Sunday, November 3, 2013

Trip to NYC - Day 9 - Cinderella and Eugene Onegin

I started writing this post on Halloween and only ended now.

Happy Halloween everybody! We unfortunately do not do trick or treat here in Brazil, far too dangerous and I would have been a MUCH chubbier child if we did. Ah well, the plan was to post everything about my NYC trip until the last day of October but as you can see that’s not gonna happen. I’ve had a hard horrible week but I’m glad that I was able to get through it and get my tests done without having my physiological state interfere with my grades. But I must tell you it was not easy to rehearse everyday with a person that has his own universe of pitch and not just smack him in the face, especially because he would act as if he was on pitch all along. That made my blood boil, I had to actually sing with this person in two tests last Thursday and he totally screwed his part up but was unable to throw me off my game and as the never ending Bach quartets ended I was pretty in pink and in pitch! But my teacher assured me that my grade was not going to be affected by his horrendous performance. Very Halloween themed test I did come to think of it… Plus a man hit me in the head with an enormous bag he was carrying on his shoulder on the subway that morning just as I was heading to that said test (that I had to wait 2 hours to do btw). I felt like crying, like bursting into tears really, but I was able to control myself and did the walk of shame to my train with tear filled eyes.

But I’m not here to talk about my problems! I’m here to talk about the best place of earth and that’s NYC! Well now we’re on Saturday, the 12th of October. As we were heading towards the end of our trip we decided to start going back to places we only went by and said “Ah, we have time, we’ll come back later!”. So off to 5th avenue me and mum went. We bought ridiculous amounts of chocolate and went ALL the way to 34th and Broadway to get a chance to go to Claire’s again. Remember we were at 57th and 9th, went to 5th and then back to Broadway and 34th in the morning.

But we had tickets for Cinderella this day and it started at 2. And we were already late and still deciding which earring to take at Claire’s. Result, we went to this place with a French name and got two sandwiches and ate them as we battled the ocean of people who all seemed to be on our way on Broadway at 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon. My sandwich was good, it had pesto sauce in it, I love pesto sauce.

We got to Cinderella just in time! I felt slightly out of place being in a matinee of a Broadway show surrounded by little girls dressed up as princesses. It was cute, don’t get me wrong and I love all things princess and fairy tales, but it’s a big change from the Met I must say. For one, people where in jeans and flip flops and the amount of food they had in the audience was alarming! It was a beautiful theater, The Broadway theater, in which I had seen Sister Act the last time I had been to NYC. 

View from my seat

Another thing that was SO disturbing was the fact that the conductor came in and lights were still on and everybody in the audience was chatting as if they were in a cocktail party. The overture started playing and the lights were still on and people started shutting up little by little. I know, this is not opera, this is musical theater, but it was just weird, especially because I had been to operas all these days so I was used to different conventions.

One more thing before we talk about the musical itself, microphones, the use of these gadgets for singing on a stage strikes me as odd and ‘whatever for? Don’t they teach these kids to project these days?’. I will leave it at that, I know not everybody has a voice the size of Sondra Radvanovsky’s.

But on to the musical, the production was ADORABLE! Very pretty, every place is sort of forest themed even the indoors places. Every single performer was REALLY good. They all had really good singing voices and seemed to be made to play their roles. It was quite amazing.

Cinderella was played by Laura Osnes, who I remember from some years ago that won that “You’re the one that I want” reality show thing to decide who was to play Sandy and Danny in Grease. And reality show people aren’t usually good, but she is. Really good! She had a lovely Disney princess voice plus is a fantastic dancer, I mean, her high kicks were as high as it gets. As my ballet teacher used to say ‘knee hitting forehead’. Plus she was so graceful and most importantly very genuine. Because roles like this, not very differently from Cenerentola (actually not different at all since it’s the same character only different language and composer), the lady playing Cinderella can come off as false and not believable. But when the performer is able to really channel goodness, kindness and forgiveness genuinely, like Laura and Joyce do, it can be a life changing experience. 

And I’m telling you, it kinda was for me, but let’s talk about the musical itself. As it starts you can notice that things are slightly different in this version of Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. The prince is a good soul and full of good intentions but extremely naïve. He’s a hero, who slays dragons while frying a egg but is clueless of how to run his country so his steward (warning, the bad guy) runs the kingdom for him.

