Thursday, February 05, 2009

Don't Fuck with Opera Fans

Last night, Cory and I went to see the HD screening of the Metropolitan Opera's Orfeo ed Euridice at a theater in Chelsea. It was a great idea - catch this Mark Morris-directed and choreographed interpretation of Gluck's piece, and be done in time to go home, have dinner and watch the Duke/Clemson game. Don't know if you're familiar with this Met Opera HD series, but it's actually pretty fantastic (and it's not New York-specific: there are screenings across the country). For a selection of Operas, there are live screenings, and then they'll repeat the screenings once or twice to give people another chance to see them. Excellent camera work, pretty good sound (weird echo sometimes), interesting features beforehand and during intermissions - it's a really good way to get to know the pieces, and you feel more a part of the production than you do in even the best seats at the Met. I mean, ok: no - you're not there live and in person. That can't be replicated. But I guarantee there is not a seat in the house with a better view of the performers' faces, or costume and set details. And the tickets cost less than all but the very worst seats in the Met. It's a very safe bet if you're in the mood for an opera.

But [you knew there was going to be a "but"] not last night.

Last night there were some "technical difficulties" which prevented the screening from happening. Man, you have never seen so many senior citizens (this was one of those occasions when I was one of the youngest people in the room) get so pissed off in your life. The theater sent up four people (count 'em - four) to make the announcement and organize the fallout. Before the first sentence was out of the manager's mouth, people were groaning and whining and shouting things. The scene at the Simpsons Premier Fail was nothing compared to this. People started complaining and would not rest.

And the people at the theater did a pretty good job of helping the situation (or trying to). They offered a full refund, a screening there and then of a different opera they had in stock, and/or a voucher for a different movie if you didn't want to stay for the second-choice opera. You'd think that would mollify people who, essentially, had no alternative at their disposal anyway.

Ummm... no.

They wanted to see this opera. Now. They wanted other choices. They wanted their choice of alternate operas to win (even when there had been a vote and it clearly hadn't won). They wanted a more accountable vote. And I suspect that if there had been another vote, there would have been a hanging chad issue to whine about too.

In their defense (I guess), this was the final encore screening of a tight, compact opera that has received all-but-unanimous raves, and which is finished for the season. Which means: this may have been the very last time in the history of ever that we had a chance to see this company perform this production. (Though I'm holding out the hope that it will be shown on PBS or released on DVD or something.) The winner of the alternate opera vote, Richard Strauss' Salome, while one that I like a lot, is not for all tastes. [Oh, and that led to more fun with disgruntled patrons: as the poor cinema employees were reading off the options and pronounced it 'Suh-LOAM' there were appalled shrieks of correction 'SA-lo-may!!!!!!' You can't really imagine it.]

It was pretty hilarious. Though not, of course, for the poor people working there, who had to wrangle the Strauss fans back into their seats and corral everybody else (Cory and I chose to take a voucher and head home - we'll go back and catch Milk or something) out into the lobby for the interminable process of crediting people's accounts (God help you if you bought your ticket with cash).

So we were sad to miss Orfeo, but hopefully we can catch it next year. And the entertainment value of the Debacle of Supreme Whininess? It was messy and not artful at all, but it was a pretty good consolation prize. The Greatest Generation making themselves heard in the most ridiculous way. Pure New York.

Props to the good people working at the Clearview Chelsea. I feel for you.

Now that Duke/Clemson disaster is another story...


syb said...

WOW. You should send this blog post to the New Yorker, or the NYT, or something. A-ma-zing. I can't wait to hear you re-tell it in person :)

Anonymous said...

Yes but who cares because have you heard THE CONDO FUCKS!?