Opera at the Lincoln Center.
Have you ever seen the movie Moonstruck? It’s this fantastic little film centering around an Italian family in Brooklyn, starring Cher (yes, CHER) and Nicolas Cage. Way back in the day. It’s this hilarious, overly-dramatic story and just happens to be one of my family’s favorite movies. In the film, Cher gets asked to go on a special date to the Met Opera House, and she gets all done up – hair, nails, clothes, the works. And then she gets to the Opera and just cries and cries because the experience is so beautiful and meaningful to her.
That, my friends, was my grid for what the Met Opera would be like. So when Stevie and I were offered FREE tickets from our sweet friend Ina, there wasn’t even a question about whether or not we would go. Yes, yes! A thousand times yes! So off we went. We went to the Opera!
// Lincoln Center Fountain //
// Walking to The Lincoln Center. Check out my epic photobomber. //
// Just warming up my chords. In case, ya know, they need some back up. //
// Inside The Met //
// Our view from the top. //
// That famous gold-leaf ceiling. //
This particular opera was Arabella, and it was entirely in German. Now listen, I’m going to be honest with you. I can be honest with you, right? No judgment here? I was really excited to go to the Opera. I was really excited outside, taking all sorts of fanciful pictures by the fountain. I was really excited when we were ushered to our fabulous seats and got to stare up at the epic gold-leaf ceiling. And I was really excited when the curtain went up and the room darkened, signaling the beginning the show. However, my excitement came to a crashing HALT when the performance started. The Opera is… well, operatic. And it’s not ignorant to say that most operas consist of large women screaming singing at each other throughout the performance. Because that’s pretty much all that happened during the first act. I might have fallen asleep. By might I mean that I definitely fell asleep. For about thirty minutes. Don’t judge me. You said you wouldn’t judge me! I didn’t understand what was going on! I DON’T SPEAK GERMAN.
Let’s Get a Disclaimer Going Here.
I am almost seven months pregnant. I have to eat, drink and pee around the clock. It’s obnoxious to anyone who doesn’t love me (and still grating to those who do, lets be real.) I didn’t know that the opera would be FOUR HOURS LONG. I didn’t know that I should have packed snacks and drinks and prepared for a day-long event. I just didn’t know. So my low blood sugar and parched throat (and measly 5 hours of sleep the night before) could have had a LOT to do with my annoyance/lack of considerate understanding during the first act. However, something changed. Something wonderful happened.
When Stevie started laughing.
It may or may not have woken me up. I look over, and he’s laughing (along with members of the audience), at whatever is happening on stage. There he is, giggling knowingly, as if he’s in on some sort of cheeky joke with the cast. I hissed at him,
“How do you know to be laughing right now?! YOU DON’T SPEAK GERMAN!!”
He just smiled and pointed down, down past the row in front of us, where someone had turned on a monitor with subtitles.
Eureka! I didn’t know we had those!
He helped me find the dark button for a secret screen right in front of my face, and suddenly things got interesting. Suddenly, there was a story to follow. Suddenly I was excited again. Thank goodness, right? Because I was starting to feel guilty. You know, for my attitude, my appalling ignorance, and my lack of enthusiasm for this incredibly exclusive privilege. And also - we had two more intermissions and two more acts to follow. It was time to get on board this train. It was time to get into the opera.
The second act had a gorrrrrrrgeous set depicting a ball in 18th-century Vienna. There was dancing and pretty costumes, too. Thankfully, Stevie ran across the street during the intermission to get me fuel. He sneaked in an iced coffee and a Starbucks protein box, and for this I will be forever thankful. He revived me. Woke me from my low blood-sugary stupor. Which completely prepped us for the third act, which showcased a little bit of scandal thrown in for good measure. Wild stuff. We were pretty shocked by the story’s turn of events. And the voices, well, they remained operatic. But they were incredible. So strong, so incredibly disciplined and trained. These people are renowned, some of the world’s greatest voices in their craft. How can someone sing full-out for 4 hours straight? It’s honestly athletic what those people can do.
// This guy.
He deserves an A+ in husbandry. And also... here he is reflecting on what we just saw. BAHAHA. //
All in All?
I think the opera is a distinctive kind of experience. I don’t think you can expect to naturally love it the first time. It an acquired taste, like when you first drink coffee or try snails or something. It’s just not an automatic LOVE. Which I hate to admit, because I fancy myself a theater person, so I thought this kind of performance would be right up my ally. But I don’t think we (we, being the broader American people) should be too hard on ourselves. It’s not totally our fault that there is practically zero exposure to the opera in our education system – I mean, we are ignorant to this art form, but should we really be punished for not knowing how to appreciate it? I can’t say that I loved it. But at the end, I liked it an awful lot and I can say with complete honesty that the show was a masterpiece. The kind of masterpiece that you KNOW took a really long, tedious time to create, even though you don’t totally understand all that went into it. Like trying to understand… a really hard math problem? That’s a bad example. But that’s all I’ve got for ya.
Thankfully, my beautiful, cultured friend Ina was totally on the same page. She admitted to feeling similarly about the 1st act. Which made me feel better about my audacious and idiotic lack of initial appreciation. What can I say? We can’t all be Cher, welling up with tears at the creative masterpiece that is the opera. Some of us, well, we’ve got to feel bad for not being in on the joke. We’ve got to be shown how to use the subtitles. And we have to fumble our way through attempting to understand something loftier than ourselves. But that’s just a metaphor for life, right? Mmm see how I turned this around? Now you’re not judging me so harshly, are you?
No. I bet you’re still judging me.
Yeah, I’m gonna have to live with that.