I couldn’t believe that I was here at the Metropolitan Opera House to see Lucia di Lammermoor. It was while we were having lunch at the Café Fledermaus after our afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that he asked me if I was interested in going to the opera with him and I said yes, of course. I have never been to the opera before so I was thrilled to be going with him. It was to be on the Saturday after we had dinner. I couldn’t wait.
The week seemed to drag but finally, it was Friday afternoon and I willed that the hours would fly so that it was Saturday evening and here it was. After a romantic dinner at The Grand Tier, we made our way to the Met and as we climbed the stairs, I felt like Alice in Wonderland. The interior was luxurious. The theater was huge but it was easy finding our seats which were in the front row of the balcony.
After we sat down I looked around me, my eyes wide with wonder. I was dazzled by the décor and the chandeliers. The place was quickly filling up as people, all dressed to the hilt streamed in, chattering. They seemed as excited as I was. I felt as if I were in a wonderful dream from which I didn’t want to wake. “I’m so happy to be here,” I said to Maxime.
When he didn’t immediately answer, I looked at him. He was watching me with an amused expression on his face. “I’m delighted to hear that,” he replied, covering my left hand with his. That got my pulse and heart racing. He looked so handsome in his tuxedo. At dinner several women ogled him and as we ascended the stairs to the balcony, more women ogled him. I didn’t care. They could ogle him all they liked. I was his date.
I was wearing a new dress which I had bought from Macy’s on 34th street. It was black with a lace bodice, elbow length sleeves and a flare skirt. I wish now that I had worn a pearl necklace or a pendant. My neck felt so bare. Most of the women were wearing jewelry to match their expensive outfits.
“You look lovely,” Maxime said to me.
That made me feel so much better. I beamed at him. “Thank you. And-and you look very handsome.”
He smiled. “Thank you.”
I opened the programme to see what the opera was about. Based on Scottish novelist Walter Scott’s The Bride of Lammermoor and set in the 19th century Scotland, it was a powerful tale of an innocent woman manipulated by the men in her life. I read the first two acts and was anxious for it to begin. My heart skipped a beat as the lights began to dim and my eyes were glued to the stage. The curtain went up and the show began. The next hour or so, I was transported to another world.
When it was Intermission, I could scarcely contain my excitement. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I turned to Maxime. “I’m really looking forward to act 3,” I said.
“It’s a very exciting and engaging story, isn’t it?”
“Yes. I feel sorry for Lucia. Imagine being forced to marry someone you don’t love.”
“She is doing it to save her family.”
“Poor girl and poor Edgardo. I don’t like Enrico. He’s not thinking about his sister’s happiness. His reason for her marrying Lord Arturo isn’t just to save the family’s fortunes which are in danger but it is his way of taking vengeance on Edgardo because Lucia is in love with him.”
“Edgardo is the leader of their family’s political enemies. It’s like the Capulets and the Montagues. Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt hated Romeo because he was a Montague and a sworn enemy. And when Romeo crashed his uncle’s ball and Tybalt overheard him talking to his friends, Benvolio and Mercutio, he was enraged and vowed to get his revenge.”
“Yes, this story reminds me a little of Romeo and Juliet. And I have a feeling that this story isn’t going to end well either.”
“I’m afraid you might be right but-“
“Max!” a female voice with a tone of surprise and delight interrupted what he was saying and we both looked up. The voice belonged to a tall, slender and stunning woman with auburn hair. She was dressed in silver and satin. A small knots necklace with diamonds in Sterling Silver adorned her long neck. It went well with her V-neck satin dress. I felt plain and under-dressed compared to her. “I thought I saw you earlier but I wasn’t sure.”
He rose to his feet, towering over me. “Hello, Margot.”
She kissed him on both cheeks much to my chagrin. “It’s so good to see you,” she said. “It has been a while. You haven’t changed. You’re still as handsome as ever. I had no idea that you were here in New York.”
“I’m here on business.”
“Oh?” she glanced down at me.
“Oh, this is Sarifina, my date.”
It pleased me that he introduced me as his date.
She didn’t looked pleased, though. In fact, she seemed quite taken aback. “Your date?” After giving me a rather disdained glance, she turned to face him again. “Un peu jeune pour toi, n’est-ce pas?” she said.
I fumed. How rude of her to speak another language.
Maxime turned to me and asked, “Penses-tu que tu es trop jeune pour moi?”
“Non, je ne pense pas du tout,” I promptly replied and had the pleasure of seeing her face turn red.
“Well, it was very good to see you again,” she said. “Excuse me.” And she was gone.
Maxime sat back down and turning to me, he apologized. “I’m sorry about that.”
“Did you see her face when she realized that I could speak French too?” I had learned the language when I was going to school in Liberia and when I moved here to New York, I attended a high-school which offered French Dual Language Programs. That came in handy tonight.
“Who was she?” I couldn’t help asking. An old flame, perhaps?
“She’s a friend of a friend,” he said. “I met her about eight years ago at a cocktail party.”
“She seemed shocked when you introduced me as your date.”
“Well, you are, aren’t you?” he reached for my hand and laced his fingers through mine.
“Yes,” I managed to say breathlessly, watching fascinated as he lifted my hand and drew it to his lips. As he brushed my skin with a light caress which got my heart palpitating, I thought of how wonderful it would have been if he had done that when she was there and I smiled as I imagined the expression on her face.
Just then the lights dimmed and he lowered our hands so that they rested on divider between our seats. It felt nice and romantic holding hands. It felt like we were more than dates–we were a couple. I didn’t want this night to end but the curtain rose and it was time to watch the final act of the story.
Sources: Google; The Metropolitan Opera; Eno; Michael Hill; enotes; French LanguageK