As Swedish pop master Jens Lekman put it, "It's a young Friday night."
Or at least it was when I arrived at the VMFA for Capitol Opera Richmond's evening of "Famous Arias and Duets."
The fairly recent company is the fifth in the group of all volunteer opera companies begun in state capitols and targeting community involvement.
Given my inability to carry a tune in a bucket (according to my paternal grandmother), my involvement is attending and applause.
Seated in the atrium, our hostess said it would be a program of "art songs and selections from H.M.S. Pinafore," which Cap Op (yes, I am already abbreviating it) would be performing March 8th and 9th at Henrico Theater.
"We're going to play for you for the next hour, or two if you want to sit here that long," she informed us.
Stephanie came out in a long, green dress and sang "The Hours Creep on Apace" from H.M.S. Pinafore.
Favorite line: "Oh, god of love and god of reason, say
Which of you twain shall my poor heart obey?
Isn't that the eternal question?
Next up was Jason, dressed far more casually, and doing another H.M.S. song before he and Stephanie did a duet.
Meanwhile, the seats in the atrium were all but full, with many couples sharing a bottle of wine while they listened to opera.
It was certainly an imbibing crowd.
From the two staircases and landings leading upstairs, people paused to watch and listen from above, some lingering for only a minute and others taking up residence for the duration.
Me, I was perfectly happy in a chair not far from the guy with the bad toupee and the old hippie chick with the floor-length skirt and poncho.
Michael took the stage and announced he'd be doing "an oddball collection of songs" by Schumann and Debussy.
"I don't know how many people here are Debussy fans," he said as I watched knowing nods from a healthy number of heads.
His voice was stellar.
Fran came up to do what she called "Mozart art songs," promising a translation before each.
"The Violet" was a song of a flower trampled by a foot (an all-too frequent tragedy), two she called "Mozart being funny," one about contentment and the other beginning with, "Men are always looking for a woman to nibble."
And is there anything really wrong with that?
"The Parting Song" was as sad as you'd expect from the title.
As I was watching this parade of opera singing, it occurred to me that I'd seen very different music on this stage before.
For the museum's opening, it was one of my favorite local bands, Marionette, with guitarist Adam playing in a suit and barefoot, wailing on his guitar.
Shortly thereafter, it was Alejandro Escovedo, he of the first wave punk scene before moving on to a harder roots rock sound and playing to a packed house for the return to the Jumpin' in July series.
In other words, very different than what I was hearing tonight.
And yet I was glad I'd come. Perhaps not as deeply as the people with their eyes closed during the singing, but enjoying it nonetheless.
After opera, you almost have to move on to art because anything else would feel insubstantial.
Conveniently, it was First Friday and while many galleries had held over their December shows, some had new work.
1708 Gallery had Eric McMaster's "The Obstruction of Action," a fascinating look at what happens when our authentic self is altered by the rules and conditions placed upon us.
A scaled down hockey rink dominated the show and I wasted no time in walking inside it beside a kid in his socks sliding across the plastic ice.
Most interesting to me was that a hockey game of six on six plus a referee had played in that tiny rink and McMaster had filmed it.
It was playing on a nearby wall.
By far the most poignant piece was "The Obstruction of Action by the Absence of Other," a film of a couples skater doing a couples routine without his partner.
The artist had intended to film each of the couple skating alone and show them side by side but before he could, the woman had had a career-ending injury.
So watching the man skate the routine he'd created with his partner alone became incredibly moving to see.
It wasn't what the artist had intended, giving it more weight for its tragic element.
And 1708 was hopping with VMFA people, Anderson gallery types, and probably people looking for something different this artwalk.
Over at Quirk Gallery was Michael Birch-Pierce's "Honesty in Artifice," a show about looking further than the superficial to see into the wearer's mind.
It was clear that he had a degree in fashion design based on the elaborate articles of clothing he made and photographed on people.
There were also small scale works on the wall, complete with magnifying glasses for closer inspection.
Finishing with one of the magnifiers, the guy next to me raised an eyebrow and inquired, "Trade?" and we swapped places to look at each other's tiny objects and compare notes.
In the shop was Ben Hill's series of cut-up photographs of Richmond - Maymont, trestle tracks, the skyline- divided up into neat little segments that gave a geometry to familiar subjects.
We certainly are a handsome little city, aren't we?
By the time I got home, it was time to call up Holmes and find a suitable place to meet up with him and his main squeeze.
A person's got to eat to live, especially in my case. It's what I call earning a living.
Only then did this Friday night move from youth into middle age, with plenty of bubbles and laughter to ease into it.
Let's just say the god of reason was not needed.