I lost track of Liz Morris.
When I met Liz in the 1980s, she was the longest-standing subscriber to the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She was probably in her early 80s.
As the longest-standing subscriber, she was granted the privilege of standing on the stage as a supernumerary during a performance each year, standing usually in complete costume at the back of the stage. “I get to be a Roman Centurion, holding a spear,” she beamed.
Liz loved the Opera.
The Cone Of Danger
The conversation turned to her drive from her home in Princeton, New Jersey, for performances. She was still driving her car into Manhattan, despite her age.
I have to admit, I was surprised. “That’s a hard drive for anyone at any age,” I suggested. “How do you do it, especially at your age?”
“I have a fool-proof strategy that I call The Cone Of Danger,” she explained. “Here’s how it works: Behind me is history,” she said, waving her hands behind her. “I pay no attention to my history. There’s just too much of it.” She laughed.
“On the sides,” she said, waving her arms left and right, “is someone else’s story. I don’t look to the sides. That’s none of my business.”
“I keep all my focus straight ahead, in a large imaginary triangle in front of my car,” she explained, holding her arms straight out ahead of her, with her fingertips touching. “I call that The Cone of Danger. That’s where everything bad could possibly happen. So I watch it closely. If something steps or rolls into The Cone, I stop. If The Cone is empty, I go.”
At first, I thought this sounded feeble. I mean, what about waving to, or just plain ogling, folks on the sidewalk? What about checking out the driver behind me at the light?
Over time, I’ve determined that Liz Morris had it absolutely right. I apply the strategy every day.
It’s Easier For You To Get To The Met
My friend and teacher, Ken Ackerman, told me about the Metropolitan Opera broadcasting select live performances into movie theaters nationwide. Some of these are on IMAX screens.
How cool. They offer all the cameras and technology of college football, but it’s the opera. So you don’t have to be up in the cheap seats.
Early in our marriage, Alisa and I once bought the cheapest seats (the only ones we could afford) at the Met. They were called “libretto seats.” They were on the fifth balcony, up front, along the side, almost to the stage. The seat on the right afforded a view over the right armrest of the tops of the heads on stage. The seat on the left (mine) offered absolutely no view — obstructed or otherwise — of the performance. I sat at a little desk (with a lamp) on which I could, presumably, read the libretto.
That is, if I could read a libretto.
Ding. We left at halftime.
Here’s how you can find the Metropolitan Opera performances in your local movie theater.