A personal zeitgeist
Friday Five: Waters of March

Night at the opera

The Met Live in HD streaming performance of Così fan tutte had its encore Wednesday night, and all the cool kids were there. The cool kids were: a couple sitting in the row in front of me who were old enough that they probably call themselves old, and a man sitting several rows behind me who was...five-ten years older than me. Well, and me. I was wearing light grey ankle cropped pants with a sleeveless drape top in white, red, and black print, and my black two piece flat shoes.

That was it. There are usually a couple dozen people who attend the live stream on Saturday afternoon, but I was unable to do so. And clearly that isn't the cool crowd.

As I was attending this one alone, I left home early enough to get a snack and settle in before the lights went down. One of the pleasures of being me is that I am always on time without ever being in a hurry. But I should have prepared better for the snack. My choices were the movie theater nachos, hot dogs, pizza or popcorn, or Wendy's, or Target. Normally I'd have chosen something from Target, however, protein was calling my name, and I went into Wendy's for a spicy chicken sandwich.

I'm glad I went inside to order it instead of using the drive-thru. First, if you say no lettuce or mayo, keep the tomato, add onion and pickle, without looking someone directly in the eyes, you don't have any idea what you might get. But second, the people in front of me. Two women and a man. The older woman was fumbling through her order, trying to remember what she likes and how it comes, and the man was coaxing her along. It was interesting to watch. She was tall, with grey hair, and a firm but gentle countenance. The other woman was short and had dyed black hair, and was wearing a considerable amount of makeup; the snowbird variety. The man was...every man around age 70. Pleasant. After I ordered, we were all waiting together, and the older woman took a french fry off the partially assembled tray. He told her, "You just stole that woman's french fries. Those are hers." And then he had to repeat himself so she heard.

She was so astonished, I had to tell her they weren't mine, because I didn't order french fries. Then I apologized to him for ruining the joke. Chuckles all around. They were chuckles because it was a group thing; combined age of the four of us outstripping everyone in the building. But I brought the average down more than I realized, as the tiny woman told me, "Can you believe it? She's going to be 80 soon." Well, I couldn't believe it if I hadn't heard her try to order. She hardly looked 70, and that's not just me getting older. The nearly 80 year-old said, "Well, she's nearly 69." They were all happy about this, so I said, "I think you both look terrific." The younger one said, "She sure does; she doesn't look 80."

And then they took their trays as the man said something about eating there every Wednesday. And okay, these two women looked the same age, but they both looked about 65. So that was nice.

The self-serve kiosks at the theater were not working! Nor was anyone at the ticket sales area. Tickets were being sold by the manager at customer service. Benefit of this was that he knew to hand me the printed program notes, and pointed out I saved a couple dollars by coming to the encore. I sat in the first full row of the main section of seats, with the small old couple in the forward row where there's room for wheelchairs and things. Renee Fleming did the introductions, and that's good; I like her hosting best. Just as the lights went down, the other man came in and sat near the back.

The duets and sextets were basically perfect, and also as we watched Levine direct the overture, it was easy to see how much he loves it and knows it. And I really liked the set design; it was simple but not too stark, no long fussy interruptions, and the singers interacted with it all organically, which sometimes added to the comedy, but wasn't distracting. It felt young and light, which I appreciated. It was not what you'd call perfect overall, just good to listen to, and very entertaining. The arias in Così are mostly simple to follow, yet quite engaging. Mozarty. Also, I am now a fan of the enchanting Danielle de Niese. I hope to see her in something again soon.

During the second act, the old couple moved down to the back row of the front section of seats. I felt adrift at first, but I didn't take it personally. However, the man several rows back, whose appearance I did not notice as tall and sharp with a good profile, suddenly began enjoying himself immensely. He laughed aloud at least a dozen times, at actual funny moments, so that wasn't annoying, plus, he had a very pleasurable laugh to hear. At one point he left for a minute, and when he returned, I did not notice the shirt he was wearing as he passed by.

At the end, the old couple stood to leave before the bows, and he waved, first to me, so I waved in return, and then he waved to the man in the back. This delighted me. I had the sudden sense that we really had all been watching it together somehow, one of those energy in the air things you get, like at an extra innings baseball game.  So then the two of us were in the theater together, watching the curtain calls like we were watching for Robert Downey Jr. to dig into his chicken shawarma.

And so naturally, I called a kid on the phone the moment I stood up, and had a conversation with him all the way to the car, in front of the tall man with the pleasant laugh who got into a four door Acura in the row across from me. He might have had very nice grey hair, cut just as I like hair to be cut on a man, but I didn't notice.