So the day has finally come! On that faithful Sunday, the 13th of October I had the best time of my life!
I made plans with Melanie (aka Ms Opera Geek) to meet for lunch at 11. But as fate would have it, my mum got stuck in the elevator of the hotel, just her luck. I laughed at her, I must admit. Well I got to Carnegie Hall about 15 minutes late and there I met my good friend Melanie! I was really so thrilled to meet her because we’d been talking for such a long time over the internet, it was a very special moment for me. So me, Mel and her dad (real cool guy) went to a restaurant called Carnegie something (sorry I forgot the name of the restaurant, shame on me!) for lunch. Me and Melanie ordered a quite large basically all bacon sandwich each and devoured on as the three of us talked nonstop about opera. I really had an amazing 2 hours talking to those two about opera while slowly ingesting ridiculous amounts of bacon. Plus we had a cherry cheesecake that was to die for, but we couldn’t finish it!
Then we went to Starbucks and the opera talk continued! We met some real nice people and also people from the orchestra. One problem, I picked my coolest dress to attend Joyce’s concert, gold and strapless and gorg and the only shoes that matched it had very high heels. Now I’m not a high heels person, I went to all the operas in pretty flats but I just couldn’t wear flats with this dress. So I put the heels inside a Starbucks bag and wore my havaina flip flops thorough the whole lunch thing. We got into Carnegie Hall through the stage door (COOL OR WHAT!) and I still had my flip flops on as Melanie and her dad introduced me to some important people like this and that soprano who sang with Pavarotti and I’m wearing flip flops for CHRIST SAKES! I dragged Melanie to the restroom and changed my shoes to those torture machines, beautiful, golden and sparkly but absolute foot killers!
When we came out Melanie introduced me to Carrie-Ann Matheson! Mel said “This is Carrie Ann Matheson, she works at the Met” and I said “Oh, hi, I’m Isabela, I know you from “The Audition”” kill yourself Isabela! But she was so nice and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. Unfortunately I had to find my mum because the concert was almost starting so I had to bid the gals goodbye and search for mother. After some panic I found her and we headed to our seats, we got quite nice seats in the Balcony front, although it was covered by another level above us so I don’t think we got the best sound, but anyways.
The concert started and the Met Orchestra was already on stage, James Levine comes in to a gigantic wave of applause and I count myself so damn lucky to be able to see him conduct both at the Met and here at Carnegie Hall.
We started off with one of my favorite composers, Verdi. They played the overture of Il Vespri Siciliani and aaah, I could just die then. Ah, what gorgeous sound, what gorgeous music, tears came to my eyes and it was simply the best way to open! Then they played a piece by Carter that I did not know and since it was a modern piece it didn’t particularly touch my heart. I started to get anxious about seeing Joyce. The piece was over and I could barely hide my overflowing enthusiasm.
And on stage comes my beloved Yankee Diva. Guys, I broke down the minute she walked on stage and I could not stop crying. Joyce for me is such a huge idol and hero and all sorts awesome so to see her like that was just too much for me. The music (Rossini’s Giovanna D’Arco) had a pretty long intro in which I cried all the way and then when she started singing I thought I wouldn’t be able to not make noise while wept and wept. Again, I was able to cry with my eyes open and watch all of it. It was just so amazing, I didn’t know this piece but it’s Rossini so of courses we had those beautiful Joyce cadenzas and those sparkly trills that make us go over the edge.
Intermission time and was I embarrassed or what? Wiped my tears and met up with Sasha and a friend of hers and chatted. Ah I love talking to my opera friends, it is so refreshing to have people who get you and can discuss stuff at the same level. Sasha showed me the AWESOME job our friend Xenia did, an actual photo book of Joyce’s performances, it’s gorgeous (well done Xenia!)!
Well intermission was over and I walked back ever so slowly, because Carnegie Hall stairs are steep and I was in killer heels, back to my seat. Second part started and I almost thanked God that I managed not to cry, I mean, getting emotional is fine but my weeping was embarrassing me. Joyce sang two arias from Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito, Sesto’s “Deh, per questo istante solo” and then Vitelia’s “Non piu di fiori”. It was so gorgeous! The treatment she gives Mozart is just remarkable, Gosh what an artist! And such a big voice, those brilliant, brilliant high notes soared! And it was quite interesting to hear her sing the aria she coached at the Masterclass only the week before. Then you could really notice the fine detailed work she had with this piece and how she absolutely makes it her own. Just incredible!
I was upset that when “Non piu di fiori” was over the would be no more Joyce. I mean, I love orchestral music but I love sung music so much more! Joyce had quite an ovation, I think it took about 4 minutes of coming in and out and bowing as the crowd cheered and cheered!
