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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins


Monday, February 28, 2005

My Cell Phone Charger Is Lonely Tonight

First order of business: If you have my cell phone, please e-mail me. I'm just throwing this out there in the desperate hope that somebody found my phone, flipped it open, saw my name (which I put on my phone for exactly a situation like this), Googled it, and came across this site.

Unfortunately, I am more likely to stumble across a hundred dollar bill than to find my phone. And the $100 would be nice to have, since new phones are mad expensive.

Okay, now backtracking to where the story should begin. Yesterday, I went to the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa to see Camille Saint-Saens's opera Samson et Dalila. I was really curious about how the experience would go for a couple of reasons.

First, it was the first opera I'd seen since moving to the West Coast. I'd been to the Met (world-class, of course), and I'd been to the Tri-Cities Opera in Binghamton (Binghamton-class), and I was wondering where Opera Pacific - the company putting on the show - would fall in that spectrum.

Second, it was the first event I'd been to in Orange County. I'm not a fan of The OC, but I've seen a few episodes, and I was interested to see what the crowd at an opera close to Newport Beach would be like.

You know how when you go to the mall, there are often new cars parked inside as advertisements for local dealerships? Well, parked outside the street level entrance to the OCPAC was a Mercedes CLK500. That's a $56,000 car - without the options. I began hoping that I would run into Rachel Bilson inside the theater.

Unfortunately, once I was inside the theater, I realized that I was at an opera, and apparently regardless of whether the opera is in New York or in the OC, the average age of an attendee is about 70 (maybe 80 for a matinee). I'll have to come back in 50 years and see if she's there then.

The good news was that I quickly forgot about the disappointment of the audience not looking like the cast of The OC, because the production itself far exceeded my expectations.

For starters, the interior of the OCPAC is beautiful, with a unique design for the balconies, good sight lines, and beautiful wood and mirrors around the concourses and stairwells. The building is only about 24 years old, so I was told, but it's kept in very nice shape.

The sets and lighting were magnificent, particularly in the second and third acts. Delilah's bedroom was recreated with well-chosen fabrics, and the lightning effects were done nicely. (I just realized that last sentence makes me sound like I should be on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Sorry.) And the final scene, where Samson topples the temple of the Philistines, was done brilliantly - even better than the final scene of the Ring series at the Met, where Valhalla crumbles.

The performers were also far better than what I expected. Many of them have sung at renowned opera houses such as the Met and La Scala. In fact, the woman who sung Delilah will be playing Carmen at the Met soon, and if you have the means, I highly recommend seeing the performance (and getting me a ticket and a flight to New York). Not only was the singing terrific, but the stage direction was well-done, and the choreography of the Bacchanale dance in the third act was awesome.

And finally, the opera itself is great. I'd never heard of it before I got the tickets (although my mom tells me I used to listen to it when I was a toddler). It's one of the best I've heard, and it makes me wonder what other operas are out there, just outside of the mainstream of the Verdis, Puccinis, and Mozarts that I haven't yet heard. I'll probably end up getting a CD of the highlights from the opera.

All in all, I'd put the performance I saw yesterday - the entirety of it, from the venue to every aspect of the production - up against any opera I've seen anywhere. I'm not what you'd call a seasoned opera-goer, but I'd like to think I can recognize outstanding art when I see it, and I saw it yesterday. It was that good.

So anyway, when the opera ended around 5:00, I got up, turned on my phone, and that's the last I saw of it. When I got home about an hour later, I realized it was missing. I had a friend call the phone, but there was no answer. I retraced my steps, driving back to the law school, where I stopped to pick up a book, and then all the way back to Costa Mesa, nearly a 100-mile round trip, for the second time in a day. A security guard was nice enough to let me into the theater, where, at 9:00, the costumes were being loaded into a truck and the set had already been taken down, but my cell phone was not to be found.

I really hope it turns up. I suppose my only hope of finding it rests with the theater - the guard told me to call tomorrow, after housekeeping sweeps the building - or someone stumbling across it at school, where I often see posts on the blackboard in the hallway of "Lost Ring," "Lost Laptop," and even "Lost Mind" (during finals week). Otherwise, I'll have to get a new phone, again, since I dropped my old phone in a pool in September.

So please, if you have my phone, let me know.

And if my phone is gone for good, then drop me a line with your number so I can put it in my new phone. Especially if you are Rachel Bilson.

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