Sunday, October 27, 2013

Day 8 - The Met Museum of Art and A Midsummer Night's Dream

Holy macaroni! I didn’t plan to take such a long time to post again, but now it’s been almost a week! Things have been completely crazy, as some of you know I’m applying to colleges in the US to get my graduate diploma so there are a lot of things I need to do/write and Microsoft Word’s column system has managed to drive me just over the edge. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, it’s easier to actually sing all this music than to fucking list it in a nice, clean, space saving manner. 

I’m writing this while listening to the Met’s last year’s production of Un Ballo in Maschera, my favorite part, beginning of act 3. Love the baritone/soprano faceoffs/duets, especially if the soprano is Sondra Radvanovsky and the baritone is Dmitri Hvorotovsky. Man, this reminds me that a lady sent me a message on Facebook trashing Sondra’s work in Norma and I was so pissed off I almost had a total fit and called her a billion names, but I was able to simply ignore her. But then she went to this opera group thing on facebook and bad mouthed Sondra and I could not keep quiet, I told her that she was rude and very disrespectful and who did she think she was to talk about Sondra like that. I felt awesome, because Sondra is awesome and I won’t have anybody badmouthing her on my watch.

Anyways, where was I? Oh yes! Friday, the 11th! So this day was pretty gray, the weather was very bleh and it rained just a bit, me and my mum hanged for a while in Lincoln Center and then headed off to PJ Clarks for lunch. It’s not like my favorite restaurant EVER, I much prefer Japanese food, but the fact that it has somehow affordable prices and it is ridiculously close to the Met totally wins me over.

Well we had a plan, we’d walk to the Met Museum of Art through Central Park since we hadn’t been there yet.  Yes, it’d been more than a week that I was there and I hadn’t gone to Central Park, and I’ll tell you why. I’m a reasonable fan of green and parks and stuff, but if I’m in the city of my dreams for a limited number of days I do not want to spend my precious New York hours looking at green stuff and smelling the fresh air that was purified by the trees. So as we entered the park I almost immediately wanted out! I just wanted to get to the Met Museum to see all the great stuff I wasn’t able to see last time I was in NYC. But my mum wanted to stop by everything that stood out to take a nice little pic. We did walk a lot, from Lincoln Center to the Met Museum that is on the other side of the Park on 5th avenue. Long walk.

ridiculously cute squirrel at Central Park 
We finally got there but the main entrance was closed for renovations and I was a tad upset because I wanted to take a picture on the top of the Met steps like Blair Waldorf. We got inside and man I love this museum, I could see myself easily coming here every single time I come back to the city. It’s like an awesome trip in time, we walked in through the Greek/Roman area and I just marveled at those very genuine and old statues in awe! We went to the American Wing (or something like that), I just know that we walk inside a house and before you know it there are a gazillion floors and corridors and other places full of awesome stuff and beautiful furniture. 

now tell me, who wouldn't want to live in a place like this?
But we went there to see the cool awesome paintings on the second floor. And oh my! I mean, so many great works there I just got dizzy. And it’s so awesome that we can actually take pictures and stand quite close to the paintings. Big time names there, Van Gogh, Seurat, Picasso, Cézanne, Renoir and Monet. I’m gonna share some of my favorites with you guys.

Camille Pissarro "Rue de l'Épicerie Rouer"
Both painting above are Auguste Renoir's the first is called "In the Meadow" and the other "By the Seashore"

"Adolphe Monet Reading a Garden" Claude Monet
"Garden at Sainte-Adresse" Claude Monet
Pablo Picasso's "Woman in White"
Unfortunately we were running out of time and as we marveled the perfection of Monet’s masterpieces we realized it was 6:00pm and we had to get back to the hotel to get ready for the opera that started at 7:30 and we were an hour walk from the hotel. We walked, ALL THE WAY BACK. My feet were throbbing! They doubled in size, I quite literally could not fit my feet inside my own shoes. How insane is that?

Well I did manage to squeeze my feet inside some fabulous new shoes I got, they are pink and black and awesome! Plus they matched my cardigan like perfectly!

Ok, something so magical has just happened now, I look to the side and see an unfamiliar bag in my desk I hadn’t noticed was there. I take it and look at the contents inside and BAM two Olga Borodina cds! Holy crap I’m happy! How cool is that? Well actually I was expecting to get them since when I bought 2737092 cds on Amazon they did warn me that some of the deliveries might be late, and they were, so my uncle who was in NYC just last week got them for me. But this was very unexpected. Very happy now. The cds are Olga Borodina singing Tchaikovsky’s romances “None but the lonely heart” and an amazing recording of Olga Borodina, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Valery Gergiev with the St Petersburg Chamber Choir doing Russian music “The heart and soul of Russia”. I don’t know if you noticed but I’m a big fan of Russian music.

