Pearl Fishers

Going to the Metropolitan Opera is a wonderful thing.  I am happy to say that I have attended many operas in this wonderful place, and although I live close to New York, I chose to watch the HD broadcast at a local movie theatre this past weekend, and I have to say, it was a heck of a good time.  But let’s talk about the opera itself, first.

The last time the Met presented The Pearl Fishers, Caruso played the part of Nadir. That was over one hundred years ago.  Just WHY they waited so long to bring forth another production, I cannot tell you. However, it might have been worth the wait when you consider the high tech options now available to live theatre.  And, the Met took full advantage of many of these options to excellent results.  From the overture, where we see pearl divers swimming through the deep water, to the tsunami, when the deep waters devastate the village, we are treated to the very best that modern theatrical special effects can offer.

The duet between the two male leads in the Pearl Fishers, is one of the most beloved duets in operatic repertoire.  And with good reason. It is sumptuous.  Here, have a listen:

 

 

Many consider this the best recording of the duet.

The Met cast gives us Mariusz Kwiecien in the role of Zurga, and Matthew Polenazani as Nadir.  Their performance left this blogger in tears.

Nadir’s aria, is also a thing of great beauty.  Here is a performance by Nicolai Gedda.

 

Apparently, Diana Damrau was the one who encouraged the Met to bring this production (which began in London) to the Met.  Ms. Damrau was a lovely Leila, and her high notes are gorgeous. Her real life husband, Nicolas Teste played the high priest Nourabad.  (lucky girl)

 

 

Is it Over Yet?

On New Year’s Eve in 1985, I had just finished the National Tour of Camelot.  I was subletting an apartment in Hell’s Kitchen,  and my best friend Avril, came out to visit me on her way to London.  I was pregnant with my son Nick, and I was delighted to have my best friend with me at that time.

We were invited to a party at a restaurant in the Theatre District called Barrymore’s. Oh how I miss Barrymore’s!  It was a great place where theatrical types ate before curtain, after curtain, and it was comfy and convenient. It is also close enough to Time’s Square, that we could hear the insanity on that New Year’s Eve.

At one point, Avril thought it would be fun to just pop around the corner and see the million or so people who show up every year to see that ball drop. As we walked out the door, a drunken reveler fell into the front window of the  St. James Theatre, which was housing Bernadette Peters in Song and Dance at the time.  He was bleeding profusely and laughing his head off as the cops crowded around him, at which point, Avril said she had seen quite enough and was ready to go back into Barrymore’s and have dessert.

Shelly Winters was at that party, and I do not believe that I had ever seen a more depressed look on anyone’s face….ever.  I chatted with her briefly, thanking her for time that she had taken with me when I was in high school and my Drama Club came to see her in Minnie’s Boys on Broadway.  She had been told that there were theatre loving high school kids in the audience, and she told an usher to bring us down to the stage after the curtain came down. She talked with us about the show, the hard work, the joy, and she answered our questions sincerely and completely without effect.  It was a gesture of kindness that I have never forgotten.  I wanted to thank her for that, and let her know that I was profoundly moved by her generosity, and it was yet another reason why I chose to be in the profession. She seemed genuinely happy that I said that to her, and thanked ME for cheering her up.

 

I have had subsequent New Year’s Eves when I wore a face similar to that of Ms. Winter’s on that night.  I find the holiday difficult.  Sometimes the year that is coming to an end is so difficult that there is relief of its end, coupled with the unthinkable possibility that just because you bought a new calendar, there might be a continuance of the horror that  re-boots on the morning of January 1st.

Robbie Burnes seemed to know that we needed a sad little ditty to sing on this difficult evening, so he wrote Auld Lang Syne in 1788.  In a few hours, I will sing it again.  I find the song sadder and sadder as the years go by.  Since I am older,  I have simply outlived some of the people I have loved dearly.  Like Avril.

To my dear friends who are missing people this evening, I send love, and pray that I have the wherewithal to figure out if you want me to talk to you, or leave you alone.  I will sing the song for you.

We’ll take a cup o’ kindess yet, for Auld Lang Syne.