Sunday, May 18, 2008


About halfway through the first part of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra concert at Carnegie Hall this afternoon, I knew what I wanted to write about today: applause. But then I had an encounter at intermission that trumped my first idea, at least temporarily.

Yesterday I did something to my back, tweaked it somehow, and I’ve been in pretty serious pain on and off since then. It’s an old injury, from my gymnastics days, and if my overall core strength is diminished or if I sleep in a too-soft bed, one wrong move can set things a-spazzin’. Not fun. (For more on injuries to girls in high school and college sports programs, read this article from last week’s NYTimes. I was FAR from an athlete, and I still have physical maladies that plague me. I can only imagine what today’s hardcore female athletes will have to deal with unless they get better strength training and preventative care.)

ANyway... I digress. At intermission, as we were getting up from our (wonderful and generously donated orchestra) seats, I had to grab my friend’s arm to get up to a standing position. My friend was (still is, actually) a man, not my boyfriend, but it’s crowded and pushy in that aisle at intermission, and so I was standing very close to him, doing my best to stand up straight and not get jostled about. He had just asked about the pain in my back, and as I was telling him, a woman walked past us and said “This is no place for a romance, kids.”

Umm... excuse me?! I turned to watch her go, my mouth agape, and before I could stop myself I said, “I’m in pain, but thank you.” (I don’t know what that was supposed to mean, but that’s what came out.) As I turned back in astonishment to JM, another woman was passing by and acknowledged the first woman’s comment. “That was so rude! And even if you weren’t in pain, why isn’t this a place for a romance?!”

Why not, indeed. There were so many things wrong with that woman’s behavior, I almost don’t know where to start. How about: mind your own business? You can never tell what is going unless you are directly involved in a conversation. There was no PDA, no googly eyes, no sweet talk. She made a snap judgement, and it was completely wrong. She should have kept her mouth shut. I’m sure that if I hadn’t been in such pain, I would have come up with an even more witty statement to tell her so.

And how about: this is exactly the kind of attitude that keeps “kids” out of the concert halls! As the second woman recognized, a passionate orchestra concert on a rainy Sunday afternoon is fantastic place for romance! (She was there with a handsome gent who seemed tickled by the whole encounter. There seemed to be a bit of romance between them... but what do I know.) There certainly was enough passion on that stage to ignite a fire, and the buzz in the auditorium at the end was absolutely hott. The audience felt the enthusiasm coming from the performers, and they responded to it with an extended ovation. My dictionary widget defines "romance" thusly (second definition): “a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life.” Seems a pretty good definition of what was going on in that hall today. How sad that this woman was seemed only concerned with everyone minding their p’s and q’s. Were I not “a regular” at this sort of thing, I can see how her comment would have turned me sour on ever going back.

I wonder why she was there in the first place. What did she get from the afternoon? Did the music move her in any way? Or was she one of the people who jumped out of her seat after Gergiev’s first bow, heading toward the exit to grab her coat and find a cab? Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe she was one of the hundreds who stood and called him back three times, eager to thank him and the orchestra for temporarily transporting them. Those who stood and applauded until the end are guilty of what some might see as inappropriate conduct in a venerable hall like Carnegie.

We all had a romance with Maestro Gergiev and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. I hope we did not offend.


Anonymous said...

Well written, ACB. Music SHOULD move to the romance of the soul if nothing else. And if a concert hall or opera house or leiderabend isn't a place for romance, then our art has truly died and I want no part of it. said...

Wow. Sometimes people say incredibly foolish things. Or are so totally out of line. Or both.

My first guess is that the woman needs a bit of romance in her own life.

What a sad thing to say.

I'm all for romance. I'm all for romance in the concert hall. If I moved someone and caused a bit 'o romance I'd be delighted. My goal is to move people ... and romance is a wonderful thing.

Mostly, though, I hope your back improves quickly.

B said...

Or maybe when that woman saw you holding onto your friend with the look of agony on your face, she associated that directly to her own agonizing love life.
So I guess the word romance is relative...Or not!
GO grunt at someone else Granny!

Matthew said...

I'm with the lady. Balcony seats are much better for making out. No privacy whatsoever down in the orchestra.

Seriously, WTF? Are New Yorkers suddenly worried that Bostonians are more rude than they are or something?

Unknown said...

Oh, haven't you heard? Concert halls are where composers go after they are dead and where we wait, silently, to join them. If you want to live, love, and feel, please do it elsewhere. You're disturbing the mourners.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...