Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Seeing an Opera Great: "La Traviata" at the Met

Lincoln Center
It must have been a post-St. Patrick's Day lucky streak, because last week I was able to score highly coveted tickets to "La Traviata" at The Metropolitan Opera. As excited as I was to see "La Traviata" and hear the famous drinking song performed live, I was especially excited to see and hear the famous Plácido Domingo, who plays the role of "Giorgio Germont," the father of the lovestruck Alfredo.  It's not every day that you get to hear an opera great perform.

As we made our way from Brooklyn to the Metropolitan Opera house, I was actually worried that our tickets at will call would be re-sold because we were so late.  And so, I comically ran across Lincoln Center Plaza, probably knocking down an elderly person or two, and breathlessly made my way to will call (luckily, they do not sell your tickets if you're late).  We made our way to the last row of the orchestra, disappointing the standing room only ticket holders who were hoping to sneak into our seats. 

The stage was very minimal; there was a man in a dark coat sitting next to a large clock.  I was a bit fearful at this point; to me, minimal usually indicates a more "modern" interpretation of an opera, which doesn't always have pleasing results.  But the stage, like all stages at the Met's productions, had a beauty to it.  Yes, it may not have had the jaw-dropping intricacy of the stage for "Turandot" (which perfectly replicated an imperial Chinese garden) but the curvature of the stage and the light from the large doors seemed simplistically beautiful.  The one bit of staging which I thought was a little weird was that the "countryside" and "happiness" were exemplified by cloaking everything in a Laura Ashley-type floral print.  Maybe I'm not yet old enough to appreciate Laura Ashley's genius, but when I think of things that make me happy, I don't immediately (or ever) think of Laura Ashley florals.

Any doubts I had about the opera were immediately dismissed as soon as the production began.  The singing was incredible; while I had come to see Plácido Domingo, it was Diana Damrau as "Violetta" who really blew me away.  "Violetta" was on stage practically the entire time and yet she unwaveringly delivered every note with passion.  I suppose you don't get to the lead role of a Met opera without being very, very good.  The chorus was also surprisingly delightful, although the monkey masks at the ball were a bit creepy.  But the chorus, usually ignored, did a wonderful job of entertaining the audience.

Of course, as expected, Plácido Domingo was incredible.  At his age and after all his success, you would think he would just want to sit on a private beach somewhere.  But no, he still delights us by singing in supporting roles at the Met.  Every time Plácido Domingo came on stage or did anything, the audience would burst into applause and shout out "Bravo! Bravo!", which made me feel a little sorry for the other cast members, especially Saimir Pirgu who sung the male lead, "Alfredo" (a role which Domingo has himself sung many times before).  But Plácido Domingo deserves all the praise he gets and did a good job of not purposefully overshadowing his co-stars.

Despite all the stress at the beginning, it turned out to be another great afternoon at the Met.  It was also a dream come true to see an opera legend in action.  I can only hope I will be just as lucky next St. Patrick's Day. 

The man and the giant clock on stage

"La Traviata" at The Metropolitan Opera
Lincoln Center Plaza
"La Traviata" continues at the Met on March 26th, March 30th, April 3rd and April 6th

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