Sunday, October 24, 2010

"Boris Godunov" and Popcorn

Opera is for stuffy old rich people.

Or is it?

Yesterday, I took a four-hour bus trip to New Haven to watch "Boris Godunov" broadcast live from the Met. It was a riveting experience (the opera, not the bus ride. . .although the leaves are beautiful at this time of year.) :-)

In some ways, I think I enjoyed the broadcast performance more than I could have enjoyed front row seats at the actual Met. Through the lens of a camera, I was able to experience the dramatic and musical prowess of the performers in a very intimate way. I was also able to witness interviews with the leads, the director, and the conductor and to follow the cast backstage as set pieces were switched during each of the three intermissions. And what's more, I was able to snack on peanut butter cups and popcorn without fear of censure from pearl-laden old ladies peering through opera glasses!

The movie theater in New Haven was packed. . .but my friend and I seemed to be the only two people under age fifty in attendance. :-) A season of live broadcasts from the Met seems like such a fantastic, gap-bridging concept, and I think that even young people who have never been exposed to opera might enjoy this sort of full-sensory experience (particularly in such an informal setting). So why didn't I see more--as in any--Yale students there? Come on, kids; you can come in sneakers and bring your popcorn!

The four-plus-hour opera was lavishly-produced (at any given point, there might be 150+ chorus members, elaborate set pieces, and even live horses on the stage!), artistically-directed, and beautifully-acted and sung. The plot itself is a bit more substantial than your typical operatic storyline, and the characters were uniformly well-developed and well-performed (Mussorgsky's through-composed score helps the actors to delve, quite successfully, into the inner psyche of their characters). According to one reviewer, "German basso Rene Pape dominates the stage as Boris. A big man with a big voice and a big personality, Pape delivers the sort of visceral operatic experience one does not often get these days. But Boris is not just big, he is complex: he must also be a loving father to his children and the reflective, concerned father to his people. Pape gives us a multidimensional character whose musings and troubles linger with us long after the performance has ended. Bravo!"

For anyone who is interested, here is the link to a youtube clip from the broadcast: Boris Godunov Clip

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