Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Night at the Opera

Metropolitan Starbursts

Those are the chandeliers that hang in the atrium/lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House in Manhattan. E and I had just seen the amazing Placido Domingo sing and were still in a daze from the performance, which was amazing! I went into this whole thing not having ever been to an opera before and didn't really know what to expect. I mean, of course I knew about operas but only in the most cursory way; operas were basically plays whose stories were sung. I wasn't prepared for how good and interesting a well-produced opera could be. For the price of a movie and snacks ($15), we were able to see and hear a living legend perform.

I was fully open to the experience but I have to admit that beforehand, I thought that I'd wind up being bored at some point. That wasn't the case at all. It's impossible to be bored when you're sitting three or four stories up and back from the stage and these ntaural, unamplified voices come soaring up at you and you can hear them as clear as day. Something like that puts most contemporary pop singers to shame, honestly. I nearly forgot that the orchestra was actually there-that's how seamless things went.

It took me a while to get used to glancing at the subtitles on the small screen on the back of the seat in front of me (the opera, Iphigénie en Tauride, was sung in French) and keeping up with the action on the stage during the first half. After intermision I was able to keep up with everything fairly easily. Being at the Met reminded me how great live performances can be.

The source material for Iphigénie en Tauride was based on a tragedy by Euripides titled, Iphigenia at Tauris which reminded me of the source material for three large paintings I did in college as a final project in an independent study painting class in the mid '90's. I don't know why I was interested in it, but I wound up reading the Three Theban plays by Sophocles. I did the paintings in response to the intense emotional drama I found in the plays. The human drama depicted in ancient works like Antigone, and Oedipus at Colonus resonates through the years because human nature never changes, no matter how modern and civilized we think we are.
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