Browsing Programs at the Met Opera
I always loved music growing up but had never had a chance to see an opera. My hometown was too small for an opera production to come to perform. Also, even when I visited bigger cities, I prioritised seeing orchestra concerts over operas just because I was more familiar with orchestra and chamber music. But since I moved to New York City, I decided to take advantage of it and finally give myself an opera experience.
The first program that caught my attention when I visited the website of the Metropolitan Opera, was “Le Nozze Di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro)”, one of the masterpieces of Mozart. Although I had never seen the opera performance itself, I was a big fan of its music pieces such as the famous overture and ‘Se Voul Ballare’. I put it on my must-go list.
The Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center in New York City
Rush Tickets are a great deal!
As I was looking through the ticket options, I found that the Met Opera offered “Rush Tickets”. The idea is that they sell tickets for remaining orchestra seats for $25 (normal price: $100~$300) at noon on the day of the show. It is a first-come, first-served basis, so you need to be logged in and ready by noon, and you click the button as soon as the clock hands meet. When I learned about these tickets, I put all of the programs offered at the Met Opera my must-go list. On the next day, I won myself an orchestra seat for “Rigoletto”.
Some Prep for Rigoletto
Embarrassingly, I did not know anything about Rigoletto. I, thus, did some reading about the piece so that I would be able to follow the plot and pay more attention to the performance. The Met Opera’s website offers a description of the piece as well as the current production. Barlett Sher, the director, reset the performance in 1920s Weimar Germany, with Art Deco sets. My colleague, who was a lot more well-versed in design and architecture than me told me that Art Deco is a style of visual arts and that the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building are well-known examples of the style. I found it interesting that the story was put in different axes of time and space. As Rigoletto was originally written in 1851 by Giuseppe Verdi, there was no way that Verdi himself could not have understood the contexts of Sher’s production.
The Time went by so Fast
The 2 hours 40 minutes felt like a blink of an eye… The acoustic of the actors’ singing and the orchestra was extremely pleasant. My brain was in ecstasy (I did not have any other vocabularies). Nowadays, we all almost always listen to digitised music, and most of us have forgotten how sounds in inaudible frequencies contribute significantly to our auditory experience. I thought I really should appreciate every microsecond of opportunities when I get to hear a great performance in a hall every little piece of which is designed to enhance it.
My seat was in the 10th row, and I was able to see the whole stage and decently see the facial expression of the actors (Another shout-out to Rush Tickets!). The stage set was spectacular. There was a multi-facet building, which turned into a wide range of key architectures in the story from the fancy Duke’s residence to Rigoletto’s average-looking house. It was gigantic as it was high as the ceiling, and it was spinning at a fairly fast speed (appx. 10 seconds/spin) with as many as 50 actors on it. It was funny to later find a critique’s comment in a review on the Wall Street Journal I read on the way home that said the turning set “supplies some drama, but more often distraction. Upstaging the singers at critical moments”.
Although I thought I did not know any music from Rigoletto, I definitely recognised “Le donna è mobile” straight away. The aria has a catchy melody, and I am certain that many people would recognise it too. Another highlight from the night “Bella figlia dell’amore”, a quartet sang in Act 3. As a vocal harmony lover, Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys has been my inspiration, but from now on I will definitely start learning from these beautiful opera songs too.
View from the seat after the performance
Overall, my first opera experience was a fabulous one, and I am already aiming at the next week’s “Le Nozze di Figaro”. I personally strongly recommend anyone interested in seeing an opera try out rush tickets options, especially if you live in the city and can make it to the Lincoln Center after work or school. You will not regret it.
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