As part of Nick’s quarter-century birthday celebration, his parents purchased him two tickets to see “Die Zauberflöte” at The Metropolitan Opera. Fortunately for me, I got to be his date!
I had my own personal fashion consultant / hair stylist / make-up artist (thanks, Steph!) to prep me for the iconic night-out. While she primped me in hot rollers and dark mascara, the boys kicked-back to beers and football. And then it was time to slip into my satin black halter-top dress (purchased for 80% of the original price in an “everything must go sale!”) My hair was knotted into a low, loose bun and mulberry color lined my lips. My date looked dapper in his dark suit and buttercup tie, curls falling onto his forehead. We were ready to hit the town!
With the help of our Queens counterparts, we hailed a town car into Manhattan, but not before a group of neighborhood boys scoffed “rich folks” in our direction. If they only knew! As we crossed the bridge, clasped hands resting on the soft leather seats, I looked past the river towards the twinkling skyscrapers and felt like a movie star.
Nick escorted me past the luminous fountains of the Lincoln Center and into The Met, where deep red carpet cascaded down the winding staircase and tall beautiful women clutched their mink coats tightly. Their dates–some of whom had much less on top of their heads than I assume they had in their wallets–discussed French wines and weekend getaways to Australia. We were surrounded by high-class, and we were the youngest couple in the lobby.
At 6 p.m., the maitre d’ escorted our group up the staircase to the Grand Tier level. A line of waiters in crisp tuxedos greeted us and led us to our seats inside the restaurant. We ordered glasses of wine–one white and one red–and smiled at each other across the white linen tablecloth. A toast to “present and future adventures together.” We split an appetizer of white asparagus salad with oranges, proscuitto, and parmesan. For our main courses, Nick ordered the Chilean Sea Bass, and I had the Duck with glazed turnips and aged balsamic. We also shared a side of truffled mashed potatoes. And we enjoyed post-dinner cups of French-pressed coffee. We may have looked the parts (and indulged as “rich folks” do), but that didn’t prevent us from giggling and goggling over the extravagance.
After dinner, we found our aisle seats in the front section of the Grand Tier. The Met, which moved to the Lincoln Center in 1966, is a magnificent theatre. Contemporary crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling, and I imagined Julia Roberts with her broken opera glasses sitting in one of the boxes. As the lights dimmed, fluorescent subtitles appeared on the seat backs in front of us. I chose English, and Nick (in tribute to his birth country) chose German. The orchestra played a beautiful introduction to the Mozart performance, and the curtains raised to reveal an elaborate set and costumed singers. We were instantly drawn into the story of love, tribulation, deceit, and fate. Papageno made us laugh, and the Queen of the Night gave us chills. Not only was the singing extraordinary, the artistic direction was impressive, as well.
What a perfect evening! We left feeling cultured and inspired and still singing the famous chords of the Queen (Nick trying so hard to hit the rare “high triple F”) . Thank you to the Wileys for giving us such an experience!