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“If you want to pick on someone, pick on me!” I screamed and thrust my fist in his face. “Meet me in my backyard this Sunday at 1PM, IF you are any kind of man…..and be ready to fight!” That’s what I said to Bart, the neighborhood bully, when he started teasing my friend at recess. I was in the 3rd grade.

Bart showed up at 1PM sharp. I still had on my Sunday church dress. My mother had made it, just like she made most all of my clothes back then. I watched Bart warming up in the backyard while I finished my chicken fried steak and wondered if my parents knew what was about to go down. Their daughter was about to beat up Bart the Bully. I cleared my plate, wiped my mouth, snuck outside and threw the first punch.

Bart was in it to win it. He was swinging back in under 10-seconds and in under 10-minutes, I had to leave with my dad for the opera. There was no time. If Bart won this fight, he would rule third grade recess. I could not let this happen. “Fly like a butterfly.” The words rolled in like a libretto and I caught them. I tore down the alley and stopped in front of Mrs. Kelly’s garage door window, where I let Bart the Bully beat me up until it was opera time.

Mrs. Kelly never failed to paparazzi the neighborhood and splash the headlines up and down our street. In the end, my mom got an apology note with a flower centerpiece, Bart got grounded for 6-weeks and I got to see Die Fledermaus. My father always held season tickets to the Dallas Opera and from the time I can remember, he would drag me along. Weary from my battle with Bart, I slept through Strauss that day, but dad would wake me at intermission to translate the story.

Ever since falling in love with J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, I’ve wanted to see Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Rumor has it that Tolkien drew inspiration from Wagner. So did George Lucas. The Ride of the Valkyries from Star Wars is one of my all time favorite songs. So, when I discovered that Des Ring des Nibelungen was on at the Met last week, I had to go. It is a 16-hour opera, which takes place over four nights. It changed my life.

Tickets for each opera range from $300 to $2000. This was not in the budget, so I showed up at the box office early and landed $25 standing room only tickets in the last row of the theater thanks to Agnes Varis. Read about her kindness here:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703447004575449731766172828

 

I stood the entire time. When my legs would grow weary, I would kick off my heels and do a tree pose; nothing like yoga with Wagner at the Met. An added bonus to this version of the Des Ring des Nibelungen was Robert Le Page, the director who conceived the brilliant idea of eliminating every prop on stage and replacing it with digital images projected onto a 45-ton set of 24 rotating planks, called “The Machine.” Imagine an operatic performance atop Calatrava’s Wave sculpture at SMU. The Ring Cycle was architecture as installation art, fused with mythological storytelling, in true digital graffiti form. I would stand for it again and again. Beautiful, brilliant, breathtaking, and no Bart the Bully’s!

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