No, this posting is not about a Marx Brothers movie (as wonderful an idea as that may be). It’s about something I did Tuesday night that I had not done for quite some time that I used to do a lot – spend a night (well, part of one) at the opera.

As regular readers may know, I used to attend the Metropolitan Opera frequently and even acted as an extra on stage about 50 times. (I used to think of myself as an actor with a non-speaking role.) Due to things like my foot surgery and getting hit by a car, plus having plenty to deal with here at home, I just hadn’t gone to the Met for a few years.

The last time I went was rather memorable. It wasn’t for a regular performance, but rather for a gala to celebrate the career of the retiring General Manager, Joe Volpe. My friend Dave Levingston happened to drive in to New York to stay with me for a week or so on that day, but due to the performances ending late, coupled with some track work on the subway that forced me to take a bus part of the way, I didn’t get home until around 2:30 in the morning – and when I got to Dave’s car parked on the street, there he was inside just waiting for me to show up.

Anyway, as I’ve written recently, I want to start doing things again the way I used to, and that includes attending the performing arts, of which the opera was a major activity. I bought five tickets recently, and this first one was for Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice. I had never seen this one before (though I once attended a concert version in London several years ago) and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Gluck was active composing not many years before Mozart and provided the bridge from the baroque to the classical eras. This particular opera is known for having done away with the excesses that had been plaguing baroque performance and bringing the music back to its essentials.

Stephanie Blythe was excellent in the role of Orfeo (Orpheus), the hero who braves the torments of Hades to bring back his beloved wife Euridice from the dead. (For older operas such as this one, it’s not unusual for a woman with a deep voice – a mezzo-soprano – to sing a male role.)

However, I was really looking forward to seeing and hearing Danielle de Niese in the smaller role of Euridice. I had bought her album of soprano arias by Handel last year and it soon became one of my favorites, and I was not disappointed. Not only is she a great singer, but she is a gorgeous looking woman, too – so not all sopranos are “fat ladies.” Just look at the photos of her to see. I went by the stage door afterwards to get the CD booklet signed and she posed for a photo with me. The other good news is that she said that she’s just recorded an album of Mozart arias at the Abbey Road studios in London (yes, I believe it is that Abbey Road!) and will be returning to the Met next season – things to look forward to, indeed.

Finally, a brief note on politics: Hip Hip Hooraaaaaaaayyyyyy!!!!!!!! Bush is out, Obama is in. At last, these United States have a president with a real brain in his head after eight years of a simpleton.

I just wonder, though. Is it a coincidence that the Bush-appointed Chief Justice flubbed the oath while swearing in a new Democratic president???

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