Thursday, October 11, 2012

Not According To Plan

This week has not proceeded as planned.

Andrew and I were supposed to go to New York on Tuesday. Andrew was to attend a conference on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and I had received permission from my firm to go to New York, too, and to work out of the firm’s New York office.

On Sunday afternoon, Andrew took ill. As things turned out, he had come down with influenza.

Andrew has not yet decided who is to blame for his travails: my sister, visiting us last weekend from Chicago, where influenza has stricken; Tim, several of whose first-grade classmates have taken ill with influenza; or pianist Simone Dinnerstein, whose Sunday afternoon recital, according to Andrew, would have made anyone ill.

Andrew has been bedridden since Monday morning. In almost seven years, I had never seen Andrew sick until this week.

Andrew’s mother has come over every day this week to stay with him while I am at work, always to be at hand in case he needs something. She brings the dog, and she stays all day—and, late each afternoon, she even prepares dinner.

All week, when I have come home from work, my dinner has been ready—and Alex (who lives next door) joins us for dinner, as does Andrew’s father. As soon as dinner is over, everyone returns home, leaving me to look out for a patient who does little else but sleep twenty hours a day and drink a cup of hot tea now and again.

Andrew and I had tickets for several New York performances, and on Monday we gave the tickets to a friend able to make use of them.

Our friend had already arranged to take vacations days for this shortened workweek in order to resurface the floors of her condominium. When we had asked her whether her sister (who lives and works in New York) might want some or all of our tickets, her response was, “Let me see if I can use miles to get a reasonable last-minute fare to New York—if so, I’ll take the tickets myself, and go and visit her.”

And that’s precisely how things resolved themselves.

We had tickets for a Metropolitan Opera performance of Verdi’s “Otello”. The scheduled conductor was Semyon Bychkov, whom some persons believe has become good in the last ten years and whom we were eager to hear. The scheduled Otello was Johan Botha, a singer supposedly in possession of a glorious voice (but a singer not known as much of an actor). The scheduled Iago was Falk Struckmann, a fine Central European artist. The scheduled Desdemona was Renee Fleming, whom I have not heard. Although I am not an opera fan, I am sorry we missed “Otello”. I was actually looking forward to the performance.

We had tickets for three performances of New York City Ballet. It was to be our primary bout of ballet-going for the year.

One of the programs was to feature two rarely-performed high-modernist masterpieces I have never seen (current practice at NYCB is for the two ballets to be performed back-to-back on the same program): the Balanchine/Stravinsky “Momentum pro Gesualdo” (1960); and the Balanchine/Stravinsky “Movements For Piano And Orchestra” (1963).

The program also was to include the Balanchine/Stravinsky “Duo Concertant”, which I already know from a previous NYCB performance (and which NYCB will perform in Minneapolis in two weeks); a Jerome Robbins’s ballet without a musical score, “Moves” (1959), a ballet entirely new to me; and the Balanchine/Bizet “Symphony In C” (1947), which I have seen performed by Miami City Ballet.

The second of the programs was to feature a new Wheeldon/Bizet ballet, “Les Carillons”, premiered in January of this year; a repeat performance of “Moves”; and the Balanchine/Stravinsky “Stravinsky Violin Concerto” (1972), a seminal Balanchine masterpiece I have never encountered.

The final program involved three Balanchine/Stravinsky ballets: “Apollo” (1928), which I know from a Boston Ballet performance; “Agon” (1957), another high-modernist masterpiece I have not seen and which Andrew says is one of the most important works of art from the last 60 years; and “Rubies” (1967), which I have seen danced by Boston Ballet and Miami City Ballet.

Eight vital, essential Balanchine works, danced by the world’s finest ballet company: we shall miss everything. We both are very disappointed.

We also had tickets for two shows on Broadway: a new production of Ibsen’s “An Enemy Of The People”; and a revival of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, “Evita”—which, for inexplicable reasons, both of us had wanted to see.

We also were in possession of sixteen complimentary tickets to four different performances of a single program at the New York Philharmonic—we had four complimentary tickets for each night of this week’s subscription concerts.

The New York Philharmonic is papering Avery Fisher Hall like crazy these days for nights on which Alan Gilbert is on the podium. The organization is so desperate to get people into the hall that anyone and everyone can obtain unlimited complimentary tickets to New York Philharmonic concerts on Alan Gilbert nights.

We were almost certain NOT to use the NYPO tickets on account of principle. A couple of years ago, a summer music camp in Scandinavia founded and formerly run by this week’s NYPO guest artist had been quietly seized—it was first taken over, and later shut down entirely—by the musician’s national government on account of pedophilia allegations (for which the musician, his nation’s most prominent instrumentalist, has not been prosecuted). We had retained the tickets in the event we were to experience an unlikely change of heart and wished to see—and photograph—a Jerry Sandusky-like figure playing a musical instrument while Alan Gilbert beat time alongside.

Our friend who took our various tickets ended up throwing away all sixteen NYPO tickets yesterday. Her sister, who works for a Big Three Accounting Firm, had tried to give the tickets away at her office on Tuesday and Wednesday. There was not a single taker—not even for the Friday and Saturday night concerts.

Last night’s concert and tonight’s concert played to virtually empty houses, as one may see from numerous Twitter photos tweeted by concertgoers.

For instance, tonight a NYPO concertgoer tweeted a photo showing that the orchestra level was less than one-fifth occupied. A second concertgoer tweeted a photo showing that tonight’s left-side balcony boxes were occupied by only a handful of persons.

It was not a good night for Alan Gilbert.

Nor for pedophiles.

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