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


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!”

The Blue Lagoon It Was Not

Yesterday I posted Meeting My Husband, not realizing that I had left my readers wanting more! Here is MORE….

“I know,” he said. “I remember praying for you in church.”

It was dark; Ed and I were on a camping trip at the beginning of our relationship. We were having a heart to heart talk…and my heart was pounding. Four years ago, I had been diagnosed with breast cancer; I had been afraid that no man would want me after that devastating disease struck. Then Ed came along, and I was almost afraid he was too good to be true.

We talked long into the night about my breast cancer diagnosis and treatment and about our relationship. Ed told me a few weeks later that our camping trip was when he knew he loved me.

Fast forward two years.

Ed and I lived 64 miles apart. We only saw each other on the weekends. He would come to my neck of the woods on Friday, and then we would drive to his suburban place on Saturday. I’d drive back to my apartment Sunday night, exhausted and lonely.

At the beginning of April, Ed made reservations at our favorite restaurant on a Friday night. We decided to dress up a little, and have a night out on the town. I even wore heels, which was rare for this second grade teacher.

After dinner, Ed wanted to take a romantic walk around the lagoon by the university. It was a little nippy, but I was up for a walk.

We drove to the lagoon, only to find that a sky-high chain-link fence surrounded it. We got out of the car, and stared at the mud. The lagoon was being dredged, and a fishy smell filled the air.

Ed urged me to walk around the lagoon anyway.

We walked slowly, holding hands. My feet started to hurt, and I began to shiver. As we completed the walk around the lagoon and approached the parking lot, I headed for the car. “Let’s walk around again,” Ed said.

“Are you kidding?” It was the beginning of April, I was freezing, and those high heels seriously needed to come off.

“Come on!” Ed dragged me back to the path, and we found a bench to sit on. I don’t remember the exact words he said, but he did tell me this: he couldn’t imagine life without me. He pulled out a little, black box. He got down on one knee, opened the little box, and asked me to be his wife.

“Yes, yes, yes!” I cried, and I flung my arms around his neck, almost knocking him and that little black box right to the ground.

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