FYI - This is the first of a two-parter about opera. I saw my first two big big operas recently. That’s a little sad and embarrassing to admit. I’d caught a few on PBS but I had never actually gone. Now that’s been rectified. Anyway, the first was Nabucco. Theoretically it was an epic tale, about the beginning of the Babylonian Captivity. I definitely loved the subject matter. Excepting that, I was pretty underwhelmed. Granted, we were sitting in the nauseatingly top balcony, but honestly there was nothing going on. The chorus would enter and exit laboriously (no wonder they were captured!) and would stand there with their swords while a single female came and ripped them away. That was her big victory. There was no real acting at all among the leads. One of my favorite moments was the baritone king singing about the skies turning red with blood while looking down. These people had NO idea what they were singing. And I know the opera voice is not my forte, but there were no voices that were really exceptional enough to pull it out of its downward spiral. We left at intermission. It makes me wonder… who got to direct this? I checked. Basically a musician with no directing experience at all. (That will be a key point for part 2, so remember that.)
I also got to see a live telecast of Philip Glass’ opera Satyagraha. (Ok, it was not AT the Met, but it was live in HD, so it may have been better than in the backIt is a minimalist opera about the life of Ghandi. It’s very abstract so a bit hard to explain. The text none of his work – in fact it is the text of the Bhagavad Gita, which is in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is meant to be heard and not read, so there were virtually no supertitles. Of course it didn’t directly correlate to what was going on either. In fact, very little happened. It was a transcendent moving picture inspired by the wisdom of India. It was striking. … it was also 4 hours. I wanted to stay until the end, but when the last hour of the show can be broken down into a man singing a scale over and over and about a dozen bits of blocking, I fell a bit victim to its more soporiphic qualities. But for what they were trying to do, the show was a complete success.
Regardless, its epic – its right up my alley. I’m looking forward to quite a bit more in my future.