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La donna non è mobile

January 29, 2022

Sitting here listening to Rigoletto on CBC. It was the first opera Mike and I went to after we got together in 1992. This was one of his favourites because, a natural base (not that he’d ever sung opera), he loved the fact that, unlike most operas, the tenor is the villain and the base is the hero.

Turned out the Saturday night for which he’d purchased tickets was also the Saturday night of game six in the World Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Atlanta Braves. Obviously we weren’t going to give up our opera seats, so before we left Mike set up the VCR to record the game on slow.

We were surprised (although probably shouldn’t have been) to discover that televisions tuned into the game were set up in a few places in the theatre lobby. Mike didn’t want to know, so we gave the tellies a wide berth.

I’d never seen Rigoletto, although I was familiar with the Duke’s famous aria.

No, it wasn’t Placido Domingo singing that night. Trust me when I say the Vancouver Opera Company didn’t even qualify as second rate. (For second rate opera we went to Seattle.) The VOC generally managed to get a reasonably first rate tenor or soprano, never both.

When the intermission arrived I made a bolt for the exit, knowing the ladies’ room would soon be packed. Just as I got outside the auditorium a cheer erupted and it didn’t take a genius to figure out Toronto had just won the World Series. This was confirmed a few minutes later when I met Mike in the bar and he told me they’d announced it in the surtitles as soon as the houselights came up.

When we got home after the opera we settled down to watch the game. I’d laughed at Mike for recording it on slow, but turns out he was right to do so as it did indeed go into extra innings. It was three o’clock in the morning when, having fast forwarded through the commercials, we saw Joe Carter catch the fly ball that won the game and the series.

Flash forward a year and my friend Rowan and I are at the opera to see La Boheme. Turns out this Saturday night in October is once again a crucial game for the Blue Jays in the 1993 World Series. Again I bolted for the exit at intermission (this time with Rowan). Again a cheer erupted from the auditorium as we sped through the lobby. After the ladies’ room, Rowan headed for the bar and I headed for a pay phone to ring Mike.

He had taped the game for me. I didn’t watch the whole thing, but I definitely wanted to see this.

If you ever want to challenge someone with baseball trivia ask them who made the final play in back to back World Series. The answer, obviously, is Joe Carter and this is almost certainly the only baseball trivia question I could answer.

Hardly surprising then that when, five years later during another World Series, my New Yorker turned up with this cover…

… we ordered a framed print. 

La donna may indeed è mobile, but this is one print that won’t be going anywhere until after they take me out of here in a box.

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