This is a new era at the Metropolitan Opera, they are doing updated productions, simulcasts and everything else they can think of to attract new audiences. I understand that but I don't always like it. I hated their new La Traviata last year. Other new productions I've liked, sometimes hated and sometimes deeply admired.
Today I saw Donizetti's Maria Stuarda which the Met has never done before for some strange reason. It is a beautiful opera, based to a large extent on Schiller' poem which posits a meeting between Mary Stuart and Elizabeth I that never happened. For me, seeing a simulcast today, this was a perfect Met experience. The sets were modern in their simplicity and did not use elaborate technial as staging several new productions have. Set and costumes were designed by the same man, costumes seemed lifted from court pictures of the period. In way, mostly thanks to Shakespeare's popularity, we are more familiar with the Elizabethan period, 500 years ago, than with many more recent historical periods. Elizabeth I is a familiar figure and so are the courtiers. Many movies have told this story of the rival queens.
Best of all, it is an opera of gorgeous bel canto music and it was sung by wonderful soloists -- all of them but Joyce Dedonnatio, especially, as Mary. Acting is now important in Met productions and the acting of the two queens in their confrontation was wonderful. In the intermission Dedonnati explained its power because "they were both right" in what they hated about one another. The second act's pre-execution scene was very long but music, singing, acting were so affecting I know i wasn't the only one in the theatre in tears. Two instances of brilliant design at the end left me, and surly the whole audience, with indellable visual memories: Mary was stripped of her severe black dress just before she mounted the scaffold to the block -- and was gowned in a brilliant red shift (Elizabeth had been in gaudy red in the opening scene), and at the end as she walked forward and lights faded, a spotlight hit the big, cruel, silver blade of the executioner's ax. This is stage craft as I expect it to be at the Met. A production I will never forget! I'm so glad simulcasts exist.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!