>> Sunday, May 9, 2010
This weekend my husband and I finally took our long-awaited trip to New York City. The primary purpose of the trip was to see Renee Fleming at the Metropolitan Opera, which I have been wanting to do for years. She was Armida in the opera of the same name by Rossini.
My husband had never been to New York City before, so I got to play tour guide. The opera was Friday night, so we took off work on Friday, drove to Tarrytown, and took the commuter train in. That meant we arrived in Grand Central Station, which in my mind is the only way to arrive in New York the first time. I love Grand Central.
We then took a cab to the hotel. That in and of itself is an experience if you've never ridden in a NYC cab before. Our cab driver provided an extra level of chaos by shouting maniacally at other drivers and liberally using his horn. Ah, New York.
We then discovered that our supposedly 3 1/2 star hotel room was - quite literally - smaller than our bathroom here at home. Ah, New York, home of the $6 tomato. Other than Tokyo, there are few places where real estate is more valuable. It's amazing just how much can be crammed creatively into a small space.
We got ready for dinner and the opera, and as I was standing in my dress and heels and fastening my earrings, I heard a little gasp of horror from my husband. I turned slowly to look at him, and discovered an utterly stricken expression on his face. "What?" I asked, hesitantly. He replied, "I have a jacket, shirt, tie, vest, shoes, socks and belt. But, um, I, um, apparently forgot pants."
Now, I love the City, and need a fix of it every once in a while. I love all the culture crammed into the place - music, theater, art, dance, food. I love that you hear more foreign languages than English. I love the busyness, and the fact that no one is surprised by anything in New York because they've seen it all before. I love that you can find anything you need at any hour of the day, if you know where to look.
An example of the "they've seen it all before" of NYC:
Given that we were in New York, I figured we had several options: 1) he could try to go without pants, because it's New York City, and like I said, they've seen it all before; 2) he could go in his jeans and jacket, and go for a modern hip New Yorker sort of look, although I was wearing a nice dress and he might look kind of like a complete slacker next to me; or 3) he could go buy a new pair of pants. Fast.
He opted for the last. Less than a block from our hotel was a nice mall, with a nice Italian men's store, with suits that fit him perfectly, and were on sale for a reasonable price, even by Central New York standards. The "fit him perfectly" part was astounding to me, as he wears a 36 jacket and 30/32 pants, which we pretty much can't ever find in stores in Central New York and have to order online. Apparently New Yorkers are - ah-hem - more slender than the average Central New Yorker.
Anywho, my husband's souvenir from NYC was a new suit.
Moving on to the whole point of the evening: the opera was every bit as delicious as I had hoped. Alas, Armida is not my favorite opera of all time. It is seldom performed, presumably in part because it requires an incredible soprano to pull off the role and six (six!) tenors to star opposite her. Of course, I am pretty much of the opinion that Renee Fleming can do anything, and do it well, and she did not let me down. It was amazing to hear her in person for the first time, and not recorded or projected. Magnificent. And goose bumpy.
The tenors were all good, and Lawrence Brownlee, who starred as Armida's love Rinaldo, was excellent. The costumes, dance, and sets were all fantastical and whimsical and appealing, although perhaps not as compelling or magical as I had hoped. Although next time I buy tickets for the Met I will be aiming for a more well-known and less daring opera (or at perhaps just not one directed by Mary Zimmerman), it was still worth every penny.
And trust me, it was a lot of pennies. Especially since it required a new suit.
But pennies be damned. You can't take them with you when you go anyway.