But back to that Friday, we managed to get ready in time and I remember I ran to a Starbucks to get at least some coffee for us to have before the performance. And as I ran the streets of NYC with two piping hot lattes in hand, my purse overflowing with stuff, my phone buzzing and trying to get hold of something to eat, I felt RIGHT. It’s weird, but I felt home, I felt like I could do that every day and be happy for ever. I don’t know what it is about NYC but I just feel so comfortable there, I feel safe, and understood and finally like I belong. Like people don’t talk to me like I’m a freak when I tell them about my career but they actually know something or other about opera and are eager to learn more talking to you. Like you can talk normally to a fellow singer without having to list out your repertoire to the person’s snarky comments or have to listen to them trash someone. You simply talk about your favorite operas and good aspects of various performers. I feel like people in NYC in general are so much more positive and kind compared to the folks back in São Paulo.

Well anyways, I’m babbling a lot today! We got to the Met in time, we were watching “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and I’m gonna let out a little secret to y’all. I have never seen the play nor the movie or knew the story, there I’ve said it. I’m a big Shakespeare fan and have done my share of Shakespearean plays, but I didn’t know this one. We go all the way up, up to the Family Circle and after 5 minutes the lights dim and let’s get to it!

view from my seat, dangerously high!
The production is absolutely adorable, very much like a dream place of a child you might say. The Met’s children’s chorus was adorable and INCREDIBLE. I mean, this is Benjamin Britten we are talking about, this music is difficult for an adult to learn, let alone a child, although I do believe children have a natural easiness to learning things in general, bottom-line the music was difficult. The story was kind of cloudy to me at the beginning, nothing really seemed to make sense. Fairies, evil fairy who only speaks and does not sing, lovers that can’t be together, a woman with a serious obsession about a dude who despises her and a play rehearsal. You can only imagine that if I was confused my mum was beyond help. As the first act progressed I did get how all these things entwine and started having a great time. 

You know what the costumes for the guy counter tenor fairy and the lady high soprano fairy reminded me of? COSMO AND WANDA! From The Fairly OddParents! Ok, shut up! Anyways I was a bit mad at Lysander, what a prick to treat Hermia like that! But if I have to choose a favorite part for the first act I must say the theater group rehearsal. I think that was probably the part I liked the most even though they were the smallest characters. But I think that Britten did such an amazing job writing for all those different voices and taking the time to match their personalities with the type of singing and the voice types. And when they sang together is was so beautiful all that harmony resonating gloriously to my cheap Family Circle seat was just amazing!

Well there is a total mess in this story, because fairy counter tenor wants a little boy fairy high soprano has. So he comes up with this crazy plan of giving her some sort of drug stuff powder to make her fall in love with the first thing she sees. And what does she see but a man who’s been turned into a donkey! In the human world Demetrius and Helena are in love but Helena is promised to Lysander and Demetrius is broke. So they run away together.   Lysander runs after them but is also pursued by Hermia who has a serious mental problem. I say that because even though he treats her like shit she keeps on following him and telling him she loves him and all that. Have some self respect girl! The fairy counter tenor guy sees Lysander being a total jerk to Hermia and orders his servant who only speaks and never sings to throw the love powder thing on Lysander as well so he’ll fall for Hermia! BUT the fairy dude does not say Lysander he says “a Greek guy wearing white robes” (or something). So the fairy servant that never sings OBVIOUSLY mistakes   Lysander for Demetrius. And when Demetrius wakes up he first sees Hermia, BANG tots in love with her and totally drops Helena!    

And do you remember that theater group? There’s this guy who wants to play every single role but his own and so the fairy who won’t sing turns him into that donkey the high soprano fairy falls for! Ends first act and I’m like “This story couldn’t get any crazier, seriously.” But I did enjoy myself a lot. And guys don’t mind my referring to the characters as “counter tenor fairy” and “kinda cute guy who gets turned into a donkey”, I don’t know the names, I only know the names of the lovers because they are the same names as in The Enchanted Island.

I developed quite a nice habit at the Met when I’m alone at intermission, looking dreamily at the gorgeous chandeliers. And I can assure you, you can spend a long period of time staring at them, they are just so gorgeous and I also observe the people and it’s fun!


Second act starts and high soprano fairy is so smitten with the donkey guy thing. She makes her fairies take care of him and obey his every command. But his commands consisted mainly in them scratching behind his ears. For a terrified moment I thought the soprano fairy was gonna try or actually accomplish kissing the donkey head. That would have been disturbing on the very least. But no kissing occurred. Ah the counter tenor fairy got the child, what he did with him? No one knows, be afraid.

Well while that happens Demetrius is now chasing Hermia who thinks he’s playing a trick on her and Helena is pursuing Demetrius who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about her. Lysander appears and now he pursues Helena, it’s a pretty ugly mess to sum up. When the counter tenor fairy sees the enchantment hit the wrong person he makes his non singing fairy do the powder enchantment thing on Lysander. Lysander is enchanted and now there are two guys fighting over the ever more suspicious Hermia while Helena weeps because her lover doesn’t care about her anymore. I liked this scene, real funny. Specially because Hermia lets it all out and tells Helena how she made her feel and you’re like “a lot of unfinished business there”.

