Walking up through the park last week noticed these huge loudspeakers, popping up all along the green like big black signal towers – the kind of speakers you might see at say Glastonbury – then the rows of metal gates leading to the bandstand. Somebody walking by said the Metropolitan Opera was playing that night but not being an opera fan I didn’t think much of it at first.
Then I saw the orchestra was rehearsing and I went to check it out. You could get right up to the edge of the stage and, besides some photographers and stage people, only a couple dozen spectators were standing around, mostly with their kids. A woman was on stage, rehearsing with the orchestra. I guess she’d be a soprano. She and the orchestra kept starting and stopping and at first I wasn’t too interested but then they launched into that famous tune – was it Verdi? – and I moved right to the front of the stage.
The woman was handsome in a very feminine European way, tall with long black hair falling about her shoulders and as she sang, her long tall body swayed a little with the music. But what fascinated me most of all was that she wore mirrored aviator shades and jeans, and she sung first with her hands in her pockets then with her arms folded across her chest, as if holding herself in. Yet when she hit the climax, her voice was so overpowering and beautiful I almost broke out in tears at the intensity of it and for the first time ever I understood the power of operatic singing, at the fullness of which the human voice is capable – and I thought man o man would I love to meet a woman like that.
I found out later, she was Angela Georghiu, one half of the husband and wife duo performing that night, and one of the biggest names in the business. This isn’t the piece I saw, but if you’re an opera fan, you can see her performing here