Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A Night With Jose


JOSE CARRERAS was in town. Together with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, he performed at the spanking new KL Plenary Hall, in the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. It has oft been said that when a star comes to KL, it probably means they are fading stars.... since no one really currently famous ever comes to town. In the last few years, we've had err, Sarah Brightman, (definitely has been, if been at all), Engelbert Humperdink, (slap forehead), Michael Bolton (dunno if he's come yet, but another icon from the past). The only current "superstars" that actually come are probably the Cantonese flers.

Anyway, tickets were priced at RM280, RM380, and RM 680. As I thought, there is a niche market for Malaysians willing to fork out that absurd amount to watch, but what was interesting was that we are more practical than we give ourselves credit for. The RM280 seats, right up there in the clouds, were packed, but the RM380 seats, were literally empty. So you had the stalls, (downstairs, so we couldn't see which rich vips dripping with diamonds and emeralds sat there), and the upper circle. The lower part of the upper circle is the RM380 seats, whilst the RM280 are the upper upper circle. So, at starting time, there was this entire buffer, empty, between the RM280 seats, and the stage. Almost symbolic of the chasm that divided the rich and poor, in India, or Indonesia.

I did spot a friend sitting in the RM380, and asked him if he got his ticket for free, or did he actually have to pay. He gasped and asked me, "why? do you think I can't afford to pay?"...to which I replied, "No, it is PRECISELY that you can afford it that makes it so disgusting that you got the ticket for free". He gave me an enigmatic smile. Then I asked if these were the RM380 seats, he sniggered, "I'm not sure, I guess so", which answered the first question about whether or not he paid.

The first half of the show was almost torture, to be quite honest. They had probably just switched on the airconditioning 5 minutes before curtain calls, and the plenary hall was hot and stuffy. The wine I had consumed at dinner earlier, was beginning to have its tranquilising effect, and the combination of orchestral music, and tenor singing lulled me to a deep sleep. Intermission was a good time to see who was there at the event. Did bump into many people we knew. Some dripping with diamonds even. And this was on the upper circle. There were probably more diamonds than carrots present in the plenary hall last night.

The SECOND half, however, made up entirely for the dull first half. By this time, the organisers had realised the folly of leaving a row of 200 or so buffer seats, so we were all ushered to the front, in a very kelam kabut manner. Now we were sitting in the RM380 seats. Not only was the air cooler, the sound was better as well. He (Carreras) gave a stirring performance; but the official program ended after he had sung like 12 songs, which worked out to RM20 per song, for the RM280 tick. OOOOOOOOOOOH, i felt cheated. BUT, he did give 5 encores, which were splendid. Bear in mind, this is one of the Three Tenors (Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras), so it turned out to be an RM280 quite well spent I guess.

It is amazing that Carreras is where he is today, because he had acute leukemia in 1987. Hats off to the man, for his fighting spirit, and tenacity. and Tenorcity. And I guess this was one of the rare occasions to actually see a star of such calibre in our home grounds.

Epilogue: earlier in the day, I had the most shocking experience. I was bringing a 27 year old client to view some property, AND, the apartment owner said, "Oh, you buying for you son ah?".

COME ON, does this look like the picture of a father and son!!!!!! ROLL ROLL EYES.

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