Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Here and Back Again in NYC (day 1) - Snowy Arrival and Gerald Finley singing Schubert

Hey everybody! Guess from where I’m writing this little post! From my hotel room in New York! Yes! And let me tell you all about my first day in da city!

Starting off with the fact that yesterday morning I woke up to the horrendous news that a snow storm was hitting New York City on the very same day of my arrival. A few hours later I started coming across all kinds of people who had their flights cancelled to New York because of the storm. Now, I couldn’t just tell my mom, she’d be terrified and refuse to go and would not rest until I told her I wasn’t going either. So I kept it all to myself and kept checking the Delta website every 5 minutes to see my flight’s status. Well we packed, we screamed at each other and me and mom were out to the airport, the car journey took about an hour and a half. Even though we were 4 hours early the plane departed with one hour of delay that did not surprise me since there was a storm coming up where we wanted to land! I hate flying, I never get any sleep and the chairs are uncomfortable because I’d rather buy good seats to the opera than at a plane.

We did land smoothly after 10 hours on the air, we did have quite a bit of turbulence which terrified mum (and she didn’t even know about the storm then!). When we got out of the plane the first thing I saw was snow! Now, I had never seen snow before so for me it was like magic! I was only wearing a t-shirt and a jacket and feeling fine with that snow falling from the sky and landing everywhere. The journey to the city was fine but there was snow everywhere, I felt like I was in a Christmas Movie or something!

We left our heavy luggage at the Hotel and vestured off to Starbucks to have a happy breakfast. We only forgot about one tiny detail; the storm. Have you ever experienced a storm? You know in Frozen when there are those rough winds with snow? It’s very much like the ending of Frozen, I felt like Anna, freezing to death fighting the winds. We had an umbrella, I brought it because of the rain, but we used him in the storm and it died. After me getting loads of snow inside my mouth because I was laughing too hard at my mother almost falling every 5 steps she took we arrived at Starbucks. We drank a lot of coffee and ate a lot of yummy things and neither was very keen on leaving.

I was actually kind of sad, because the storm was really bad, that Starbucks was like a block away from the hotel and getting to it had felt like building the great wall of China. I wanted to go to Lincoln Center if only just to drool and cry and look at the cool stuff at the Met store. We went back to the hotel and got to the hotel room, pretty nice, two queen beds, spacious and free wifi. After about half an hour it stopped snowing so I decided to get some things done now that it was ok to walk outside.

Oh, how I was wrong! It had stopped snowing, that’s true but it had started raining! It was about 0 degrees and the rain was falling in the diagonal, almost horizontally sometimes. Result; I got super wet, my boots got wet, my feet, my trousers… And I could feel the front part of my wet tights burn because of the cold wind that was blowing, worst sensation ever. Nevertheless I did go to Carnegie Hall and picked up my tickets and did the stuff I needed to do. My prize? Going to the Met!

But the thing is, to get to the Met I had to navigate the melting streets of Manhattan and that is an art! I felt like I was a character in a video game or something. What happens is: it snows, the temperature is a little below zero, it stops snowing and the temperature rises a bit to a little something above zero. That little subtle yet fatal change in temperature starts to slowly melt the fluffy snow on the floor turning it into something I like to call “street slushie”. Trucks clean the car ways and people clean the side walk but what people neglect to clean up is the little piece of street between the side walk and the street the cars use. Actually most of the snow removed actually goes to this spot. What happens? It’s impossible to cross the street because one step out of line and you have your precious foot underneath urban freezing New York slushie water/snow/ice thing, the point is that it makes your shoe wet, your socks wet and your foot wet and it’s already really cold here.

So basically one of the things that I have learned today was to navigate the slushie and make sure I don’t take a false step into freezing waters. I eventually got to the Met, although I was all wet. I sat for a while in one of those benches inside the Met outside the Met Store. When I felt I was politely dry enough I entered the shop and just browsed through the stuff. Ah, it’s so great to be back here! I feel whole, it’s so odd walking along these streets it feels so natural to me.I got a DVD of that concert Dmitri Hvorostovsky did with Sondra Radvanovsky in Moscow plus I got my Rusalka ticket! 

I was just about to leave when a man stopped directly in front of me, from a certain distance, and started texting. At first I squinted my eyes to see if he was who I thought he was then I quickly reached for my glasses and saw it was him! David Daniels, the Met’s super counter tenor. Then I did something that is worthy of my dear opera bff Otávio and of which I’m slightly ashamed of confessing… I followed him! Down the stairs, out the door, out the other door, (Oh my God he’s heading to the stage door you gotta catch up with him) I pretend to be running for something, turn my head in his direction at the very last minute and say “Hey! Excuse me, I’m so sorry to bother you, but aren’t you David Daniels?”. We chatted for a little bit and he was THE sweetest! So nice and asked me fun questions. When I asked for a picture he said “Yes, but only taken from above” to which I replied “Do you thing I take any other type?” but a guy turned up and took it for us. He was on his way to rehearse The Enchanted Island which is so thrilling!

