At the Opera House, 2009

At the Opera House, 2009

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audio of Nina Schuyler's story, At the Opera House, 2009

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At the Opera House, 2009

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Cobwebbed curtains open at the opera house, and someone has built a bonfire on stage. Behind the fire is the orchestra. I sit in the balcony, trying to listen to the orchestra play Mozart’s Ein Musikalischer Spass. But everyone around me is throwing spitballs or calling each other on cell phones.

There’s a war going on. People run down the sidewalks like wild dogs. Gunshots ring, “like fireworks,” someone behind me says into her phone, “if you close your eyes.”

I walk down the stairs to the conductor and ask him to crank up the volume.

He says he can’t do that. “If you can’t hear, move to another seat.”

I go back to the balcony. Now the rain is pounding on the roof. I look at the violinist and the cellist, trying to imagine what they sound like.