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Subject: the real final night at the old Met 1966
From: Charles Mintzer <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Charles Mintzer <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 8 Jun 2018 12:43:10 -0400
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There have been, rightly so, many posts about the incredible gala given at the Met, called the closing night; however, the real last night at the old Met was a dance gala given by the Bolshoi Ballet. It was customary after the close of the opera season for there to be a 2-4 week ballet season, usually the Royal Ballet from London with Fonteyn or the Bolshoi ever since they started USA tours in 1959, both under the sponsorship of Sol Hurok,
In 1966 the Bolshoi gave a New York season at the old Met after the end of the opera season. I was there, and it was a Sunday night. Unforgettable. It started with Maya Plisetskaya dancing the “Dying Swan” with Isaac Stern playing the obligato on  a viola. Friends with better ears than mine said he was somewhat out of tune. Plisetskaya had to give two encores of it, so impressed was the audience. She then gave the first act of Minkus’ “Don Quixote,” with all the incredible bravura that was her trademark at the time, incredible leaps and back bends, etc. The the rest of the evening consisted of excerpts from the Bolshoi repertoire with all the other leading dancers given star turns. I have a visual memory of the finale with Hurok and the dancers parading from the back of the stage to the front of the stage; I recall Plisetskaya on one arm and Martha Graham on the other, but I could be mistaken about Graham’s place in the promenade. Three nights before, at a full performance of “DQ," I loosened the screws on the exit sign (exit number 72, if I recall correctly) from the dress circle standing room which was my standing perch at that time. At the end of the  ballet gala performance I further loosened the screws and took the sign and wrapped my jacket around it. Many people were appropriating things from the theatre about to be demolished.I wrote a documentation of the sign and attached it to the back, and it stayed in a closet in my apartment for 45 years. I thave since given it to a younger opera lover as a souvenir of my own days at the old Met.
Charles Mintzer
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