Friday, July 5, 2019

One of the Bohemians

I'd be lying if I said it was only about the opera.

Despite the cultural smorgasbord I call my nightlife, the truth is I've only been to the opera a handful of times. But I also figured that my firmly-established role as a documentary dork would be more than enough to carry me through my lack of deep opera knowledge.

Well, that and the movie started at the right time. That was the real clincher. My goal was to catch a film at Movieland, specifically a film that would end around the time that the fireworks were starting up at the Diamond, practically next door.

Kind of brilliant, right? Or, at least efficient, which is one of my trademarks.

So after perusing the movie offerings for Independence Day, I settled on "Pavarotti," director Ron Howard's ode to the man known as the "King of High Cs." And no, I didn't know that about him before seeing the flick.

Those drenching thunderstorms that arrived as I was getting up from my heat nap afternoon was giving way to evening had me wondering if fireworks were even going to happen, especially after the Flying Squirrels announced a delay of the game start time. The way I figured it, at least I'd get a documentary out of my Fourth of July evening.

It's not like I was going to stay home to celebrate independence. So I drove through massive puddles to Movieland and found a parking space facing the Diamond, just in case because I am nothing if not optimistic.

I could have guessed that the audience would all be in my age bracket and they were, mostly couples. The upside of that was how quietly respectful everyone was during the film, with none of the usual talking and looking at cell phones that seems to be the new movie-going norm.

Because my knowledge of the big man (and opera, in general) was scant, this was the ideal documentary for me because Howard seemed to be making it for non-opera types like me. Why else include a charming scene of Pavarotti soaping up, singing in the shower? Or provide a plot synopsis of the operas he was shown singing?

Opera newbie or not, I loved getting to see all the vintage photographs and performance clips, not to mention the fascinating interviews with his first wife and three daughters and, eventually, the other ridiculously younger woman who became his second wife.

All I can say is, no women age as well as Italian women (that skin! those bones! that style!) so maybe we need to take a lesson from them on lifestyle choices.

Although I vaguely recall the Three Tenors phenomena in the '90s, somehow I had no clue about Pavarotti and Friends, his extensive charity shows with the rock world that lasted over a decade and made Princess Di a close friend and major fan. Seeing him sing with the likes of Bono, Sting and Dolores O'Riordan (RIP) in his hometown of Modena, Italy was pretty cool, even if opera snobs did disdain them.

What shone through the entire film was how robustly the singer lived life, gathering friends wherever he went, schlepping suitcases full of Italian food when he toured and facing stage fright every single time he performed (his standard comment just before taking the stage was always, "I go to die."). And I gotta say, the young Pavarotti was quite good-looking, his smile oozing charisma even as he got old and obese.

Before the film ended, I began hearing the pop-pop-pop of fireworks sounding close enough that they could only be coming from the Diamond. Since I hadn't been sure if they would happen at all, it was a nice surprise, albeit one that I hadn't expected to hear until after the movie ended.

Unfortunately, the Flying Squirrels had decided to postpone the game, which allowed them to start the fireworks at a ridiculously early 8:30, thwarting my plans for a doubleheader.

Which means when I walked out with a new appreciation for Pavarotti's voice and legacy, all was quiet at the Diamond. The only saving grace was the more traditionally-timed fireworks display just starting at the Carillon, so I took the scenic route home hoping to catch what I could of their explosions in the sky.

For the record, I saw no evidence of the rockets red glare you-know-who was talking about, but that could have been because the army was busy celebrating when they took over the airports in, what, 1775 or 1814?

Oh, say, can you see to read a history book, Mr. President? A real patriot would.

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