Let’s Play TWO!
And I was not the one performing athletic feats all afternoon and evening.
Sitting through yesterday’s doubleheader at Citi Field–including witnessing a tripleplay and Jon Niese’s one-hitter–made me wonder if ballplayers have specific regimens or diets for a long day such as that.
While not nearly so athletic a feat, I am often asked to perform doubleheaders myself.
The Metropolitan Opera performs seven operas a week during its regular season, including a matinee and an evening performance on Saturdays. Depending upon which operas are scheduled, I might be called upon to “play two” or not.
The advantage to doing so is that it gets two of the four shows per week dictated by my contract out of the way in one (long) day. For that reason, many orchestra musicians, if given the choice, prefer to be scheduled for “double Saturdays”.
Unlike ballgames whose endtime is never known, it is relatively easy to determine the approximate running time of an opera, barring any lengthy technical problems onstage or a cancellation by a singer and the necessary time required to get a cover warmed up and into costume.
However, even though the total performance time of the sum of the two operas on a double Saturday is predetermined, the actual time commitment can vary widely depending upon the two operas scheduled and each of their running times.
Yesterday’s doubleheader prompted me to think of some of the more memorable doubleheaders I’ve played.
- One double–Verdi’s Otello and Falstaff–represented not only two operas by the same composer but works also both based on Shakespeare and featuring a libretto by Arrigo Boito.
- A long day in 1997 when I performed as part of a TV telecast of Giordano’s Fedora, followed by Wagner’s Götterdämmerung in the evening.
- And, probably the longest double I have ever played: Wagner’s *Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (about six hours), followed by Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (about
4 1/2 hours. 3 1/4 hours.) I definitely needed some Carmex after that day!
I’m sure certain games go by much faster than others for the players, depending upon how fast the pitcher works, how many men get on base, how much the weather is an annoyance or distraction, whether it’s a home or away game, or other factors I have not even thought of.
I know that, for me, some operas SEEM longer to me than others that are actually longer, simply because I enjoy playing some operas more than others.
Clocking in at just over three hours, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly–the ultimate tear-jerker and rarely, in my experience cast well–always seems interminable to me.
Contrast that with the final opera in Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle: Götterdämmerung. The first act alone is two hours. Add two more acts and two intermissions, and you’re looking at a performance that takes just under six hours. And yet, any time I’ve played that opera, the time has seemed to FLY by.
*An additional challenge in this opera is that the last act is the longest act at 2 hours and ten minutes. In fact, the last act by itself is longer than all of La Bohème.