Night at the Opera

Loretta: [after seeing La Boheme] That was so awful.
Ronny: Awful?
Loretta: Beautiful… sad. She died!
Ronny: Yes.
Loretta: I was surprised…
You know, I didn’t really think she was gonna die. I knew she was sick.
Ronny: She had TB.
Loretta: I know! I mean, she was coughing her brains out, and still she had to keep singing! 

~from the movie Moonstruck

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I’ve always wanted to have an opera moment. The soaring arias, the tragic romances, the swell of the orchestra…what would more romantic than going to the opera with the man that you love?

Unfortunately, getting a man to go to the opera is difficult. Even a man like Ed, who plays the trombone in Sousa concerts and sings baritone in the church choir, did not want to take the love of his life (that would be me) to the opera. Ed won’t even take me to the movies. The opera? Forgitaboutit.

In December, I read a fabulous review of the Lyric Opera’s newest production: Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado, never dreaming that I would actually go see it.

It just so happened that shortly after I was lamenting that Ed would never take me to the opera, he happened to hear a radio ad about The Mikado. A couple of years ago, Ed had the opportunity to play the trombone in the pit orchestra for a community Gilbert and Sullivan production. While much of the stories in Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas are told in the singing, there is also dialogue. Plus, Gilbert and Sullivan were English, and so their operettas are also in English. Ed discovered that he liked Gilbert and Sullivan.

Gilbert and Sullivan! At the Lyric Opera! Ed definitely won the prize for the perfect and most surprising Christmas gift for his wife — tickets to the Lyric Opera!

I wanted to be prepared to enjoy my gift to the fullest. When I was younger, my sister and I listened and sang a few of the songs from The Mikado, such as Three little maids from school and Tit-Willow, but I wanted to know more. I bought a digital download of the album and put the soundtrack on my pink Sony Walkman. The Mikado started playing in my kitchen all day long.

It wouldn’t have be right to go to the Lyric Opera without a new outfit. On the morning of the opera, I went to Carson’s and found an adorable purple cardigan with ruffles to wear with my gray tweed skirt.

Ed and I drove downtown and had a nice dinner (without children!) before the opera. I wanted to take pictures of the sign and the opera house, but it was a typical winter evening in Chicago: bitterly cold and windy to boot. Ed and I rushed from the restaurant to the Lyric Opera as quickly as we could.

Getting binoculars along with my tickets should have been a hint about the location of our seats, which were in the second balcony. As I eagerly inquired about our spots, the usher told us we needed to go to the sixth floor.

Up the steps we started to walk. We walked up the elaborate staircase to the second floor and looked over the railing at the chandeliers. Below us was the main lobby, where opera goers were enjoying wine before the performance. We continued up the stairs. The soft, cushy red carpeting ended and we continued up the hard, marble steps. All the way up, as far as we could go. To the second balcony we went.

As we entered the balcony, I had a moment of vertigo. The steps going down to our seats were very steep and narrow. It was a looooong way down to the stage!

The Lyric Opera building, however, is fabulous. Although we couldn’t see the faces of the performers very well, the acoustics are incredible. The music was beautiful, the set was amazing, and the performance was simply outstanding. I am not an opera expert, so a review from me would not have much worth. Simply put, Ed and I were awed by the performances of the entire cast.

I simply smiled when Ed declared, “I would definitely do this again!” and my heart said, “Yay!”

We, the People of Illinois, Are Confused

No, we’re not confused that Gov. Blagojevich was arrested. I’m sure we’re not even surprised. The last poll of approval that I read about had him at 13%. THIRTEEN PERCENT of the people of Illinois approved of our governor. And this was before he was arrested? How did he ever get re-elected?

This is why we’re confused. At the beginning of November, our little part of Illinois was feeling rather good about itself. You see, we were named one of the best places to raise kids, according to BusinessWeek. Mount Prospect “is a middle-class community with low crime, affordable homes, award-winning schools, ethnic restaurants, a major regional mall, and a small-town charm that makes the big city less than an hour away seem much farther away.” We were praised for our neighborliness, such as sharing generators during power outages and bringing meals to neighbors in need. Ed and I love our neighborhood. We chose our house because we have a great backyard and we can walk to the playground and the elementary school. We love the diversity our neighborhood offers; we’ve eaten Filipino foods at our neighbor’s birthday parties, and English is not always the primary language spoken at the park. Not only that, but President Elect Obama is from Illinois. And he’s the cat’s pajamas, don’t ya know?

‘”If it isn’t the most corrupt state in the United States, it’s certainly one hell of a competitor,” said Robert Grant, special agent in charge of Chicago’s FBI office.’ reported the Chicago Tribune yesterday. Wow. Is Gov. Blagojevich the new Al Capone? I’m pretty sure Capone was a lot smarter.

That’s what we get for bragging. We puffed ourselves up, convinced ourselves that this really is the best place to live and raise our kids. And now, I’m embarrassed to be from Illinois.

But wait; our neck of the woods really is rather nice. Our neighbors haven’t changed, and we’re still walking distance from the playground. We have a fresh layer of snow on the ground, which makes everything look clean. Unlike our government seems to be. With this arrest and subsequent charges, we can only hope that Illinois soon does become an even better place to raise kids.
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