Sunday, April 27, 2014

Here and Back Again in NYC - Day 9 - Prince Igor

Hey guys! Wow that last post was liberating! But it was also posted almost 2, 3 weeks ago! I can’t believe I haven’t posted in such a long time! Shame on me!

I came to a very odd realization today, I didn’t go to any of the Live in HD this season! Shame on me indeed! But in my defense I did go to the actual Met more than 12 times this season. And it’s so odd that most of the things I saw were in the HD program so I didn’t miss much. Plus there isn’t a movie theater in my town that shows the HD broadcasts, I have to make a rather long, boring and expensive trip to get to one. I might go to La Cenerentola though, it’s Joyce after all, and I do almost anything for Joyce.

But I’m sure you all are curious to know about my days in NYC, still have about 2 days to cover so let’s go!

So Friday the 21st of February. We set aside this day to go to New Jersey. I know what you might be thinking; why on earth would you leave NYC to go to New Jersey? One simple word my friends: shopping. You see in New Jersey they have this great outlet mall called Jersey Gardens where stuff is just real cheap. Plus taxes are way smaller in Jersey, plus if you are foreign you get a special discount book or you don’t even have to pay the taxes at all. Bottom line, I might love NYC and opera and everything, but I also LOVE to shop. It’s a refined art and if you are very experienced and good in it, you’ll never look bad.

It was a pretty chilly day, it even snowed a little bit and thank God we were basically indoors all day. Well during our stay in New Jersey we shopped and shopped some more and ended up having to carry quite a lot of bags. I got this REALLY cute sweater at Forever 21 for like $7 that I liked so much that I changed into it.

Around 4 we picked up some salads and lattes at Starbucks and headed off to get into the bus to go back to the city. We already knew there’d be loads of traffic to get into the city. Unfortunately we could only get into a bus at 5 and I started to worry. You see I had planned to watch Prince Igor and I hadn’t gotten a ticket yet and I just couldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t get to watch it. I was hopeful that I would make it to Lincoln Center in time until like 10 minutes to 7 and we were still inside the tunnel. We got to Port Authority at about 7:05, we grabbed something to eat and headed out to grab a taxi. Lucky for us that there was a taxi right outside and I didn’t even think, I gave a positive sign to the driver, he gave me the thumbs up and I got in. My mom followed in and as soon as we were moving she turned to me and said “You do realize that there was a huge line to get a taxi, right?”. Apparently while I was flying inside the taxi the taxi organizing lady screamed at my mom “Were you even in line?” and the BLESSED guy who was the next in line for a cab said “Yes, yes they were!”. What a blessed human being!

Anyways, I ended up going to Lincoln Center anyways to try my luck and watch half of the opera. What happened next I can only call destiny, luck and I don’t even know what. First it was so interesting to be in the house outside the auditorium while an opera was going on. I didn’t know that the opera was streamed live with subtitles in the TVs outside the auditorium and you could hear the voices and the music vibrating in the place, it was insane. I went to the ticket booth and asked the lady if I could still get tickets for that performance. She just looked at me and said “You do realize that the performance has already began, right?” I told her I did and I didn’t really care, I really wanted to watch this opera anyways. She warmed up to me, I don’t know, she asked me if I was a student, I said yes and she proceeded to sell me a student ticket for $37,00, in the orchestra, center, SIXTH ROW! YES! I looked up the price of this seat and it costs $370,00! The actual price was 10 times more expensive than what I paid for. Quite literally, you don’t have to be a math genius to do work that out. 

Anyways, I went in feeling like the luckiest cookie in the jar! Thankfully there was a 20 minute prologue before the first act. So I waited for about 10 minutes outside the auditorium doors chatting to a very nice usher. It was so insane how you could hear the singers so well with those heavy doors closed, it was quite amazing. Clapping happened and that was our cue. The usher rushed inside with me and I felt like we were in mission impossible or something, we moved swiftly as I prayed that I would disrupt as people as little as possible.

