by YONA C. RIEL

Saturday, June 12, 2010

DeLo's Wild party (with Eric Stern of Vagabond Opera....)

     It all started on May 9th when Delona (aka DeLo) and I went to see Vagabond Opera's first ever full length opera.  It was mother's day (the only time I could get up to Portland) and we sat in a small theater with some of Portland's finest steampunks to watch the 'Queen of Knives'. 
   Unbeknownst to me DeLo was newly divorced and very happy about it.  So happy that she bought 20 dollars worth of raffle tickets after the show.  The grand prize was a 2 hours serenade by Eric Stern (the lead person behind VO) and he would come to your house.  Eric is an amazing opera singer with years of professional training.  He is also one of my favorite accordionist and piano players.    
    A few weeks later DeLo announced, heart-throbbing across my computer screen that she had won.  Plans were made for a garden party on the night of June 11th.  
      I left Eugene around noon figuring I would stop in Salem and see an art show on the way up.  I also figured I could help DeLo get ready for the party.  Instead I got lost.  (She admits to having one of the weirdest addresses in Portland which confounds even the most intelligent GPS).  Instead of fighting with myself I called and asked for help.  DeLo sent this fine young lady to rescue me.
    Turns out Tanya had been there most the day helping DeLo get ready.   I was grateful that I didn't have to figure out how to get there myself. 
    Of the three of us not one could remember when the party was supposed to start so by 6pm we were ready for anything.  Well almost anything. 
    DeLo has a couple of guys who rent from her and they all share the gorgeous yard.  One of them was cooking up a delicious paella.   That's him with the silver hair and the beautiful shirt...
     We sat mingling, eating and drinking more than we should have when DeLo's phone rings.  I somehow know that it is Eric and because it's now past 8pm I also know he is lost.  He was only a few minutes away and there was plenty of conversation and food to keep us busy.  About 10 minutes later Eric comes in....
    and almost immediately started playing his magnificent accordion.   I went into instant drool as I watched his huge hands reach the most difficult chords with ease.  To give you a sense of his size the guy in the plaid shirt (Helmut) showing his wife Ida a picture on his camera is 6'5" and a German football player. 
    I couldn't restrain myself so I asked Eric in the first few minutes if he would play his Marlena Dietrich song.  He said he would but not yet.  He had to get warmed up. 
    Eric played for a good hour out in the garden.  I later found out he can sing in more than 5 languages and speaks 4 fluently.  So we heard some Italian favorites, a few originals and a bit of klezmer.  When he started to play a tango, DeLo grabbed her most recent beau and they tango-ed across the kitchen floor....
    Then there was the piano.  It was beautiful and black and just waiting for Eric's hands to seduce it.
    And seduce it he did!  The first song he played (very theatrically) was my favorite 'The Transformation into Marlena'.  If you can imagine Eric, a 6'3" manly sort of man transforming himself into the 1940's German nightclub singer, Marlena Dietrich, the music accentuating the transformation with perfectly timed dramatic pauses, then you will get a sense of how amused we all were by his performance.   I wish I knew how to embed the song into the blog but I don't so hit this link and you can watch a live performance    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWoU1aJX56E 
    
   Eric played for another hour or so and I tryed to get the perfect picture of his hands reflecting in the shiny black piano...

    But drama was brewing in the background.....
   DeLo gathered us all into the living room.  Even Eric stopped playing the piano.  
   All evening Candace had been animated while she chattered stories about her kid, her dog and her job.  I had never met her before so I interpreted this behavior as a woman who likes to talk about herself.  But suddenly with everyone hushed and hustled into the living room, Candace seizing her moment slids down onto her knees and proposes marriage to the young man she'd been dating for 3 months.  He had no idea what was coming.... 
   When he said yes she rose to her feet, handed the glasses of champagne to DeLo and kissed him passionately.  Meanwhile Eric picked up the accordion and played Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire". 
"Burn, burn, burn, it's a burning ring of fire.... "
        By this point DeLo was beautifully lit and the evening reached it's climatic moment. 
One last parting shot...
  it's me and my favorite opera singer complete with priceless expressions.  Thanks for reading and I hope you had a good time vicariously at Delo's Wild party...   yona c. riel