rather be at a Phish concert.

I prepared for the evening like the proverbial country mouse who’ll be rubbing whatever a mouse does with elegant city mice.

Naturally, one goes online.

Below is a distillation of what I found:

  •   Dress up. The cast and everyone else involved puts lots of effort into the staging of these things, the least audience members can do is to show some flair.
  •   Don’t overdo the cologne, perfume, essential oils, Febreze.
  •   Listen to the opera in the weeks before.
  •   Read the opera synopsis beforehand.
  •   Don’t show up late.
  •   Get a good night’s sleep the evening before – many operas go for three hours
  •   Eat before. See above.

Here goes:

I wear a black dress (Target, but can people really tell?) with pearls, pantyhose (I apologize to my daughters who have told me that pantyhose are simply not to be worn) and black sling backs.

I arrive early.

I watch people.

I see a middle aged man in plaid shorts. They are ironed and may have been purchased on Nantucket, but really!

I see young women in evening gowns and older women in designer dresses.

A few days before marked the Met debut of a singer, Angel Blue, who tonight will sing the role of Mimì and has been favorably compared to Leontyne Price. It will be exquisite.

I see the Met’s sparkly lights ascend.

I hear the orchestra.

The curtain rises.

I hear Rodolfo and Marcello sing about being impoverished writers and artists.

Really, we are all just waiting for Mimì.

She’s on!

Mimì (Angel) coughs. The character has tuberculosis from living an impoverished bohemian life with poor writers and artists and coughs A LOT.

Now, here’s what I DID NOT expect. Certainly not from a sophisticated NYC audience:

Every time Mimì coughs and she has to cough often since it is required of her character people in the audience cough along with her. I hear coughs that sound as though they are bubbling up through caldrons of mucous, coughs that rattle deep from diaphragms, coughs that shake seats two rows away, coughs that provoke me and others around me to lower heads to hands in profound despair, coughs that upstage arias of such celestial beauty that as pacific a person as I am, I consider pummeling a man with my opera glasses ordered three days before with one-day delivery from Amazon.

Fuckit. . .I console myself at intermission with a flute of $20.00 champagne.

Curtain falls. I’d go again, though.

In a heartbeat.

heather jones