And then we have Cinderella who is the kindest person ever to absolutely everyone, from the crazy homeless lady to her despiteful stepmother. Her step sisters are a bit different from what you would think. Charlotte is a short kinda chubby girl who is overly confident about almost everything, she is the comic relief of the piece. I was SO happy to actually see Ann Harada, who plays Charlotte, live. She originated the role of Christmas Eve in Avenue Q in 2003, she’s hilarious! I’m a big Avenue Q fan, I know all the songs and lyrics by heart! And then there’s Gabrielle who is a bit of a romantic and is actually smitten by Jean Michel, a simple but super well read young man with revolutionary ideas. Of course Madam (the stepmother) completely disapproves of him, she has higher plans for her daughter Gabrielle, to actually marry the Prince and the evil Steward is in in this as well.

So the Prince must marry so what better way to find the perfect lady than to throw a ball to which every girl who has a gown is invited! This number (The prince is having a ball) is quite impressive, the ensemble did a fantastic job dancing wise and the whole number was such a delight to watch. This musical really transports you to a land of fairy tales, it’s quite beautiful. Well, as you can imagine the stepmother forbids Cinderella to go to the ball and she’s left home in tears while the other three ladies leave for the party.

Cinderella is crying outside and crazy Marie appears and they start chatting about all the impossible things they wish would happen. After a little talk Marie miraculously and in full front of everybody magically turns into her fairy godmother! It’s very impressive, one minute he’s in rags the other she’s in a beautiful pink gown. Cinderella is stunned and says “Marie! But you are a crazy woman, what are you doing in that beautiful gown?” to which Marie replies “You have no idea how many beautiful gowns have crazy women in them” and the audience roared with laughter. They sing “IMPOSSIBLE!” and after a while everything they dreamed about starts happening, animals turning into men, the pumpkin into a beautiful carriage and seriously ONE SECOND Cinderella is in rags, she leans over on a tree and BANG she’s in the most beautiful white dress EVER! It’s insane how quick and magical these transformations are! My mum was particularly stunned. 

Well all magic aside the scene is quite beautiful. Cinderella gets to go to the ball! Now the ball is also really gorgeous, they put together some GREAT choreography for this bit. The thing about this ball is that every girl gets to dance with the prince for about a minute but since it’s a masked ball the girls don’t know who the prince is. In that minute Charlotte totally screws up and says some pretty nasty things to the prince while her sister knowing that he was the prince was overly cordial and kinda freaked him out. 

Along comes Cinderella and it’s really like one of those magical moments of love at first sight. Only the prince had already met Cinderella when she was in rags helping crazy Marie in the beginning of the show. They dance and it’s so adorable. The guests go about playing this game of insulting other people (YIKES) but when it comes to Cinderella’s turn she’s unable to bad mouth the person she’s supposed to. Even though the person she’s supposed to insult is none other than her own stepmother, instead she compliments her to everybody’s horror. She explains how much more profiting it is to be kind to people instead of trying to tear them to shreds. Cinderella’s thing catches on and suddenly everybody is complementing everybody and it’s adorable. The prince is absolutely fascinated and infatuated by her and they dance and talk all night, UNTIL, of course, midnight!

Midnight strikes and Cinderella runs for it. We have the classical scene of her running down the stairs and her crystal slipper falling off her foot. The prince is on her heels and grabs the slipper but just as she’s escaping she realizes she’s missing a shoe and comes back, hanks the shoe from his hand and runs for it. End of act one and I’m like “WHAT? But, but, how? What’s gonna happen? How is he supposed to find her now?”

We didn’t even leave our seats at intermission, I actually spent the whole intermission talking to my sister on the phone because the night before there had been a totally awesome party that I was obviously unable to attend. Ah well, missing the party was totally worth it.

Act two begins with the most incredible chase ever. Loads of dancing and acrobatic feats as the things started turning themselves into their original state. The humans being turned back into animals was particularly incredible! It was quite a long pursuit but eventually, again just like magic, Cinderella’s dress turned back into her rags and she was safely at home just in time to catch her stepmother and step sisters returning from the ball. They sing one of the loveliest tunes in the musical “A Lovely Night” which I sang along to.

Cinderella lets too much information about the ball out to Gabrielle and she recognizes her. But then Gabrielle tells her she’s really smitten with Jean Michel and they make a pact to keep each other’s secrets! ADORABLE!

Well the prince is looking for Cinderella like crazy and decides to have a banquet hoping that she’ll show up. Now Cinderella is dying to go but can’t because she doesn’t have a dress and doesn’t want him to know who she truly is. So as one hand washes the other her and Gabrielle make a plan, Gabrielle pretends she’s sick so her mother will leave her home and go off to the banquet. When Madam leaves she lends her dress to Cinderella and the door bell rings and it’s Jean Michel and they have a totally cute moment and kiss and it’s adorable. But, MA, as they kiss and Cinderella comes hoping like a happy rabbit with her sister’s dress Madam comes back! I totally gasped at this moment, like really loud, like “SHIT!”. Madam throws Gabrielle out and rips Cinderella’s dress to shreds.

