Sunday, November 16, 2008

A great time was had by all

This line is a running joke at work, thanks to one of the newsletters we used to typeset before our mind-numbingly incompetent boss managed to single-handedly lose a rather lucrative account (a sailing and yacht club that shall remain nameless). When recapping every special event or party for this club's newsletter, the editor would always close the recap by stating that "a great time was had by all." In a way, it's a variation of the running joke we used to have at Val-Pak over the "Pointing Santa" and "Santa Hat" clip art overload during the Christmas rush, or the running joke we used to have at FGCU about the most important job qualification there being, "Is currently fucking one of the faculty members." Oh, wait... that last one isn't a joke but an all-too-real, sad reflection of the FGCU crony-system cocksuckery. My bad!

Anyhoo, after a considerable amount of planning and an enormous amount of help from a wonderful Sarasota Opera rep named Maureen, a few of us attended the opening-night performance of Rossini's "The Barber Of Seville." Some highlights:

  • Because I refuse to waste water by dirtying more than one set of clothes, I wore my "opera outfit" to work, wherein my manager Weejgay, who fancies himself a sartorial wizard and could be an honorary member of the "Queer Eye" guys (albeit a gimpy, fugly, Cuban member), proceeded to rake me over the coals for not wearing my suit, and referred to my outfit as "Dickies" with a shirt and tie. Even though I wore a nice pair of Dockers, not Dickies, Weejgay put together a pretty funny rant -- he never disappoints.
  • A member of our party was actually fulfilling a dream: ever since she'd seen "Pretty Woman," she'd wanted to enjoy an evening at the opera. In the interests of full disclosure, I shattered her dream by reminding her that the repulsively schmaltzy opera scene in "Pretty Woman" included roughly fifteen seconds of opera music, and was in no way representative of whether she'd be able to tolerate some 3+ hours of fat people caterwauling in Italian. I also built up a pretty good head of Puritanical steam while describing "Pretty Woman" as a movie about a greedy scumbag and his dirty hooker girlfriend. Hey, I go out of my way to never disappoint, either.
  • The drive to Sarasota was roughly two hours, and so the manly men required a urine stop. Of course, the girlies took this as an opportunity to try to belittle the superior sex and our teeny bladders. I'm embarrassed to admit I didn't help matters by taking one of my customary five-minute pees -- I have an inguinal hernia, and it takes me forever to get going. Sue me.
  • Pee delays notwithstanding, we managed to sneak in a quick but delicious dinner at Arosa, right next door to the opera house. Beautiful setting (an old brothel -- I kid you not!), great food, and an awesome waitress who understood we were running a little late and rushed our orders through.
  • The Sarasota Opera House turned out to be a magnificent venue. The theatre is beautiful, and although it's smallish in size (bonus: outstanding acoustics!), had very comfortable, roomy seating (kind of a big deal for me and my crummy bad back). Since Maureen the Sarasota Opera angel scored us fifth-row seats at rush ticket prices, even though I bought the seats a week and a half before the performance, our vantage point was nothing short of spectacular. Rosina's cleavage never looked so plentiful!
  • The performance itself did not disappoint. Sure, the orchestra was a bit sloppy during the overture, and the singers weren't exactly of Bechi / De Los Angeles / Monti caliber... but the cast of young, up-and-coming no-names did a terrific job, the mise-en-scène was clever, and the audience, God bless them, actually didn't disrupt things the way the Naples Philharmonic audience of octogenarian idiots always does. Two salient points, aside from Rosina's Himalayan mountain range of a chest: 1) The Basilio was Korean, a first for me; and 2) The girl who sang Berta is a studio artist, and was therefore a no-name among the cast of no-names -- she was simply awesome, and worlds better than many a Scala and Met Berta I've had the misfortune of hearing. Her name's Maria D'Amato, and I hope she makes it big.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable evening. Kudos to Maureen the Sarasota Opera angel, and here's hoping she'll be able to take care of another group o'losers -- Donizetti's "L'elisir d'amore" beckons!

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