Anger ruins a night at the opera

Amazingly, last night I was confronted with the anger of strangers, and had the desperate urge to laugh! I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been focusing on letting go of anger and taking those intervening breaths (I cannot stress how crucial those are) or if I was just satiated from a good meal and catching up with a friend, but as we climbed over the knees of people not wanting to move to let my friend and I slide across a crowded row to our seats. The main act – Placido Domingo – hadn’t started. The lights weren’t low. The orchestra was warming up.But the looks these people gave us could have stripped us bare for daring to disturb their peaceful mintues before the start of the performance.

So instead of returning their gargoyle like stares, I giggled all the way to my seat.

Placido and a young soprano – Ailyn Perez – were fantastic and generous with their encore performancs.

But after the show, a strange thing happened.

The staircase closest to our section, the nearest exit, was closed off by a group of teenage ushers. They had clearly been instructed by someone else, for some unknown reason, to keep us from exiting in the most expedient fashion. In light of the 500+ people crowding the theater, many people were notably angered by this inexplicable barricade. I saw grown men harass these teenage girls as though they were committing one of the most henious crimes of the year.

“Can I speak to your boss?” one man was insisting, “It’s going to take me at least 20 minutes to get out of here if you don’t let me out this way.”

Now, I’m not saying that I wasn’t worried about how long it was going to take me to get out of the parking lot. Or that my friend and I hadn’t considered ducking out during one of the many encores, so as to avoid the traffic. We stayed instead and tried to just enjoy the evening and let the traffic take care of itself.

When I saw the rage in the face of this man, and a few others bunched up around these teenage girls, one of who was pleading:

“Don’t shoot the messenger,” I saw the destructive power of rage and its impotence.

We moved another set of chairs and proceeded directly down the tiered seating until we finally got to the floor and slipped out the door. Amazingly, the parking lot attendants were directing people in a sensible fashion and we made it off the island (man made PEARL project in Qatar: in about fifteen minutes. We marveled that we got off the island more quickly than it had taken us to get on.

And we left the opera with sounds of Placido and Ailyn in our ears: not the steaming fury of impotent rage.

Here’s one more reason for restraint.