Last year, for the first time, I bought season tickets to the opera. I'd never been to the opera before when I bought the tickets, but since the only season tickets I've ever bought have been for the Chicago Bears, I figured a bit of culture couldn't hurt. I wasn't sure if I would like the opera or not, but sometimes you just have to take a chance. My tickets were in the cheap seats (the Upper Balcony, which is about five stairways up) so that on the off chance that I absolutely hated it, I wouldn't end up blowing too much money. I think for five shows I paid around $280, but I really can't remember and don't feel like digging it up. This was all a big adventure for me. (Is it sad that opera tickets are an adventure?) For some reason, unlike many other people I know, I don't particularly care for Broadway shows. I mean, I liked Phantom and Cats and Wicked, but if a show runs too long I tend to start to get a little bored. And yes, I realized this quick boredom does not bode well for the opera, some of which run three or four (or more) hours long. I think I must've been watching Frasier a lot when this idea occurred to me.
My tickets were for Tuesday or Wednesday nights last year, and since I work fairly close to the Lyric, my general evening was to work until around 6 p.m., then go to a nice (i.e. not fast food) restaurant, drink one or two glasses of wine, eat dinner, and then head to the show. Yes, I went by myself. To all of this! There was a time, mainly when I was in my early 20s, that I wouldn't have dreamed of going to a restaurant or show by myself. Then I got a job in management consulting, which dictated that I spend a lot of time on the road, often by myself. I quickly learned that unless I wanted to view such cities as San Diego and Toronto exclusively from my hotel room that I had to get over the stupidness of being embarrassed to eat alone, and just go do it. So, I did. And it's really no big deal. I do it all the time now. Since many of my girl friends have married and had children, there isn't always someone to go to things with, so if I want to go, I go it alone. Unlike how they portray this horrifying activity in television shows, no one else pays any attention. (Think about it - have you ever seen someone eating alone at a restaurant and thought badly of them? I didn't think so.)
I ended up loving the opera. The music is beautiful, the orchestra is grand, the theatre is amazing, the singing is beautiful, and my hike to the Upper Balcony gave my legs quite a nice workout. In fact, over the course of the opera season, I found opera nights to be extremely relaxing and a great way to escape from work and everyone, if only for a few hours.
That was last year. Since around May the Lyric has been hounding me to renew my subscription. I've gotten probably around nine or ten mailings, and numerous phone calls. Generally I don't answer my cell phone if I don't know who it is, and a Chicago number kept coming up that I didn't recognize, who never left a message. Last weekend I finally answered, and sure enough, it was the Lyric. The man who called me seemed to think that I was completely unaware that it was time to renew. I was polite and cordial, but I was thinking "Are you kidding me? My mailbox has been crammed with your books and reminders!" It wasn't his fault he was put in charge of cold calling all past subscribers, so I didn't take it out on him. I just told him I was planning on renewing and would do it very soon. (I really was; I just hadn't gotten around to it.) He urged me to do it soon, since they were running out of seats.
Okay, fine, Lyric. I give up! I just bought a five opera series (First Balcony this year!) to see Carmen, MacBeth, A Midsummer's Night's Dream, The Mikado and Lohengrin. So, we'll see how it goes.