The countertenor fairy gets tired of them babbling and fighting and puts them all to sleep and makes the musically mute fairy lift the spell from DEMETRIUS. Ends act 2 and I’m like, this opera has 3 acts? Holy mother of God, what more could possibly happen? A lot, as I will learn on the third act.

moi at intermission!
Well, the counter tenor fairy lifts the spell from the soprano fairy and I don’t know if I didn’t catch this in the beginning but they apparently have a thing, are married or something. What? The two fairies I mean. Well, the scene is quite beautiful, they end up dancing and it’s very romantic! And the donkey person gets himself turned back to his kinda cute human self. The lovers wake up and sing about 15 minutes long of a quartet telling each other they love each other and it’s adorable but I’m still wondering why they made a whole other act just for that. Foolish me thinking that this was over, the best part was yet to come! Because the theater group is back together and after apparently a night of rehearsal they are ready to perform, and not just to an one but to the emperor! 

The emperor and his wife appear and the lovers ask them to get married and they let them and are all happy and sappy. The theater group arrives and they perform their play. That was the best part of the opera, I never laughed so bad in live opera before. One because their “over the top acting” was amazing and it was an all man’s group doing a romantic story, so the shortest and chubbiest guy with a stutter problem was playing the lady. The others had pretty ridiculously hilarious parts like a wall, the moon, a tree. The whole performance was very funny, especially when the girl kills herself. I just could not stop laughing and then basically they all live happily ever after, the end!

my mu super pro in taking curtain call pics!
I really liked this opera, although it’s not my favorite kind of music (I’m a Puccini, Verdi kinda girl) I had a fantastic time! And I think we have to watch everything you know, at least once, just to go out and say “Hey, not really my cup of tea” but then you’ve seen it, you talk from experience. Not that I did not like the opera, I did, but it’s not like I’m going to have pictures of the performance on my bedroom wall like I have of Tosca.

Well, this is long enough hun? Guys, have a ball, only 3 posts to go and the following will have major fangirling moments and loads of happy tears! Cheers!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Trip to NYC - Day 7 - New Jersey and The Maryinsky Orchestra

Hey! So, I have great news just before I continue on with my adventures in NYC. I just signed up to take the TOEFL test, it’s an English test all international applicants have to take in order to prove they can speak the language. Steps are being taken toward going to college outside of Brazil and I couldn’t be more excited!

And you know, ever since I got back from my trip I’ve been kind of pissed off about everything that happens here. Because everything is just so wrong, and politicians steal so much money, and people are so disrespectful and try to take advantage of everything and everybody, and at the end of the day everybody laughs about this disgraceful situation and I’ve had just about enough of it. 

I’m not going to linger on much on this subject, but let me give you a solid example of what I, for instance, have to put up with. One of the teachers in my college decided he wanted to give class in a different classroom on another floor, so him and his students left his classroom, where he left his stuff and after he locked the door to his classroom they headed off to the other floor. When the class was done the teacher returned to his classroom to find his door opened, the classroom had been broken into. When he went to check his stuff his MacBook was missing. And this was in the middle of the day, between 12:00 and 1:30 pm! Someone broke in and stole his computer! And this is a school we PAY to go to and have absolutely no security! 

I was so upset to hear about this, and it made me more than ever want to fly away from here. I repeat, Brazil is no cupcake, it’s an AWFUL place to live. Believe me. 

But let’s get on to nicer news! Let’s talk about Thursday, the 10th of October then. So my mum was bugging me about wanting to go to this mall to do massive amounts of shopping. You might think my mum is very shallow because she always wants to shop but actually every Brazilian shops a LOT they come to the US. Why? Simple, I’ll give you a very ordinary example. This is an ordinary dress you’d buy in Forever 21 (a popular brad with accessible prices), it costs $27,80, now that in Brazilian money (reais R$) would be around R$60,00. Now, this is a very similar dress that you’d buy in Renner, also a popular brand, and it’s R$119,00. It’s R$60,00 more expensive. So you guys get what I mean. Stuff in the US for us is very cheap because things in Brazil are VERY expensive indeed!

So she convinced me to go to Jersey Gardens, an outlet mall in New Jersey. So we took the subway and then took a bus and headed on our way to the mall. As you can imagine the majority of people in that mall were Brazilians. Plus, if you were foreign you’d also get a book of discount coupons!

Well, to make the long story short we bought A LOT of stuff, trainers for me, my mum and sis, bags, clothes, useless Victoria Secrets things for $3, $4, the works. Until we got to a point when we had to actually buy a travel bag to transport all the stuff we got otherwise we wouldn’t be able to carry everything. That’s a normal practice in places like this though. We didn’t even eat, it got to a point where we had to leave and I had our “lunch” on a paper bag with me and we were choosing accessories in Clarie’s!

When we got back to the bus stop it was swarming with people. We planned on taking the 4:45 one but there was no chance for that, it was full and they were people actually standing inside the bus. We waited for the 5:15 and were able to get decent seats. But the driver simply opened the compartment for the bags and did not help anybody with the bags, not even me, the helpless girl with the gigantic and heavy red travel bag! Prick! Anyways, we boarded the bus and everything seemed to be going fine, we had gotten there in 30 minutes, we’d be back in the city in time to shower, change and have dinner before the concert in Carnegie Hall at 7:30.

It was all fine. Until it wasn’t. Until the bus simply stopped and as I look out of the window I saw a sea of cars and buses in front of us also static. HOLY SHIT! It took us almost 2 hours to get back to New York City. We got to the 42nd Street Station at 6:55pm! Our hotel was on 57th! We took the subway and don’t forget we had a large heavy bag with us. I ran through that subway like there was no tomorrow, my mum trying to double check if we had gotten into the right train and I’d just tell her “MUM, there’s no time to double check, just trust me and get IN!” .

