Dining in Brooklyn, Opera in a Loft; and an Uber PostScript

Greetings and salutations, all. I’m looking out of my office window at a beautifully bright and sunny afternoon here in the city that never sleeps. True, it’s on the cool side, but 50 degrees in December is almost like a heat wave for us.

Just to show you how lovely my city can be this time of year, here’s a photo I took at Columbus Circle late Thursday afternoon. Pretty gorgeous, huh?

Columbus Circle

I thought I’d share with you our excursion last night to a place called Brooklyn. Do you know it? As we say on the Upper West Side of Manhattan: “It’s over there, somewhere” as we gesture vaguely in some unknown direction. Actually, Brooklyn is an amazing place where all kinds of interesting things are going on: restaurants, shops, clubs, culture. It’s all there for the taking.

So, I had heard about this ambitious young opera company: LoftOpera. The company presents their productions in unusual spaces in Brooklyn. Believe me, this is NOT your parents’ opera company. Even though they choose operas from the standard repertoire, the productions are cutting-edge, exciting, unusual and cast with up and coming singers. When was the last time you saw La Boheme in which all of the singers were age-appropriate?

And speaking of age, the average age of the Metropolitan Opera audience is about 57+ (according to a sampling of 15,750 audience members taken in 2005). That makes AAC CPA and I relative youngsters when we go to the Met. Just looking around the audience at LoftOpera last night, call us Gramps, as the place was filled with people in their 20s and 30s. In fact, we viewed only a handful of audience members who were our age or older. Yikes!

Loft Opera

Check out the hip, young crowd at LoftOpera

Of course, the $30 ticket charge may have had something to do with the demographics of the audience. I’d argue, however, that it had more to do with the vibe and the experience. Entering the performance space, located at 501 Union Street (I have no idea where in Brooklyn that really is – over there somewhere??), the first thing you see is a long bar, from which beer and wine are being served. The atmosphere is party-like, as if everyone is there to partake in some kind cool experience. The performance space is a long rectangular room, the length of which has 5 or 6 rows of seats. At one end is the 12-piece orchestra, tuning up. It’s very social, it’s very hip, it’s fun.

AAC goes to LoftOpera

AAC CPA goes LoftOpera!

The work being presented was Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, which dates from 1946. It’s a very serious work with a gorgeous Britten score and deals with what might have triggered the beginning of the fall of the Roman Empire, tho’ that is never a stated theme.

Lucretia_LoftOpera
Production still from The Rape of Lucretia at LoftOpera

The production was simply staged, but very dramatically enacted for full and immediate impact. The cast, with which I was totally unfamiliar, was excellent, each and every one. The audience sat rapt throughout and, at the end, was very generous with its applause. All in all, it was a very groovy night and very exciting to discover this new company. Although specific repertoire hasn’t yet been announced, LoftOpera will be presenting 4 productions next year. If you’re in the area, I encourage you to check them out. These are professionally presented productions in intimate surroundings and adventurous locations, and at a fraction of the cost you’d spend at any other opera company.

CULTURE TIP: LoftOpera

And check out the New York Times review for your edification:

New York Times Review

Because AAC CPA and I needed to be well fortified prior to the show, I sought out a place to grab a bite. Enter al di la Trattoria, on 5th Street in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn. I’d heard that they served seriously good Italian food. Again, my phobia about getting lost in the boroughs has held me back. Bad boy!! We had a delightful dinner last night.

al di la

We weren’t able to sample their extensive wine list (no sleeping at the opera, damnit!), but we were delighted with what we chose to eat. We shared an Autumn Market Salad, beautifully shaved vegetables (except for the cauliflower, ewwww), and dressed in the lightest of dressings. Yummy. Followed by a special, pappardelle and duck ragu. OMG, it was so tasty.

al di la food
Talk about whetting your appetite!!!!

For mains, we went our own way: hanger steak with arugula for me (how healthy!) and the most tender pork chop I’ve ever tasted for AAC CPA. Our contorni was Crispy Squashed Beets with horseradish crème and chives. I’m telling you, it was a taste sensation, and totally worth the trip to Brooklyn.

CUISINE TIP: al di la Trattoria – Brooklyn

Speaking of trips to Brooklyn, perhaps that’s why God invented Uber?

Speaking of which: Remember when I talked about Uber last week and how it got us flawlessly around Fort Lauderdale? Well, we Uber-ed our way home after the opera last night and, not only did they pick us up within like 2 minutes, the trip back home was faster and cheaper than taking a taxi. And much more fun, ‘cause you generally travel in a nice car and the drivers are always friendly and chatty (but in a good way).

So, here’s the deal: if any of you are curious but have never tried Uber, use my code:

jeffreys567

and you’ll get $15 off your first Uber ride. (Full disclosure: apparently, I’ll get some kind of credit as well. That’s what I call a “win-win”.)

Travel Tip: Uber Sign-Up

That’s all for now, folks. Have a lovely weekend!!

 

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