Sunday, February 26, 2012

Met simulcast, Ernani

Opera and I go way back almost 60 years when, as a young teen, I discovered the Saturday broadcasts on the radio and sat, many a winter Saturday afternoon wrapped in a blanket on my bed listening to the music and getting an operatic education from the intermission features. I had heard all the war horses at least once, sometimes more, by the time I finished high school. All I knew of how an opera looked was "the great gold curtain" that descended and sometimes the color of the women's gowns. The stories often confused me and I had to guess from the plot outlines what was happening as they sang.

In, I think 1956, I saw my first operas, two that summer at the opera in the Cincinnati Zoo [yes, that's where they were]; two totally different operas, Mozart's Marriage of Figaro and Pucini's Turandot. I did not understand the comic aspects of the former and was stunned by the costumed grandeur of the latter -- of course there were no subtitles so I still had to guess what was being said.
All these years have gone by and I have seen many operas and continued to listen to them on winter Saturdays as well. I developed favorites and ones I don't care for. I've become so enamored of La Traviata I have to sit in a seat near the wall so I can go through a box of Kleenex as everything in it makes me cry. I have a nearly similar reaction to Lucia de Lamamore and various arias, like the Casata Diva from Norma have the same effect. I enjoy other kinds of opera but bel canto singing is an emotional indulgence for me that happens with no other art form and with only a few wonderful pieces of orchestral music. My intellect sinks right down to my toes and emotions are at the mercy of voice and violins.
alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5713586627555492706" /> I have seen actual Met productions -- but always from a balcony seat. Even with good binoculars the experience is very different from seeing the video simulcasts. I feel very lucky indeed that they are shown here in a theatre not too far from me, at prices that are reasonable. This has becomes another kind of opera experience. Yesterday I saw Ernani from the met. I have seen in on video once and knew I loved the lushness of Verdi's solos and duets and trios and the big choral pieces. Although the story does not make much sense -- all those old guys in love with one pretty young thing and she steadfastly holding out for the bandit Ernani who, of course, is really a count. The cast was brilliant, Angela Meade, young but with a powerful voice was the young woman. Usually it's the tenor who steals one's heart but in this case I fell for the baritone, Dimitri Hvorostovsky, who had magnificent arias as Carlos V of Spain and looked like a fairy tale prince all grown up (a white wig -- these days white hair can be a turn on) and the most gorgeous costume on stage. His voice, for me, was more wonderful than tenor or bass or soprano. This was a new opera experience, I am still moved by it. And I look forward to early April when they will simulcast my beloved La Traviata and I will go well armed with Kleenex or maybe even a couple of study cotton handkerchiefs.


Rick said...

I've never seen or heard an opera, but after your reading your post, I think I'll remedy that.

June Calender said...

Yes, Rick, give it a try. I'd recommend easing into the form possibly by watching a video with English subtitles-- Barber of Seville, a comic opera, might be a good start.


June -- You certainly have an understanding of opera. I have only been to one opera -- years ago-- can't even remember the name. I could not get a sense of what it was all about. I feel that your experiences from opera come from the core of your being. How nice to have such an area of amour.

June Calender said...

An "area of amour" -- yes! That's a good way to define it. Most opera is about love. And teen-age me go that message loud and clear.