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Two Vermonters take in the sights of New York

12/04/02 12:00AM By Will Curtis
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(Host) Commentator Will Curtis and his wife Jane recently paid a visit to the Big Apple, to hear some music and take in the sights.

(Curtis) It's been years since Jane and I were in New York City together. Boston is our metropolis if we need the big city experience. But when a brochure arrived in the mail telling of a trip to New York to see Renee Fleming at the Metropolitan Opera, I sat up and took notice. I've seen Renee Fleming only on TV, but that is enough: I've fallen in love with Renee Fleming! Jane was a trifle worried about finding our way around the Big Apple but even we Vermont hicks couldn't miss Lincoln Center; our hotel was just across the street.

What would we do Friday night? A Broadway play? We scanned the paper; the prices were horrendous. "We're going to the symphony," decided Jane, "Colin Davis will be conducting." At the box office we said we were Vermonters and didn't want to pay an arm and a leg. What about $10 apiece?" The rear of the orchestra suited us just fine. The evening was a great success, especially since Richard Goode, co-director of the Marlboro Vermont Music Festival, played Mozart's G major piano concerto. It felt quite homey having another Vermonter in the hall.

Jane didn't see how things could get better but I knew she would be swept away by the setting of the Metropolitan and the superb voice or this generation's greatest soprano. The opera was the demanding but little-known Bellini opera, Il Pirata, a tale of true love renounced. Renee Fleming is not only beautiful and sings like an angel, but she is a fine actress as well. At the end, in true dramatic Italian style, Renee goes mad, and if anyone can go mad for half an hour, be convincing and at the same time sing beautifully, it is Renee Fleming. Jane was in tears.

Central Park beckoned us Sunday morning along with almost everyone else in New York. Inside the park, traffic lights were needed to control a mob of joggers, inline skaters and bicyclers that threatened to mow us down as we tried to cross their path. Those who weren't tearing around, were exercising their dogs, and a more astonishing collection of dogs we've never seen.

Since it was a warm day, every tourist except ourselves had hired a horse and carriage, all bedecked with flowers and pom-poms. (What surprised us was how wild and beautiful Central Park is despite all the people wandering about.) Naturally we had to check out Rockefeller plaza, joining the crowd watching another crowd skate around and around the tiny rink. I don't know why it was fun but it was. I suppose the Plaza is one of those places where, if you wait long enough, you'll see someone you know. Sure enough, we turned around and there was Jane's brother.

This is Will Curtis of Woodstock, Vermont.

Will Curtis is an author and naturalist.

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