No, I did not enjoy the Super Bowl. Thanks for asking. But now that the game's final five minutes, which I couldn't even stand to watch, snatched the perfect season from the Pats, they are once again underdogs, so in a couple of days I fully expect to hear the haters saying, "You know, it sure is a shame they didn't get a perfect season," and maybe they'll even start to talk about how sick they are of the Manning family and its tendency to hog all the titles.
Anyway. Since I've been lecturing opera houses on marketing, I thought I'd share my latest notion, which came to me while reading the Wellsung entry about what the Met was doing the day they were born. So there you have it, the perfect stocking stuffer for the opera lover in your life: a CD copy of whatever the Met was doing the day of his or her birth, in simple but elegant packaging. Or the deluxe set: the entire season for your birth year. You see where this is going.
So I looked myself up. It turns out the Met was dark that night. Um, OK. I didn't say my idea was fully thought-through. For instance, I guess summer births are out of luck.
I did check San Francisco Opera, and they made up for the Met by presenting two operas that day! The first was a student matinee of Pagliacci -- yes, a student matinee, in Italian, back before surtitles, and starring Jon Vickers as Canio, Dolores Mari as Nedda, Lawrence Winters as Tonio, Cesare Curzi as Beppe, and Theodor Uppman (Billy Budd!) as Silvio. No "family versions" translated into English of The Magic Flute or L'Elisir d'Amore for that crowd, and I kind of feel the student audiences have just kicked sand in my face.
The evening performance really interested me, though. It was the second performance of the American premiere run of Die Frau ohne Schatten. My mother, who can still recall decades later the excruciating boredom of having to sit through Norma at the Old Met as a little girl and who has mostly avoided full-length operas ever since, has always told me that she and my father went to the American premiere of Die Frau at the invitation of some friends. After about two acts they had had enough and left. Since she clearly was not at the second performance, being otherwise occupied contracting and dilating and suchlike, she must have attended the actual first performance, when she was eight months pregnant. I'm amazed she made it as far as the intermission under the circumstances, and Mom, I'm sorry if I kicked you in the stomach for leaving early. Maybe that's where I got my whole "I do not leave before the end" thing. Who knows what reaches you under those circumstances? I don't even want to think about what intrauterine influence the plot and music of Die Frau ohne Schatten had on my fragile little psyche. But at least I can now tell everyone I was at the US premiere, though the people I was with refused to stay to the end.