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So You're Going To The Opera For The First Time . . . .

  Recently, a friend of mine and his wife went to see their first opera , at a not too shabby a venue - the Metropolitan opera .  He's a psychologist based in Manhattan  and  a Jazz  buff .  But lately, I've been  able to increase his interest in classical music and opera , and  when he asked me if he and his wife  should try a performance at the Met, I  said of course , as you might expect from me . 

    The opera he chose, with my recommendation , was the new Met production of Tchaikovsky's  poignant "Eugene Onegin", based on a  lengthy verse poem by the great early 19th century writer Alexander Pushkin .  It's the story of a bored and cynical  Russiian playboy who by chance  meets a naive and  vulnerable young woman who falls  hopelessly in love with him ,only to be rejected  because he has no interest in  settling down as a married man . Several years later , he meets her again at a ball in St. Petersburg, where she is now the wife of a  much older Russian general .  He now realizes that he loves her, but is crushed by her rejection of him now that she is a married woman, even though she still feels love for him . 

    It's a richly romantic opera with  plenty of Tchaikovsky's souldful and haunting  melodies .  Not a bad choice .  My friend asked me about what to wear , and I explained that  there is no dress code, and  the only time that some people dress formally there is on the opening night of the season, which is a gala  occaision . 

    That's right . If you've never been to an opera performance ,  those scenes in old movies  at  the opera with everybody dressed in  Tuxedos and gowns are nothing like  the real experience of  going to the opera today .  People don't go there to show off their fancy clothes ; they're there to see and hear an opera .  A lot of these people are opera fans -  just the same way some people are baseball  fans , or of football or basketball .  Some will  always be opera newbies or people who just attend  once in a while .  There may be some wealthy people in the audience , usually in the expensive boxes , but they too may be big opera fans .  There's absolutely nothing stuffy about the opera experience , whatever it may be like . 

     Opera fans  discuss the performances  just as  hearedly as sports fans . But unlike sports,  there are no clearcut wnners or losers .  They disagree very often .  But  ultimately, EVERYBODY there is a winner , whether the cast or the audience .   

     I also explained that although the opera was sung in Russian by a mostly Russian cast  of singers , and the conductor was also  Russian,  the Met has  a system  whereby you can  see an English translation of  whatever opera is being performed  on the back of the seat in front of you , and this certainly helped  to enhance their enjoyment of the opera .

     Many other opera houses  use supertitiles, whereby a translation  is  projected onto the stage .  But thew Met stage is so enormous that it's impossible  to project a translation  so that everyone can see it, hence the ingenious  so-called  "Met Titles ".  

     So if you've never had the pleasure of  attending  an opera performance at any of the who knows how many which exist all over the globe, don't hesitate yourself !    Would my friend and his wife like to go to more Met performances ? The answer was a definite yes !


Posted: Jan 08 2014, 11:01 PM by the horn | with no comments
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