Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Mario Buatta Auction for Corcoran's Inhabit magazine




You might enjoy my new story for Inhabit, the online magazine from Corcoran, about the upcoming exhibition and sale at Sotheby's of the collection of the late decorator Mario Buatta. As you may remember, Mario was a friend and we did a video interview with him here on the blog when the New York School of Interior Design renamed its library the Mario Buatta Materials Atelier. That was a hoot. Sadly, Mario passed away in 2018 and now his collection of more than 900 items is coming to auction next week. You can read my story here -- one last tribute to Mario.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The Queen of Spades at the Metropolitan Opera




     For my birthday recently TD and I went to the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center to see Queen of Spades by Tchaikovsky. It is a less well-known opera but it happened to fall on my birthday and I love Tchaikovsky so we said, "Why not!"
     I always love to go to the Met. As we approached the opera house through the Lincoln Center Plaza enjoying the Marc Chagall paintings that glow from inside, I remembered the time I saw Jackie Onassis outside at intermission eating an ice cream cone. Inside, the Met is all red velvet. Red velvet lines the stairs and the walls, and the red velvet seats are comfortable and cushy. Even the bar in front of each seat which carries the subtitles is covered in red velvet. Some people dress up for the opera, with women in sparkly dresses, which I like to see. I find the whole experience very plush.
   I enjoyed the opera a lot although the plot is simple and grim, essentially about a man who loses everything and goes mad due to his addiction to a card game. However, the production is beautiful. Set in 18th century aristocratic Russia, it features the big wigs, big dresses and dazzling jewels of the era. I just loved the ball room scene pictured above (photo from the Met website) at the beginning of the second act. Highly stylized in dramatic black and white, it reminded me of the famous black and white Ascot scene that Cecil Beaton created for the 1964 My Fair Lady movie.
     The music is glorious. The opera premiered in St. Petersburg in 1890, after Tchaikovsky composed many of his most famous works including Romeo and Juliet, Sleeping Beauty, and Symphony No. 5, though The Nutcracker came later in 1892. The composer died suddenly in 1893 supposedly of cholera but now it is said he committed suicide because he was gay. What a tragedy, how many more masterpieces could he have created?
    Fortunately the seats are comfy with plenty of leg room for a tall guy like me because the opera was more than four hours long. But it was all enjoyable and such a pleasure to be there listening to the music.
    I took this photo of the curtain call --


   And then it was back out into the night and down into the subway and home to bed with visions of eighteenth century aristocratic Russia dancing in my head.
   Happy New Year and all best wishes for 2020!