Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Curtain Up on a New Season – Part II

In Part I we were back in our seats in the Grand Tier as the curtain went up on our new season at the Metropolitan Opera.  The opera was Mozart’s Don Giovanni (for a synopsis of the story, see Part I). 
 


It was a good news/bad news sort of day.  The good news was that it was a good (not great) performance.  The bad news was that the well-dressed operagoer is fast becoming an endangered species.  The good news is that there are still a few shining examples of how to dress for the opera, even on a dismal, drizzly day in New York. 



Anna at the Opera

This is my Hungarian friend Anna.  Do you remember me telling you about my special group of friends that I call the Culture Vultures?  If there’s an opera, a ballet, a concert or an art exhibit, we’re all over it.  Anna is one of those very special friends.  Since it was, as I said, a rainy day in New York, Anna left her Jimmy Choos at home, but, even so, she put herself together beautifully, as she always does.  For a study in contrast, just take a look at the people in the background, particularly the lady with the dreadful, front-facing fanny pack. 

Anna is wearing a dress and asymmetrical sweater wrap from Porto in San Francisco.  Notice the lovely draping of the fabric.  Her handbag is Ferragamo, her patterned stockings (which, sadly, do not show to advantage in this picture) are Italian and her open-toed shoes are from Stuart Weitzman.  I love the feminine touch of the black bow headband.  This is how to be comfortable while looking utterly stylish on a nasty, drizzly day in New York.  Comfort and style are NOT mutually exclusive. 

To be honest, Anna is tall and slender and can wear anything well.  She favors Missoni and Miyake, both of which suit her silhouette.  One of these days, I’ll persuade her to let us take a peek in her closet.  You’ll love it!!

Whether in basic black or a bright print, Anna has a distinct style all her own, and what I love most about her style is that she breaks the rules.  Bright red hair, cropped short and chic, highlights her great cheekbones and flawless skin.  And Anna wouldn’t be Anna without her signature red lipstick.  She wears frosted, shimmery eye shadows, which we are told to avoid “at our age,” and she wears them beautifully.  The truth is that when you wear eyeglasses, as Anna does, you should draw attention to your eyes with dramatic eye makeup. 






More good news/bad news.  First, the bad news.  For the last several years, I have been noticing more and more empty seats at the Met, and there were a lot of them that day.  It’s no secret that the Met has been suffering severe financial difficulties in recent years.  Many of us wonder if the moribund economy of the last eight years, falling attendance, increasing ticket prices, rising union costs and huge investments in HD telecasts in movie theaters around the world have put the Met on a glide path to ruin.  Every year our ticket prices go up a lot, and every year as I write out the check, I wonder how much longer we can afford to renew a subscription we have held for almost 40 years.  But…..frankly, life without our beloved Met is unthinkable for my husband and me…..at least for now. 

Now the good news.  Something we have dearly missed is back, and I am thrilled!! 





In 1966, when the Met moved from the Old Met location to Lincoln Center, the people of Vienna made a gift of the magnificent Lobmeyr crystal chandeliers and sconces that have become so identified with the house.  The generous gift was made to thank Met subscribers for their generosity to the reconstruction of the Vienna State Opera house following World War II. 





The most famous of the chandeliers are the twelve starbursts in a horseshoe configuration in the Grand Tier.  These were the chandeliers that would rise 65 feet and dim as they reached the 23 carat gold-covered ceiling.  This was the signal that the opera was about to begin.  Newcomers to the Met always broke out into applause as they followed the path of these dazzling starbursts, and, as many times as I saw it over the years from our seats in the Grand Tier, where we have a bird’s eye view, I, too, got a little thrill each time.  If the house was very quiet, you could actually hear a gentle tinkling sound as they rose.  It was magic! 

And then, one day, we arrived at the theater and the chandeliers were already hovering near the ceiling.  What happened?  What happened was a malfunction in the mechanism that left the starbursts lost in space near the golden ceiling, where they would remain for several years. 




A crystal starburst being taken down in the opera house’s grand lobby, where it would be dismantled and packed for shipment. Credit Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times
Every summer the chandeliers get a good going-over -- cleaning, polishing, replacing bulbs, etc. -- but it was decided that repairing the faulty mechanism would just be too complicated and too costly.  So, there they sat, and I would look up at them before every performance and whisper to them how much I missed them. 

And now for the REALLY good news.  When we entered the Grand Tier for our first performance of the season, even before I took my seat, I saw them -- hanging right in front of me on their red velvet chords.  I was so happy, I almost cried.  “Welcome back, dear old friends.  I’ve missed you so much.”  It’s going to be great season! 




14 comments:

  1. Dear M-T,
    Thanks for writing this honest interpretation of our current culture. You didn't have to mention the person behind Anna, I immediately caught the eye sore. Personally, I have never understood the need to equate comfort with sloppiness. Feeling good in appropriate attire puts one at ease. Yet, I'm amazed at how many people I see at a mall, in stores and often wonder what are they buying? They all look the same- no individuality; a rumpled look like they just got out of bed. As far as the Met prices go... let's hope they turn the marketing aspect around and focus on merchandising and find creative ways to increase their revenue to bring ticket costs down. I certainly hope so... for your sake, for New Yorkers and most of all for millennials so that finer culture doesn't see its demise with them.

