We used to go out and eat a great French meal on our anniversary. We no longer do this because a. it upsets our digestion b. it’s gotten very expensive and we are starting to think spending this much money on a meal is not appropriate these days and c. even a great meal doesn’t last as long as ART. So we usually try to find something we’d like to see and go to that to mark the day.
This year it was Richard Strauss’ Arabella at the Met. It’s one of the old Otto Schenk/Gunther Schneider-Siemssen versions from 1983–you know, the lavish sets and costumes leaving little to the imagination–the kind we love.
Surprisingly, this work, which at least on the surface sounds so much like Der Rosenkavalier, was written in 1933, 23 years later, and seems not to be the audience favorite Rosenkavalier is, perhaps because musically it is a denser, possibly more complicated work. We like dense, however (think Brahms), and enjoyed it a lot.
The beautiful house welcomed us
and the fine Met orchestra expanded to the max for the demanding score.
We got the old thrill when the chandeliers rose
and prepared to hear the piece.
The singers were grand, including two standouts, baritone Michael Volle and soprano Malin Bystrom, but really the whole cast was terrific. The setting was Vienna again, the period about the same, and artistically, we had no complaints.
We decided to highlight the occasion by having dessert during the first intermission at the Grand Tier Restaurant. So after a quick look at the rainy terrace
and a glance at the familiar monumental red Chagall over the bar,
we sat down in front of our pre-ordered souffles and tea. This is a nice thing to do especially as you are in company with the monumental blue (Rory thinks yellow) Chagall.
Warning: even dessert here is pricy and once, as I may have mentioned, in the old days, when we had dinner and champagne before the opera to celebrate another anniversary, we both fell asleep during the next act of Rosenkavalier, but if your head is harder than ours, the venue is glorious. And if you want a “really big show,” for a special night, the opera can’t be beat.