How can I describe my seat, I have two words for you, FUCKING AWESOME! Seriously, it’s one of those seats that you never think you’ll sit in, it was very near to the stage, center, glorious and all kinds of awesome, THANK YOU STUDENT TICKETNESS!

view from THE seat
Anyways, on to the opera, so when I got there there was a sort of video going on of war and of Ildar’s gorgeous person being projected in that huge stage the Met has. I must admit I hadn’t read the story so I was really confused. But the story is Prince Igor goes to war and he loses. That prologue was him saying farewell to his city, Putivl, and wife, the projections were the war part and the first act was his life being a war prisoner of the Cumans. I’m going to write about what I remember, because reading the plot in Wikipedia made me very confused, so I’m just gonna tell you guys what I saw and what I made of it.

So after that entire intro we see that the stage is absolutely and completely covered with beautiful red flowers, I was so looking forward for that! Blue, blue sky contrasting with those gorgeous blood red flowers on a raked stage. Some flowers started to move and we realized that Prince Igor was actually lying on the floor.

It’s been almost 2 months and I seriously do not remember the order of events, so forgive me if I make any mistakes. Anita Rashvelishvili sang the role of Konchakovna who was the daughter of the Khan Konchak who was the leader who imprisoned Prince Igor. She had this absolutely gorgeous aria and she looked so absolutely amazing and sounded like a freaking goddess! Apparently her character and Igor’s son Vladimir fall for each other and it’s really sweet. It was kind of odd because as she sang Igor was watching her with almost an earning gaze. Oh yes friends, I got ALL THE FACIAL EXPRESSIONS, could not be happier really!

Then Ildar sang his first aria and oh my God the feels! It is one of the most beautiful arias I’ve ever heard. It’s in his CD of Russian bass arias and it’s just heart wrenching! For this aria we had his son, the Khan’s daughter and his wife on stage trying to tend to him. His wife obviously was fruit of his imagination but the care and devotion she had with him only helped to make the scene more memorable. And excuse me, but Ildar has an INCREDIBLE voice, really big and round and everything you would expect from a Russian bass and more!

Then his son came up and sang another beautiful aria of his own. It’s so odd, I had never heard or seen this opera before but the music got me completely hooked. It was just so gorgeous and the singers were SO good! They all had beautiful voices that seemed to dance in my ears! After Vladimir’s aria the actual Khan Konchack showed up with his total basso aria telling Igor that he wasn’t a prisoner, that he could enjoy the place as much as he wanted, he was just a guest that wasn’t allowed to leave. Stefan Kocan, who played the Khan, was amazing and I had already seen him do the Sacristan in Aida and Sparafucile in Rigoletto. He had this dense and long really low note at the end of his aria that I truly believed he was going to hold forever!

But then came the moment we were all waiting for. The Polonaise Dances. This was actually a way the Khan found to try and seduce Igor to stay there coy and just sit back and relax while the Khan’s army invaded Russia.

First big, wonderful surprise was the location of the monumental chorus of 108 singers. They sang from the audience in the side Parterre and Dress Circle seats, boys on the audience’s right and girls on the left. Since I was sitting in the orchestra all that gorgeous sound just poured down on me like a miraculous rain of beauty. I was more to the right so when the man sang it was really loud and wonderful and I seriously did not know which way to look. On stage dancers started appearing and dancing to the music while a bewildered Igor watched. 

This was the only music that I already knew from the opera so to see it performed in such a monumental way was truly amazing! The music kept building up and the dancers hopping like gazelles in heat and my heart skipping a beat at all that awesomeness. I felt so blessed I even thanked God right in the middle of the dances for this wonderful opportunity. This was truly one of those things that you take forever in your heart.

Anyways, after the dances Igor is kind of inclined for a second to give in and just join the party but instead he manages to run away to his country and that’s where act 1 leaves us.

Now, I was in a very delicate situation. You see, I looked like shit. I was wearing a SEVEN DOLLAR sweater from Forever 21, thick black tights with embroiled white snowflakes, my tired black snow boots and a hair so dirty I made a side braid that was kind of falling apart already. And as I looked around and saw all those people impeccably dressed with their tuxedos, suits, furs and jewels I freaking started to panic. At first I wasn’t really worried about how I looked because I thought I gonna get a seat at the Family circle or something and things up there are much more relaxed. But I was sitting in a very expensive area and everyone around me seemed to have brought in their ‘A’ game outfits to the opera house.

