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Night At The Opera

Posted in College!, Entropy, NYC Arts (MCHC 1001), Reviews | No Comments »

 

This past Wednesday, my Macaulay seminar class went to see L’Elisir d’Amore, a comic opera by Gaetano Donizetti.  Set in 19th Century Italy, the opera tells the tale of villager Nemorino’s quest for Adina, a rich and beautiful farm owner, in the midst of a very busy “tourist” season.  Such “tourists” include Sergeant Belcore (akin to Disney’s Gaston), his soldiers, and the conman Dulcamara.  Along with the villagers, this colourful cast sings through many a plot twist to spin a fun, clever story.

 

My favorite aspect of the opera’s plot was its interwoven structure; events in the show fed into each other, even if sometimes it became a bit too coincidental.  For example, Adina mentions that Nemorino has a sick uncle, who might not leave Nemorino an inheritance if the he does not visit him.  Later in the opera, the uncle dies and leaves Nemorino a fortune; the plot has continuity!  Yes!  This event feeds into a humorous misunderstanding involving the village maidens and a “love potion”, but I won’t spoil too much for you.

 

Belcore’s name was also interesting for me.  At first, it sounded to me like “Belle cuore”, roughly translating to “beautiful heart.”  It seemed like an irony Donizetti might include; Belcore is a handsome man but is obnoxious and shallow.  Then my professor pointed out the relation to “Belcore” and “bellicose” (“warlike in nature; aggressive, hostile” – ninjawords.com).  Belcore is an aggressive character, as seen by his arrogant pursuit of Adina and in his career in the military.  “There isn’t a beauty who can resist the sight of a plume.  In the end, the mother of Love submitted to Mars, the warrior god,” he sings in “Come Paride vezzoso”. (Don’t you just love the mythology reference?!)

 

 

The opera’s story was great; the experience of going to the opera was equally amazing.  The Metropolitan Opera – the “Met” – must be one of the classiest locations in New York City.  Brilliant chandeliers drawn up as the performance began; lush red carpeting… everywhere; an enormous lake of people wearing tuxedoes and eye-catching dresses and even kimonos!  It is gorgeous.  Outside, Lincoln Center adds to the atmosphere, with a glowing fountain that echoes the appearance of the chandelier, a rectangular “wishing well”, and – my favorite – the grass steps.

 

 

The sound in row K of the family circus – a.k.a. the seats three feet from the ceiling –  was rich and full.  Even though we were really far away, we could hear every note, every trill… it was great.  The singers were… wow.  Just wow.  Go and see it.  They made music-pasta (or paper towels) with their voices (a reference to any readers who had Mrs. Nolemi).  Also, even though the facial expressions were lost on us, the large gestures conveyed a lot of meaning, so kudos to the director!  The costumes helped, as well; for instance, Adina’s red skirt and top hat (oh goodness!  The top hat!  So glorious!)  helped identify characters regardless of distance.

 

So if you’re looking for something fancy and fun to see this season, I do recommend Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore.  And don’t worry about not understanding Italian; the back of the seats have subtitles.

 

P.S. – What did my fellow opera goers think of the performance?

 

Links:

Synopsis: http://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/history/stories/synopsis.aspx?id=436

Tickets/Info: http://www.metoperafamily.org/opera/elisir-amore-donizetti-tickets.aspx