Of course I knew that we were in the right train, we got off at Columbus Circle and rushed to the Hotel. Got there at about 7:10, changed, got my ticket, my mum thrust a mini red velvet cupcake in my mouth and I was off to Carnegie Hall. Probably the longest run of my life, especially because I hadn’t run in a while and because I’d chosen the most least comfortable shoes you can possibly imagine.

But I did get to Carnegie Hall in time, at 7:25 I was there, panting, but there. When I got there it was impossible not to notice the protest that was happening outside. Same as the protest that happened for the opening night of Eugene Onegin, I actually don’t mind the protest outside, they are on their right to protest. OUTSIDE. 

This was my first time in Carnegie Hall and I was pumped! I had gotten tickets way, way up to the stage left side and I had to lean front to be able to see the full orchestra, but I didn’t mind. But I did get very scared getting to my seat, Carnegie Hall is even more steep than the Met, so the sensation that you are going to fall to your death at the next step is always there.

The Maryinsky Orchestra comes in to some applause but when their leader, the great Valery Gergiev, takes the stage the applause is thunderous! But after the applause my fear of a revival of the opening night of the Met came true. A man way up in the Family Circle was standing and pointing his finger at Gergiev, who was with his back to the audience immobile and remained so throughout this entire episode. The man shouted repeatedly “Gergiev, your silence is killing gay Russians”. Some people booed him, some people clapped some people remained silent and some people, like me, were utterly dumbfounded. I couldn’t say anything, I just looked at the man with my mouth hanging opened not really believing that was actually happening. As the security guards escorted him out another man on the other side of the Family Circle stood up and started shouting the very same words. The public got less patient and booed him screaming back “BASTA!” “That’s enough!”. And through all this time Gergiev did not move a finger.

I must admit I felt like shit after this happened. Gergiev immediately started the music after the sound of the protesters was gone and for the first 5 minutes I was completely and utterly hollow. I felt like crying while the whole thing happened, because it was my first time in Carnegie Hall and I strongly believe Gergiev has nothing to do with how the president of his country runs Russia. I think it’s ridiculous how people are harassing a man who isn’t even a politician, he’s a musician for Christ sakes. And most importantly, a musician that depends on government founding in order to continue his work, and what a work! He’s brought all the Russian repertoire to us! So it seems obvious to me that he won’t say a thing about the government because just like here in Brazil if they say something against the government they are FIRED! It actually happens people, I’ve seen it happen in Brazil and Gergiev is not stupid enough to give up the Maryinsky over being able to voice his true opinion!

Anyways, after the shock had passed I was actually able to enjoy the all Stravinsky program the Maryinsky orchestra had put up. And I have to say, holy mother of God, how lucky I was to be able to see this! It’s not every day that you get to see an all Russian orchestra play an all Stravinsky repertoire. I must admit that although I was most excited about the Rite of Spring, the part which I liked the most was the first one “The Firebird”.

This trip is particularly wonderful because even though I’m in New York I feel like I’m in a Russian Music Festival! And most importantly with the upmost best musicians doing this music! And with Stravinsky, at least for me, sometimes time seems to stop and sometimes time flies! It’s such a crazy rollercoaster ride and you never know quite what you are gonna get, so it’s extremely thrilling!

Some people say it was LONG. And it was indeed very long. The first part must have been about an hour and a half or maybe two. But it was amazing. Hearing this orchestra play is like listening to Stravinsky for the very first time, they have it in their blood!

But since I didn’t have anybody really to chat to during the long intermission I ended up calling my opera bff in Brazil. He freaked out when I told him where I was. I spend the intermission telling him how Mariusz Kwiecien told me I was pretty the day before, I’m such a girl!

Then it was time for some more Stravinsky feels. They opened with Pétrouchka, the 1911 version. And then on to the Rite of Spring, man, I was so happy by then. I really like this piece and I’d had many classes in college about this piece so to actually be able to see it performed live by none other than the Maryinsky Orchestra under the unique conducting of Valery Gergiev was sublime! I felt extremely lucky to be there and actually thanked God for this blessing!

When the Rite was done the applause was INSANE! I was on my feet before you could say “Stravinsky” clapping with all my might and shouting my BRAVO, BRAVI like crazy! After about 5 minutes of applause, Valery Gergiev addressed to the audience for the first and only time that evening. Unfortunately his voice is not as powerful as his orchestra’s sound so I could only pick up some things of what he said.

He, obviously, thanked the public for the amazing response to his work and explained that this day was actually the date we had been celebrating for the whole year now. Verdi’s 200th death anniversary. So as a tribute to the date they were doing something by Verdi that was very close to the heart of the Maryinsky Theater. When he said “La Forza Del Destino” my eyes started watering with tears, even as I write this I can’t help but be overcome with tears! Verdi actually wrote “La Forza Del Destino” for the Maryinsky Theater, so it was meant to be played by THIS orchestra! Seriously, it couldn’t get more perfect than that! And they played that Verdi with the easiness that they played that Stravinsky! Ah, I cried and I cried and I cried! It was GORGEOUS! And I was so overcome with joy! Because I really wanted to listen to Verdi on his anniversary and this was such a wonderful and amazing surprise! Guys, really, it was awesome, one of the best musical moments of my life was being able to see them perform the overture of “La Forza Del Destino”.

