Friday, November 14, 2008

In Which All Does Not Go According to Plan

For what I think was the second time this year, I found myself in a thoroughly bad mood early Wednesday evening. B&c and I had been out late Tuesday night to attend a performance of Lucrezia Borgia at the Kennedy Center. I'd gotten home around 11:30 and was in bed perhaps an hour later, but then I had to be up at 6 so that I could get to the office early to finish preparing a training seminar for the junior accountants. The training session was fine, but I had several other client meetings come up, and the list of things that I absolutely, positively had to do in order to take Thursday off (as I'd hoped to do) was still not completed when b&c called from the downstairs parking garage to say that he'd arrived to pick me up for our trip downtown to see Carmen.

So when I got to the car, I was exhausted from lack of sleep and peeved because I would have to go into the office the next day, something which would not have happened if I could have spent an additional hour or so in the office instead of heading out to see opera for the second consecutive night. And let's be clear about this: the Washington National Opera is not where one goes to see the leading edge of opera. It's a place where over sixty percent of the audience is wealthy and has at least one foot already in the grave. They pretty much only want to get dressed up and see a traditional production of something that's either a standard of the repertory (e.g., Carmen) or something with a big star (e.g., Renee Fleming in Lucrezia Borgia). If you're a serious opera lover and want to see what's new -- or if you're simply the sort of masochist who gets to the end of a performance of Siegried and says, "Oh, I can't wait until tomorrow for Gotterdammerung," which, you can pretty much tell from the name, is not going to end well for the principals -- then maybe two operas on consecutive nights is a good thing. If you're me, and you like good music and, especially, great singing, but you have to put in a full day of work between performances, then you really just don't want to go on Tuesday and again on Wednesday.

So that was the frame of mind I was in when b&c told me that his trip to Algeria had been canceled. He'd been scheduled to leave the next evening for about two weeks. We were, in fact, doing the Tuesday-Wednesday opera double header entirely because of his travel plans. More to the point, I'd already planned several sessions during that time period, including the slap-around face fuck mentioned in my most recent post and some sessions with Logan and Judd. In the face of all this, I could feel myself becoming petulant. I don't ever outwardly express petulance, of course: that's b&c's job. I believe his motto is something like "A day without petulance is like a day without sunshine." Instead, I closed my eyes, hoping to fall asleep at that moment rather than during the first act of Carmen. Alas, b&c chose that moment to slide a CD into the player. Because, you know, when you're an hour away from a performance of an opera that you already know pretty well, what you most want to hear is a CD of a better performance of THAT VERY SAME OPERA. It was, readers, the straw that broke the camel's back. I was so upset that I said, very quietly, "You know, your not going to Algeria is going to force me to change most of my social plans for the weekend." To which he, scowlingly, replied, "Well, I don't see why you can't just go ahead and do what you were planning to do anyway."

Johns Hopkins actually gave this person a Ph.D. Can you believe it? I closed my eyes again, but sleep eluded me.

Anyway, Mr. Slap Around seemed not at all nonplussed when I told him I couldn't host. I think his fantasies had gotten ahead of his courage because when I suggested that he host, he just said that we'd do it another time. I had gotten the impression that he lives alone, and I could be wrong about that, but I think he just talks the talk without walking the walk. Pity, that. Judd and Logan were not quite so happy about the change in plans, but what can I do? I might be able to ask Logan over for dinner and/or a threesome on Saturday evening, but I had to be around the beltway at a client's office at 7:30 this morning, so I'm probably too tired to perform the complicated and delicate negotiations required to get Logan and b&c on the same page and in the same bed. At the same time, I mean. Getting them in the same bed at different times is shockingly easy.

I did end up sleeping through most of the first act, but I woke up in time for the Seguidilla, which is my favorite song from Carmen. And I was in a pretty good mood by the time [Spoiler alert!] Carmen was dead. B&c, on the other hand, was still stomping around and cursing yesterday afternoon, when I, having finished my list, had come home to do some baking for the church bazaar (life on the edge, readers: life on the edge). I tried to comfort him by telling him that all the men in Algeria were bottoms, but he, despite never having been there, assured me that I was mistaken. I can only assume that he had many, many tops lined up for his stay, but I didn't ask because I was busy staying out of his way. When he storms around, he has an unfortunate habit of yelling at whoever gets in his way, and I wasn't about to put up with any crap just because he, the Algerian embassy, and the Treasury Department hadn't gotten his visa application submitted and processed in a timely manner. If he's not being plowed by two Algerian tops a night, it might be his fault, and it might be the fault of one or more government functionaries from one or more governments, but it's not my fault. He did seem in a better mood when I finished getting dressed at 6:15 this morning, but that may have been because he was still asleep.

By the way, Lucrezia Borgia is really not all that. Renee Fleming (who definitely is all that, plus several side orders and maybe a cocktail) was magnificent, and I can understand why she wants to take on new roles, but I would rather have seen her in a more pleasant opera. I think that if you played any of the music from LB to me today, I probably wouldn't recognize it. The exact opposite is true of Carmen. We saw it with the B cast, headed up by a mezzo soprano who mostly sings with Italian regional companies and who lacks the gravitas to play Carmen as an avatar of freedom rather than as an annoyingly feisty woman of easy virtue. She was okay as a singer, and that was about all you could say for any of the principals (excepting the Slovenian soprano playing Micaela, the only principal who sang in both casts, who was splendid). But none of that really matters. I suppose that if you had awful singers and an awful orchestra, you could ruin Carmen, but it'd be pretty hard. The music is so beautiful (you get four overtures, one for each act, and they're all great!) and the action is so compelling that the three hours and nine minutes, including two twenty-minute intermissions not that I was counting or anything, really fly by. At this point, I think I've seen all or nearly all of the major operas that I felt like I should see, and I think that the only ones I'd go out of my way to see again are Porgy and Bess, The Magic Flute, and Carmen. I think that maybe the next time the Met is doing Carmen with a first-rate cast, it might be worth a trip to New York.


Will said...

I want to propose a conspiracy theory: Bozo Bush is so pissed at Obama's win and the fact that he's going to overturn Bush's "abstinence-only" policy that he had b&c's trip cancelled just to prevent a deserving gay guy from getting laid.

WD in KC said...

Actually, three years ago, I had that exact thought after "Seigfried" and before "Gotterdammerung." In my defense, there was a day of rest in between the two. Hmmm - I may have a bit of masochist in me, too.

This week, I see "Porgy" and "Lulu" on consecutive nights in Chicago. I expect to be humming the tunes from "Lulu" as I leave the theater ;>)

I haven't tried your turkey-lentil chili recipe yet, but I've gone so far as to purchase an appropriate pot from Target.