The Opera Party Monologue
Sometimes, opera really is glamourous. Young artists in the opera scene often get access to pretty great parties, with fascinating people scattered throughout. The parties celebrate opening and closing nights, and they're often ackowledging the philanthropy of the many generous donors that help make opera happen. There's wine and tasty munchies, and much mingling to do. I often joke that I've played party piano at events where the plates of hors d'oeuvres cost more than me.
Young artists aren't known for being well-off, and although they're always welcome guests, they're rarely in the same tax bracket as the philanthropists and higher-ups in the opera industry. Feeling out of one's league is common at parties with opera bosses, donors, and human opera encyclopedias. So, why go, you ask? If you're in a young artist programme, you're there because people want to meet you, and you can be charming on behalf of the opera company. Also, it never hurts to be at the same parties as the decision-makers.
In the hopes that I'm not the only one who experiences this, let me take you through the inner monologue of a socially awkward introvert, mingling with intimidating strangers.
Man, there must be three days' worth of bus transfers in here. There, chuck them in the recycling before coat check sees you. Yes, thank you, Coat Check Man, for taking my raggedy old coat and not judging. Ok, I need a mirror. Oh god, my hair looks stupid. No, poking at it isn't helping. Shake it out, maybe? Yeah, that's better. Nothing in teeth, nothing in nose. So far, so good.
Oh no, I don't see anyone I know. Am I early? Why am I always early to parties? Oh wait, someone's waving at me. I recognize his face, but there's no way I'm going to remember his name. Too late, we're going in for the hello. Wait. Handshake? Handshake...oh you're pulling me in for a...hug? No, air-kiss! Oh, TWO air kisses...three. Three air kisses. So lovely to see you too! And how nice to meet your wife, I do hope she lets slip your name at some point because at this point I now only know hers. Your drinks look delicious, so I'm going to find one of my own. So lovely to see you again, and I'm definitely saying your wife's name aloud once more in the hopes of not forgetting it.
Ah, wine. Does it make me OCD to need something in my hands at a party? Who cares, I've got wine. Oh hi! I wondered if I would see you here. Oh yes, I'm sure you DO have some thoughts on the show. You've seen how many Ring Cycles? That many, my god. Well, I've only seen one myself, but I certainly thought...yes, I really should have heard Nilsson do it. I'm sure there's nothing like it ever to come again. Ah, my cursed youth. What did you think of that other production that I absolutely loved? No? No.
Another wine, I think. And one of these little bacon-wrapped dealios. Wow, those are good. Where did the guy with the tray go? Is it gauche to follow him? Oh, it's the maestro. Hello, maestro! Have you tried one of the bacon-wrapped dealios? I see, I didn't know you'd gone vegan. You feel that much better, eh? Hopefully you haven't given up booze, too! Oh, you have. I suppose it takes lots of energy to conduct those big shows, so you're probably wise. No, I didn't know Wagner was vegan. Who's touching my shoulder? Hello, friend! You are so much later than you said you'd be, but I forgive you because you can help me talk about veganism with the maestro. Hello, lady with the big camera. I'd love to pose for a photo...I really hope my hair hasn't gone back to looking stupid.
Oh look, it's Margaret Atwood.
Last wine, please. Mr. Bartender, you've been a good friend, and I hope I don't see a glimmer of judgement in your eyes this time around. Yes ma'am, it certainly is good wine. No, I'm sure not as good as it used to be. Aren't we courageous for choking down this swill? Oh yes, I've worked with him, lovely guy. No, haven't met her. No, not him yet. Or them. Me? I've been working lately with this new company...yes they are very charming. New-fangled ideas, yes. Did you enjoy the show tonight? Oh, ha ha! You did once you closed your eyes! That's a riot. Have you mentioned that to the director? He's right over there.
Ok, time to make an exit. Gulp the wine, air-kiss the friends and immediate radius of strangers, and head calmly for the door. Oh no, I've had three glasses of wine, and the Coat Check Man knows it. Thank you again, sir, for maintaining my coat anonymity. Oh, you have a lovely evening, too! I'm fine, yes, just beat from the day. Long rehearsals, you know. Yes, ciao ciao!
Truth: there are much worse problems to have than the above. But it's still a funny mix of chore and pleasure. Have I missed any details? Let me know in the comments below!