Wow! Big post! Now I gotta go, I still have to shower and get to São Paulo because the fight continues! I’ll be back later this week with a post on Midsummer Night’s Dream! Cheers everyone!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Trip to NYC - Day 6 - The Nose

Hey world! So let’s go back one day and talk about last Tuesday, the 8th of October. Well, my mum was nagging about wanting to go to 5th Avenue to shop and I said, “Oh fine, but no taxi!” I hate NYC cabs, I know, I shouldn’t but I don’t like using cars in the city. I mean, you can do almost anything by foot and if it’s indeed too far you just take the subway and pay $2,50! Plus most taxi drivers are RUDE and yell at you. Well anyways, we walked from where we were staying (between 10th and 9th avenues) ‘till 5th avenue. That alone was already quite a walk.

We went to the Apple Store because my mum wanted an Ipad. There are a gazilion types of Ipads in that store and I had no idea what she wanted, most importantly not even she had a faint idea of what she wanted. So I called my cousin but he didn’t pick up, all of the sudden I start receiving audio messages in my whatsapp feed. They were my cousin’s telling me he was in the shower but he could help me chose one even though (you could hear the water running as he spoke). He explained the type of Ipad I had to buy through 10 second audio files he made while showering, what? Yeah, just, yeah.

We got what we were looking for and basically spent the rest of the day walking down 5th Avenue and shopping. We walked ‘till 32nd Street where a friend had recommended a Japanese food restaurant but it was 3:15 and they closed at 3:00. My mum was beyond pissed, we were craving to eat this kind of food for so long! Then we went back, all on foot, so from 32nd Street to 57th street and then from 5th Avenue to 9th Avenue, it was quite a walk, not to mention all the shopping bags.

But I didn’t have time to rest, I took a shower, changed and headed off to the Met. I had a smoked salmon with cream cheese bagel and it was like heaven! I’m such an ogress!

The sunset was gorgeous that day, later I found out that this phenomenon only happens twice a year in the city

Well, this was the second opera I’d be watching alone and I bought a rather fine seat on the first row of the Balcony. I think that was the best seat I had. Because when you sit at the orchestra you can see the action very well and you can actually see people’s faces which is fantastic but the sound isn’t really the best. When I sat at the grand tier the sound wasn’t real good and since I was a little to the back of the grand tier I couldn’t see the faces either. In the Family Circle the sound is INSANE, it’s really good, all the point and sound and greatness goes up to the Family Circle BUT you are so far away you can’t see people’s faces. The best place was indeed first row balcony. Because you get that amazing Family Circle sound plus you are much more near the stage and can actually see the faces, so if you are buying tickets for the opera at the Met, buy stuff on the Balcony! It’s a bit pricy, it’s $100,00 but it’s really the best seat in the house, at least for me!

Well now on to the crazy world of Shostakovich, I was a bit reluctant about watching this opera at first. I mean, it’s a Russian modern opera by Shostakovich, I really didn’t know what I was going to get. But apart from the title character being played by the Brazilian Paulo Szot, Valery Gergiev was also conducting it.

I wanna to first and foremost talk about the sets. They are amazing, I never saw anything like it in my whole life! It was partially made with amazing projections and the projections actually interacted with the singers! Plus you had the translation of what they were saying in the projections so it was a lot of fun following.

It starts off with our hero going to the barber’s shop and getting a shave. After he’s left the barber realizes he cut the man’s nose out! I loved this scene because the barber’s wife comes after him and the argue and he runs in a brave move, because they are in a two story set and there’s a rope with a bucket that goes downstairs and he hops on it descends and runs, it’s amazing! So brave, I would never do that! The opera is fun and it is funny!

Well waking up the next morning our hero finds that his nose is in fact missing, no blood no whole, just no nose. He’s desperate and scared. Paulo Szot has a beautiful voice plus he’s a real good actor. This guy I’ve admired for years and years and years! A few years back he braved into a world very few opera singers brave into, the world of musical theater and he was an absolute sensation! He even won a Tony Award for his work in the revival of South Pacific. He was the very first Brazilian to win a Tony Award, quite huge! Plus he was playing Lescaut in that production of Manon that made me fall in love with opera.

He goes on about town asking for help and about a thousand characters with each two or three lines appear but nobody really helps him. He sees the nose and even talks to him, the nose actually acquired a personality and has a higher social position that his owner, imagine that! I particularly liked the scene in the church where he actually talks to the nose and the nose says that he could never be his since they are so different. He goes to the police and to the news papers but no help, just a lot of bullying because he is now deformed with really no nose. The opera is rather dynamic and although it is atonal you don’t really feel disturbed by it. It must be a bitch to learn and it’s definitely something I would not do since I’m such a lyrical kind of person, but the story was light and fun which made perfect counterpoint with the complicated music.

By the end of the first part his nose is stomped by a mob of people and shrinks back into his normal size. There was no intermission in this opera since the whole thing is about 90 minutes, there was just a brief pause of about 3 minutes and then we were back.

