As mentioned in previous blogs, I live in the “land of shallow” aka Los Angeles, to include Hollywood – Hollywood, where everything is glitter, sparkle, superficial, and loud.
It so happens that a couple of weeks ago I had an opportunity to experience Hollywood at its best and worst.
In Hollywood there’s a gem: The Hollywood Bowl! But before I tell you about a night of magic at the Bowl, let me tell you how we got there.
From there, we would take shuttle-bus to the concert.
It’s been a while since I’ve been to Hollywood, and by that, I mean the intersection of Hollywood and Highland, which is a circus of sorts – the sort of circus that we humans create. And with no admission fee!
Tourists and locals; cameras galore; souvenir stores with hungry sellers; crowded streets full of energy, the kind of energy that leaves you empty unless you’re excited about taking a picture next to a wax replica of Marilyn Monroe. She still gets around.
Vendors hawking street food, trinkets, t-shirts and souvenirs, all made in China. Emotional drunkenness of pure adrenaline; everyone with glazed eyes absent any happiness, but alive with giddiness. Visual triggers and loud noises abounding; people talking, shouting; cars honking; sirens blasting; an announcement by a bull-horn wielding 19-year-old about some upcoming and bizarre show.
The world is shouting in your ears, blasting … and your head is moving in all directions just trying to absorb some of this draining stimulation.
This then, is the scene getting to – and leaving dinner for the Bowl itself …
And leaving all this cacophony and getting to the Bowl is just a matter of minutes. A couple of miles and yet a world apart.
To those who are not from LA, let me explain that this is an outdoor amphitheater that holds 18,000 people. Yes, that’s not a typo – 18,000(!) folks come to sell-out concerts.
During the summer there are concerts almost every day, to include a big concert finale with fireworks and a whole lot of hoopla. The Bowl is in Hollywood Hills. People come bringing food and wine, and picnic outdoors before the concert. But this is Hollywood after all, and at a substantial price you can have a box seat with food from a fancy restaurant, and you will be served like royalty.
However, the rest of us (ahem) sit on wood benches and enjoy the music.
The bowl deserves a place in those advice-columns so common in a time of recession – i.e. “What to do on a Budget”; so I’m actually going to mention the price. For $37 I had the pleasure of being with friends and listening to the LA Philharmonic, led by Gustavo Dudamel AND Placido Domingo, who brought the house down. What a treat.
For that price you can be there with your family, and – if you were a Spanish speaker, you would have enjoyed Dudamel, Domingo and (soprano) Ana Maria Martinez speaking your language; and singing in your language. Yes, while they also performed in English and Italian intermittently, they focused on Spanish compositions, operas, operettas and famous Spanish songs such as Granada, and all under the guise of a series called “America and Americans”, which made me think of Christopher Columbus, who came from Spain, after all…
And, while enjoying the music and reveling in this intoxicating opportunity to enjoy life’s pleasures, together with 17,999 other people who came to listen to my friend Placido – I reflected on the last couple of hours on Hollywood Blvd when I was surrounded by the deafening sounds of nothingness. I was wondering about us, about me, about humanity, while sitting in this beautiful natural amphitheater surrounded by people who could not get enough of the heavenly voices of Placido and Martinez; enveloped by the stars, which were gazing down upon us, humming along with us humans, the same humanity that was walking down Hollywood Blvd.
We the people have all these parts – shallow and deep, primitive and ethereal, simple and complex. We are voyeurs and participants, and we are the audience and the singers.
And here I go, alongside Placido:
- Granada,Manola cantada en coplas preciosas
No tengo ontro cosa que darte un ramo de rosas
De rosas de suave fragancia
Que le dieron marco a la virgen morena
Granada, tu tierra está llena
De lindas mujeres, de sangre why del sol
What a glorious moment in time!