So I quickly made my way to the restroom located bellow the orchestra area to see what I could do about my far from fancy look. I redid my braid and put on a pretty French bonnet stylishly, then I redid my make up with the stuff I had in hand in my makeup bag. Put on my statement red lipstick and took off my glasses and my head looked extremely Met appropriate. Sadly it was attached to a body who was unfortunately wearing clothes fit for a quick run to the supermarket. Also all I could think of was running into the person who takes the pictures for “last night at the Met”, which is this great tumblr page where they post all the great and stylish looks of the Met patrons, and getting a dirty look or something.

I know I sound silly talking like this, after all I was so lucky to get that seat and I was having such a wonderful time. But I’m proud to say that I'm fashion forward kind of person and I care about how I look especially at the Met which I one of my favorite places in the whole entire world! Anyways, I remembered that Kate Spade had this collection done with the same polka dot pattern as my sweater. So I just told myself that I had spent $300 on that sweater on Kate Spade and that was an ironic look for the opera that young people wear nowadays. I got out of that restroom with a new found confidence and was able to continue my evening in peace.

Enough about fashion though. Second act came along and I was pretty excited and happy that I hadn’t read the synopsis because I wanted the piece to tell me the story. Anyways, as I’ve said before it’s been a while since that day so forgive me if I retell things in the wrong order. The first thing I remember in act 2 was Igor’s wife’s (Yaroslavna) aria. Oksana Dyka was so incredible, I never heard her before and she stole my heart. She has this luscious and velvety soprano voice that is absolutely huge and fills that auditorium effortlessly. All the arias are lengthy in this opera but you don’t even feel it pass you by. Maybe it’s because I can’t understand a word in Russian and have no idea if they are repeating always the same thing or not. But I think it’s because the music is so interesting and it really keeps you on the edge of your seat. Yaroslavna is singing about how much she misses her husband and how much she wants him back, having not had news of him in a long time. You totally root for the couple when you hear her miserable pleas and I’m the kind of romantic person that pictures that their reunion is gonna be so passionate. Maybe I should slow down with the fanfiction.

Anyways after her aria her maid tells her that there are some convent ladies who wanted to talk to her and on they come to plead for their friend who has been kidnapped. The thing is, the person who kidnapped the young nun was Yaroslavna’s brother who was kind of in charge of protecting the city. But she can’t go against her brother and he’s not the most honorable guy you’ll ever meet. He actually has this evil plan (stop with the Once Upon a Time references!) to send away his sister and take over the city as the new fresh prince (of Bel Air, sorry, I will stop)!

He has this huge feast with all of the guys from the chorus department and it’s a pretty fun scene. They laugh, they eat, they’re having a swell time really, they get really drunk and I could spot some hot guys with half their shirts on that weren’t singing, God bless whoever cast the extras! I really enjoyed this scene of the party, it was so energetic and they danced, it really was a lot of fun to watch. And some people might say, “Ah, he’s the bad guy, this scene isn’t supposed to be endearing” but I seriously don’t give a rat’s ass, it was a funny scene only made funnier when the stupid nuns broke in.

I’m sorry if I sound rude, but you gotta be really stupid to crash a party with approximately 100 men in order to claim your kidnapped friend back. Needless to say the guys have a huge laugh on their account and quite honestly so did I. They started threatening to touch the nuns and some of the guys even kissed them and I’m sorry if that makes me an awful person, but I thought it was pretty funny. Thank God I didn’t laugh out loud though because I don’t think that was the general feeling in the audience.   

So as Galitsky I getting ready to rumble they hear the news of Igor’s failure in the battle field. There is a huge uproar and everyone, from the chorus, soloists and extras seem to be on stage and suddenly Galitsky is dead. Then they proceed to be attacked and as the stage shows the indoors of the castle the scenery quite literally falls apart. It was so incredible, everybody took cover in the sides of the set and the whole middle crumbled down with incredible explosions! SO AMAZING! Really incredible effects and I was right in front, I could see that if someone had remained on that stage they would have been seriously injured. Just awesome. End of second act!

