Imagine experiencing Haydn's Il Mondo della Luna The World on the Moon (a rarely performed comic opera) in the dome of the Haydn Planetarium (at the Rose Center for Earth and Space no less)! There couldn't have been a more appropriate or perfect context and the production by the Gotham Chamber Opera took full advantage of it. A special podium was built for the orchestra. (taken shortly before we were instructed not to) After the opening orchestral introduction, the stars (I mean singers) made their dramatic entrance and as they began to sing in Italian the English translation appeared in large letters on either side of the dome. What a wonderful way to see the translation as one was compelled to look heavenward by the appearance of stars and other amazing displays of comets, colors and designs truly giving the illusion of being on the moon. The invitation came via e-mail from Nespresso, stating that I was one of 10 top customers to receive it. (Could I be drinking that much cappuccino?!)
Elliott and I decided, for a change, not to take the car and hazard the crazy cabbies and other frenetic NY traffic not to mention the challenge of finding a parking place in a largely residential area. What a treat to discover that the 81st St. subway station now is graced with stunning mosaics of animals and other creatures to herald the entrance to the Museum of Natural History--located on the same extra long block as the Haydn Planetarium. I grew up only 13 blocks from the Planetarium but it's been years since I've been inside and what stunning design and construction changes have taken place. The Nespresso coffee station was set up near the entrance to the dome and fit right in with the modern décor. The baristas were dressed in their usual elegant black--I wish I had thought to take a photo but I was too busy drinking my favorite Arpeggio cappuccino and nibbling the accompanying macaroons presented in several flavor variations. One of the baristas, noticing my intense passion for the coffee, warned me to zoom right out after the performance for the coffee liégeoise (Nespresso over vanilla ice cream) but with the packed audience zooming was not easy. (We succeeded, however, landing one each--coming from the school of il faut tout gouter (gotta taste it all). A sweet ending to an amazing evening. I did not go out humming any of the arias nor were they ringing in my ears. The music was most enjoyable but no single melody stood out for me. The staging and acting, however, were phenomenal. The lead tenor who played Ecclitico, Nicholas Coppolo, was memorable for his electrifying presence, his vibrant voice, flashing eyes, and expressive stances and gestures. I found myself eagerly awaiting his next utterance. It never disappointed and always trilled--I mean thrilled--I think...probably both. There was much laughter from the audience and perhaps the most delightful sound of all was the laughter of a small child who clearly enjoyed the theatricality of the performance. We had kept our coats (experienced New Yorkers that we are) so continued to zoom out uninterrupted to the corner subway where magically our subway cards worked on first swipe, the right B train appeared instantly, and delivered us to one block from our home. We remembered once again just why we live in New York City.