Saturday, July 21, 2007

When Harry Met Mimi

Last night I went to the Santa Fe Opera to see La Bohème, and by parking in the remote lot was able to make it back to Borders on Zafarano Drive by 11:45 p.m. to see the Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows release event "Grand Hallows Ball". What an evening!

The Santa Fe Opera is a fabulous venue, roofed but open to the outdoors. How especially appropriate to this production where you can see the stars in the sky over the garret, or in the background of the cafe/village square scenes. It was beautifully sung with a wonderful orchestra, and the sets were astonishing. The garret was on a mechanized platform, and when it was time to move from garret to street, the garret--which had been diagonally open to the audience--folded in on itself and moved back to become part of the walls of the village square. When it reopened in between the third and fourth acts, there was applause from the audience!

Another striking feature of the Opera is the prevalence of tailgating parties. Throughout the parking lot there are people sitting on lawn chairs and blankets (or on the picnic tables in the groves around the parking area) enjoying meals and wine with varying degrees of sophistication and presentation.

The story involves these four chums--Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Ginny--no wait, Rodolfo, Mimi, Marcello, and Musetta--in Bohemian Paris. It's cold, they suffer for their art, they reject bourgeois society, they fight and make up.

Click here to see a short video of opening night this summer--which includes a brief scene from La Bohème, and gives you a taste of the experience.

The Harry Potter event was also quite the occasion--when I got to the shopping center, the parking lot was nearly full, and the line inside the Borders wound around every book shelf in the store. The coffee shop in the store was doing a land office business, and customers ranged from sleeping babies in strollers to grandmothers wearing witches' robes and hats.

There were lots of lined cloaks and Hogwarts robes, as well as T-shirts bearing slogans such as "Weasley is My King", "July 21, 2007, Who's Going to Die?", and "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good." A man pushing a woman in a wheelchair explained that "we're both Slytherin". A mother and daughter in beautiful forest green floor-length cloaks swept by--the daughter had a "Tonks" name tag and pink hair. One college-age young woman was wearing a black formal gown and carrying a Beatles tote bag.

The manager of the store was dressed as her ususal manager self, complete with bluetooth headset, but had a pale red zigzag scar on her forehead.

Just before midnight, with the crowd chanting "Open, open, open!", the boxes of books, each sealed with "Do not open until July 21, 2007" tape, were unloaded from a cloth-covered area behind the counter, and a carton passed down to each of four register stations. At the appropriate time (which wasn't quite soon enough for the beer-bellied dad at the front of the line who was complaining that they were a minute too late), the staff opened the cartons and each held up a copy of the book. Great cheering, and then after that it was pretty orderly, with hundreds shelling out $22.64 (plus 7.875% New Mexico sales tax) for their regular editions. The manager was trying with some difficulty to cross everyone's name off her pre-order list (Q: Why didn't they do this BEFORE? A: It's Santa Fe.) Leaving the store there were lots of "ohmigod"s, and "don't touch it"s.

I left the store about 12:30 Potter-less; my copy is due to arrive from Amazon and UPS today. Trying to get my chores done before the book gets here, since I've cleared the decks to get the book read in the next 48 hours--before I see a spoiler by accident.

Mimi dies at the end of La Bohème ; don't know yet about Harry.

In Nairobi, photo courtesy of Antony Njugana/Reuters

In Boston at the Braille Institute, photo courtesy of Brian Snyder/Reuters

In Sydney, photo courtesy of Will Burgess/Reuters

In Berlin, photo courtesy of Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

In Tel Aviv, photo courtesy of Eliana Aponte/Reuters

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