Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He produces the Café Concerts series and the podcast/show Conducting Business. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
Listen: When Robin Williams Played the Metropolitan Opera
Monday, August 11, 2014 - 08:00 PM
In 1986, Robin Williams appeared on the giant stage of the Metropolitan Opera House to give one of his landmark stand-up performances, in which he took on a range of topics including opera singers and their audiences. He went on to lampoon the world of elite ballerinas, poke fun at the Met's chandeliers, and joke about his own training at Juilliard.
Upon taking the stage, Williams asked, "I wonder if Pavarotti is down at the Improv going, 'Two Jews walk into a bar.'"
Williams's performance was considered a milestone, both professionally (it was the first solo comedy show at the Met) and personally (he had recently kicked a cocaine addiction that had threatened to derail his career). Highlights from the frenetically paced routine were released by Sony and won a Grammy Award in 1988. Below is the opening monologue. Williams died on Monday at the age of 63.
Note: Contains some vulgar language.
3 pm Update: Watch the first portion of the HBO special of Live at the Met (contains some different material, also with adult language).