Long night at the opera: the venue part

We approached the new Long Center for the Performing Arts on foot. Even though we had printed a little map, this building does not read well for pedestrians, and we haven’t even been to the Palmer Events Center since it opened, so everything about the grounds these days was new. After going inside the new Gypsy Italian Bistro, which was full, to inspect the promising menu, we headed for what we hoped was the safest street crossing, selecting the one by the Daugherty Arts Center, where we felt reasonably secure. It was wonderful that the moonlighting law-enforcement people directing traffic on the grounds gave precedence to pedestrians. What a treat, and how unusual for Austin!

The Long Center doesn’t read well for those approaching for the first time, and on foot. It appears to be designed for entry from the parking garage, which we did not use. People are already wearing informal footpaths where walks should go, not where they really are. The batteries in my toy camera failed, so I have no image to show here, but the terrace facing the river and downtown offers one of the most spectacular night-time views to be seen anywhere, and I think certainly the most amazing skyline view in Austin.

I’d suspect that the peculiarities of parking at the Long Center accounted for the fact that nearly the entire audience was seated in the five or ten minutes after the scheduled 7:30 curtain time. On our level of the building, at least, men and women lined up side by side to go into the restrooms, offering scanty facilities for men and not much larger ones for women. The lighting is not flattering, to say the least. Exit signs in the large performance venue are well lit for the audience. I did not use any elevator in the building, but the stairways do not seem to be as commodious and well marked as they ought to be, should there ever be an emergency. The seats in the big hall offer much more leg room than those in Bass Hall. Row markers and seat numbers are not easily legible.

Restroom lines moved with reasonable dispatch, but not so quickly that it was possible to explore the various lobbies. I’ve written elsewhere about the acoustics, experienced so far at just one performance. I look forward to attendiing performances other than opera, in order to gain a different perspective on how well this building works.

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