We had gained an hour of sleep overnight, so we awoke full of energy. We met Marjorie, Jonathan, Josie, and Neal at Veselka on 2nd Avenue for brunch. Andy could not join us because of last-minutes glitches at the opening of the new Media Center at the Jewish Museum. Veselka is a noted Ukranian restaurant (there are any Ukranian institutions in the area), specializing in a coronary on a plate. The Deluxe Meat Combination Platter for $10.95 consists of a piece of kielbasa, three meat and potato pierogi, and a humungous golumka (cabbage stuffed with meat and rice) covered with thick brown gravy. It wasn't enough that Bogdan Chmelnitzky led massive pogroms against us, it wasn't enough that Ukranian peasants machine-gunned my Uncle Nathan in the streets of Novogradvolynsk, no...they want to kill us all in New York with their food. On top of all this, it wasn't that good.
Then we went to City Opera to see a production of Carlisle Floyd's adaption of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.This was one of the most gripping operas I've ever seen. The spare but powerful sets captured the raw, hopeless life of the oppressed ranchhand. The opera centers on Lenny, the slow-witted oafish giant, befriended and protected by George, who, in heroic fashion insists that there has to be something better than this. Of course, his and Lenny's dream of a small farm of their own is dashed in the tragic ending that you knowis coming. Anthony Dean Griffey played Lenny, not as retarded, not as a gentle giant, but like two-year old child. It was terrifying to see Josie's behaviors and mannerisms portrayed on the stage like that. He squirmed, he jumped up and down and clapped his hands for joy, he wrung his hands in distressed in the compulsive manner of Nomar Garciaparra, he threw explosive temper tantrums. He sang with lyric clarity. He was a smash! The rest of the cast was wonderful, as well. The music is tonal, nothing that you would hum on the way home, but more thematic, with lots of polyphony. Very interesting and complex. It's unusual for an opera to bring me to tears. This is a don't miss if you are in New York.
A lovely weekend.
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