Sunday, April 15, 2012

I Love You Judy, But Goodbye...

When I was a child, my parents regularly took me to concerts, the ballet, the theater and even the opera. Often I was the only child in the concert hall. It didn't feel odd to me, though. I was used to being the only kid around a bunch of adults. I was an only child, and a very, very nerdy child. I was already hot for Tudor history at age 8, after seeing Anne of a Thousand Days with my parents, spending allowance money on biographies of Katherine Parr or Jane Grey. (Don't even get me started on my lifelong Tudor love affair and how I loathe, hate and despise Showtime's The Tudors, and Shekhar Kapur for having turned my beloved Elizabeth into a foolish, romance-driven, ineffectual woman and belittling her rightful position as the only truly great Tudor...) I still remember when someone asked me in third grade who my favorite band was and I replied, without hesitation, the London Symphony Orchestra. It was 1969 and the anticipated answer was The Beatles

Well into my late teens and early twenties, concert-going meant seeing Pinky Zuckerman and Itzhak Perlman (playing together and telling jokes), Vladimir Horowitz or just going to hear chamber music and falling in love with Bach (J. S. not the other ones), Vivaldi and Scarlatti. My grandfather, before his big stints designing stuff for companies like IBM or working for NASA, or even just repairing everybody's TV in his free time for kicks, worked in the recording industry for a while back when Miami Beach was synonymous with the Rat Pack. I was schooled in all the great classical musicians of the 40's, 50's 60's and 70's, RCA Victor, Deustche Grammophon and why live recordings of Glenn Gould were better than studio ones (he hummed!). I could debate about whether the Bolshoi was better than the Kirov and why both made the American Ballet Theater look like a bunch of hacks in toe shoes. My first truly serious boyfriend/fianc√©/man, were we wrong for each other but man, did we both love all kinds of music, was an opera lighting designer and he loved the fact that I didn't think opera was a drag and actually liked German and French operas, not just Italian operas but thought opera sung in English was just... well... awkward. (Exception: Carlisle Floyd's Of Mice and Men

Anyway, my husband, who truly loves me, survived many a season subscription to opera, to concerts, etc. I may love Kate Bush and Florence + Machine and the Beatles, but he knows I love my classical music. I was raised on it and a very large portion of it has been provided by impresario Judy Drucker, whose Concert Association of Miami is presently reinventing itself with great performers as Judy Drucker Presents... (much history here of her ousting and the subsequent failure, without her, of the Concert Association- she hobnobs with the best classical performers in the world and really they had no interest in coming if Judy wasn't there anymore). I was so happy to think she'd taken back the reins and was bringing top-flight classical concerts back to Miami. When I first heard it mentioned on Classical South Florida, the excitement, my excitement, was palpable.

I really, really wanted to believe that I could go back to being a season ticket holder for something related to classical music in Miami and that it would be better than buying cold and sterile CDs/iTunes albums, and that I could recapture the thrill of more than a decade past, when going to concerts was something to dress up for and look forward to. 

I like supporting the arts. I love and believe in the arts. 

But I no longer believe in the unbelievable hassle of going to performances here in Miami-Dade County. From flamenco (that recent Paco de Lucia concert at the Fillmore still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth) to Evgeny Kissin, attending concerts has become so unpleasant, so downright impossible, that I do not even begin to see the point of spending money on a ticket.

I am writing this while I had anticipated attending a Evgeny Kissin concert on Sunday afternoon at the New World Center on South Beach.

My husband and I dressed up.

We left with plenty of time.

We got to the venue parking lot, after fording our way through a dense stream of traffic, only to find it was full (with a rude parking attendant, no less), while the Miami Beach Convention Center parking lot, across the street and behind the ill-fated Fillmore Theater, was locked and empty. We drove around. We drove around some more. You should note that about 90% of all street parking in this area of Miami Beach is for residents only, by permit. 

At 2:55 pm, five minutes before the Evgeny Kissin concert was to start, we gave up. $96 of matineé tickets down the drain.

I'm done with preformances in Miami. 

I'm back to thinking about seeing theater, ballet and classical, on occasion in NYC, where I can visit with beloved friends. Where I can do so retaining my SANITY.

I was already jarred last fall by the production of The House of Bernarda Alba (Frederico Lorca) in which the old lady sat next to her friend translating the entire dialog throughout the performance, even after vocal complaints. And then there have been all the other concerts with the hassle of getting to the Arsht Center (guess what, have a whole bunch of events there at once, and you know, there might be some traffic and parking problems...) or the inability to tolerate the atmosphere, like with Paco de Lucia concert and all the milling around, the latecomers (an hour?), the beverage deliveries.

So Judy, I'm very sorry. I really wanted to support your comeback as the rightful queen of South Florida classical music. But Miami is no longer a place where anyone who truly enjoys the arts can attend the arts. Going to a concert shouldn't have to be so hard. But it is! Either you can't hear it, or your view is obstructed by beverage delivery, or you simply can't even park to get in on time, before the concert starts. 

It's pointless. It's a waste of money. It makes potential patrons of the Arts angry.

Attending concerts can be truly uplifting.

All too often in Miami, all you're left with is feeling robbed.

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© Bright Nepenthe, 2012

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