Saturday, March 24, 2012

opera with a friend

As I write this, I'm delighted to be with a dear friend at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City for a performance of Verdi's "Macbeth".

Musically this is unfamiliar territory to me, but Verdi being Verdi and the Met being the Met, I'm sure it'll be a shiny experience on a Saturday.

It all started earlier this morning in my home office in San Diego. A little back and forth on Facebook, a warmup on my coffee, and this happy email from a friend winked open in my In-box:

I am on a train to NYC to see the Verdi opera Macbeth & it's hard to type. (bumpy ride). But, did you see the piece in AT mentioning Bradbury? Hope all is well with you.

More Later,

Within a half second a series of vivid images raced across my mental workspace: New Yorkers bundled in winter coats on a rocking train, my friend stopping a moment to reach into her pocketbook and type the email on her iPhone; then some wandering around before the opera, the stairs at Lincoln Center, the massive and iconic chandelier, a walk down carpeted aisle, the stage with its aura of anticipation, the pre-opera murmur accented by occasional practice flute trills, violin scales, and glimpses of tympany like familiar distant thunder.

My day was shaping up. I reminded myself to read the article about Ray. Mindful she was on her iPhone, thinking I might catch her en route, I kept my reply brief:

Can't wait to read it. You're on a train to see Verdi's Macbeth?! I wish I were too! Have a fabulous time! /hugs b

More time then passed with me wandering around cyberspace. I tracked down a way to listen to the broadcast.

Noon was a ways off, but my stomach began growling. I rejoined my own space/time continuum long enough to reheat some leftover lasagna in my home office microwave. Between mouthfuls I clicked my way to some basic information on this opera. Seems Verdi created the work fairly early in his career, before he gifted the world with La Traviata or Rigoletto. The 1847 version of Macbeth was apparently very successful. The 1865 revision, produced for Paris in a French translation, was less successful and the opera largely faded from public view until the mid-20th century revivals.

As I type here about my morning, the Lincoln Center audience is now applauding at the conclusion of Act 3. An ominous drum roll and Act 4 has now begun while I return to writing this story.

I thought about Verdi in his tall hat and dapper ascot, and I thought about the time period of his compositions. Then I thought about the last time I was in New York.

Another email blinked open. H again, and this time it was an iPhone photo of a red gown in the Opera Shop at the Met. It's an incredibly perfect you-are-there moment, and I had a huge wave of the incredible wow-ness of this kind of communication and connection.

I fired back:

That gives me a happy chill.


The broadcast quality was good. As I began to listen to the pre-opera chat, it was then I decided to share my morning's anecdote-in-progress with my father, who has a natural feel for this kind of thing. He's 500 miles away but I have unlimited long distance calling so it's like he's across the street.

The same opera was obviously playing in the background as Daddy picked up the phone. I chattered away and brought him up to speed.

We talked for a while. He loved how my New York friend was at the opera and sending me emails, and that I was having a virtual opera adventure and now sharing it with him. More catching up, and it eased into a multi-subject conversation that included his recommendation of the new mystery novel "After the Poison" which sounded so good that while we were talking, I ordered a Kindle copy for myself.

As I type this the last act of Macbeth has two more scenes. I hope to synchronize the posting of this article with the closing applause and joyful bravos in real time.

Anyway, I again emailed my friend H:

I'm listening live! YAYY-- enjoying the opera with my dear friend!


She wrote back:

Oh how exciting. I was wishing you were here. Now you are. Only thing I just read it's set post WWII so costumes will be more modern. 1st act 80 minutes long. That's long! Now, must turn off cell in theater. :-)


And I couldn't resist writing one more note:

This is great! I get to clap right along with you guys & imagine myself there...


Now I was thinking not only of my friend 3,000 miles away but also my father in the Bay Area who, as it turns out, had just spoken on the phone with his lady friend in Utah... who was also listening to the broadcast. He said he looked forward to sharing my story with her.

More coffee. More reading about Giuseppe Verdi. What would that fellow make of all this astonishing magic?

* * *

I've caught up to real time, now.

And so it is that I'm magically in New York on a Saturday, listening to an opera I've never heard before. Soon my friend and I will both be clapping our hands.

Click, send. Clap.


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