The first time that we ran into Philip Glass on the terrazza of the Holiday Inn (are you still working with me here?), I figured it was not really him, because given that his show, being an American premiere and all, was kind of the headliner for the festival, would he be staying at the Holiday Inn? And besides, everywhere you looked, there he was on a poster or a t-shirt or a coffee mug or another poster or a gigantic banner on Gaillard Auditorium.
So the afternoon before we went to the first performance of Book of Longing, I assumed my eyes were tricking me when I saw him talking on his cellphone in a t-shirt and jeans, and kind of pacing around.
But then after we saw the show, and him on stage--and us in the front row (friends, it pays to think ahead)--then, when we saw him a couple days later, I knew it was him, and felt bad for poo-pooing the PP's sense that we had seen him.
And of course I thought about telling him that for reasons I still cannot quite get a handle on, his piece moved me to tears. Was it just Leonard Cohen lyrics? Or that wonderful relentlessness of his music? Or the intimacy of seeing the performers so close? Or the way the intimate "I" of the poetry shifted in and out of the bodies of tenor, bass-baritone, soprano, and mezzo? Or the weird disparity between the super-erotic lyrics and Leonard Cohen's own self-sketches (rendered into a multimodal array), very much about seeing his own face look old?
But I feel dumb saying such things to someone who obviously knows that his work is important, so I never go up to famous people.
Still, what I really wanted, absolutely desperately wanted to ask him was: What is it like to see your own face, stylized into a portrait made of thumbprints, and of about 30 years ago, plastered everywhere you look?