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18 May 2008

The opera.

I went to see Verdi's Macbeth last night at the Met. I'm going to do a bullet point thing here, but before I dig into it, I want to say unequivocally that although I'm not much of an opera buff, I had an awesome time.
  • There was a guy there in a cape. In the audience. And not the kind of cape you'd expect in the Grand Tier of The Metropolitan Opera. A cape like it just came out of a square-shaped costume package from the Halloween store. It still had all the fold marks, and it was clearly made of the kind of material out of which only Halloween Dracula costumes are made. At first, in fact, I thought it was a costume. But then I followed him long enough to see him talk to someone, to see if he was wearing fake fangs (what, intermission is long), and he wasn't. He was just wearing a costume store cape. I wanted to take a picture so bad.
  • I like the company numbers a lot better than the solos. I think this lands me in the minority of those that end up at the opera house, but it's true. When all those people are singing at once with their big opera voices, it's awesome.
  • I've always known this about myself, but last night really cast it into stark relief: technical prowess impresses me a lot less that does...pretty melody. The gasps and whispers and shouts of "BRAVO!" after each run-filled solo were well deserved to be sure, but I was, for the most part, the most pumped after the company pieces and when the orchestra was doing its thing. The one exception, I suppose, was towards the end when Macduff finds out that his family has been murdered. That guy's voice was totally boss and rad.
  • There's very little acting in opera.
  • The director made some strangely anachronistic decisions. For example, the armies carried rifles, not swords, and in one scene, drove a Jeep to battle. Most of the bad guys wore black leather jackets. But still, many scenes took place in the castle, and all the murders still happened with knives. When Baz Luhrmann reinterpreted the world of Romeo and Juliet to fit it into a modern gang war, he really took great pains so that it would make as much sense as possible. Here, it felt like someone just said something to the effect of "Guns are cooler than swords. Give them guns." Which, I mean, come on, is totally fine with me.
  • Some of the things they do with the set at The Met are really cool. I remember thinking the same thing the only other time I've ever been.
  • I hadn't read Macbeth since 9th grade, which was like 13 years ago. I had totally forgotten that Macduff was not "of woman born" because he was born by Cesarean section. I can't be the only one that wants to call bullshit on that, right?


  1. you've also been to the met in october of 2001 (with placido domingo in the lead). to be honest, i fell asleep during that one. afterwards, i told my dad about the opera. he recommended to me that if you see an opera, make sure it is an italian one and not a german one. they are a lot more lively. i also agree with you about the company numbers/solos, except in the rare cases of songs like nessun dorma.

  2. Yeah, there was that time as well...although the opera was the reason we went to the city, it sort of takes a back seat in my memory to the other things that happened on that trip (failing to sneak into bars, etc.)