Saturday, October 24, 2009
A Day at the Opera
Going to the opera has always been an expensive undertaking. After you pay for all that scenery, costuming and make-up, soloists, choruses, extras, orchestra members and everything else, it's a wonder anyone can afford it. In fact, opera attendance all over the world has been waning because many people don't have the price of a ticket.
There is nothing quite as wonderful as dressing up and going to an opera house, but there's something almost as good. The Metropolitan Opera in New York has started to do simulcasts of its Saturday matinees and showing them in HD at movie theatres around the country and the world. During the intermissions, a famous opera singer serves as MC and conducts interviews with various members of the cast and crew, and you get to see the backstage area as the techies set up for the next act. Not just any movie theatre may do this - they have to have a sound system that passes muster with the Met, so that you can enjoy the quality of the voices as much as those sitting in the expensive seats in New York.
So, today at 10:00 a.m. I paid my $22 at the Edwards Renaissance theatre in Alhambra, California and took a seat in the third row to enjoy Verdi's Aida. I sat in the third row because everything behind it was filled. My friend Alice, who has been attending these showings since they began last season, said that the theatre used to be only about 40% filled. Word is spreading. And what a pleasant way to spend a Saturday morning--and half of the afternoon, given the length of this particular opera.