Sunday, May 14, 2006

Sit. Your ass. Down.

Hey, you. Yeah, you in the pink silk suit. Oh, yes, I can see you. The house lights are up. And it's a myth that you can't see the audience from the stage during the performance anyway. The stage lights don't blind us like we say they do. I see the yawns, the eye rolls, the not-so-whispered conversations. We only claim that we can't see you so you won't try to make eye contact. Oh yeah, and you in the white polo shirt? Are you listening to this, too?

Sit down. The stage lights are down, but we haven't even started our bows yet. We see you ask your neighbors to move so you can get out of the row before the lights go back up again for the curtain call. We see the back doors of the house open and the light flood in. We see the stampede of those of you who are so arrogant and impatient that you think that showing your appreciation for the incredible amount of work and talent you just witnessed is beneath you, as though we're here merely to serve you. Yeah, pinkie, you especially. I saw you crawl over your row-mates' knees in your desperate clamor to get out. You even walked all the way down to the frontmost exits by the orchestra pit, in plain sight of everyone, and you weren't even applauding. Where were you going in such a hurry? Your car is valet parked, so you don't even have to get it yourself. And I know how long it takes to get to either of the two parking lots, as I do it every night, even after changing out of my costume and taking off my makeup. It takes five minutes. Yep, five. And the traffic isn't even bad. It's not like a basketball game where 10,000 people are exiting at once. The opera house seats under 2,000, even less as I see that we didn't sell out. Do you think what we do is easy? Do you think that the baritone singing the role for the fifth time in a week as the silver cast baritone is ill isn't tired, isn't wanting to have a little appreciation of his incredible efforts? He sings because he loves it, at least it seems that way from watching him and his passion and dedication, but it's his job, too. Hard work is supposed to be rewarded. Well, you're probably the kind of person who doesn't thank her own employees anyway, if she even works and isn't a trophy. Sit down unless you want to stand and clap, which most people seem to want to do.

And you, in the polo shirt. Stop talking. Yeah, I know the opera's over, but I was watching you. You're sitting right behind maestro, dead center in the best seats in the house, so every time I looked at him, I saw you. Chatter, chatter, chatter. What's so important? It couldn't wait for intermission? Were you trying to impress your date with your knowledge of Shakespeare or was your witty conversation centered around your disdain for the art form as a whole? Is opera not hip enough for you? You obviously don't respect anyone sitting around you, or you wouldn't be drawing attention to yourself. And, even if you were too cool to admit that you liked the opera, still applaud with everyone else. It is incredibly rude to sit with your arms crossed like we leveled a personal insult against you. Could you do this? Have you ever been on a stage?

You see, I'm in the chorus. There are a lot of us who are on stage a lot of the time, and sometimes our eyes wander when we're not singing. I know they shouldn't, but we're very discreet. We see you, all of you. We see the rudeness, the impatience, the condescension. Opera is not cheap. Why do you come if you either can't wait or can't respect the art form or those around you? Please, do us all a favor and stay home. We don't need your money that badly. Well, we do, but that's even sadder. You think you're doing us a favor by being in the audience. You're not.

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