Grace Under Pressure

in-a-bubble-luciano-lozano-getty-images

I love this artwork by Luciano Lozano – Getty Images. It is raining. The sky is overcast. The clouds are oppressive. It is a gray day. Everyone, even the bird, has his shoulders hunched and his head down. Everyone except the girl in yellow. She could be wearing a yellow parka, or… more likely she shuts out unpleasant by living in a bubble.

Intrigued by the bubble concept, I’ve worried it to death. I have cut back on the amount of news I read or listen to, but is living in a bubble really in everyone’s best interest? Is living in a bubble in my best interests? Am I on the verge of becoming a recluse?

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And then this past Saturday, we drove to Pueblo to watch the Metropolitan Opera streaming a live production of “Nabucco,” to our local cinema. I was not familiar with the opera, but I was drawn to seeing Placido Domingo singing under the baton of James Levine. In short, the plot has Nabucco, king of the Babylonians, defeating the Hebrews who are then exiled from their homeland. And if this sounds too grim and political, the opera also has romance and a father/daughter conflict. Knowing that you don’t go to the opera for a plot, I won’t be giving anything away by writing that all’s well that end’s well.

I don’t like to miss the Met Live in HD. See <www.metopera.org>  for the season’s schedule and to find a cinema near you. This production was to die for. And I, floating through the lobby in a bubble of goodwill, was in a balloon of sorts as we left the theater. But the amazing part was that carried away by the heartfelt brilliance of the performance, each and every person leaving the theater was in his or her balloon. And all the balloons, some red, others green or pink, gently bumped one another under an umbrella of commonality.

 

Music had breeched the Great Divide. We were one people.

Following the screening, we joined friends for dinner where we shared our favorite moments of the opera. The staging (enhanced by carefully choreographed camera work to showcase the performers) was wonderful, but I voted for the overture in which the music, the musicians and the conductor came together in an emotional whole.

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Levine and I are both 73. He has more talent. I have better health. Confined to a wheelchair, Levine has been beset by poor health to include curvature of the spine, compression on his spine, a herniated disk, and sciatica which have called for several back surgeries. In the past, a malignant cyst required the removal of a kidney. And, today he lives with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s.

And yet, despite his health issues, his joyous approach to conducting and music is infectious. Watching Levine (only feet away from me thanks to the camera work) I was swept into his world. He invited me in. He could have said, “You, who never moved past the basics with the piano… You are not deserving… Go home… Clean your cupboards!” But Levine didn’t even think those things. He opened the door and beckoned me in.

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James Levine receiving a long standing ovation with the Met Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, 5/19/13, as he completed his triumphant return to the stage after a 2 year absence for health reasons.

Sitting in an industrial-strength, 4-wheel drive, elevated wheel chair of tank-like proportions, Levine conducted the orchestra with a Second Coming smile. His smile was lit from within. Dwarfed by the size of the wheelchair, Levine reminded me of a happy garden gnome… a ceramic elf wearing a jerkin and a green Tyrolean pointed cap.

Despite his health issues, Levine soldiers on. But he does not carry a gun. Rather, he leads the rest of us sunshine soldiers: he is out front playing the flute. I need to follow him.

During one of the intermissions, the Met screened an interview with Levine and Placido Domingo that they had taped earlier in the week. The musicians reminisced about first meeting in San Francisco in 1971. Placido kept referring to James Levine as “Jimmy.” I love that! Despite his enormous talent, I think under the right circumstances (huddling together in a bomb shelter maybe) I could call him Jimmy also. Or not. Even in a bomb shelter, I’d have to call him Maestro.

Living in a bubble may buffer me from the vicissitudes of life, but my New Year’s Resolution is to step outside the bubble and surround myself with good people who will inspire me to be better than I am.

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About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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8 Responses to Grace Under Pressure

  1. Inge says:

    A beautiful account of life inside and outside the bubble. Thank you for making a few incredible moments of opera live a little longer.

    • timeout2 says:

      Thank you for reading, Inge. Where you there? Do you go? Nancy Wilcox, Polly Miller, Steve and Amy Bauer as well as Mark and I try to make every performance.

  2. Anne Relph says:

    Much love and happy new year Annr I wish we could show these at the jjoned too expensive when I checked 😍🌺

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • timeout2 says:

      Dear Anne, Never let it be said that the community does not appreciate all that you do. If enough people wanted opera in HD at The Jones, they would join together and pay to make it happen. You are not individually responsible for meeting everyone’s needs. Happy New Year. xo

  3. Marty Frick says:

    Yes, I have many friends who are refusing to be brought down by the news, which is largely about Trump. Loved Meryl Streep’s comments about him on the Globes last night. Which, by the way, I watched with my widow pals, so I didn’t get either of your phone calls until this morning. Love the Timeout, that opera stuff comes up here, one of these days I’ll do it.

    So what’s up, doc? I head for a weekend in Denver with Annie in a few days, so time is packed, and I seem to choose that lifestyle. I’m a lucky duck. We had a foot of snow here last week; I don’t drive in those circumstances, so I did have a few lovely days indoors watching TV, which is fine alternative to news. Hugs to you and Mark.

    ________________________________

    • timeout2 says:

      Dear Marty, a long, personal email to follow. Sorry I missed you on our last trip north. What a kick to meet Susan who arrived at the opera with my Colorado City friends. Such a small world. Susan’s husband Ray Ingraham was a colleague of yours during your Boulder years!

  4. Bar Scott says:

    I like this a lot too, Doris. Wish I’d gone with you rather than listening while I scrubbed the uncleanable Wolf stove.

    Next time. B

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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