Sunday, April 25, 2010

In Which I Get Cultured

Last week, I went to see La Traviata at the Met. Yes it's an opera but relax-- it was a matinée.

My aunt and uncle are huge opera people, and they somehow got me a last minute ticket in row G. To put that into perspective: it's like watching a baseball game from the dugout, or being in Beyonce's weave at a Beach House concert.

(Anyone? No?)

I'd only seen one other opera-- Carmen at the Lyric in Chicago. That's not including, of course, billions of "popular music" concerts, on- and off-Broadway shows, plays and assorted Light Opera Works at Northwestern.

I showed up on time and was promptly escorted up the stairs of the Met. As seasoned professionals, my aunt and uncle have a no-nonsense routine and I happily followed it. Spoiler: preshow espresso and coat check, champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries at the first intermission, director's office for more champagne during second intermission. Extravagant dinner post-show. And scene.

The whole thing was a fascinating study in how I could live, if I had decided to go with a major in banking or forgery. For example: the couple next to me were suitably impressed that a 22 year old had scored such impressive digs front and center, saying that it had taken them decades to move on up. They couldn't figure me out.

Him: Where did you go to school?
Me: Boston University.
Him: Ahh so you are in law school now?
Me: ... No.
Him: Ahh but you live in the Upper West Side?
Me: Nope, Brooklyn.
Him: Hmm. I see. Well...

CURTAINS rustled. I watched the chandeliers descend. The little subtitles on the seat in front of me flicked on. Nobody was using mics, that's for sure. I may have had a bit of a moment during the first act.

La Traviata is a pretty rad story, actually. It's the opera Richard Gere takes Julia Roberts to see in Pretty Woman, if that rings any bells. A courtesan and a man fall in love, move to the country. Shenanigans ensue, she has to break up with him, duel is fought. She gets sick, he finds her and forgives her, she dies in his arms. And the music! And the scenery! The costumes! This was the final performance of the Verdi-contemporary production. All the scenery and costumes are getting shipped off and the next season will have a modern retelling.


The cool thing about being so close was seeing the exhaustive overacting. Everybody was working it out for the back row. And the guy playing Alfredo? Stone cold hottie.

It wasn't an oooopera opera-- the performers were amazing without all the silliness. These videos are a bit over the top vocally, but I didn't find it to be that way at all for my show.

My next opera would hopefully be something Mozart. Of all the piano music I learned over the years, only two Mozart pieces stayed in my fingers.

Although, to be fair-- if champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries are involved, I'd go to any Wagner production and smile the whole time.

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