A police officer has found the nose but in order for our hero to actually get his nose back he has to pay a lot of money to the policeman. Our hero is now trying to stick his nose back onto his face, but no avail! The nose won’t stick! I don’t know how I’m making this sound, but this is quite hilarious! He tells his servant to call the doctor, but the doctor also doesn’t help at all, he even says that it’s better to leave things as they are, if he tried to sew the nose back I’d be way worst. But the doctor also asks for money, a lot of it. I’m sure this piece has a double meaning, with a man who has suddenly lost something vital and everybody who usually always helped either laughed at him or took advantage of his situation.

Defeated our hero goes to sleep and miraculously during the night the nose decides that he wants to come back and our hero wakes up the next day thrilled to have his nose right back on his face! So it’s a happy ending for our crazy opera about a runaway nose! Then comes a part I loved, some actors start questioning why on earth would someone make up a story like that? It’s so cool! I had a wonderful laugh and actually left the Met auditorium with a huge smile on my face. I really liked this opera! And it’s odd because as I was exiting the auditorium an old lady of about 70 years old asked me what I had thought of it and I said “It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen, but I really liked it!” and the old lady said “I was just saying the same thing to my daughter, it’s definitely the craziest thing I’ve ever seen but it’s wonderful!”.

Well, I went to the stage door because I really wanted to meet/talk to Paulo Szot. The creepers were ALL there, it’s so disturbing, seriously, those people are sick. When Paulo came out I let them have a go at him, I really didn’t want to fight for Paulo’s attention with those lunatics, so I waited my turn. Eventually they eased up on Paulo because Maestro Gergiev had just come out so I went to talk to him. I must say it was so much fun to actually be able to speak in my own language at the stage door with a singer who had just sung. Because you’d have a lot of times loads of Russians speaking their mother tongue to the performers and I’m like “I don’t even know what they are saying!”. But Paulo is such a sweetheart! My singing teacher is actually really good friends with him so she send him a rather strange message through me, probably one of those inner jokes. He did laugh and thanked me so much. We talked for a while about The Nose and about South Pacific. He was so sweet, ah, I’m so happy I’m getting to meet these people and actually talk to them for a while. And most importantly see that they actually listen to what I have to say!

Well guys, that’s it for today, now I gotta run to class because I’m late. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Trip to NYC - Day 7 - Eugene Onegin 1

So as you must imagine I'm back to Brazil and shame on me for not posting anything else while I was in NYC, but it was very difficult to do that since I was doing so many things! But last Wednesday's right after the opera I started writing about Onegin so I'm going to skip Tuesday and post Wednesday first, but rest assured there will be a post for Tuesday too!

During the day not much happened, just an immense amount of walking and shopping. But of course I wanna talk about what happened during the evening. Well, me and my mum got out of the hotel rather late, 7:10 and the performance was at 7:30. So we ran the 4 blocks that separated us from Lincoln Center, in opera clothes, so you can only imagine the mess. Loads of laughs though.

At intermission

Well, we did get there in time (THANK GOD!) and went straight to our fabulous seats in the orchestra. I took the traditional Patrick view from my seat picture and the lady beside me stared as if I’d just shot the person sitting in front of me. I looked at her and said “Oh, I have a blog, this picture is a thing” and then the lady said “I thought you had brought a little toy to play with” and I said “Oh no, I’m beyond that age” and you know what she said? “Oh, are you sure?” the bitch! I called her a whore in Portuguese and called it a day since she couldn’t understand a thing I said anyways.

I'm adding a lot of pictures of the production here but rest assured, I didn't take any of them haha

I was really very excited, the opera began with that ripping overture and I was in heaven. There is something very special about the music composed for this opera that really hits home, which is odd since home for me is so far away from Russia. Now the sets! I was really amazed, for the first act we had Larina’s home in the summer time. One of the most incredible sets I ever saw live, it had 3 layers divided by huge glass windows, the front one, the biggest, was the inside of the house. Then a corridor for servants was between the first and third layer which was a beautiful garden with tress and everything. What caught my eye and I found most magical was the sun effect the managed to do with the lighting outside and its effects reflecting on the inside. So you had a real feeling of a day passing by seeing the inside of a house.

The girls begin singing that lovely duet and even though both were behind one of the glass I could hear them perfectly! This staging is so pretty, I absolutely loved it. Because I hadn’t seen a traditional production of Onegin before, the closest was that last one the Met did. But one with actual big sets and chandeliers, not really.

I loved that while there is the first chorus piece of the opera they do a crazy dance with rye being thrown at a girl who’s dancing. I know it sounds very weird when you read it but it looked great on the stage and put a huge smile on my face.

Ah well, Anna is playing a very very shy Tatyana to completely counterpoint her sister who is on fire. Olga’s first aria was lovely and I didn’t like the fact that Gergiev didn’t stop for the applause. Not even for Lensky’s first aria, speaking of which Piotr Beczala is absolutely charming in this role. In his first appearance he shows up all smiling and it’s just adorable. That was also, I think, to counterpoint with Mariusz’s take on Onegin, he played him as a very snobbish and bored person, but well mannered and with some god intentions.

