Monthly Archives: October 2016

The Metropolitan Opera! WTF???

In preparation for going to see a matinee performance of Guillaume Tell at The Metropolitan Opera I went for a run in the morning (it’s a 5 hour opera). I completed my shopping at the green market, picked up a paper and a coffee earlier than usual. I mentally prepared myself to listen beyond the less than complimentary review published by the New York Times a couple of weeks prior. The main complaint about the show has become a common one with Peter Gelb at the helm, staging. Specifically setting the action in the abstract. I also set out early to make the 12 o’clock curtain because I live uptown (Inwood aka upstate Manhattan) and the A-train has been recently replaced by a bus between 207th and 168th Street on weekends. I made it to Lincoln Center in comfortable time. My seat was one of the best in the house (it was a gift). This co-production between The Met and the Dutch National Opera of Rossini’s last opera, Guillaume Tell, was the first time it has been sung in French at the Met and the first time they’ve done the opera in decades. The conductor, Fabio Luisi, was really great. It was alarming to me that he could make that famous, maybe even overplayed overture really expressive and fresh. The main characters had great voices most notably Marina Rebeka as Mathilde. The look of the production seemed to be loosely aping rebel forces (the oppressed) versus imperial forces (the oppressors) a la the movie, Star Wars. There were three large white neon pillars for the forces of good and one giant red neon pillar for evil. The costumes were loose linen oatmeal colored wraps for the rebels and steampunk, black leather suits and top-hats for the men, overlarge bustles for the women for the imperials (the soldiers had steel grey chain-mail vests and skull caps). Gesler, the bass, John Relyea, had a smooth steel grey skullcap which covered half of his face…not dissimilar from the Phantom of The Opera. These are examples of what I had to focus past in order to absorb the music and story. Gerald Finley was excellent as the title character and Janai Brugger as Jemmy (his son) had an incredible voice. The whole cast really all just had top notch, gorgeous voices (the women were stronger than the men in my opinion). My seat neighbor was a charming, elderly lady whom bid me adieu with, “that’s enough for me” at the end of the fourth act. Previously she said that initially she was thrown by the modernity of the production but got into it. Little did she know that her exit couldn’t have been better timed. I got back to my seat after a plastic glass of ridiculously priced Merlot prepared to witness the fate of our hero and his son. We waited. The doors were closed. Security guys were just standing by the doors. Nothing happening. The start of the final act was taking too long, what’s up? No musicians entered the orchestra pit to tune up/warm up. Finally a house manager came out and said that they were experiencing a snag backstage but that everyone was okay and it would be a little while longer. The audience grew restless after a while longer passed. A rhythmic clap began among some as though to elicit an encore….the house manager (I assumed) came back, apologized and said that the production was over!! A man began yelling “I want my money back, I want my money back” to which other audiences members retorted “Shut up!”. The house manager resumed with a suggestion to contact customer service and to please come back to see Guillaume Tell. NO FURTHER explanation. I had my focus set on this production, I prepared for it, I overlooked the aspects I disliked, I very much enjoyed the music…cut off. Unfinished. I was furious. Did a diva throw a fit? Did a wealthy Trump patron somehow sabotage the show? What happened to, “THE SHOW MUST GO ON”???

“Today‚Äôs performance of Guillaume Tell was canceled during the second intermission because of a disturbance by an audience member, who sprinkled an unidentified powdered substance into the orchestra pit. The NYPD is investigating the incident,” the statement read.

“We have spoken to more than one witness, who said they spoke to an individual from out of town who indicated he was here to sprinkle ashes of a friend, his mentor in opera, during the performance. That is certainly an area which we’re pursuing,” John Miller, New York police deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism told CNN.

Miller said police know the man’s identity but won’t release his name.

Officials at the Met appeared relieved at the prospect that the substance could have been ashes.

“This was taken very seriously by the Met,” Peter Gelb, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, told CNN.

“Ashes of an opera-loving mentor being sprinkled into the pit, although inconveniencing all of us, is a far cry better than anything else,” Gelb said.

NOT QUITE SURE what Gelb means. One jerk disrupts the opera, the performers, the audience members and that’s better than WHAT??


Dressy Bessy in Philly!!

I ran a crazy 5K race about a month ago called the Tunnel 2 Towers run. It was in honor of an NYC firefighter, Stephen Siller, who ran through the Battery Tunnel from Red Hook, Brooklyn to the World Trade Center in full gear on September 11th, 2001. It was wild! I haven’t run a race in decades and never a race through a tunnel. I ran a 23:49.4 m. in the top 50! 31st of my gender. Anyway, after the race I got myself together and later in the day took a bus to Philadelphia with a friend to meet up with a friend of his, who lives there, to hear Pylon play at Johnny Brenda’s. I hadn’t visited Philly in years….the last time I was there I think I auditioned for the t.v. show, “Hack”, and went to AKA Music on North 2nd and visited the Wilma Theatre on Broad Street (I was in a couple of productions there in the 90’s when they were on Sansom Street). We walked from the bus drop-off on Market Street and it was a wild trip down memory lane. I fell in love there, I went to art school there, I worked in various restaurants there, and I worked as an actor there. Philadelphia has changed since I left but not in any way that New York hasn’t. There are hipsters there and there are luxury buildings and fancy special eateries and everyone wonders how anyone could afford anything (or maybe that’s just me). Johnny Brenda’s is an amazing bar/restaurant/music venue. The music venue part of the joint is a perfect-sized rock club for true fans. A raised stage, a balcony overlooking the stage (like a tiny, compact Bowery Ballroom). Johnny Brenda’s is for the embattled remaining faithful who listen to full albums, go to live shows and actually care about music they haven’t been force-fed. I wasn’t very familiar with Pylon and listened to them a couple of days prior to the show to get a sense of what I was in for. They made simple, angular 80’s rock i.e. cool stuff worth checking out (I recommend their album, ‘Chomp More’. Dressy Bessy hit the stage first (we missed the opener, Telepathic) and I was blown away! The band is from Denver, Colorado. Tammy Ealom, the lead singer/guitarist, is full of raw energy and attitude befitting her brand of pop-punk. It may sound sterile or something but she really knew how to connect with the audience. The band is associated with the Elephant Six Collective (a group of American musicians who comprised the bands; Neutral Milk Hotel, The Apples in Stereo, Olivia Tremor Control, Elf Power, oF Montreal, The Minders, and Circulatory System) mostly 60’s inspired pop. Also playing for Dressy Bessy are Darren Albert (drummer), Rob Greene (bass), John Hill (lead guitar (also plays with The Apples in Stereo)). I later found out that Tammy Ealom was in The Minders at one time, a band I really dig. They had a great set! Most of the songs are from their latest album, ‘Kingsized’ (Yeproc). Upon listening to earlier albums after the show I realized that with this current one they have really come into their own undoubtedly!! I highly recommend this album for it’s upbeat energy, lyrical bite, and hooky melodic lines!! Pylon had a good set too….but Dressy Bessy won the night (for me)!

Sorry it’s been a while dear listeners/readers! More musical observations, reviews and revelations soon! Until then, maintain. -p