I know it’s not mainstream, but I must confess that I love going to the opera.
Thanks to the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD transmissions to movie theatres worldwide, it’s possible to experience this more often. On certain Saturdays, audiences around the world can settle into their theatre seats and experience the live action from the Met in New York.
When you arrive, you see the audience members at the Met get settled into their seats. You watch on the big screen as they flip through their Playbills, chat with their seatmates and gaze around at the impressive (gold leaf ceiling anyone?) surroundings. You hear that pre-performance murmuring.
You can hear the orchestra warming up in the pit.
A host welcomes you from backstage and you see the singers and stagehands making their last-minute preparations before the curtain goes up.
“Maestro to the pit.”
You get ready to settle in for an entire afternoon journey to a different world.
Two different worlds, really.
The world of the story.
And the behind the scenes world of what it takes to stage such an impressive production.
You lose yourself in the dramatic plot, staging and costumes and, during intermissions, you are treated to backstage interviews with the singers and others involved in the production. You watch as the stagehands work their magic with the scenery.
At the end of the afternoon you emerge into the light of the real world to once again take your place and play your own role(s).
I trace my interest in and love of opera to my Dad.
I remember listening to the live radio broadcasts with my Dad over the years.
“This is the Texaco Metropolitan Opera Radio Network!”
Since these broadcasts offered audio only, our eyes and hands were free – so we usually worked on something else while we listened.
We’d print pictures in the darkroom or putter in the garage.
He even had an encyclopedia-like book that listed the story lines for all the major operas.
Dad had developed his love of opera as a young boy in the 1940s. About the age our son is now, each Saturday he would head to his basement in Huntington, West Virginia and tune his Philco radio to the live Met broadcasts from New York City.
This past Saturday I took my place in the Live in HD theatre audience.
But this time was different.
This time was special.
My Dad and Mom got to come along, my husband joined us, and I even talked (OK, I bribed) our almost-teenaged son to come, too.
Three generations, together, to experience the pageantry that is live opera.
To be honest, this particular production was not one of the Met’s best.
The story line was a bit hard to follow and esoteric.
While I did have tears in my eyes at the end, it was not the full waterfall-of-sobbing that I have at times experienced as the final chords faded away and the “bravos” rang out.
But so far, this has been my favorite.
It was my favorite because we saw it together as a family.
My Dad got his first chance to SEE a live performance from the Met and our son finally agreed to go to one with me.
This was three-generations-doing-something-together special.
Mom and Dad always made it a point to expose my sisters and me to music and art and books and museums and historic sites.
They instilled in us a curiosity and wonder about the world.
I know we didn’t fully appreciate it at the time.
But looking back from 50+ I realize how very lucky we were to have those opportunities.
I don’t know whether our son will eventually love the opera.
But I am glad that his memory of his first opera will also include experiencing it with my Mom and Dad and my husband and me.
The world is a wondrous place, full of beauty and emotion and drama.
The key is to tune in/show up and experience it.
You can go it alone.
But experiencing it together is even better.
To that, I say, “Bravo!!”