While in normal productions you feel your attention being drawn to the person who is singing in this one, especially in these next scenes, it was very hard to choose where to concentrate. Because even as Lensky professed his love for Olga there was a silent scene going on between Onegin and Tatyana that you also don’t want to miss. This ensemble was quite beautiful. Lensky is left alone with Olga and totally takes his change and gives her a rather long kiss, Lensky you naughtily boy!

Well, the moment we were all waiting for, curtain comes down and when it comes back up some things have been moved and it’s now night at Larina’s house. Guys, this letter scene was OUT OF THIS WORLD. Seriously, my heart was beating so fast, Anna did an incredible job, hey, if you don’t like Anna Netrebko, go find a cliff you can jump from and don’t ever return to my blog. This woman is fantastic, her voice is everything we expect and more! Big and darkish, it’s just delicious to listen to her. She really used her stage and her Tatyana went through an amazing emotional journey through the 14 delightful minutes of the letter aria! At a certain point I started crying and I was seriously almost sobbing by the end, especially at the very end. It was just MAGICAL, magic came over me with that gorgeous music and her beautiful voice and heartfelt interpretation.

Well, Onegin comes to her and she is, of course, terrified and humiliated. But I never know what to make of this scene, was that really a polite way to say ‘no’ or did he really care for her and didn’t want her to get hurt? Because today it seemed like a little bit of both. Mariusz did a fantastic job with the scene, commanding it utterly with his powerful amazing voice and acting. For me, it was such an absolute delight to see the three of them perform in an opera together, because they are all great favorites of mine.

Mariusz’s Onegin almost seemed like he was really trying to be the good guy and do the right thing. But then right at the end of the scene, after rejecting her, he goes on and kisses a rather stunned Tatyana. And then simply walks off as he takes a bite out of an apple, end of first act. When he did that I was seriously like “What a jerk!” but that’s Onegin in this scene.

Intermission flew as it always does and act two was upon me before I could say ‘Tchaikovsky’. Curtain’s up and another gorgeous set appears, this time it’s Larina’s house during the winter and we are taken to her ballroom. Big space with some chairs around and big doors that lead to another room in the back, it is quite an amazing effect. It’s Tatyana’s birthday but she’s not liking all the attention very much.

Now, the dances for this act were so beautiful and Mariusz showed everybody he could dance really well leading Olga in every dance to Lensky’s dismay. I was really very dazzled with the staging and the dancing, it was really gorgeous and wrapped up with the most incredible music, it was to die for. But of course we all know what happens at this ball, Lensky is super pissed at Onegin and Onegin is too stuck up and snobbish to just say “I’m sorry, I was joking, I don’t like her, she likes you, go be happy.”. No, he has to have the last laugh and Lensky as the tenor he is won’t be insulted in this way without settling things.

Curtain closes and when we go back there is a completely different scenery, outside cold, cold winter dawn in what seems to be a frozen lake. There are some trees branches scattered around and Lensky is sitting in one of them, and it is there where Piotr Beczala totally destroyed my heart with his amazing aria. So with complete loss of hope in everything his character believed in. I think it’s even more sad because he was such a good jolly fellow just 30 minutes ago. Everyone in the audience agreed and he got quite an ovation after his aria.

Onegin arrives and even though we KNOW what’s going to happen you can’t help but hope that they will part as friends. Oh, and when Onegin actually embraced Lensky I felt the tears coming. And when it was done Onegin immediately went to hold his dear friend’s lifeless body and curtain closes and you are like “WHY DID HE DO THIS?”

I didn’t even feel this intermission I was so ready for the third act! The Polonaise Waltz is one of my favorite musical parts in this opera, because for me, believe it or not, I think it tells a little bit of how Onegin’s life has been since then. Call me crazy, this may be because of that incredible dance they did in the ROH production, but for me the dancing music is telling a story alright!

And how could I have forgotten? Hearing this music being conducted by Gergiev was such an incredible experience. I mean, we are talking about the guy who almost single handily raise the Maryinsky Theater to it’s current glory and who brought amazing Russian repertoire to the West! I had always wanted to see him conduct live ever since the first time I saw him lead the last production of Onegin the Met had in which he told Ramon Vargas to look more at Olga and less at him while he sang his first aria. Never mind the occasional hair combing (which is mandatory), he is on fire on that fit (no pun intended). And also to hear Russian music being sung by an all Slavic soloists cast who actually speak the language is something very rare and wonderful to experience, top that off with the best Russian music conductor nowadays and you reach the skies!

When the curtain comes up we have these huge pillars and a mirrored floor that gives us the idea of a ballroom. This set got an enthusiastic applause from the audience! What I didn’t really like was the dance they made for my dear Polonaise Waltz, so lifeless. Maybe it was to show how different society was in the big city and the countryside. We had Onegin strolling along the room with his charms about him but they didn’t seem to be working and as the song progresses he gets more irritated and starts drinking.

The prince arrives and even though everybody loves this aria I can’t help but be slightly impatient listening to it. Onegin is seeing Tatyana for the first time in years and, some might say, for the first time at all. I’m dying to see how their awkward exchange is going to go, but when I think the Prince’s aria is done he goes right back to the beginning!

