A really bad hair day at the Met

A really bad hair day at the Met


norman lebrecht

January 21, 2015

One more reason why young people – and minorities – are loath to go to the opera:


collier meyerson1



On Christmas morning, my parents gave me two tickets to the Opera for the first weekend in January. “It’s the orchestra, Collier,” my Poppi says. “Real good seats. You’re going to get to see the action up close.” My eyes bulge something wild when I look down and see the ticket prices: $307.50 each. They’re an aging middle class pair who don’t got millions in the bank.

I take my friend Allison because I know she’ll revel in the hundreds of dead animals draped over the hundreds of close-to-dead humans with me. I love the opera more for the pageantry of New York’s stale, geriatric elite than I do for the ornate costumes, the larger-than-life sets.

In the theater, a man taps my shoulder. “Excuse me, dear,” he says, with that almost-extinct thick New York accent. “Can ya put yah hair up? My wife has to sit on her coat in order to see past all that. And then you know of course the people sitting behind my wife won’t be able to see past my wife because she has to sit on the coat.”

I feel woozy. A giant fat frog crawls in my throat, then jumps like lightning straight down to my bowels. I’m on a roller coaster with a drop so high it’s illegal. I can’t find the words to reply to him. I only have a vision of my mom popping me real hard across my face for letting the old white man see me cry. She’s a militant “do not let the white folks win” type of broad.

Read the full Collier Meyerson here.



  • Nigel Curtis says:

    Well since she loves “the opera more for the pageantry of New York’s stale, geriatric elite than I do for the ornate costumes, the larger-than-life sets” she should be happy she got a slice of geriatric action to write about.

    As as for “..do not let the white folks win…” that’s just infantile. A guy Sierra Leone could have asked the same thing about her hair.

  • Wet Toast says:

    Well, I don’t get that the “old white man” is racist at all but it comes out loud and clear that Ms. Meyerson is a first class beyaich who loves to bait people. Her blog entry is just plain old nasty.

  • Susan B says:

    The show is on the stage, not in row P of the orchestra. People want to see the opera, not her hair. There’s nothing racist about asking her to remove the obstruction. She’s just self-centered and rude.

  • Augustine Rodriguez says:

    I’m bald. I’d love to have hair like that.

    (Lets all respect one another)

  • JAMA11 says:

    This essay is like a primer for how to write a BS essay about how big bad traditional culture keeps finding new ways to make victims of non-white people.

  • Dashman says:

    Considering that the ticket price was $307.50, you can’t blame the old man for objecting to having his view obstructed. Maybe she should learn not to be so self-centered and have a little consideration for her fellow audience members.

  • CDH says:

    There is no politically correct solution to this. It seems, by her own account, that the man made a polite and reasonable request in the first place, but that she chose to see it as a racist insult. He seems — again her own account — to have been rude when she told him she was not going to cooperate after the first act. I would like to know why not — I appreciate that she may have felt disinclined to alter her hairstyle, but unless it put her in physical discomfort, it seemed the logical solution to a problem. Why should people who also paid over $300 for opera tickets have their view obstructed?

    I think she was looking for an insult before one was proffered.

  • Bob M says:

    1) This has nothing to do with music. The sensationalist Lebrecht strikes again!
    2) Asian, African, whatever. Big hair is big hair. (Think of the two women from the B-52s.)
    3) Offense is taken, not given.
    4) Norman Lebrecht is an pseudo-intellectual dweeb.

    • Nick says:

      And you’re perfectly happy to sit behind someone with their hair done up like an intricate flying cake? Big hair is not restricted to ethnic minorities. My first Tannhäuser at the age of around 16 was ruined by the lady in front, all of whose hair was tied up in an intricate bun. She happened to be the wife of my Maths teacher, so asking her to unpin it all was a no-no!

  • Aslanis says:

    This altercation could have been easily avoided by either of them suggesting they simply switch seats. But, it is much easier for tempers to soar out of control and feelings to get hurt so that one digs deeper to find an injustice. Maybe had this happened and the hair was still an issue in her new seat with a different person behind her, then maybe one could have looked inward for a better solution.

  • Will Moseng says:

    In fact, if she was treated as she says, with no liscence for literary purpose, she was treated despicably, judoing from her picture. And it probably was racist in its basis, would the gentleman have asked a six foot man to crouch down so his wife could see? Doubtful. We’ve all encountered that before, and it’s disappointing, but has to be lived with.

    • Peter says:

      Actually, I’m 6’2″ and am sometimes asked to slouch down in my chair. I try my best, but there’s not all that much I can usually do, and I wind up sitting through the rest of the performance all self-conscious about spoiling somebody else’s enjoyment.

      Tall though I am, I have had my view blocked by big hair (mostly white women, old and young, come to think of it, and a couple of times by James Levine himself). And while I’m far too shy to ask them to tie it down, I have occasionally, with embarrassment, asked women if they could remove their hats. They always comply courteously.

      I don’t understand why this woman jumped to the conclusion that the man was racist. Whether or not he was, she politely accommodated his request and that could have been the end of it, but instead she then spent the first act calculating how to become unpolite, Pulling out her phone and recording it? Come on now. And that’s a great lesson in how to get everybody upset. Meanwhile–did you notice?–there’s great art going on up there on the stage that’s bigger than any of us.