I of the Storm

It’s been a week since Hurricane Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City, New Jersey, and life in the New York City Metropolitan area has been quite surreal ever since. Things that most of us take for granted— like electricity, running water, and relative ease of mobility—were suddenly no longer givens. The lower Manhattan office of New Music USA where I work was without electricity for nearly a week and today is our first day back in the office. It feels great to be back. Luckily, my home neighborhood was mostly unaffected—we never lost electricity, water, or heat, although tons of trees were uprooted and the nearest subway station remains closed. On top of all of this, however, major structural repairs are currently taking place in my apartment, which has resulted in my enforced stay at home triggering a heavy dose of cabin fever.

So in the middle of all of this mayhem, I actually ventured out to attend a performance last week. Many concerts throughout the five boroughs and beyond have been canceled and some places have still not re-opened. That dangling crane on 57th street continues to silence the music at Carnegie Hall. Yet on October 31, the Metropolitan Opera was already back in operation and I did not want to miss the only production of an opera by a living composer being staged there this entire season—Thomas Adès’s The Tempest, which even features the composer conducting! It took me more than two hours and three buses to travel the seven miles that separate my home from the Met, but it was totally worth it. Aside from being an utterly compelling performance both musically and theatrically, it was extraordinarily cathartic. I had initially thought that seeing an opera about magical spirits would be the perfect way to spend Halloween; I hadn’t realized that this story of a group of people suddenly thrust into a storm at sea and miraculously rescued would be an even more appropriate narrative to watch unfold in the aftermath of Sandy. I know that we are extremely resilient and that this will pass, but somehow watching the people on the Met stage experience a similar calamity and ultimately become better off as a result made me feel hopeful. (A presentation of The Tempest, transmitted in high-definition video via satellite, will be shown in theaters worldwide on Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 12:55 pm ET. Hopefully there will be no more storms by that point.)

Tempest

A scene from Act 1 of Thomas Adès’s The Tempest with acrobat Jaime Verazin as Ariel. Photo by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera. Taken at the Metropolitan Opera on October 15, 2012. Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera.

By now most folks have seen, heard, and read countless horror stories caused by this natural disaster and on Friday, Rob Deemer reported on members of the new music community who were severely affected by the storm. But we want to hear more Sandy-related stories from people. Please share your experiences with us in the comments below and at New Music USA. By all of us coming together, we will get through this.

One thought on “I of the Storm

  1. Susan Scheid

    This alone was the reason to go, if you could get there: “the only production of an opera by a living composer being staged there this entire season—Thomas Adès’s The Tempest, which even features the composer conducting.” I agree, though, that it’s surreal to do such a thing. We had tickets to Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf this weekend and made the trek into town, for the show was going on, whether we were in attendance or not. (It, too, was cathartic, though not at all in the way The Tempest would be.) More to the point, after the play, we stopped by Juilliard and took in “Two Violas,” the violists being Toby Appel and his former student, now colleague, Kenji Bunch. The concert was wonderful in every way, and pure balm for the spirit. Bunch had been reporting he wasn’t sure how he would get there–we’re so glad he did. The show must go on, and thank goodness. At times like this, we need the arts to help us through.

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