|Met Ring 2000 - Intro|
Wed, 10 May 2000
I have just returned from a visit to New York City: it was a visit I had been looking forward to since May 1997. That was when I attended my first Metropolitan Opera Ring Cycle, the video recording of which was my first hearing of Der Ring des Nibelungen. Back in 97 though, I was busy at work in New Jersey and had to commute into New York each evening. This involved a high speed drive in heavy traffic, and a run up the escalators from the Met's underground garage in order to make the opening curtain. Not the ideal way to arrive at a Ring performance.
This time I had a week's vacation in which to savor the Ring.
My vacation began with a very pleasant two hours sitting on an aircraft at gate B9 in O'Hare airport. Apparently one of the "jump seats" used by one of the stewardesses on the plane needed a major overhaul. The captain's intitial estimate for the job to be performed was a "jiffy". This was later modified to "15 minutes", but he was off by 105 minutes so when we were finally rolling toward the runway and he was talking about landing in New York later that day, I figured that we would at least land within 500 miles, of it based on his earlier estimates.
I had actually been called to the check-in desk before boarding, to be told I would have to sit in a different seat than booked, as my seat was needed for a crew member, as the "jump seat" was broken. Has a plane ever made it into the air and flown successfully with one of these seats loose or wobbly? How complex must these sitting devices be that it takes skilled engineers two hours to repair one?
It could have been worse, much worse, for when I and my travelling companion entered the cabin we found that of the two aisle seats reserved for us, one of them was on the end of a row which featured something that made my blood run icy cold.....that's right- a flying infant! Why they don't put all these people with their drooling infants at the back of the plane, preferably behind some kind of lead shield, is beyond me. They could even have special baby seats facing the rear as they seem to like looking backwards at people who want to be left alone.
My friend made the noble sacrifice and sat beside the child.
We managed to find La Guardia airport without a further hitch, and once on the ground, joined the line of 100 or so weary travellers seeking a taxi into the city.
A beautiful, warm, calm evening awaited in New York.
Having paid the taxi driver the ransom money for the ride, we began dipping into the wad of dollar bills one carries in New York in order to "tip" people who help you in some way. So ten dollars gets your bags from the cab to the lobby and then another ten gets them up to your room. In our case this was on the 36th floor, and had the bellman carried the luggage up the stairs instead of riding the wood panelled fresh flower bedecked elevator while the strains of Mozart calmed him, then I would have felt the tip was earned.
A lofty view of Central Park, the absolute jewel in New York's glittering crown, is enough to make a grown man weep with joy, and I began sobbing at first and soon was bawling like a baby. I used up a box of tissues and then had to use fluffy towels to dry my tears of thankfulness. Here I was, back in New York....the City By the Bay. How does that song go? "To be where little cable cars, climb halfway to the stars"....and so on. Strangely, I couldn't see the cable cars, but assumed they didn't run on Sundays.
Dinner with our very own Howard and Dennis was imminent, and a brisk walk down 58th led us to my favorite food in my favorite Indian restaurant, which is called Dawat. Dinner was a lengthy affair and was followed by a nightcap (although I normally don't wear one) back at our hotel.
I went to bed, knowing that when I awoke it would be Rheingold day, May 1st.
To be continued......
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