It’s so sad! But of course, fairy godmother comes for the rescue and in a split second Cinderella is wearing a gorgeous golden gown! BAM, magic! Seriously, I so wish opera houses would do this magic transformation in Cendrillon or Cenerentola on stage, it’s so cool! Can you imagine Joyce DiDonato turning and suddenly her dress transforms itself! Life doesn’t get any cooler than that! (Only if you get cast as Tosca, that’s pretty hard core cool too!)

Oh well, Cinderella goes to the banquet but instead of just going and having a good time she actually uses her time to help others. You see the runaway Gabrielle is with Jean Michel and some very poor people who had been thrown out of their land by royal decree. Cinderella introduces the clueless prince to Jean Michel and JM tells the prince what’s really been happening to the kingdom. The prince cannot believe his ears and wants to find a way to make things right, so he actually calls upon an election! What? An election in Cinderella? What a plot twist! He names Jean Michel and his steward as the candidates and says everybody, rich or poor gets ONE vote. 

As they are all happy and rejoicing midnights strikes and oh no, Cinderella has to run! The prince begs her to stay but she’s ashamed of her true identity thinking he’ll not like her as she truly is. So she hands him her slipper and tells him to find her and runs for it.

Well, the prince has every single girl in the kingdom to try on the shoe, but obviously no one was a good fit. But finally Cinderella comes to try on the shoe and everybody is like “HAHA, as if!” but then we all know what happens and there’s the election and Cinderella and the prince get married and it’s adorable and cried and there I’ve said it, the end! I really liked this musical! I feel like I hit jackpot with is musical because it’s so cool and has such an incredible message!

Well, I didn’t have much time to process anything really because it was about 4:30 and I had to meet Harry (aka Opera Teen) at 5:30 in a restaurant on 68th street. So I ran back to my hotel, took a shower, got ready in record time and then as I was getting to the elevator I see a message from Harry. He’s gonna be late, rescheduling for 6:30, MAN! I go back to the hotel room, see if I didn’t forget anything, get my “Clash of Kings” and head off in the city. 

It was quite nice, I didn’t have my mother’s nagging presence and it was a beautiful end of afternoon. I decided to go to that grass field just between Juilliard and the Met, that one that is on top of the Lincoln Center Restaurant and read a bit while I waited for 6:30. But as fate would have it Harry had serious traffic issues and we weren’t able to have dinner together, so I was there, alone and like, what do I do? It’s so funny because I remember quite clearly standing in front of the Lincoln Center stairs and thinking “what do I do?” and just taking my time and breathing in the opera filled air, ah I wish I could get back to that moment, it was quite wonderful!

I ended up going to some market place and getting sushi and a fruit salad and eating all by myself in those iron tables just in front of The Empire Hotel. It was nice! Then I went to the Met and I was inside alone so I called my opera bff in Brazil and we proceeded to talk. About 7:45 I went up, up, up to my Family Circle seat and spotted the newly arrived Harry, I went to him and screamed his name, it was fun! So cool to see the “man behind the twitter”! We didn’t have any time at all to talk then though, I went to my seat and here we go, let’s watch Onegin AGAIN!

What’s fantastic about watching something from different seats in the house is that you can notice stuff that you couldn’t before. Like for instance, I found it so cool that there was actually a table on the farther part of the stage amongst the trees and there were ladies setting it and that the chorus actually ate there! 

Another great thing about different seats is definitely the sound. I’ve already said this on my “The Nose” post, for me, the best sound is up there in the Balcony and Family Circle. It’s unbelievable how good it is, you feel pure sound just hitting you in the face!

The performers were their usual awesome and this time I really tried to see the things I hadn’t paid attention to the other time. I felt so happy I was able to catch all of the mute scenes going on between Tatyana and Onegin and the adorable exchanges of Olga and Lensky. The letter scene was again, GORGEOUS, amazing! I cried, AGAIN! It’s just so powerful, especially in the end when the orchestra comes in and she’s spinning and writing, it’s very powerful, you totally feel like a wave of awesome has just washed over you! Then Onegin comes and today I felt he was more of a bastard. He had a cynical look on his face as he sang his sermon to Tatyana and she’s like “Please, let me die rather than hear this”. And that kiss in the end, again, when he did it I was like “What a jerk!”.

