I spent a wonderful four hours at the Lyric Opera yesterday, touring backstage, the diva dressing rooms, the stage itself, the box seats, the props, the costumes, the make-up, the orchestra pit (where I alone of my tour group ascended the conductor's podium to test it out), the wigs and the catwalk.
I had a great lunch in the Graham Room with wine and all the other trimmings. I heard Music Director and Lyric's principal conductor Sir Andrew Davis' innermost thoughts over lunch, too. The whole thing totally erased the bad juju from the week before last when I saw the five-and-a-half hour Die Meistersinger and ended up with a sciatica I never knew the likes of in my life.
The occasion was one of the two dates that Lyric offers its behind the scenes insiders' tour. For the last two years, I've gone on the "premium" tour to the tune of $150 per person (as opposed to the $35 tour for the riffraff), which has all the extra perks like the sit-down lunch and the wine, free gifts, etc.
I'm not exactly unfamiliar with the backstage at Lyric, having been a supernumerary there a year ago. I was an Ethiopian prisoner in Aida, and was required to act and emote while onstage--ranging from being cowering and downtrodden to prideful and jubilant; and from obsequious to scared shitless. It was a true 15 minutes, as they say, and during the myriad rehearsals and 12 performances during the season, I had the run of the house pretty much-- and took advantage of learning the innards of our opera house.
What surprised me yesterday was finding out that there are various volunteer boards and groups at Lyric, one of which is neighborhood chapters, groups of interested opera-goers related via geography who get together for various events and programs. "I'll join one in the South Loop," I told our tour guide over lunch; she is a member of the Guild, another volunteer group involved at the opera, which puts on the behind the scenes tours, among other things.
But it turns out they don't have one in the South Loop. They have a Near North and a Hyde Park--but nothing in the South Loop. What? If I've been to the opera once, I've been scores and scores of times with fellow South Loopers. Everyone I know in the neighborhood goes. Many have long-time subscriptions--and great seats.
The South Loop is a true opera-loving community. We need a chapter. I'll start one. What do you think?
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