Monday, January 29, 2018

Bernstein's "Mass"

It was a mess.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Scarlett and I had a leisurely ladies lunch at our most recent default restaurant, Culinary Dropout.  It's not Sam Fox's best effort, but it seems to be where we are when we're hungry in the middle of our adventures.  The food was good, the service even better, and my parking space was both close and in the shade. 

There was hardly any traffic, we parked easily in the free-on-weekends lot, and strolled to Centennial Hall.  The sky was blue, the air was sweet, the temperature was in the upper 60's, and the company was good.  Scarlett, the least likely terrorist suspect on the planet, stood watching her purse undergo the most rigorous inspection of any bag ever inspected by any inspector.

I'm big on security.  This was ridiculous.

Our seats were 10 rows up on the aisle.  They were perfect until the players took the stage; we couldn't see half the chorus.  Part of the allure for me was the presence of the Tucson Boys Chorus.  I assume they were there.  I couldn't tell from where I sat.  I had a view of a few adult men and the women standing in front of them.  No kids.

The acoustics in Centennial Hall are awful, as I've pointed out before.  I suppose I should blame myself for trying when I swore I would never subject myself to the experience again.  Still, I held out hope.  I was a fool.  Muddy, muffled, unintelligible..... those are the kindest descriptors I can find.  Often, it was impossible to tell whether the chorus was singing in English or in Latin. 

The star baritone, award winner, imported from New York, sounded as if he had a sore throat.  His voice was reedy which combined with the poor acoustics to make his words carry the notes but not the syllables. 

The soprano screeched.  Scarlett and I tried to find a kinder way to describe it.  We failed.

The UofA dancers were lively and lovely.  The ballerinas' arched feet made mine ache just looking at them. The boys lifted the girls with grace and style.  Theirs were the only parts that didn't make us cringe.

The piece was commissioned in 1971 by Jacqueline Kennedy.  Scarlett thinks the guy in the shiny white suit who died and then didn't and then died again was JFK.  I see no reason to doubt her.  I have no ideas of my own.

I'd planned to write about being moved, about the joy of seeing live performance, about the tunes still running through my head.  I'm sorry you couldn't read that this morning.

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