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The Cursed Opera

Christmas in New York

By Genii Published 3 years ago 3 min read

It was Christmas in New York 1996. It was a cold clear day in Manhattan. The streets were still filled with people rushing to and fro in front of glittering storefront displays. I had just spent the better part of an hour driving from Connecticut to Manhattan, mainly trying to navigate an unnerving stream of traffic in the city for which, apparently, the lines on the street were mere suggestions. This was my first time driving in this city. I had grown up in San Francisco so I mistakenly thought I was well equipped to handle a little city driving. New York has it’s own energy and flow. If you don’t find it and jump in, you’re in for a rough ride. A friend of mine had given me last minute tickets to a dress rehearsal at the world famous Metropolitan Opera for their production of a Czech opera named The Makropulos Affair. I was so excited!!! I never thought I would be able to afford tickets to the opera and here was my opportunity. I was a college student with very little money and I wasn’t going to waste this chance no matter how hard it was to get there! I finally arrived at the parking garage and quickly found a safe spot for my car to wait out the performance. I had made it just in time as there was just a mere 10 minutes to pay for my parking before the performance began. I stepped up, expecting it to be close to $20 and my heart skipped a beat when I heard the attendant say that it would be $26. I reached into my wallet and pulled out all the money I had. It was $24. I told the attendant I had $24. He told me the parking was $26. I said, “Isn’t there something we can do?” He said, “You don’t have enough money.” I was all dressed up. I just fought my way through an hour’s worth of traffic. I didn’t have time to re-park anywhere else. My heart sank and as I fought back tears, I heard a voice say, “Yes, she does.” I turned around to face the voice as he placed two dollar bills in front of the attendant. Embarrassed, I thanked him profusely and rushed to my seat. The opera was exhilarating. I’ll never forget the most amazing theatrical sets I’ve ever seen...a ladder that reached to the heavens, a 30 foot tall sphinx, and an enormous, beautifully painted traveler that was set on fire - burned from the very center until a large hole was created and the diva ran towards the audience and jumped through it, with her flowing, waist-long hair following behind her. My mouth was agape and I was shocked that they got her to do that! What an amazing finale! I was so blessed to be able to see that performance, made possible through the kindness of, first my friend, and then a complete stranger. I didn’t know on that evening but I was particularly lucky to see it because opening night was struck by tragedy as one of the performers had a heart attack and fell from the ladder to his death, just minutes into the first act. The night after that it was cancelled due to extreme weather. I had seen it on the perfect night and a hero had come from nowhere to rescue me in a downtown parking garage. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, but mine was a man who wouldn’t let a small injustice pass by him without lending a helping hand...or, he just wanted to get through the line that I was holding up... but I choose to believe that on a cold day in New York, some Christmas spirit shone through:)


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