I went to the ballet for the first time in my life last night. Ballet crowds are weird. People yell "Bravo" after pieces that they like and sometimes they even yell (I wish I were joking) "Bravissimo" if they really like it. Thankfully, there wasn't too much of that last night.The only kind of strange part came at the end.
As luck would have it, last night happened to be the final performance of the head conductor, a dude named Maurice Kaplow. As a tribute, the orchestra did one piece in the middle of the program which was just music and no dance. I got a kick out of the way the whole symphony rose up from below and became level with the stage. (Or did the whole entire theater sink to the level of the pit? A conundrum.)
Anyway, the musical interlude was cool and sad because it was the conductor's last day. I think he even chose the music himself, and so he conducted the hell out of it. I kind of giggled and thought of Catcher in the Rye when the "kettle drummer" had his moment. (Holden: "Sally said I was a sacrilegious atheist. I probably am. The thing Jesus really would've liked would be the guy that plays the kettle drums in the orchestra.")
At the very end of the night, as I was making my way to the exit, the curtain rose, and standing in the middle of the stage by himself was everyone's favorite head conductor. The whole theater got to its feet and started going nuts. I was already standing and blocked from the aisle by a couple people who were yelling, "We love you, Maury!" "Bravo, Maury!" Apparently, head conductors are popular guys. I started clapping so that I wouldn't look like an asshole who was just trying to go home and watch World Cup highlights. (Which is exactly what I was, Brobinho.)
After Maury stood there bowing for a couple minutes, drenched in stage lights and applause, the dancers in the company started coming out of the wings with bouquets, and before you knew it, Maury had his arms full of roses. That was just the beginning though. Soon, each member of the orchestra came out with a single rose and dropped it on top of the huge floral snow-cone that used to be the head conductor. One after another. French horn, oboe, viola. Rose after rose after rose. You forget how many people are in an orchestra until each of them flings a rose in your eye.
I kind of felt sorry for the guy. Office goodbye parties are excruciating enough as it is. I remember some of mine. But imagine that in front of a thousand people who may or may not know you, watching you getting gang-raped on your last day of some random internship by this weird rose-dumping ritual. Everyone in the audience was cracking up and crying and cheering like mad.
When the director of the company came out with his rose, only the top of Maury's bald head was visible over his wild bear hug of flowers. The director placed his rose gently on the tippy-top of the pile, and then all of a sudden a deafening sound shut the entire theater up. When we opened our eyes, all of Maury's flowers were scattered over the stage and the farthest ones had hit a few people sitting in the very front rows.
There stood Maury, a few roses clinging to his dark tuxedo by their thorns. His face was red and his eyes watery. The theater was so quiet, you could hear a conductor's baton drop. And one did from Maury's sad, limp hand.
"I'm allergic, you idiots!" he screamed. "I've told you a thousand times, I'm allergic to roses!" Then Maury stormed off the stage, kicking roses off his pants and rubbing his eyes.
Someone in the woodwind section of the orchestra started playing a sad version of what couldn't have been anything but the Happy Birthday song. Turns out, it was also Maury's birthday. Confetti drizzled sadly, hesitantly from some unseen place overhead.
True Story Scale: 7