grey marble

January 30, 2004


I once saw Luciano Pavarotti emerge from a limousine. I was walking home from Lincoln Center. I had gone to Tower Records and spent more money than I should have on opera cds. While browsing their selections, I had determined to buy a recording by Cecilia Bartoli of French chansons, but was debating whether to spend the money on an entire Verdi opera with Maria Callas singing the title role. It was my first year in the city; I was poor. I had attended the opera a few times, always standing in the cheapest section at the back of the room. Occasionally, a patron called away after the first act would offer his or her orchestra ticket to us. The ushers were adamant that we not sneak into any empty seat otherwise.

At one performance I met a clarinetest who studied at Juilliard. She was working that day as an usher. She said she was once given front row tickets to an opera at the Met. She said listening to the singer's diction at such close range was something she would never forget. Then she apologized for not allowing me to claim an empty seat in the house. The ushers would actually contain the standing room area with a velvet rope at the beginning of each act.
That afternoon at Tower I kept picking up the CDs and putting it back. I would circle the aisles flipping through various albums, return, pick up the CDs, and put them back. Finally I decided to use my credit card and buy them both. I walked home to save subway fare, although that was a minor expense compared to the cost of the CDs. I walked south along Broadway until I came to Fifty-ninth Street, then turned left to walk along the southern boundary of the Park. A limousine was parked in front of the Essex House. I was still relatively new to New York and so I slowed my step to see who might emerge. As I passed I looked in, but couldn't see. Glancing back, I watched as a large man slowly made his way out of the car. I turned and saw Pavarotti, beaming at the manager of the hotel. I smiled and held my CDs close. Posted by eku at January 30, 2004 12:10 AM

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