HAVANA TIMES, April 22 — Thanks to the tabloid issued by the Caracas Mayor’s Office, I found out about a couple of performances scheduled for Cuban singer Amaury Perez. Advertised as free, I didn’t think twice and invited my partner, who had never heard of him.
I’d never really been real follower of his songs, maybe I liked two or three, but not many more. And I confess that as a child I didn’t appreciate that “guy with the big face.”
But when grown up, I changed my opinion, and even though I had never gone to any of his concerts before, I identified with a couple of his songs.
What I did know perfectly well, though, was his fame for giving the most entertaining concerts.
Amaury isn’t some shy troubadour who hides behind his guitar and a few verses. Sometimes he even forgets to sing from interacting so much with members of the audience, trying to provoke laughter. That much I knew, so I decided to go and have a good time.
I found out that they would start distributing the free tickets at the theater the same day as the show, which meant I would have to be there at noon since the box office was going to open at 1:00.
Since the city’s recently restored Teatro Principal doesn’t hold many people, I was going early to get a good seat. Not many people were there, but it suddenly started to rain, and the line was outdoors.
Those of us who were there found a small covered area next to the theater and had to wait there almost three hours because until the office finally opened. We waited…and waited. Once they started giving out the passes things moved along rapidly, but we soon learned that they were only giving out one ticket per person.
The uproar began immediately, with me included in it.
Who could imagine that most people go to a theater by themself?
Plus, Caracas isn’t exactly the kind of city you want to find yourself walking around in alone after dark.
Was it that the price of getting “free” tickets was — in addition to the three hours in the rain — going to the theater alone?
Some people were ahead of the game and came with a friend or family member, others protested, but most of us decided to get back in the line — which wasn’t very long — to get the second ticket that we each needed.
One man wearing boots and a t-shirt with the insignia of the mayor’s office, along with a walkie-talkie in hand, looked at us as if he were the grand inquisitor.
“You got your ticket, you can’t go back for another one,” he growled.
Yes, that was definitely the tradeoff (punishment?) for getting free tickets. So, it seemed I would have to choose between giving my ticket to my partner — who at that time was of course working — or attend by myself?
I started feeling like Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice. However — accustomed to these kinds of absurd rules in my country— I simply remained there with a few others, as if there were no one else in the line. When the time came for us to each get another “free” ticket…the battle erupted.
The people in front of me made the most noise. I only pulled out my camera ready to make a report of the incident, because within a hundred yards was the newspaper bureau of the Mayor’s office, where any citizen can file a story or complaint (though I don’t know how far reaching the censorship is). But at least I was going to try.
Finally a woman — one who looked like she might be the director of the theater, or at least a decision maker — came out after hearing the shouts. She decided that they would indeed give out tickets for our significant others, children or anyone else who we wanted to bring with us to listen to Amaury Perez.
The best of the concert was a duet with the Venezuelan singer Cecilia Todd — who I wasn’t familiar with but who left me wanting to hear more — and an a capella interpretation of the classic Encuentros.
As I had imagined, we had a good time amidst Amaury’s jokes and the melancholy of his songs, though I don’t share many views with this singer.
And if by chance he reads these lines: My god Amaury! – don’t give any more “free” concerts in Caracas. I don’t have a dime in my pocket, but I would gladly give 20 bolos (which is almost like free admission) not to feel like poor Meryl Streep again.
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