Sore Feet & Really Good Opera


photoThe concept of sore feet and good opera is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Years ago, when normal people were allowed to have money and lives, my mother and I had season tickets to the Met.  We had Tuesdays, left orchestra, Row B, Seats 5 & 7.  They were incredible. Once in awhile I would be able to score front row orchestra, which I did one night to see Sherrill Milnes do MacBeth.  I had something like Seat 107 or 106.  The night of the historic recital concert featuring Sherrill Milnes & Placido Domingo, we were left orchestra, something like Row Y, middle of the row. I still have all my old ticket stubs, somewhere to prove all of this.

I say all of this because of sore feet.  We would get up early, around 4AM, drive like crazy 50 or so miles to GSP airport, catch the 7AM flight for NYC, be there by 8:30, and at the Plaza by 9:30 at the latest.  The stores opened at 1o.  Museums opened at 9AM.  The Sunday of the Milnes-Domingo concert we hit the Natural History Museum by eleven or so, did lunch, then roamed the entire museum.  By closing time, it was raining.  You couldn’t get a cab. We walked the couple of blocks from the museum to the Plaza, having just enough time to dry off, change, and get to Lincoln Center in time for the recital.

I was there!

My feet were in agony!  It was winter.  I was wearing Ferragamo Tuxedo Pumps.  I think they were chocolate brown. Today, I would have braved frostbite and probably have worn sandals!  I was young then, and tried to dress to impress.  After a long day of shopping, I have been known, once we reached the lobby of the Met, to just pull off my shoes and walk around in my stocking feet.

And yes, I was in my stocking feet, getting a drink of water at the fountain, that the legendary Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eduard Shevardnadze filled a paper cup of water for me.  We talked a bit, about the opera.  When I returned to my seat, I was stunned.  There I was, talking to the Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs!  He was doing something at the UN, I remember that much.  He was also a very nice man, a gentleman. I told my mother, if he was any example of what the new Soviet leadership was like, the world was going to be in for some very big changes.  (Boy, did I get that one right!)

We were at Aprile Millo’s debut, in Aida.  I could have cared less about her.  I was there to see Milnes.  Everyone was watching and talking about John F. Kennedy, Jr. who was in the balcony, taping the opera.  About the only time I would ever see my mother freak is when his mother would be there.  One evening, the weather was bad.  Our driver dropped us off, in the underground parking lot.  Jackie’s limo was right in front of us.  My mother just about lost it when we walked inside the Met, just right behind her, maybe a foot or two away from her.

I bring all this up, because, as I write this very early Saturday morning, I’ve been on my feet for over 5 hours, down at the parents’, cooking.  I hate cooking!  I hate cooking when I’m not inspired to do so.  I wasn’t inspired, but, until we can get my mother to the pain doc on Tuesday, and see what can be done for her back, she’s in agony.  On my way home, I was listening to the Met on Sirisus XM.  Imagine my shock to realize that there was a 1990 broadcast of Andrea Chénier, with Milnes – that I did not hear. I couldn’t believe it.

Friday evening was one of the extremely rare pea-soupers that this country has.  I’ve seen just a few in the past 15 years.  It was like being back where the world should be, listening to Milnes and the Met, and the world socked in with low clouds and fog. And – my feet hurt.  I was too tired to come up with a viable post for today, so I started thinking about my baritones.  I am a baritone junkie, you know.  This led to the obvious (and you knew it was coming) gushing review of Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s new album.

This version of Praise the Name of the Lord is from YouTube.  It is not the version on The Bells of Dawn.  It will give you an idea of the scope and magnificence of this new recording of 17 beautiful, exquisite pieces that are a virtuoso for the man’s amazing voice.  Like my mother said, the is no greater complement she can give him than to compare his voice to that of Milnes.  In places, his voice sounds just like Sherrill Milnes, who is, in my humble opinion, the greatest baritone the world has even known and ever will know.

The best part is that he has finally recorded Oh Night, one of his recital encores.  I swear, it is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard in my life. It reminds me why we love the baritone voice and opera.

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P. S.  My feet still hurt, though.   I need to get back to the murder mystery I’m writing.  Yes, the hero is a baritone.

The photo today is of Rums and Sadie (on the floor) discussing how badly they needed to help me clear the dinner table and do dishes.  This was after I caught both of them helping to remove the left-over food from the plates.