After that I came hopping back to the hotel and me and mum had lunch together at a restaurant close to our hotel. Again she almost fell several times trying to cross the street, my entertainment is forever guaranteed! After that we came back to the hotel (it was a late lunch) and I started writing this post while trying to watch Renée Fleming’s masterclass that was streamed online but couldn’t.

Patrick during lunch, happy to be inside with the snowy weather
Around 6:30pm I left the hotel all ready to go to my first night out of fantastic music in New York, Gerald Finley and Julius Drake performing Schurbert’s Witerriese. First of all it wasn’t at the big hall of Carnegie, it was at the Judy and Arthur Zankel Hall to which I had never been and was very excited to experience. This musical event was unlike any other musical event I ever went in NYC or anywhere really. Everybody there was dressed well but rather casually which I found most revigorating and cozy. The hall is so lovely, it is much smaller but I think it’s perfect for this kind of recitals, it gives you that intimate feel that a big hall just cannot provide. Also almost everybody there that I could spot was there for the music and not just some social status of being in an expensive musical event in the city.

view from my seat, second row :)
Gerald Finley came out first and spoke a few words to the public and mostly thanked us all for coming despite of the crazy heretic weather. The hall wasn’t full but almost about 8/10 full but I knew that that concert had sold out and people hadn’t come because they really weren’t able to get to NYC today because of the storm.

Now, I don’t know much about Lieder and I don’t like pretending I do but that was freaking awesome! I was feeling stuff by the end I didn’t even know I could feel, it was so intense, so well executed, with so much artistry from both performers and also so much humility. I’ll talk more about Gerald because I’m a singer and of course I paid more attention to the singer. Seriously now, the moment he opened his mouth and started singing I went “Oh my!” and kinda held my breath, I couldn’t believe it, it was so simple and yet absurdly beautiful. His objective was so clear, to be a vessel to tell the music of Schubert through his voice, to show us what each little piece was about through his voice and fantastic facial expressions that were just the right dosage. I was so impressed by his technique, of course I knew he had a killer technique because of other works he’s done but to hear it live it’s unbelievable!

People, go see stuff live, the sensation of a singer’s voice vibrating in your face without the use of any amplification is like no other, you will be touched, I’m sure!

There were so many songs in that cycle and I think that he recorded a CD singing these and I promise to review this CD as soon as I buy it with more details. I just know that right at the begging, I think it was the fourth song “Erstarrung”, there was one song that his rendition nearly drove me to tears. But that’s the thing about these song cycles, you have to really know them in order to appreciate the performance you see more (that’s for everything not just song cycles). From this particular one I knew I liked the last song “Der Leiermann” in which Gerry carried a lot of emotion and at the end drew a very long pure silence from the audience, nobody even dared to breathe. Then he lowered his head and the hall exploded with applause, they did 3 curtain calls, another real first for curtain calls I attended here in NY. By the end I swear to God I was dizzy, didn’t know what to say or think, I just knew I needed to share that with someone. I noticed that that was the general feeling amongst the people who watched, most of them were very really touched by what they saw.

After the recital Gerald did pop up in the reception area and as a line formed to talk to him he would talk to everybody for as long as the person wanted to talk to him. I wanted to speak to him SO BAD! But I was very nervous and very cold which made me tremble nonstop. So I waited for a while for all the other people to talk to him and before I know it he’s having the most enlightened conversation with a 12 year old young musician to be who keeps asking for advice, he was very cute and intelligent, he talked like an actual grown up. After the boy left it was my turn and I was so nervous. He was absolutely incredible! I told him I was from Brazil and we entered in conversation quite easily, I told him I was auditioning for the grad program on Saturday. He was very interested to know what I was singing plus he gave me great tips of what to do in my audition that I think will really make a difference. I told him I loved his masterclass and he was so flattered and we started talking about giving Mozart for young singers and something in my head was like “OH MY GWAD YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT MOZART WITH THE GUY WHO WAS YOUR FIRST ALMAVIVA!”. We talked for a while and he was so incredible, supportive and HELPFUL, really, just AWESOME! We took a picture (of course!) and he gave me a big hug and his most sincere well wishes for my audition when we said goodbye.

You can only imagine I came back to the hotel eating snowflakes out of happiness. And now here I am, writing it down! One more thing, New York is the BEST place to be!

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