An Opera, a Performance, and a Day Off

This weekend shaped up to be pretty amazing. 

Friday night, I called the box office of LA Opera around 6pm to see if there were any tickets left for that evening's performance of La Boheme. The guy on the phone said it was completely sold out. A couple of my friends in the group were skeptical about that, though. So since LA opera was only a block away, we walked over there and asked the same question at the box office counter, to which the lady replied "yes, there are a few!" And we proceeded to buy the last five tickets in the house at the $25 student rate. For that, we got two seats near the center of the 4th row, one seat in the dead center of the seventh row, and two more seats near the center of the 9th row. I volunteered to be the loner in the 7th row, but I swear it was the best seat in the house, and I actually made a great new acquaintance with Anne, the woman sitting next to me, whose god-daughter was a child soloist in the production. 

The show itself was amazing, Rodolfo's voice was absolutely beautiful, Mimi's voice was stunning, and the two had great chemistry. But Musetta's "Quando men vo" was spectacular and the character who stole the show was actually Marcello. The spectacle of the show was also something to behold. The entire thing looked like a mid-19th century painting, and the sets and costumes were incredibly lavish. But the coolest thing about the show was that that the conductor was Gustavo Dudamel, giving his first performance ever as an opera conductor that night. He's become known as one of the most famous conductors in the world, and is the current director of the LA Philharmonic at Disney Hall. He was responsible for the sold out crowd. After the show, we walked out the front door of the house to see a plaza filled with people and activities - bars were set up across the expanse, an entire dance club with DJ was set up to the right, and there were picnic tables next to a photo booth area and a whole line of exotic cars lined up by the valet. It definitely made me take a sudden interest in the young artist program at LA Opera...

Saturday, I was in my first concert of SongFest, our "Song as a one-act play" concert. For the past two weeks, Edwin Cahill had been working with us to teach us about poetry and acting poetry, and also to direct the show. Each student both performed their song AND recited the poem that the song was based on. At the concert, I was to perform "Litany" by John Musto, and just seconds before the show began, Musto scurried into the room and sat on a step in the corner. I was REALLY surprised to see him. The show started and things were going well, and then I went to center stage to sing my song, and realized that the way the staging of my song was set up, I was facing directly at the corner Musto was sitting in. Overwhelmed by realizing that I was about to sing this entire song with the composer directly in my line of vision, I messed up a line of the poetry. But I took the intro of the song to collect myself, and got through the actual song smoothly. Musto congratulated me later, and that meant a lot. I was also overwhelmed with my entire group. We honestly kicked butt. Everyone was so into the energy that our ensemble was making, and that made us be able to really tell one coherent story over the course of that hour. I'm so proud of the studio program I'm in. 

Sunday was our off day!! My friend Laura and I went to church at the nearby Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, which was definitely a Catholic Cathedral with Catholic symbolism and Catholic priests, but looked eerily like some kind of cavernous Egyptian temple. The place was huge, and the architecture was truly unique. The preaching was very nice, and it felt good to get to church while here. 

But then after church, fourteen of the studio artists went to Santa Monica pier! We arrived around 1:30, split up into groups, lathered on some sunscreen, walked the beach, sat around, listened to music, and enjoyed the breeze for hours until dinner time came around and we all met up at the Cheesecake Factory for an amazing rooftop dinner. Being in the company of friends at the beach is truly a one-of-a-kind feeling, and it made me remember back to last year in Italy, when myself and some friends visited Castiglioncello beach on our day off. Today was very similar, except I tried to made sure not to get sunburnt. I almost succeeded. Mostly my ears and neck got red, but it was still nothing like the Aloe Vera fest that happened last year. The day was honestly perfect. The west coast is definitely making a good impression on me. 

Sam KrauszComment