April 18, 2005
IF ONLY THEY'D TRADED FOR ROYCE:
Take Me Out to the Opera: In Chicago, a Fan Is a Fan (BRUCE WEBER, 4/16/05, NY Times)
On Tuesday night, between Acts I and II of "Die Walküre" at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Plácido Domingo was backstage talking about the Chicago Cubs.
"I wish they could have more satisfaction," he said.
The great tenor was speaking from the vortex of a rare cultural confluence. Over the last week, the Cubs opened their home season at Wrigley Field, and the city's Lyric Opera was presenting Richard Wagner's four-opera "Ring des Nibelungen," which meant that two of the world's most fervid fan bases were simultaneously encamped on opposite sides of the Chicago River. (The Cubs left town on Tuesday; the "Ring" concludes on Saturday night.)
As Siegmund, Mr. Domingo was fresh from a standing ovation from the Ringheads, as the most obsessive Wagnerites somewhat sheepishly call themselves.
But as he was preparing to die heroically in the second act, what came to his mind was the night two Octobers ago when an oblivious fan at Wrigley Field interfered with a foul fly ball and cost the Cubs a shot at the World Series, the umpteenth disappointment for a franchise that has not won a championship since 1908. Not even Wagner, Mr. Domingo acknowledged, breaks your heart like the Cubs. "It makes me so sad," said Mr. Domingo, who is actually a Yankee rooter. "It's a much longer journey for them."
Perhaps it's a stretch to insist that a passion for baseball and a passion for opera are related, though the link is documented. For years, after all, Robert Merrill sang the national anthem at Yankee Stadium. But as Mr. Domingo intimated, the link seems most intense in Chicago, where the ache for a baseball victory is palpable (the White Sox are virtually as hapless as the Cubs), where theater, the symphony and the opera are virulent inspirers of local pride, and where a recent newspaper poll asking whether sports or the arts were more thrilling ended in a dead heat.
However, Siegmund, being European, threw like a girl. Posted by Orrin Judd at April 18, 2005 8:02 AM