September 6th was the San Francisco Opera’s opening night Gala event. It was also my birthday, but that’s another story. I was down near the Opera House as people where arriving and it was kind of interesting to watch people in their finery walking down some streets of somewhat ill repute.
There is nothing so humorous as a woman in her finest Vera Wang gown drenched in jewels stepping around a homeless person with a cup and not even dropping a dollar in for him while trying to maintain her elegant decorum. I don’t normally feel so strong a need to help the homeless, but when you have someone wearing a $5000 gown that she probably won’t wear again who for some reason can’t afford to drop $1 or $5 in a guys cup there just seems something a bit wrong to me.
Of course that’s not the only thing that seems kind of wrong about the evening to me. All the the glitterati rich and famous come out for the opening night of the Opera and I was reading all about it. A lot of the people you don’t recognize who are along with the recognizable until you read their names and note that there were lots or people who’s surnames were either the names of big companies or streets in San Francisco [because they came from very old money that they’ve been living off of for a century or so].
The pictures of the Opera’s opening gala in the news were all about who wore what dress and jewelry, what food was served, how ornate the decorations were yet I couldn’t for the life of me find a single mention of what was being performed that evening. It’s like a tailgate party for the rich and famous where you never bother going in to see the game.
Mark Twain has a vehement dislike for the idle rich and even wrote a society column in San Francisco once were he just threw in several French words to make the people sound rather important. Madame wore a fine pate de foi gras lovingly draped in an amuse bouche of taffeta and chiffonade haricot vert. That line always stuck in my head just because I knew enough to laugh at Twain’s description of a woman dressed in goose liver and an appetizer of chopped green beans as being rather hilarious.
I’m not sure if any of these people show up for the rest of the season, but I have to admit that the men get off easy. They just need a tux which is pretty easy to fake. All you need is a black suit that you add a bow tie and cumber bun to a tux shirt and you’re done. You could probably do that for under $100 if you already have a black suit [hint: Goodwill store].
Overall I strongly believe the arts need support and if that means that you need to have a night where the rich get to dress up and show off so the rest of us can get some benefit I guess I’ll have to be OK with that as long as the rest of us do get some benefit from it.
OK and before I forget, the evening featured a monumental work of choral grandeur and melodic richness that was Mephistopheles by Arrigo Boito.