Saturday, January 9, 2010

'Frankly, my dear ... damn'

Today I went for the first time to the Metropolitan Opera Simulcast at the Elmwood Regal. I took my mom. The opera was Richard Strauss' "Der Rosenkavalier." That is a still from it up above. It is beautiful.

What about a whiskey still?

I could have used one at the Elmwood Regal ! For reasons I will get to in a second.

Through a strange sequence of events we were the last people into the theater and we had the worst seats, way down in front. It felt funny at first because the singers' faces in the closeups are about a mile wide, and you feel as if you're looking right down their throats! But you get used to it. Eventually I got to love my seat, my head tipped back, the music swirling around me.


Number one, the music stopped at exactly the big moment in Act II, when the Knight of the Rose -- that is what the title means -- arrives to present the silver rose. It is a long story. Just trust me, this is a high point. You wait and wait for this one moment, when the music hits this high note and the knight of the rose appears, all in silver and white, at the top of the staircase. If you are like me you burst into tears. That is how beautiful it is.

Well, today I burst into tears, but not for that reason. Because the sound went dead.

Right at that point!

It was like once years ago when I went to the Granada Theater and saw "Gone With the Wind" and the film skipped at the end so all we heard was, "Frankly, my dear ... damn."

"Frankly, my dear ... damn." That is something I will never forget! But at least then the theater was in its last days and the movie was crackling and struggling all the way through, so it was not exactly a big surprise.

This was a surprise, at "Der Rosenkavalier"! It took me about 15 minutes to get over it. Here is a clip of another production where you can seen and hear it. It is almost at the end, 5:13. Try to watch a little before so you see the build-up. The thing is, the blond woman, she has been betrothed to a man she does not know. And this man sends another man to present her with a silver rose as a token of their betrothal. She is all in a tizzy waiting for the rose and all the townspeople have turned out to see. Finally it arrives, a procession of carriages, a parade of footmen. Then the Rosenkavalier himself appears. That is the big moment, 5:13. That is when the sound cut out.


After that I could never enjoy it the same way again. I could not trust that the thing would not falter at a part that I love.

On break I ran into a few people I knew and I complained copiously about this screw-up. I said, I thought the Met owed everyone free tickets to another opera, because that was unforgivable. No one but me seemed upset! One woman said breezily, "Oh, that happens."

Oh, that happens?

Frankly, my dear... damn!

OK, back to our seats. We get to the end. "Der Rosenkavalier" ends with an incredibly beautiful 15 minutes. It is famous for its sublime ending. I began to relax. What do you know, I thought, we have made it to this point. This is going to be all right.

And then a cell phone rings in the row behind me!

Right when they are going into the final duet!

It gets louder and louder. I am sinking down in my seat thinking, this cannot be happening. But I could not believe what happened next.

The guy answered it!

"I'm at the opera," he says. "It's almost over."

And he keeps talking!!

I could not believe that. Normally I am a little in sympathy with people whose cell phones go off. I think, there but for the grace of God go I. But you cannot go ahead and talk, you know?

I turned around. "Shhhhh!" I said. I did not know what to do! Now the guy's mad. He gives me this look. Then he gets up and he starts to make arrangements to leave. He has on one of these noisy down coats, those noisy Buffalo coats, and it is going swish, swish, swish. He leans over and blows his nose, noisily.

What do you do now?

I am going to get into a fight, I thought. It will be like when I went to "Tannhauser" with Leonard Pennario and Pennario got into a fight. Here he is yelling at this guy and I am whispering to him, "Leonard... Leonard, please. Leonard." But at the same time I think I was a little proud of him, getting into this fight. Now it was happening to me!

As soon as the lights went up I was going to call the guy a creep. But he slunk out right before the thing ended. After ruining the opera's ending for me. Because my mind was all occupied with how I was going to settle things with him.

You know what, I am just not sure if this operas-at-the-movies thing is for me.

Maybe I will write an opera about slugs and oiks!


Larry said...

Wow! The sad part though is, "Welcome to the world". People like that guy are all too abundant. I have a neighbor kinda like him. The neighbor gets off by tormenting me with his dog's barking 24/7, driving his truck through my yard when it is wet and easily ruined and, several other things. The thing I would like to do with him, his family and, his dog cannot be written here. But suffice it to say, I would want to do the same thing for your guy too.

As for Gone With The Wind, well, you knew what it was going to say anyhow. But the main thing there is that is was a mechanical failure as opposed to a failure of humanity.

Prof. G said...

You can't escape any more in the concert hall, either. I remember sitting in Kleinhan's balcony some years back when some bozo wearing a headset stood up and screamed the score of a Bills game - they were winning. I was so flummoxed by that I no longer remember what the orchestra was playing. No other patron (it was packed) or usher did a thing about it...

Art said...

Know what you were feeling. We went to a production of "Rent" in one of the mega theaters in Las Vegas and in the final scene with Mimi's future in doubt, the sound system went. The actors finished the show -- but no one could hear it. And as we left the theater, the management gave us a ticket for a free drink. Like that would make up for the major blooper on the part of the theater?????

Garaud said...

Ouch! I remember covering a James Taylor concert at Darien Lakes when a row of people directly in back of us kept talking and chatting. I ended up asking them to quiet down so that we could listen to what was going on and then they started with this hushed (almost) high school classroom thing of "OOO. He wants to hear the music." I ended up talking to an usher who moved us to another set of seats without removing the sources of our irritation.

Rob said...

On more than one occasion, I have asked the person next to be at Shea's to please stop texting during the performance.

Ryan said...

Now wait just a minute. I live in Buffalo, and I don't have a noisy down coat that goes swish, swish, swish.

Bonnie said...

The guy at the movie I went to last night was snuffling like a truffle seeking hog. I thought we were going to have a major medical event. I hope I don't catch whatever he had and brought to a crowded moviehouse! No one seems to have manners or sense.

Buffalo Bill said...

I have laughed a few times out loud from this post... It also reminded me of the time my wife and I rented Gone with the Wind shortly after we got married, as neither had seen it... By mistake we watched disk 2 first...and were totally lost... Only to figure out at the end that we missed the first half...

Mary Kunz Goldman said...

Ahahahahahaha!! About "Gone With the Wind." I am trying to think if I ever did anything like that.

Anonymous said...

Great article in today's news; it really sparked my interest. I had no idea that these simulcasts were happening. Perhaps it is a continuing secret among opera buffs. Your article provides no information about current program schedules, or any potential sources of information. Googling the Elmwood Regal and Metro Opera simulcasts or 'Opera Buffs of WNY' yields zero information.
Is there some kind of security clearance required to get basic useful information about local events?

Regards, Richard Arnatt