Wednesday, 17 February 2010
NY Snapshots. The One Where We Meet Frances
I’ve had a hankering to visit the Metropolitan Opera ever since Loretta Castorini met Ronny Cammareri there in ‘Moonstruck’. Tom and I have skipped the fancy dress because (1) we’re still battling with freezing New York temperatures and (2) we’re waaaay up in the Gods in the cheap seats, but the Met doesn’t disappoint. Even though, this high up, we can see water damage on the gilded ceiling, it’s still a magnificent venue and the famous crystal chandeliers, which rise up as the production begins, are truly amazing.
We’re here to see a new production of ‘Carmen’. For me, Carmen is two ok-ish tunes and a load of padding. Don’t even get me started on the story. But Tom’s a fan and I’m happy to see more or less anything just to be here. The production begins with a dramatic pas-de-deux in a gash of crimson lighting, foreshadowing trouble ahoy. I’m surprised by how well we can see; I thought they’d all look like microdots from here. The seats are comfortable, we’ve got free playbills, it’s a visual treat and the musicians are superb. What more could you want?
Well, actually, Tom’s been watching the repeats of theoretical physicist, Dr. Michio Kaku's series of programmes on time and would quite like to meet him one day. As we stand up for the interval who should I spot – also in the cheap seats – but Dr. Kaku himself!! Since we would have to clamber over several people to get to Dr. Kaku, we decide it would be better (and a lot more polite) to sit tight, but what are the chances of that happening? And does string field theory explain it?
Working out the probability of meeting Frances today is a lot easier because we’ve already arranged it. We’re meeting at the other Met (so confusing!; the Metropolitan Museum of Art except that it’s further along Fifth Avenue than we anticipate and we end up hoofing past Central Park at a rate of knots. Even so, we’re five minutes late and I’m mortified, given that Frances has given up her precious time to be with us.
I have absolutely no problem spotting Frances who looks just like the photo on her blog. Chic, petite with a lovely smile, glossy dark hair and beautiful eyes, Frances is absolutely delightful company and it’s like meeting an old friend. Tom and I are incredibly privileged because Frances once worked at the Met so we receive a lively and informative tour of the museum and its stunning collections. Something of our enjoyment rubs off on one of the attendants, an African man with a big smile, we meet in a glass lift. He’s so caught up in our conversation that he follows us out then looks perplexed. ‘What am I doing out here?’ he asks, laughing. ‘I’m supposed to be in there! I was so interested in what you were saying, I forgot what I was doing!’
We forget time, in Frances’s company. Suddenly it’s four o’clock. After a quick peek at the Guggenheim and a failed attempt by Frances to blag a brief glimpse of the interior spiral (what a hard-hearted attendant to resist!) we are back on Fifth Avenue. Frances goes to catch her bus and Tom and I start walking. In some ways it all feels very normal, as if we’ve just said goodbye to a friend who lives round the corner and yet very soon we’ll be 3000 miles away. But what a way to spend our last full day in New York.
The next post concludes my snapshots from New York.
The photo shows the view of our hotel (a smaller dark, glass building near the centre of the picture) from the 'tippy-top' of the Empire State building. We hadn't planned to go up, but walked past on a brilliantly clear day... and, my goodness, were we glad we did!
Frances has a photo of us on her blog - my camera decided not to play inside the Met!