About Me

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Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Opera for Everyone

Today was a weather mess around town with rain, sleet, and snow falling non-stop. We could have hit the malls for that second to last weekend of frantic Christmas shopping, but nixed that idea for an afternoonof beautiful music and theater. Today was the first in a series of eight high definition transmissions of live performances of the Metropolitan Opera. So, a couple of friends and I parked ourselves in stadium seats--heck, we could have had a tub of popcorn as well--at Tinseltown, our local movie-plex for Gounod's Romeo and Juliet. We joined people from all over the U.S. and over a dozen other countries in experiencing a live performance from the great Metropolitan Opera.

What a wonderful performance it was. The great Placido Domingo was the conductor and what an intimate feeling it was to be in the orchestra pit watching him interpret Gounod's sensual musical score. I had no idea that he ever conducted, thinking he was strictly an opera singer. In a later backstage interview we learned that he has conducted for many performances and enjoys that role equally well. It was sad to see how he is aging, but good to see him still able to deliver a peak performance.

The young star-crossed lovers were perfectly cast. Soprano Anna Netrebko sang the role of Juliet and tenor Roberto Alagna was Romeo. On-stage the chemistry crackled and I was actually surprised at the sensuality, both passionate and innocent, of the marriage night and death scenes. Both played their roles as doomed lovers with a sense of hope but with an inevitable despair.

One of the great perks of these HD performances is that you see in the orchestra pit and backstage setups for the different scenes, including the back and forth interactions among performers, stage hands, and assistants. Today we saw an impromptu last minute rehearsal of the fight scene. This behind the scenes look doesn't detract at all from the actual performance. Instead, you think, so that's how it happens for real.

During the intermissions the stars sit for interviews(in photo below) with other stars in their own rights. Today Anna and Roberto are interviewed by the great Renee Fleming.
Right after this interview Romeo and Juliet will play their most intense love scenes. So, Renee is asking Anna and Roberto how they manage to pull off the love scenes. Roberto very charmingly talks about the need to be healthy, physically fit and spark some chemistry with his leading lady. He claims shyness which neither Anna nor Renee buy! He then clinches the interview by telling Renee that he would love to sing with her some day. Those charming Frenchmen!

If this description has piqued your interest in opera,here's the remaining HD performances for the 2007-08 season. As you can see, there's some biggies--Macbeth, Tristan und Isolde, La Boheme--to come. Just go to www.metopera.org/hdlive to find the closest theater for your area as well as directions for ordering tickets online.

Opera goes to the Dogs as Well--when I was looking on the Met web-site for schedule and program information I was amused to learn about these special posters and photographs of the Weimaraners shot by William Wegman to promote this season's new performances. Sales of these posters and photos benefit the Met.

Hansel and Gretel







Macbeth











La Fille du Regiment











It's hard to believe that my "culsha" friend and I have been opera regulars for only one year. We agreed to try one live performance by the Kentucky Opera and now, thanks to this smart public education decision by the Metropolitan Opera, we can enjoy beautiful music by renowned performers without having to get into our little black dresses or find our opera glasses. How bad can that be?

Photo/image credits: Metropolitan Opera web-site; Weimaraners,William Wegman 2007

5 comments:

laurie said...

wow. the metropolitan opera, live! (sort of.) right there in your home town! with popcorn!

i think that sounds like an excellent way to spend a sleety icy winter afternoon.

and who can resist those dog photos? they always somehow look so wise.

Faye said...

Laurie, wish the Weimaraners would have been photographed in Anna's cotton candy pink costume and Roberto's baby blue tights and singlet--TWO of the opera goers had questions about the "mechanics" of his costume. . .(giggle)

KittyHawk said...

Since you brought up the issue of the mechanics of Romeo's costume, I might as well share some background. A friend of a friend attended the dress rehearsal. There were questions about what Romeo should wear in the bed scene. First they tried only a night shirt. Too revealing. Then a nightshirt plus tightie-whities. Still too revealing—especially since Juliet seemed to have a propensity for pulling his nightshirt up to reveal...whatever. They even tried his full length baby blue pants, which still didn't look right. So that's how they arrived at the baby blue Bermuda shorts/shortie pajamas.

J. said he had intended to skip Hansel and Gretel on Jan. 1 but that Alice Cootes (Gretel) is wonderful and he wants to see her. I'm game for giving it a try as long as roads aren't slick! Plus, it's a whole hour shorter than R&J!

KittyHawk said...

One more thing - there's a nice review here:
http://tinyurl.com/34uyof

Aoj & The Lurchers said...

I love opera, my grandfather was a founder meber of the Welsh National Opera Company so it's sort of in the blood. Not that I can hold a tune in a bucket mind you!