Richard Nixon lives again at the Centro Cultural and Met

t seems my nubilous siesta has come to an end. The sun has made itself at home in Costa Rica, tourist buses are filling up and happenings are happening. With the change, my two favorite ways to enjoy life are back in action.

There always seems to be something musical or theatrical to enjoy on weekends and last Saturday two other opera buffs and I began with the opera, “Nixon in China” at the Centro Cultural. It was shown at the Met earlier this month, and usually we can watch it “live” via satellite, but due to transmission problems, we watched a delayed video.

With “Nixon in China,” John Adams, has created a modern opera unlike any opera I have ever seen or heard before. After I became accustomed to the staccato pattern of the music, I was enthralled, captivated and blown away. It was very long – three acts – and nearly four hours including intermissions and I would have been happy with just the second act, which includes a ballet, based upon the revolution in China, but the entire opera was an experience to remember.

Sunday, a visiting friend, Sherry, and I attended the matinee performance of “Steel Magnolias,” at the Teatro Laurence Olivier. Young new talents are joining The Little Theatre Group, and they certainly added to this play. Judy Ford, who played Clairee, the buoyant widow of the former mayor, was right on point with her quips and light heartedness. But it was two long timers who, for me, gave stellar performances. Susan Liang, as M’Lynn, Shelby’s mother, brought me to tears, and Lisa DeFuso reflected perfectly my grumpy— but loveable — side. I have worked with them both and enjoy everything they have done. They just get better. I also must mention the direction of Caroline Kennedy, who skillfully moved and paced her actresses.

It always amazes me what the designers do with such a small stage. This set was especially impressive.

You still have time to see the play as it runs this weekend. For Little Theatre reservations, call: 8858-1446. “Nixon in China,” is over, but the opera season has begun, so you can call the Centro Cultural at 2207-7554 for more information.

Just as good as enjoying fine performances and experiencing something new is getting together with old friends and making new ones. Good food, good friends and good conversation, to my mind, are hard to beat. Costa Rica is an ideal place to find all of these for an expat. We are self-selecting in that we chose to live in Costa Rica in the first place. The expats make up a number of very different interest communities, of course, and perhaps it is just the ambiance of Costa Rica, but it is easy to keep meeting new people who are interested and working for the things I favor, like peace, recycling, conservation, a frugal healthy life, peace (oh, did I say peace already?), less a consumer, more a doer, and trying hard to reduce our footprints on this planet. But sometimes, friends move on, and dear friend Nicole is leaving, so there was a party for her and that’s where I once again enjoyed good food, good conversation and met some new friends, both Tico and expat, most of whom are actively doing something for Costa Rica and the planet.

Some time ago I wrote about two chemicals the body secretes under different circumstances. Phenylethylamine (PEA) makes us feel euphoric, positive and energized. A form of it is used in antidepressants. It is also present in chocolate. When we have new experiences, new thrills, or fall in love, we produce this chemical in the brain and nerve cells.

Another group of chemicals, the endorphins, take over under very different circumstances. Endorphins are powerful pain relievers and are responsible for the good feelings and sense of calm that come from oft-shared experiences with friends, feelings of empathy, and the comfort of familiarity. Both chemicals are addicting, but we don’t have to buy them. We can produce them ourselves just by doing things that we enjoy. How non- consuming, peaceful and healthy is that!

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