Monday, March 14, 2011

Shakespeare, Dudamel & Me

Shakespeare, Dudamel and me.  You are probably wondering what I have to do with either of those two marvelous, creative beings.    The answer is simple.  I've read Shakespeare, as we all have, followed Dudamel for all his glorious antics as a conductor, and jumped at the chance to see his interpretation of Tchaikovsky'sHamlet, The Tempest and Romeo and Juliet at Disney Hall on Sunday, March 13, 2011.

The concert marked the second time this year that LA Phil Live was shown in movie theatres across the U.S. and Canada.  Though this would have been a perfectly reasonable way to see the performance, and although still groggy from a late night at the Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards, we piled in the car first thing Sunday morning and headed to Los Angeles from the desert.  Two hours later we arrived at the music center in downtown Los Angeles.

Disney Hall is an experience of its own.  The architecture is phenomenal, and you cannot help but stand and gaze upon the beauty of the lines and materials used for this building.  Inside is the optimum space for music.  The sound is fantastic - theatre in the round with an interior that  is rich and warm.  Let's not forget the ultimate in organs.  The organ at Disney Hall is a true show-stopper.

All this, and Dudamel has not even made an appearance on the stage.

Moments before the show started, our attendant came by the row and told everyone not to be frightened when Orlando Bloom made his appearance as it would be swift, and possibly loud.  Did I forget to mention that Dudamel's interpretation of Shakespeare by Tchaikovsky included selected scenes by Matthew Rhys, Malcolm McDowell, Orlando Bloom and Anika Noni Rose?  Dudamel and Orlando - right there in front me?  Wow - I was in Nirvana!

Finally the LA Phil was in their places with their masterful leader in front of them.  From nowhere Matthew Rhys as Hamlet came down an aisle of musicians sprouting Shakespeare's words while from up above with deep crimson red highlights the organ Malcolm McDowell took on the character of Ghost.  Back and forth they went until Hamlet finally inquired "to be, or not to be" queuing Dudamel to transport our minds from the intellectual words to the intellectual intuitiveness of music.  Riveted by the music, I closed my eyes and was transported out of downtown Los Angeles and into the music.  Everything around me disappeared.

Suddenly Prospero from the Tempest was there.  With each line recited I feel as if I have fallen under his spell, and anything that Malcolm McDowell asks he shall get.  His persona is so large that there is no room for anyone but him on stage - and him and only him is what you as a viewer are allowed to see.  Then with perfect timing the music begins and I am in an underwater fantasy land.  Enchanted with love and the lyrical music, I feel as if I understand exactly what Shakespeare and Tchaikovsky were feeling when word and note were written.

It is now that I must confess I felt like a silly schoolgirl.  Why you ask?  With the swiftness of an elf, Orlando Bloom appeared before me - I mean before me as in less than 2 feet away from my face reciting lines to Juliet.  Could it be that I was his Juliet?  Flushed and captivated at the same time - Orlando Bloom 20 inches from me and Gustavo Dudamel 20 feet away from me - and my love next to me - what is a girl to do?  Well, what any self respecting woman would do and thoroughly enjoy every minute of the performance.  With each word that the fair young Romeo whispered, I remembered why love and being in love is so bewitching to us all.  The pain, the agony, the joy.  Romeo and Juliet captures it all.  Anika Noni Rose was stunning and beguiling as Juliet.  (Okay, I admit I was not the intended Juliet, though I could have been!)  Forbidden and tragic, beautiful and lovely, is Andy Warhol correct that the best part of love is thinking about love?

Love for that afternoon was soon coming to an end and would be a mere memory.  Gustavo Dudamel was now down to the last piece.  Like a lover who is lingering to hold on to one more kiss, I'm sitting in my seat wondering why it has to be over.  Why now?  Does the past hour we've spent together mean nothing to him?With 20 minutes left remaining in the performance there is nothing left to do than completely lose myself in the music.  Full revelry and indulgence with every note played.  Emotions filled with joy, love, lust, fear, loss and death.  This piece moving the audience beyond words.  Gustavo's signature hair bouncing with each emotion, and finally falling as this piece ended.

There is no greater joy than sharing experiences that touch you with your loved ones.  This is an afternoon that we will both talk about with sweet memories for rest of our days.  It is the day Shakespeare, Dudamel and yours truly connected on a level I didn't know existed inside of me.

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