Loving how Anna plays her older, mature, ‘nothing can pull me down’ Tatyana. She faces him with a placid expression and nothing betrays her true feelings while Onegin is almost bursting! He sings about his new found feelings for Tatyana and you can feel the pain he’s feeling, the regret and the hope. Mariusz is probably one of the best Onegins I’ve ever seen, because not only does he have a beautiful voice but he is such a fantastic actor. I saw him as Onegin in another production and I love it how he can keep the character fresh and even change him a little bit.

And hearing Onegin sing the melody of the letter song is just so enticing! I always get that ‘It might work out, oh my God what’s gonna happen?’ feeling in this part even though I nearly know the whole last duet by heart! The curtain closes.

For the last scene we still have the pillars and the mirrored floor but now we’re out doors in a cold morning in Saint Petersburg and it’s actually SNOWING on stage. How cool is that? Tatyana comes in distressed and confesses that seeing Onegin has stirred feeling that had been asleep deep inside her heart for so long. Onegin comes into the scene almost desperate and throws himself to her feet taking off his coat in the snow, he must be REALLY in love.

At first Tatyana is very stern and cold trying to get Onegin to get a taste of his own medicine. The colder she gets the more passionate he becomes, not only in his lines but in actions, kind of bearing desperate. I thought it was so heart throbbing when they sing that happiness had been so close to them, the tears started in this point and did not stop. I leaned over in my seat, mouthed the words (super SORTA because I SO don’t speak Russian), and cried! And then when Tatyana finally confesses she’s still in love with him and you see that glimmer of hope in Onegin’s eyes and you just wanna die because you know that nothing will change her mind. Loads of feelings then people, LOADS I tell you! And as they battle each other in the end I couldn’t even think, just weep with my eyes opened, don’t ask me how, it stings and I don’t know how I did it.

Now when Tatyana finally gives that last ripping high note telling Onegin even though she loves him she won’t leave her husband and break her vows. They are so close you can taste it and then she pushes him away. Now, I saw this scene from the HD and let me tell you, Anna was a bit shy and gentle in the HD. Because on Wednesday she didn’t approach him slowly and kissed him tenderly like she did on the HD. She just went for it and it was HOT! The silence was unbelievable. Because throughout the whole performance there are loads of coughing and irritating sounds even during the letter scene. But during the kiss and as Tatyana walked away the silence was absolute, it really felt as if everybody was holding their breaths at the same time. And then Onegin’s heart breaking final phrase finishes to finish your heart out!

The applause was thunderous and before the curtain was up on them again the whole orchestra section was standing and clapping enthusiastically, although 1/4 of the people actually left during curtain call which I think is the RUDEST thing ever! When the curtain call was finally over it was time to fangirl!       

I actually took this picture with my phone
So down to the stage door I went, it wasn’t as cold as I had expected and my mum wasn’t as grumpy, she really liked this opera. Stage door is a great place to make friends, I met a very cool guy and we chatted a bit while we waited for the heroes of our lives to come out. Oddly enough, one of the first ones to come was Anna, and although the stage door was a little bit more crowded than the other days there weren’t many people. I went to talk to her and she actually remembered me, how AMAZING is that? From now on I will always be “the girl who said she looks bad in pictures” BUT I DON’T CARE! I actually got to talk with her a bit about the performance, I told her I cried during her letter scene and she was touched. Anna is an incredibly nice person and very sociable, we talked about some other stuff and then I told her “Anna, you were fantastic, perfect, now go home because you need to rest!” and she said “Oh, thank you, I will! I’m very tired! Good night, see you on Saturday!”. Yeah, this was like, yeah, awesome. We took a fashion pose picture just because.

Then Mauriusz and Piotr had already come out and I was actually indecisive to which should I talk to first. I went with Mariusz and oh my! First of all he is so handsome and charming it’s like, distracting. Second, he is very sweet and so very nice. I told him that the first opera I had ever seen was with him, Don Giovanni and that I loved it, he was really happy. And then I told him I had come from Brazil to watch this opera and he was very stunned and happy. Seriously, he was so nice, I told him I had cried watching the opera, especially in the end and he was delighted, he said “That’s exactly what we want!”.

We took a picture together but it was bad because of the lighting and the crazy people came watering down on him for autographs but swimming against the current of loonies he told me he’d take another picture with me. As we posed my mum started getting unfamiliar with my phone and we were standing there smiling with our hands around each other’s waists. Then the crazy people started taking pictures and I said “Oh, I’ll get out so you can take a solo picture” but he grabbed my hand and pulled me back and said “No, take the pictures with me, enjoy your star moment!”. Yeah, and then the loonies started saying they only wanted him in the picture and as I left the scene I said “Oh fine, I’m not that bad looking you know” and then he took my hand again and said “No, you are actually very good looking, see you on Saturday, hun?” WHAT? Dead Isabela, DEAD! Just dead.

Then I went to talk to Piotr and he was also very nice but kind of in a hurry, but I was so happy about my whole Mariusz thing that I didn’t really care! And to top it all off I met a rather nice Brazilian lady, from my city São Paulo, who was there stage dooring and having a blast also watching all kinds of Met stuff. She is in the same hotel as we are so we walked back to the hotel together talking about all things opera!