An Afternoon at the Opera… in HD

When my mother drove my siblings and me to our various lessons and appointments after school, she’d have the car radio tuned to the classical station. (There was only one.) Often, we’d listen to opera, and she would sing along.

Though she took us to the ballet and concerts, I never went to an opera until I was an adult. When I got married, we bought the “nosebleed” $5 seats to the New York City Opera, in the top tier and peered at the stage through binoculars. That season we saw a popular trifecta: Carmen, La Boheme, and La Traviata.

We’ve managed to go to an opera about once a year since those early days. We’ve upgraded our seating a bit too; though fondly remember those days in the upper rings.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s shared her love of opera in a recent AARP interview, and how her passion was cultivated by obtaining discount tickets and watching rehearsals. She mentioned how she now takes advantage of the Metropolitan Opera’s high definition transmissions aired in movie theaters around the world.

Though I’d heard about these broadcasts, I’d never attended any and was intrigued. Why not? Even though I live outside New York City and can attend a Met performance, I hadn’t made any plans to do so. That requires securing tickets and planning an entire day around the event.

The  forecast was cold and gray. Perfect weather for a movie.  We brought in our own sandwiches, bought popcorn and water, and sat in a nearly sold-out movie house to watch the Met’s performance of Georges Bizet’s (1838–1875) Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers). Set in an unnamed Far East nation, the story delivers everything you’d expect from a great opera: love vs. hate, vengeance vs. forgiveness, and despair vs. hope. Combine these themes with glorious music, costumes and sets, and it’s a treat.649x486_Pearl_Fishers_Introduction

It’s different in the movies. Cameras zoom to close-ups; there’s no need for opera glasses. During intermission, while the live audience stretches its legs, the Met presents backstage tours and interviews. We heard from the conductor, the stars, and some company dancers who for this production perform as underwater divers, hanging from a complicated wiring system.

There’s something to be said however for being part of the communal experience of a live audience, bursting into applause and seeing people throw bouquets on stage during curtain calls.

Yet opera at the movies provides an excellent alternative. The HD program, in its 10th year, presents operas on more than 2,000 screens in 70 countries across the globe. Audiences include school groups, hopefully inspiring young people to sing. And music is a universal language. The production we saw featured an Italian conductor, an Argentinean director, a German soprano, a Polish baritone, an American tenor, and an enormous cast and crew representing all ethnicities. Perhaps if the world saw more operas, people would figure out how to get along.





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14 Responses to An Afternoon at the Opera… in HD

  1. You are so cultured Lisa, in part thanks to your mom. I’ve never been to an opera, ever! ❤
    Diana xo


  2. A good friend of my mom’s at her retirement center was deep into opera. I watched several with him and enjoyed it. My first real operas although I’ve been to some lighter opera-type stuff. These were the big guys!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely Lisa! I love that your parents exposed you to these things, but love even more all the interesting things you do in your “spare” time! I haven’t been to the opera in years, but loved it when I did.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Drjcwash says:

    Beautiful. I still try to watch PBS productions. I had a patient who was involved in the taping of the productions and she explained how involved it is. Thank you. I will have to go now.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. tchistorygal says:

    Sounds amazing. Glad you had such a great time. 🙂


  6. I used to stand at the opera with an ancient beau who couldn’t afford tickets for seating. You can imagine the treat when he did purchase seating for a special opera. I did become an affacionato, at that time

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Leah Singer says:

    The movie theater down the street from us shows these operas every so often. I’ve been thinking of giving it a try. You’ve convinced me to do it one of these days!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Opera! Pike! Park! – LisaKWinkler

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