Well, intermission time and time to finally meet Harry! I was so excited to see him! Harry was one of the first opera twitter people I started talking to and now he’s become a really good friend. We talked during intermission as if we had known each other all our lives. It’s a funny thing, because I think that when that happens you were really destined to meet this person, even though he lives so far away and how on earth would we get to know each other if it weren’t for twitter/opera? I also got to meet another operarox fellow, Sasha! Who is also the sweetest! This was one intermission I never wanted to end but unfortunately since I was having such a blast of a good time it was over in a minute.

Me and Harry at intermission!
We come back for act 2’s ball! Oh, the set I just so gorgeous! And I really don’t know how I noticed this from my far away seat as opposed to when I was sitting much closer in the orchestra, but Onegin totally steals some kisses from Olga when he’s dancing with her. No wonder Lensky is beyond pissed! And you don’t fool me Olga, I know you were enjoying it! Ah well, the couples glided their ways through the stage until Lensky has had enough of Onegin groping and kissing his girl and we all know what happens.

Again the second half of act 2 was so, so heartbreaking and when Onegin was clutching Lensky’s lifeless body and you just breakdown because it’s just too much feels! The people sitting next to me were not the nicest people in the universe. An old man with a serious candy paper wrap problem, YES, he opened candy while Anna was singing, what? And a oriental lady who slept during half of the whole thing. I mean, COME ON, you people do not deserve to be here! I know so many people who are actually worth of their seats!

Second intermission was just as fast as me and Harry tried to talk about every single thing at the same time. He was quite amazed that we don’t get cool people like Anna or Renée to actually do opera over here in Brazil, yeah, we don’t. But we did get Sondra doing Tosca once a couple of years ago that I heard was just sublime. We said our goodbyes as that horrid gong rang and rang.

Last act and I’m already holding my breath as it begins. It begins with my favorite waltz and I’m again frustrated to see that lifeless dance for such a wonderful music. Onegin sees Tatyana and it’s BAM, it’s love! So heart ripping when he sings the letter song melody to express his love and you get hopeful for just a second.

Curtain comes down for quick set change and what do I see but annoying old man who’s sitting next to me and his wife simply LEAVE! THEY LEFT! What? They left right before the last scene? THE BEST EFFING PART OF THE WHOLE OPERA? What is your problem old man?? Ah well.

Last scene and I’m on the edge of my seat. This scene is perfection! And I think this production was just right for the performers that were singing it. Because when you come to think of it, even though it’s the same character, can you see Renée Fleming’s Tatyana kissing Onegin like that in the end? I can’t, I don’t think she’d be able to resist him if she kissed him at the end. Or can you see Anna’s Tatyana running away from him at the end? I can’t, because it doesn’t make sense that the character she created should run away. I’m not saying that Renée’s Tatyana is weak or that Anna’s Tatyana is cold. No, they are just different and I love that, to have a fresh interpretation of a character you really like, for me at least, is heaven!

Well the scene was so full of energy and passion and I was again mouthing the words and leaning and crying and a mess. The final kiss, again, did not disappoint, Anna was like a leopard or something and kissed him like there was no tomorrow and then walked away like a BOSS. I was crying a river at the end and clapping and cheering like crazy. I took a while to get up to applaud and I’m gonna tell you why, that Family Circle is high as hell and steep as fuck, when you get up excited to clap you have the terrifying sensation that you will fall to your certain death.

After all the clapping I went all the way down to the stage door. I met Sasha and we fangirled together. I asked Piotr to sign my “Heart’s Delight” cd. And complimented Anna on her amazing performance, and guess what? She remembered me, AGAIN! Isn’t that awesome or what? We actually got to talking for quite a while about tonight’s performance and she told me she liked this performance better than the last one. I was so delightfully surprised with her simplicity and interest on what I had to say, most of the singers I met were extremely nice and attentive. I was grateful for that because I don’t think there is anything more horrible for a fan than to idolize somebody and then the person comes in and treats you with indifference or badly, but that was definitely not the case for any of my favorites that I met in this trip. 

Then I went to talk to Mariusz and he also recognized me and we talked for a while as well. He signed my CD and I asked for another picture just because. Sasha and her dad took them for me, thanks guys! Man, Mariusz is so handsome it should be illegal for someone to sound so good and look so damn hot. Oh man, imagine when I meet Dmitri Hvorotovsky, I might faint! Hahaha

Well, 8 pages later that’s what happened on that fantastic Saturday, next post, Isabela meets Melanie and Joyce DiDonato!


  1. Fantastic reviews! The closest thing to being there :)

  2. Love it!!!So interesting to read your NY series!)))