October 9, 2012


I love opera.  The opera bug is an affliction that has been with me since high school.  I've always enjoyed classical music, but I had never given opera a chance until I went to one in person.  A friend's parents had an extra ticket, so the four of us went to the opera in Philadelphia.  It was Tosca.  It was brilliant.  I was amazed.  THIS was opera?  I thought it might be boring.  I thought I might not enjoy the music.  Instead, I developed a life-long passion for opera.  It didn't matter that Tosca was sung in Italian.  The Philadelphia opera company projected a translation on the wall above the stage.  It wouldn't have mattered, anyway.  It was that good.  The music, the singing, the acting- it was all fantastic.  It doesn't bother me in the least that opera is usually sung in a language other then English.  I listen on the radio and to cds, and the music stands on its own.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the opera twice at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The first was La Traviata, with Renée Fleming and Matthew Polenzani in the leading roles.  The second was Roméo et Juliette, with Anna Netrebko and Roberto Alagna.  La Traviata is about a courtesan who gives up her lifestyle for the man she loves, and Roméo et Juliette is the familiar tale of star-crossed lovers.  Fleming and Netrebko are two of the biggest names in the opera world, and they did not disappoint.  (Anna Netrebko happens to be my favorite soprano.)  I was completely absorbed by each opera.  I will admit, I was tearing up at the end of La Traviata, I was so moved.  That has never happened to me at a live performance before.  The Met also translates, but they do it much better than the opera in Philadelphia did.  Each seat has access to a small screen, located on the back of the seat in front of it.  It provides translation in several languages, or the translation can be turned off altogether. The words on your screen are only visible from your seat- you can't see other people's screen's lit up- so that if you look across the audience, you aren't distracted by seeing a bunch of illuminated screens.

Anna Netrebko as Juliette
I thought about blogging about this because the Met's opening night was a few weeks ago, and Anna Netrebko and Matthew Polenzani happened to be starring together in L'Elisir d'Amore.  I listened to it on the Met's live stream.  The live stream is great.  It is a live, online stream of the opera on a given night.  During intermissions, they have hosts who give synopses, conduct interviews, and chat about opera.  The schedule is here.  There is one per week during the season, which runs from September to May.

Not every opera ends tragically.  My rule of thumb is this- if it's Verdi or Puccini, people are probably going to die; Bellini or Donizetti, they have a chance for a happy ending.  I say that, but thinking about it, Lucia di Lammermoor is pretty bleak, and that was written by Donizetti. I may have to revisit this thought.

Opera is filled with passion, tragedy, drama, and joy.  It's beautiful.  It captivates me.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...