At one point in the culinary mayhem, someone drops a glass dish on the floor. It shatters. With brio, Kalmar scrambles upstairs to hunt for a broom. He can’t find one, and it quickly becomes apparent that the conductor does not do his own housecleaning. “There is no broom in the upstairs,” he proclaims, throwing his arms in the air. “Maybe it is in the garage?”
Kalmar doesn’t go to look, and someone else starts sweeping up the glass with the stiff edge of a box. “What?” Kalmar continues, “there is no broom in the house? This cannot be!”
Everyone is gathered around him by now, standing in the shattered glass, laughing. His Austrian accent is thicker than usual, as if he were caricaturing himself, and his manner is so comically desperate that it carries an almost existential resonance, as though this were a play by Samuel Beckett. “There is no broom in the house,” Kalmar says again. “I cannot believe it!”
There is something magnetic and commanding about the delight Kalmar exudes. I can see it right now in the kitchen, as he holds a sliver of mango in his bare fingers and approaches a young woman. “Eat it,” he says, with feigned gravity, “or you will die.” She eats it.
As we sit down to dinner, Kalmar’s cell phone rings—his daughter making a predawn call from Vienna. Kalmar looks at the phone with faux terror, exposing the whites of his eyeballs. “Yawww,” he answers. Everyone laughs, again. “I’m going to answer the phone like that from now on!” Iwasaki says, after Kalmar hangs up.
The dinner lasts for more than two hours. Not one of the musicians stands up until the maestro himself rises from the table.