THE OLD NEW NORMAL, Chapter 9: Largo al Cattotum

By Liz McLeod

Your House Manager


“What do you mean,” demanded Miss Carol T. Cat, “that my routine is to change YET AGAIN?”

I mumbled incoherently. I do a lot of that these days. Miss Carol fixed me in an unrelenting icy state and repeated her challenge. “Are you not AWARE,” she thundered, “that my routines have been repeatedly thrown into utter disarray by the events of the past nineteen months, and that you have done little, if anything to mollify the disruptions. Your lack of decisive action in bringing an immediate end to the present unfortunate circumstances do not reflect well on your managerial skills.”

“What?” I erupted back. “Look, I don’t have any say over the world at large, OK? I can barely even control my own shaky little corner of it, so don’t blame me for any of this. I’m just a poor soul trying to get along same as anybody else. All I’m saying is my schedule is gonna change a bit – now that OPERA SEASON is about to begin! I’d think you’d be EXCITED about that, you being an apostle of high culture and all.”

“And here again,” Miss Carol snorted, “you inevitably disappoint me. Recall my request at the height of the pandemic when we spent much time in lonely sequestrance that we together learn to perform Rossini’s “Duetto Buffo di Du Gatti,” with my clarion-like soprano set in joyous counterpoint to your honking, nasal alto. And yet you declined my repeated requests to rehearse this selection.”

“You know I only sing show tunes,” I snapped back. “And even then just for comedy. I’m not gonna embarrass myself…”

Miss Carol’s bright green eyes opened wide as she emitted a hilarious snuffle. “Your wallowing in low culture demands elevation. It is my responsibility to educate you. Repeat after me: ‘MI-A-U – MI-A-U – MI-A-U….MI-AU  A-U A-U AU MI…”

“OH ME is right,” I retorted. “I ain’t gonna do it. I’m gonna leave opera to the professionals.”

And that’s exactly what we WILL do when the Metropolitan Opera in HD returns to the Strand on October 9th. The Met’s been a regular fall and winter feature at the Strand since 2007,  except for the unfortunate unpleasantness that terminated our 2019-20 season early and prevented the season from taking place at all in 2020-21.  But all the drama, excitement and color of grand opera at its best returns to our Big Screen this fall, and we’re really excited to welcome all our friends back for the new season. There will, however, just as Miss Carol notes, be some changes in the routine this year. As most of our opera enthusiasts have no doubt noted our usual reserved-seat program had to be suspended for this season due to pandemic seating restrictions, and we’re forced to limit attendance for each screening to 100 persons, with an empty buffer section required around each reserved seat or group of seats sold.  There have also been adjustments in our usual Encore screening policies, and in addition, scheduling conflicts we can’t avoid will force us to present two of this season’s operas on a delayed basis only. We want to stress that all these changes are temporary, and we hope we can return to our usual policies in subsequent seasons. But for now, we’re just happy to be able to present the Met at all – and we know you’ll be understanding of any difficulties that may come up along the way. As ever, our Box Office Manager Norrie Thompson is ready and available to help you at 594-0070 extension 3 – if you don’t catch her in the office, be sure to leave a clear and detailed message and she’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

“Are you finished?” interrupted Miss Carol. “We must resume our rehearsal. Please be seated at the piano.”

“We don’t have a piano,” I growled. “All we have is this wheezy pump organ, and it leaks air.”

“We shall perform acapella,” insisted Miss Carol. “You will find the challenge stimulating. Repeat after me… MI-A-U – MI-A-U – MI-A-U….MI-AU  A-U A-U AU MI…”


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