Thursday, January 12, 2012

Opera: the spectacle

This was my third opera I have attended and I was a bit apprehensive about it. The Metropolitan Opera was showing their world premier season of The Enchanted Island, a new opera. Some of my reasons for skepticism: there are 10 main characters, the music was by a multitude of Baroque composers instead of just one composer, the story followed 2 Shakespeare plot lines, AND it was in English (bwa!?). I've seen Carmen in French and La Traviata in Italian so this seemed a little out of the ordinary for me. 

 The Opera House at Lincoln Center was much more modern looking than I expected. Red and gold were the main colors (obviously the red of the velvet curtains and the seats and gold scalloped ceilings). But the most striking decor were the beautiful crystal and glass chandeliers. Now I know why the people in opera audiences use those tiny binoculars on a stick: the place is HUGE. As a rule, opera singers don't use microphones. Their pipes have to be so vigorously trained so they can project and fill up a huge space. So impressive.

 One thing that struck me as intriguing was what I noticed in the gift shop. There was a plethora of wrap/ cardigan like articles of clothing and ALL of them had a wrapped and almost late Elizabethan style collar. I wondered when/ why that became a “thing” for opera. Perhaps it's based on typical opera costumes and meant to evoke the spectacle associated with opera.

And spectacle it was. The sets and costumes were gorgeous. There were mermaids flying in the air. There were beautifully lighted moments and special effects that had the audience gasping and quickly muttering to their neighbors. And the music... do I even have to mention that? It was perfect and every solo made me want to cry. The whole thing was outrageous, over-the-top, and sometimes you just had to laugh at the absurdity of it all. But that's opera. And it was the most amazing performance I've ever seen.

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