8 February 2000
I have just crossed another winter month from the calendar and feel that soon my thermal underwear can be returned to the store I bought it in, back in November, for a full refund, as I will hardly need it in the balmy spring ahead. We in Chicago are lacking a headline-spinning Blizzard like last year which had moment by moment accounts from live television reporters on familiar street corners. Each report showed us snowfall quite similar to the stuff falling outside our windows and melting in our boot trays but we were able to relax and enjoy the street mime of those young scallywags who follow live News teams around the country so they can wave in the background, give the extended finger as a greeting or pull faces. While I love the visual beauty of snow laying on fields and cottage rooftops, it holds less appeal when it is churned and blackened by city traffic.
The only solution for a snow lover like myself is to head for the hills - which in my case means to Michigan. I was there again last weekend, as I had finally arranged a resting place for my wordly goods which I had packed up in Brabant, NJ back in the 20th century.
Imagine my chagrin when the delivery time came and I called the famous trucking company only to be told that the driver was still in Connecticut and would be a day late. I took it philosophically and blasted a few squirrels from a tree with my shotgun.
The cell phone rang again. It was the driver of the truck saying he was out on the street. I looked out the window, down the narrow private road leading to the cottage (which bears the name Wahnfried) and there indeed was a huge truck. He drove from Connecticut in less than 5 minutes? Is that possible? No matter...I was overjoyed to see him there.
Surprisingly, he was alone, and although he poo-poohed my offer of help, I did help him to unload, and within 90 minutes the cottage sank further into its foundations under the weight of electronics equipment that made the cut when I had to decide what to take and what to leave in New Jersey, those 18 months ago. Non essentials- like furniture and cookware- were given away. Hundreds of video tapes and cds made the trip and all the necessary hardware to make them spring to life did too.
Much of last Friday afternoon was spent unpacking and wiring things up while the boombox that had been our only source of sound up until that point had its last Hurrah. A Giuseppe di Stefano arias CD which I had bought in Bayreuth sounded the death knell of the boombox. Soon "Pippo" was transferred to his new home in one of the several laser disc players and was catapulted into the living room by the inscrutible Japanese who labored to build the Onkyo amplifier, and courtesy of the skilled workforce at the Bose 901 speaker plant in Framingham, Mass.
The recorded sound on the cd mentioned above is rather primitive, so to set preferences I used as my reference the Prelude to Lohengrin from a Met laserdisc, which is crystalline.
I went for a walk down memory lane when I booted up the trusty old Compaq which hadn't seen the outside of a box in some time, and there in the Personal Filing Cabinet I read the first correspondence from people who are now either my best friends or names that had been lost in the mists of time. I came across a photo album into which I had placed, in chronological order, all of my opera ticket stubs from June 93 to May 98 and every theater programme, to boot. I had never kept such momentos before I came to love opera and I had been a rock concert goer for ...(doing the math...) 28 years!! My first ever live music experience was the Rolling Stones in 1965.
For whatever reason, barely a conscious decision, as I am seldom conscious, I couldn't let go of the paperwork that accompanies a trip to the opera. Staring at a programme or a ticket I can hear and see the performance in my mind's eye and am able to recall how it felt to be me, new to it all at first, as I took my seat in the Met. It has been a marvellous journey of discovery. Just marvellous.
Although I came to opera late, at age 41, I have no regrets. I have always enjoyed music and bought my first records (vinyl) at age 4 or 5, with pocket money earned for being a "good boy". I bought Elvis singles mainly until the Beatles came along in 1962. Opera is certainly the most consuming music I have heard and it certainly consumes more money than any other in my experience. Doug, who writes on these cyberpages, recently went from one recording of Tristan und Isolde to eight in the blink of a Visa! And he has yet to hear it live...but that is coming soon. So soon, that I can taste it!
I attended the dress rehearsal of Tristan und Isolde at the Lyric in Chicago two weeks or so ago. I will leave reviews of it until after I have seen it again and then will likely pass the review assignment to Doug as he is the designated driver and I will be "in my cups" no doubt and overcome with emotion as it is my favorite opera by my favorite composing GENIUS. February 19th 2000, in Chicago, there will be the Third Official Tristan Jamboree. Number one was Seattle over a year ago. Two was Bayreuth this past July, Three was the Met premiere in Nov. 1999. and....make that Four Official Tristan Jamborees!!! Yes, Four will be Chicago February 19th. Master Doug will join the Marco Island Three (Jamboree founders) for his first Tristan performance in the flesh.
The following day is my birthday. If you are having a hard time deciding on a gift for me, remember my tastes are simple. You can't go wrong with a bottle of Scotch or some Wagner cds. I am ok at the moment for thermal underwear. After the Tristan performance I intend to take a week in Michigan to recover.
As it has been some time since I have written I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who has visited Opera Jamboree since its bold inception back in April 1999. I am particularly proud of the writing staff, which has grown in leaps and bounds, lured mainly by the promise of easy money and executive jets at their disposal and I ask them to be patient as the checks are in the mail.
Recently we have welcomed stellar writers in the form of Bryce and Wolf. We have organised search parties to find out what happened to Mistress Terri (?) We brought you a Wagner Society Founder and we continue to bring you Doug, Kent, and Howard as long as we hold their kin hostage. We brought you Curmudgeon's Corner but we know you have it in your hearts to forgive us.
We have many new and EXCITING!! (yikes!- caps lock!) things planned, or rather- we DON'T but now that I have said we HAVE we had better come up with something....er, time to call the Web-Boffin!!
Have you got YOUR Tristan tickets yet??