Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A day on Wall Street, a night at the opera

Yesterday was a jam-packed day! I'll provide more details when I get back, but here are the highlights:

Thanks to the adventurous Sarah, who kindly equipped me with her excellent walking tour of Lower Manhattan, I took the subway to the very southern tip of the island and worked my way north.

And what surpises awaited me!

I expected the financial district to be full of men and women dressed in suits and carrying leather briefcases, with those little cell phones attached to their ears so they could do their deals on the go. Okay, there was some of that, but because it was Veterans Day, probably not as many as normal.

What I didn't expect was that Lower Broadway would be an open-air pedestrian mall, with row after row of stands selling all kinds of ethnic foods and grilled meat, as well as Pashmina scarves. There was a neverending stream of tourists waiting to get their pictures taken in front of the bull statue. It was kind of a mix between an upscale flea market and the New York State Fair. Not at all the dour, serious place I expected.

I stopped at Trinity Church, which I remembered from the Nicholas Cage move, National Treasure; walked down Wall Street to snap some pictures of the giant American flag adorning the front of the New York Stock Exchange; and visited St. Paul's Chapel, the rear of which overlooks Ground Zero. The chapel, which provided a resting place for exhausted workers after the Sept. 11 attacks, has a very moving memorial to the people who lost their lives on that day.

On my way back up Broadway, I walked through Chinatown and Little Italy en route to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. I'll tell you more about my tour of the museum, but it was pretty fascinating to see the inside of a tenement, with the apartments restored to the way they would have looked in the late 19th and early 20th century. They were pretty cramped, dark and gloomy places.

That evening, I met Sarah for some great food and great conversation at O'Neal's, across from Lincoln Center. Then, it was on to the Met for my very first opera, Puccini's Madama Butterfly. And as a special added bonus - I got to meet her very dear friend Noah!

It was wonderful - the staging was very theatrical, with some truly imaginative, breathtaking imagery. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to follow the plot, but the Met provides a translation on a small LED screen in front of you. The language is beautiful - it brings home the sadness of the story in such a lyrical, poetic way. This production, designed by the late film director Anthony Minghella, was a great introdution to the world of opera.

Okay, I'm off to Greenwich Village and then this afternoon, the Public Theater for Stephen Sondheim's Road Show. I'm really looking forward to the Public because as a young actor just starting out in New York, none other than Mr. Kevin Spacey worked in the stockroom, handing out notepads and pencils. I'm hoping they'll let me take a peek.

Then tonight, back to Broadway for Hairspray with Harvey Fierstein.


Amanda said...

Ooh - Trinity's one of my destinations come December. There's an exhibit downstairs I want to see - Portraits of our Neighbors, I believe it's called. One of my favorite people in the world is painted on that wall...

Sarah B. Roberts said...

Thank you again for taking me to the opera. It's a privilege to accompany somebody to the Met on their first trip there. I'm so glad you liked it but of course, it's hard to go wrong with Madama Butterfly.