Anyways during intermission I decided to roam along that area down the stairs from the orchestra level seats. That one where there are a million photographs of all the cool singers. I could spot many of my favorites, if not all of them really. They have this BEAUTIFUL painting of Renée Fleming as Rusalka that I would like to have in my living room. And another even cooler of Placido Domingo as Otello that would look super hanging above a fireplace.

This intermission was pretty quick and I was actually dying to know what was gonna happen next. You see the thing about opera plots for me is the following, there’s only one time that you are gonna see that opera for the first time. The other times it might be wonderful too but you’ll already know the story. And I always like for the theater, the actual thing to tell me story, I find it extremely pointless to read the plot ahead. I remember I was listening to the Met premiere of Two Boys last year and I had the score with me so I was following it plus it was sung in a very clear English so I could understand every word they were saying. There was only one intermission but in it the commentators from the radio proceeded to spoil the whole story and tell the end in less than a minute! I was so MAD, the ending is so fucking good. It felt as if I was reading a REALLY good Agatha Christie book and someone came up to me and told me who the killer was before I finished it.

I’m sorry guys, I just finished watching the last Once Upon a Time episode and I’m kind of emotional, that show does that to me. Anyways, third act comes along and we are brought back to the palace but now it is all in ruins and everybody is basically miserable. Igor appears, he has succeeded in running away but is very upset about the whole ‘his town is in ruins’ thing and is afraid to reveal himself. There’s a very cool sort of flashback in which the lights change and we see Igor’s son telling him he’s not tagging along because he’d rather stay in captivity with his hot girlfriend. They change back and two guys who were on Galitsky’s side spot Igor and summon everyone to tell them he’s back in order to redeem themselves.

Igor has a pretty romantic and sweet moment with his wife which was brief but I loved it. And then he turns defeated to his people and says that he feels all this is his fault and that they all have to work together in order to rebuild the city. I think its so great that after that he starts to clean up and everybody follows suit and that’s how the opera ends.

After the opera ended I headed to the stage door because I needed to take a picture and speak to Ildar. But I must confess that this time was the most awkward I’ve ever felt there. The reason? It’s very simple, I was the only one there. Not even the freaks were there! And about a million people came out of that stage door and I was truly feeling very uncomfortable. After about half an hour I heard the crazy white haired bag lady’s voice and I was like “I refuse to stand out here with that deranged woman!”, so I went inside. I knew she couldn’t come inside because she had been banned so I felt a lot safer and warm by the payphone. It took him a little while longer but it was totally worth it, for when Ildar appeared he was in the company of none other than Barbara Fritolli! 


Here are some awesome pics I took at curtain call 

Yes! And it took all the courage that I could muster to go up to them and say “Hey, do you guys have a second?” because they were quite resolute on heading towards the door. But as soon as I said I was such a huge fan of both of them they took their time to talk and Ildar signed my copy of his CD with my name on it. I actually ended up talking more to Barbara because I told her that that last production she did of Don Giovanni at the Met was the first opera I ever saw and it made me fall in love with opera. She was so thrilled and also SO NICE. He actually asked me what I had thought about the production and I was so speechless I said “Well at the time I thought it was great because it was the first one I’d ever seen and the singers and the music were so good” and turned to me and said with that awesome Italian accent “There are much better productions than this” and I told her that indeed I had seen better productions since but that she had always remained my favorite Donna Elvira. She was very touched and we took pictures and I also got to tell Ildar how AMAZING he was in this opera and how I admired him. They are THE sweetest couple you know, as I was telling Ildar how incredible he was Barbara was like “Wasn’t he? Wasn’t he great?”

And let me tell you something else girls, when he pulled me towards his side to take the picture I almost fainted. He is so attractive! He’s my type, big, strong, Russian, deep voice and a friendly smile. It was great! After that I went back to the hotel completely dazzled, what a performance!

And now I should go! I’m so sorry I took such a long time to update! I’ll try to not let it happen again! Cheers people!

1 comment:

  1. Ahh!!! Big, fluffy and cute Ildar!!!! You're a really lucky girl!!! Barbara is amazing Elvira and Vitelia!!!! I've had some guesses that they are together!)))) I watched this production at movie theatre, it's rather good! Ildar and Oksana stole the show definitely!