Monday, August 07, 2006
Good Diva, Good Friends, Good Adventure...
What a great adventure it was. Sally and I headed to D.C. on the 9:00 a.m. bus. We spent the afternoon enjoying Wanda's air conditioning . As Wanda says, it was "hotter than hell's hinges". Maggie, Cordelia, Erin, Tim and two of Wanda's friends joined us for a pre-concert dinner and then we were off to the Filene Center at Wolf Trap National Park. It was a gorgeous venue. During the first piece, "The Scorcerer's Apprentice", there was a fierce thunder and lightening rain storm. Toward the end of the number, there was a huge bang from the audio equipment and the lights flashed, causing Maestro Emil de Cou to almost jump off the podium! When the orchestra finished the number, the crowd cheered loudly and then all of the lights on the stage and most of the auditorium went out! This lasted for a little while. The Maestro read some announcements and was quite funny (handsome as well - whew). He added that the NSO would never again play "The Scorcerer's Apprentice". Ironically there is a storm in the film "Fantasia" which is based on this piece. It was all very entertaining. The best part of the storm, besides the drama, was that the air cooled considerably.
The working lights finally came on which was great - BUT - there was a spot light shining right on your representatives of the Beautiful Voice Group - providence? It stayed on us through the NSO's next number "Claire de Lune".....and then voila, Renee glided on stage in her beautiful green silk gown. The audience roared! She immediately Barber's "Knoxville: Summer of 1915". It was absolutely perfect. The air cooled and the crickets and frogs provided extra percussion. Renee's voice was sublime. Mind you, at this time the spot light was still on us. When Renee was exiting the stage she saw us, gave us a huge smile and waved a hello.
Act II brought more NSO and then finally Renee reappeared. She took the microphone and talked about the storm and said, "Sopranos do not like competition". She said that there was a storm last time and now this time and she's expecting a blizzard when she comes next time. She said that it was not a good idea to wear silk because she was pretty sure she was going to have to have it surgically removed. She sang "Poveri Firoi", "O Mio Babino Caro" and then "Vissi d'Arte". She favored us with a number of encores: SUMMERTIME (Wow); I Could Have Danced All Night" (she invited us to sing along); "Morgen" (she introduced this by saying it is so beautiful that it makes her think of two lovers walking on the beach at sunset and they look into each others eyes and then...."well, just listen to it". She ended with "The last Rose of Summer". Yeah, it was something. (We think there was another one but we can't remember what it was so Maggie or Erin will have to report in on this). She was a bit chatty here and there with the microphone and the audience ate it up.
It was a pleasure finally meeting Maggie and seeing Erin, Tim and Cordelia again. We also sat close to Aly, by providence. The East Coast Division of the TBV always has it together.
Wanda, Sally, Sarah, Maggie, Erin, Tim and I headed backstage and were the last to visit with her. She wore a black outfit with a sheer animal print blouse - she pointed out her shiny brown diamond beads that her friend lent her. She was very proud of them - ooooooh, shiny, sparkly....she signed stuff and was a doll. She looked absolutely relaxed and terrific. She said that the new album with Valery Gergiev is supposed to be released in October. She is flying to Chicago tomorrow and then St. Petersberg next week to finish the recording. Amelia was there and is taller than ever. We didn't recognize anybody else backstage. I find myself buying outfits that she will like and she did notice this one as well - I guess I have an eye for shiny, sparkly things as well(3 for 3 on the blouse tug). She remembered all of our names and said "because it's not after opera!". She also wanted us to know that she was singing to us during the Knoxville. She mentioned that she is incredibly busy for the next few months. At 11:00 pm she said she was going out to dinner with the whole crowd that was backstage and thanked us all for coming.
It was a terrific concert - we have anticipated it for months and of course, it did not disappoint.
On Friday and Saturday, the Hostess with the Mostess, Wanda, treated Sally and I to a wonderful tour of Washington, D.C. We visited the National Cathedral, the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the Viet Nam Wall, the Marine Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the National Gallery and the National Air and Space Museum. She drove us all around and showed us highlights of D.C. both during the day and evening. It's really the way to see our Nation's Capitol! When Wanda wasn't chauffeuring us, she treated us to some of the best southern hospitality I had experienced in years. We were joined by Cordelia and Maggie and laughs were abundant. Sally and I reluctantly boarded the Greyhound back to NYC yesterday afternoon but we have vowed to visit Wanda again. Vows were also made by all to see Susan Graham in Recital at Carnegie Hall in January and Renee in the Met's production of Eugene Onegin in February. I don't know if I can wait that long for all of us to be together again!
Click here to see my pictures (excuse the blurry photos - haven't had time to cull and weed out.)