We got back to New York at the end of May to spend a month in the city and quickly jumped into whirlwind of concerts, shows, operas, and parties. The lineup included Broadway, the Metropolitan Opera, local concert venues, and two big parties in our loft. Warning: lots of pictures here!
First up was Melissa Etheridge, a lesbian rocker especially big in the ’90s. We’d seen her once before and loved her power and connection to the audience. The show was at City Winery, a pretty modest venue with maybe 200 people where you could have dinner and drinks with the show. Mark in particular was blown away, just kept talking about how much he loved the concert.
Just three days later we saw a Neil Diamond “tribute band” – a bunch of musicians covering maybe 15 of his songs. Part of the fun for us was that the show was at Joe’s Pub, part of the Public Theater that is right next to our building. No easier commute in the world! The show wasn’t exactly what I was expecting; no one was trying to look or sound like Neil Diamond. They were just performing his songs. And just like at City Winery you could enjoy dinner and drinks during the show. Very civilized.
And then the very next night was a Slavic music concert right in our own home. Mark’s piano teacher Gena Raps has been a professional musician since she graduated from Juilliard … a while ago. On top of that she’s the queen bee of a coterie of classical musicians who still love to perform. A group of them had performed a concert of Slavic chamber music in a small venue while we were in France, and Gena suggested they repeat the concert in our apartment. They had friends (like us) who hadn’t been able to see the first concert because of scheduling conflicts and on top of that they wouldn’t have to charge admission. It was a beautiful and amazing evening.
A couple days after that it was off to Broadway to see MJ The Musical, a show about Michael Jackson. This was definitely more in the category of guilty pleasure than high art. Basically a lot of dancing and fun music with a story that was … a bit of a mess. Totally fun but not the sort of thing you absolutely have to see.
Next up was the Metropolitan Opera. Our Canadian friends from Boston Marc & David were in town and Marc in particular really wanted to see Akhenaten, a Phillip Glass opera about the Egyptian pharaoh who tried to reorient ancient Egypt from polytheism to monotheism. Today arguably his family is better know – one of his wives was Nefertiti while his son was Tutankhamun, known more familiarly as King Tut. At any rate, the opera was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The music was hauntingly minimalistic, the staging included a lot of juggling and some unexpected nudity (at the Metropolitan Opera!), and the entire experience was surreal. The lead, Akhenaten, was a countertenor, the highest male voice and similar in range to a mezzo-soprano. They used to get that range by castrating young male sopranos – it was a thing; they were called castrati – but that’s not considered kosher anymore. I couldn’t believe he could sing in that falsetto with so much power, since one of the defining characteristics of opera is that the performers are never amplified. We loved it and Mark’s piano teacher – who has strong opinions on these things – loved it, but that was not a universal opinion. Definitely unusual.
There was still more. The next week it was back to Broadway to see the revival of Music Man, starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster. Again a lot of fun but Sutton Foster in particular seemed miscast as a singer. We saw it with our friends Michael and Megan, both professional musicians who confirmed that she just wasn’t up to it. Fun though.
And finally, one last blow out before we left New York for an eight-week European vacation: A return to Opera Night at 62 Cooper Square. We did this once, last year, and were eager to try it again. Basically we work with the afore-mentioned Michael and Megan who have a “stable” of opera singers that they bring together to perform. We invite friends, hire caterers, and have a fabulous party. And they didn’t disappoint. Maybe 10 singers doing various arias from famous and sometimes less well-known operas. Lots of time for mingling and socializing. It’s exhausting to host but also amazing, both to enjoy the music and the creative combination of new and old friends that show up. It’s not the sort of thing I want to do too regularly but once or twice a year it’s pretty special.
And finally, after all that, we’re done with summer in New York. Now we’re off for eight weeks in Europe: four in Slovenia and Croatia, then four in Norway and Sweden. But there are a lot more pictures from New York so here they are.