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    1. Dear Linda,

      Actually, there are other negative elements going on at the Met these days that I did not mention. For example, the euro-trash productions that are creeping into the repertoire. I know of two couples who cancelled their subscriptions because they were tired of seeing some egotistical director's "vision" imposed on a particular opera when it is obvious, and some proudly admit to it, that they don't even know the opera they are staging. You get that a lot in Europe, much to the chagrin of my European opera goer friends, but we were blessedly free of it for a long time. That, unfortunately, is no longer the case.

      I have no idea how to lure millenials away from their virtual reality lives. When I do see them at the opera, they are often texting through the whole thing and paying no attention to what's going on in front of them. So sad.

      As always, I love your thoughtful, well-written comments.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers, M-T

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  2. Oh M-T the chandeliers (and music) are simply stunning! What a sight they must be.
    We have also noticed the presence of sloppy attire at what were once formal occasions. My husband and a dear friend seem to be amongst the very few men who continue to wear a jacket and tie. Part of the excitement of attending such functions is choosing something special to wear. Sloppiness seems to be becoming a world wide trend. So sad in my opinion.

    Love your posts.

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    1. Dear eb,

      I'm so glad you liked the music. It's the Liebestod theme from Wagner's "Tristan and Isolde," and it is beyond sublime. I love that opera.

      Yes, we are seeing sloppiness everywhere we look these days. Nice to know that you and your husband and friends are not taking part in it.

      Thank you for the kind words about my posts and for taking the time to comment.

      Cheers, M-T

      Delete
  3. I agree sartorial elegance is fast diminishing for special occasions. However I did attend a charity event at the V&A last week and was extremely impressed with the style in which most of the women (of a certain age) were dressed.

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    1. Obviously, Josephine, those well-dressed women "d'un certain âge" that you saw at the charity event have been following and benefitting from your excellent posts on the subject.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers, M-T

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  4. I, for one, am thankful for the HD theatre broadcasts! My 20-something son and I saw the amazing production of Tristan und Isolde last Saturday. For those of us "culture vultures" who live in an awkward locales, the broadcasts are a blessing. Some of us even support the Met from afar...

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    1. Dear Anonymous and fellow "culture vulture,"

      I am delighted that you enjoy the HD broadcasts and even more delighted that you are exposing your son to the world of opera. Bless you for that! I wish more parents did so. I'm also grateful that you are supporting the Met. We need all the support we can get. The "Tristan und Isolde" is on our subscription this year, and I cannot wait to see it. I adore that opera.

      I hope some day you and your son will be able to attend a performance at the Met. I know you will love it.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

      Cheers, M-T

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    2. Count me as one of your readers who enjoy this subject, M-T. I will be at Lincoln Center this weekend at the ballet. But these photos show folks the beauty one can't get close enough to see! Not that patrons can't experience the beauty on the ground below, but to see the fine details close up is such a treat! I try to go over to Lincoln Center during the Christmas season too. There is a festival of lights in early December with the nearby businesses also participating. I fear it might one day get so crowded, that people won't enjoy it as much as I have in years past.

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    3. I am so lucky to have so many thoughtful, articulate readers who enjoy the same subjects as I do, some of whom send me wonderful comments privately.

      It's true, though, that when I do posts about opera and ballet, as opposed to beauty and style, I get a few blog subscribers who opt out. When I started this blog, I decided to write about things that interested me in many areas and hoped that my followers would enjoy my cyber scribblings. So, my blog will continue to be a mix of subjects.

      Visiting Lincoln Center at Christmas time is one of the delights of the holiday season for me, as well, Debra.

      Always enjoy when you stop by for a chat.

      Cheers, M-T

      Delete
  5. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
    Well, if one is sensitive to the beauty of life, its buildings, music, décor and certainly the proper dress code, it breaks one's heart to see the insulting way (!) a lot of people dare to dress. Those shoes... and that fanny pack for accentuating her bulges.
    It makes me sad to see an ever vanishing percentage of style and class.
    Those chandeliers are such a meaningful thing; they would have caused me to cry as well - only the reason why they're gifted! WOW, so much love and graceful beauty has been gifted; twice... this was the pay back.
    Both of us have so much enjoyed the classy wedding at the Château de Berne in Lorgues and again we did have a lovely reception and dinner in south Atlanta on Saturday. I've had my indulgence in brocades and silk for a long time to come! Anna knows how to accessorize properly, another big faux pass by many if you look around.
    People have no clue as to what goes for which event.
    Enough!
    Sending you hugs for a lovely autumn and for sure you enjoy this time of the year also tremendously. We do, it is still very warm during the day but cool in the mornings especially and also in the evenings.
    Mariette

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    1. Dearest Mariette,

      I remember delighting in your post about the beautiful wedding at the Château. Yes, indeed, that's the time and place to break out the brocades.

      Your comments are such a treat and always add that wonderful dollop of "je ne sais quoi" to my posts.

      Thank you so much, my dear friend, for stopping by.

      Cheers, M-T

      Delete
  6. Those chandeliers really are impressive, the shadows they must create would be almost as beautiful as the chandelier itself!

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    1. You are absolutely correct. As the lights dim before the curtain goes up, the play of light on these chandeliers is a show in itself. How observant of you.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers, M-T

      Delete

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