After Joyce was gone (snif!) we have Beethoven’s 7th Symphony to delight on! My favorite part of this Symphony is without a doubt the second movement, I’ve been in love with it ever since I was an annoying teenager. Funny story, here in Brazil when a girl turns 15 her family usually throws a debutant party for her. And there’s a part in this party when you have to come out with a beautiful dress and waltz with your dad, granddad and godfather and optionally boyfriend but I had my best friend dance with me. So we get to choose a cool song for when we come out and guess what I chose? Second movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, guess what my mother said? “NO WAY, it’s too depressing!” What? It’s fucking gorgeous!
Back to 2013 it was in fact, gorgeous and poignant and amazing! And the crowd went wild and it was incredible! The very second the clapping ceased I flew down those Carnegie Hall stairs to the backstage area entrance to meet Melanie. I had an amazing feeling going on, something like “Oh God I gotta get there quickly, oh man I’m gonna fall down these stairs if I run, HOLY MACARONI I’M MEETING JOYCE!”.
I met Melanie, her dad and her lovely, lovely mother in the backstage entrance and after giving our names to the thug looking security guard we were in! We went up on an elevator and me and Melanie were hopping like two rabbits with excitement! It was SUCH a happy moment, Mel’s parents seemed to be so happy to bring us there and me and Mel were just over the moon! Well we got to this nice big room where I could spot Joyce talking enthusiastically with a group of people. It was so funny because we went in and walked past her to wait for her. I remember I tweeted “I’M IN THE SAME ROOM AS @JOYCEDIDONATO WITH @MSOPERAGEEK”. I was so happy! Probably one of the happiest moments of my life, definitely!
Well, the people who were speaking to Joyce left and she came to talk to us! First she greeted Mel’s parents, then Mel and then she turned to me and with that beautiful smile on her face said “ISABELA!”. Now do you know how amazing it is to actually meet the person who most inspires you? Nevertheless to have her greet her saying your name, I cry just remembering about it! She gave me a huge hug that lasted about 20 seconds and while we hugged she started thanking me for the stuff I had sent her and all I could say was “Oh my God I’m gonna cry!”.
When we parted from our tight long hug she complimented my clothes and I was like “Omg I can’t believe it’s YOOOU!”. We took a lovely, lovely picture together and as we took it Joyce said this one was for the next CD, hence my facial expression of total and complete rejoyce!
I seriously do not remember what I said to her after the photo but the guys from Carnegie Hall were pressing her because she was giving a signing and she was kinda late. So she told me to come along with her to the signing and wait for it to end so then she could sign all my CDs and we could talk better. What? Yes! It was so surreal, I bid Mel and her parents the quickest goodbye and followed Joyce and the 791948 security guards escorting her. I must admit it was very surreal to walk along Carnegie Hall’s backstage with Joyce. We got to the signing only too quickly though and it was packed!
I went to some solitary place to wait for her and lean on something because my feet were absolutely killing me. One bad thing about the signing, the stage door freaks were there being as inconvenient as they could possibly be, cutting line, being rude and all that crap that they do. After about half an hour the place started clearing out and I met a lovely German lady named Alexandra who was last in line. She asked me to take pics for her and sure enough I did, I was happy to help, she was so excited about meeting Joyce.
But then what happened was that when it was her turn there was only me, her, Joyce, 3 girls, 834798 security people and the stage door creeps there. You see the stage door creeps had already gotten their stuff signed so they could sell it on Ebay or something but they insisted in harassing Joyce to the last minute. Taking pictures and being their rude selves until a moment when Joyce hit the table hard with the palms of her hands and said in a scary tone “ENOUGH!”
They backed off but did not leave, she told us (me, Alex and the 3 girls) that she was gonna pretend to leave so they would go away. And as she left I started calling out “Bye Joyce! It was so cool meeting you!” and the girls followed me suit with loads of goodbyes and thank yous. The security people actually threw the stage door freaks out and Joyce came back!
I got to talk to her again but again I seriously do not remember what I said. I just remember I said “It’s Isabela with one ‘L’” as she wrote my name with 2 Ls but I don’t really care. And then I remember quite vividly looking at her while she was signing the 289840 CDs I brought and just saying “You know you are my hero, right?” and she said amused “Ah, swap it!”. We took another picture and exchanged a few words about her coming back to Brazil in August next year, she’s very excited to be back! Then she left and me and Alexandra just stood there star struck.
Then we went out for some Starbucks and I was the happiest puppy in the world! What an amazing day! Truly one of the best I’ve ever had! Now there’s only one post left to go, the day I met James Levine and unfortunately the day that I left! Gotta go peeps! Peace!