Monday, January 9, 2017

Viva la Vie Boheme!

Opera!  We went to the opera!

And we took the kiddos.

It was marvelous.

Mama loves La Boheme (and yes, I know, accents, but I'm not going to figure that out now.)  She has been listening to it for years now, and particularly likes right when Rudolfo meets Mimi, "Non sono in vena" and "Si, mi chiamano Mimi."

And so we decided to go.  And to take the kids. You know, another great cultural experience.  The Met Opera puts the opera on most years; it's one of the classic ABCs--Aida, Boheme, and Carmen.  And they still show the Franco Zefferelli production, which is the same one I saw about twenty-five years ago.  It hasn't aged at all.  Mama hadn't ever seen it.  In fact, we've only been to the opera a couple of times--once in Chicago we saw part of Tosca, with free tickets from a docent, but left after the first act because we were ready to leave.  And we saw Die Fledermaus back in 1994/95.  I remember it mainly because I love the music and Dom Deluise had a role in it that night.

I had gone through my opera phase back in my grad school days.  I think it started with Moonstruck, that wonderful NYC film with Cher and Olympia Dukakis.  I think I got a lot of ideas about NYC from the film long before I moved there.  Including the magnificence of the Met.  I remember seeing the spread for the opera season in The New York Times, with all these different ticket sets--Italian trios, German trios, classic trios.  And for about $20, I could get a Family Circle seat; I bought a set each semester, as I recall, going to the box office itself to book my seats (the olden days!)   I loved it.  La Boheme.  Die Fledermaus.  The Barber of Seville.  Tosca.  The Marriage of Figaro.  Carmen.  I would swear I saw Jessye Norman in Carmen, but I can't find proof that she performed that role in the early 90s when I was going.  I thought it was marvelous.  I have also seen Aida, but in Rome, in the Baths of Caracalla.  I loved it, too, especially outdoors in that setting on a gorgeous Roman summer night.

I was thrilled to go to the opera with Mama and the kids, to share the experience I had enjoyed so well.  The architecture of Lincoln Center, inspired by the Capitoline Hill (yep, in Rome.)  The fountain.  The huge paintings by Marc Chagall.  The glorious crystal chandeliers.  The red velvet.  The men in tuxedoes and women in fashionable gowns.  The old, elaborate costumes on exhibit. The balcony where you can go during the two intermissions.  The little shop (it was a subway-level shop, with a tiny one near the box office; now there's only a big one near the box office.) The xylophone gong.  The restaurant with meals served during intermissions.  The proscenium sculpture.  The caption screens in front of each seat.  The way the chandeliers dim and rise before curtain.  The huge curtains.  That deep stage.  Oh, and the operas themselves--sets, costumes, over-the-top stories, and all that singing without microphones.

 there it was, La Boheme, as wonderful as I recall.  Mama loved it.  I loved it.  We both cried.  And the kids liked it, which is pretty good for a three-hour show sung in Italian, with lots of romance and kissing.  They had my little birding binoculars and monocular, which helped entertain them.  I enjoyed it without them.  The garret set, with the chimneys of Paris in the back.  The stove lit by a play.  Mimi's costume.  The amazing cafe set, with its two levels and dozens of extras.  Love those extras (including a children's chorus), in rich period clothes, doing what we termed "operatic mannequin challenge" during Musetta's song.  The donkey and horse who are part of the first act.  All that snow and fuzzy light of the third act.  And back to the garret again.  I wondered if Mimi's muff ever accidentally rolled off her hand and off the roof of the garret!  I'm sure somewhere in its 100+-year production history, it's happened.

We talked over the opera in our room at the Empire Hotel across the street and the next morning at Smith's for brunch (mmmm, lemony pancakes with whipped ricotta!!)  We had hoped to stay and do town, but all that wonderful aforementioned snow was already falling and with totals upped to around 7", we headed home.

Listening to Maria Callas as Mimi . . . .

No comments:

Post a Comment