19 September 2007

Which reminds me, I'm all out of Q-tips

If you need another reason to double-check that your cellphone is in the off position right before the Mad Scene, news comes that the glass harmonica will make an appearance in our Met Lucia. That lovely instrument! I recall seeing it in the pit for the last Lucia revival two years ago, just under the lip of the stage, to the left of the prompter's box - yes, I said "seeing" because I don't think I really heard the damn thing. It's about as loud as the breathing of the guy next to you, and in a cathedral space of the Met, its sound has to be partly imagined. But more to the issue, I don't recall it playing the major obbligato role-- my sharp-as-rags memory tells me it had more of a supporting role to the more audible flute, but I could be totally wrong, so ... anyway, it seems that, for this new production, Jimmy is heeding Donizetti's original intentions fully, so best remind your seatmates not to breathe for five minutes upon Lucia's mad entry.

Listen for the glass harmonica right when Lucia appears, just before she utters "Il dolce suono". And then right through about 3 minutes of her music, culminating in the eerie "Sparsa e di rose! Un'armonia celeste" exchange. (If it continues through the "Del ciel clemente un riso ..." fireworks, jackpot!) If you're one of the lucky ones to hear it, you'd agree with Donizetti that the ethereal eerieness of its sound is worth all the trouble.

BTW, to add dignity to your Millo-pole intermission conversation, Sieglinde suggests that you drop this little trivia: None other than the Founding Kite Flyer Father Benjamin Franklin invented the mechanical version of the glass harmonica. And if someone snips a "Who doesn't know that" response, quickly dismiss it as another stupid American invention, and declare you much prefer the uncomtaminated sonics of the 50 individual glass bowls set on the table, before stabbing the bitch back with your iciest glare.