A night at the Opera (incl. Placido Domingo) & other varied musical experiences!

The anticipated highlight of my trip was the 50th anniversary celebration of the New York Metropolitan Opera and it didn’t disappoint! Debbie’s brother (the Big Cheese from Homeland Security mentioned in my first blog last year) and his wife treated 10 of us to a night to remember – with eye-wateringly priced tickets of $2,000 each…


For that we had pre-performance cocktails and canapés, brilliant seats and a lovely meal with all the artists in a very pink tent afterwards.



During cocktails we met an interesting opera singer for hire with a completely indiscrete red jacket. We then bumped into him again at the dinner.



We were all captivated by a very tall distinguished looking man with dark glasses and when I went over to talk to him it turned out he was “Tommy” Tune, now 78 – an American actor, dancer, singer, theatre director, producer, and choreographer. Over the course of his career, he won ten Tony Awards and the National Medal of Arts.  He is 6 feet 6 ½  inches tall and delightful to talk to.



While queuing up for the toilet (and probably given the average age of the men which would lead to prostate issues, the men’s queue was uncharacteristically longer that the ladies’!) I met Sherrill Milnes, 82, an American operatic baritone famous for his Verdi roles. From 1965 until 1997 he was associated with the Metropolitan Opera. His voice was described as “a high dramatic baritone, combining good legato with an incisive rhythmic style.” People were very excited to see him and he was happy to have a pic with me (actually, he was a massive flirt).


The picture that I began the blog with is of Plácido Domingo, now 76, in the pink after-the-event tent (so all our pictures turned out very pink!) What a lovely man and so patient as everyone wanted to meet him and have their picture taken with him.


The event itself was 4 hours long with amazing scenery and fabulous singers. I have managed to edit the pictures down as it was a stunning performance and I took many. It was also a night I shall never forget.




Prior to the Opera evening, Debbie’s 2 brothers, sister and spouses joined me and Tiffany (a lovely young woman I met dog-walking) to listen to Debbie and the other visually impaired singers from “The Lighthouse” during their annual concert at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was a very moving concert and we are all very proud of Debbie who sang in the chorus, sang “Reflections” while she played the piano and sang in a barber shop quartet.

Frank Senior also sang – he has a fantastic voice and like Debbie is totally blind.


Afterwards, looking for ice cream we found a deli on 4th Avenue where we all ate different things. I had pecan pie (all of the others kept correcting my pronounciation from ‘peekan’ to ‘pehkaaaaaan’ – one of many prounounciation where we differ!) Dave had a juicy ratatouille pizza that I had to try.


Another musical delight that Debbie and I enjoyed for several weeks was Julliard. The Julliard performing arts school (world-class and only recruiting virtual geniuses, as I have observed) puts on masses of free concerts of graduating students and it has been great watching them. A violinist from the New York Philarmonic that I met in Central Park told me that she thought the level amongst the Julliard students was actually higher than the Philarmonic. We weren’t allowed to take photographs during performances so I have just included one from Paul Hall and outside the building.


We have enjoyed concerts from students at undergraduate and postgraduate level and every one captivating. I believe that these young people will go far – in particular a young woman from South Korea, Sooah Kim who plays the piano in an amazingly accomplished way. Jake Landau thrilled us with his compositions – again, a career to watch.


A young extremely talented guy called Parker Ramsay played the harp in a way I have never heard before – think jazz harp! And all the others, who played music from well known composers such as Vivaldi, Debussy, Mozart and Schuman as well as much lesser-known ones like Persichetti, Damase, Uccellini and Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre. I would have paid to see all of these concerts but they were free because they are a way that the students can earn their degree. The concerts will start again in September and if you visit New York, do check out the Julliard – It is at 65th and Broadway, behind the Lincoln Centre.


I also got to see the Philarmonic in action, with their brilliant Music Director, Alan Gilbert (leaving this season) while they were rehearsing (those tickets are $20 – a fraction of what they actually charge) so I took a photo of the hall. One reflection, that I gave the management, is that their stewards are on the whole unfriendly and rude. As a volunteer steward at St Georges, Bristol, I receive training every 6 months as to how to deal with the public. The Philarmonic could do with some lessons from us.


Discussing my observation with a young actress who sat next to me (who agreed) the subject came up of the ‘change of atmosphere’ since the F.ckwit took over. Time and again you hear that people are more stressed and more aggressive. I believe there is widespread low-level PTSD amongst many of the population of the USA due to this extraordinary turn of events. One of the positive effects is the mobilisation of people to fight for all of the rights he is attempting to take away (and there are many).


Tom de Rosa sings at Desmond’s Tavern every month and always draws a good crowd. Tom is also blind and it was so interesting to see all the ‘seeing eye’ dogs piling in with their owners.


Finally, another kind of music is that played by military bands. To my shame, I had never heard of the brilliant former President of the U.S.A. Ulysses S. Grant.



His huge Memorial is 10 minutes away from Debbie’s apartment, so I trundled down there with Alfie to the commemoration of his 195th birthday.


His great great grandson gave a moving speech and the Antebellum Marine Band played Yankee Doodle, Danny Boy and the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Apparently Grant said “I know only two tunes: one of them is ‘Yankee Doodle’, and the other one isn’t”

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