Category: Opera (page 1 of 2)

Opera: Tosca

Truthfully, I was not sure what I would think of this performance. I had never attended an opera before, so having the opportunity to see this production live was an entirely new experience for me. I was aware that operas are known for their extremely dramatic style and theatrics. As result, I was worried that perhaps its style would throw me off and taint the experience for me. I was wrong.
I remember walking into the Metropolitan Opera House and being instantly dazzled by it. As you walk in, there are lovely golden, snowflake-like chandeliers that dangle from the ceiling. The walls and steps are covered with red velvet that cushions every step you take. Everything is ornamented in colors of gold, silver and red. It was both elegant and striking. The concert area itself was just as striking. From the ceiling, hanged a beautiful sphere chandelier that glittered in the light. As much as I loved the elegance and style of the Opera House, I also fell in love with the opera itself.
Tosca, is a rather complex opera that deals with the concepts of betrayal, extreme passion and an infinite love. It is also one of the very few operas in which the storyline is tied to a specific time and place, Rome on June 17, 1800. I thought that it was interesting to see the opera set in this time period. Considering that the man who wrote the opera, Giacomo Puccini, was Italian, one would think that having a play with the main characters being supporters of Napoleon rule would be a distasteful topic. However, Puccini welcomed this storyline and concept.
I would have to say that my favorite thing about the opera was Mario’s aria that took place in the last act as he was contemplating his death. I felt that it was a very beautiful and touching performance. I also feel that it was this aria that made me love the opera. There was just so much raw emotion portrayed in that scene and I was actually able to feel that emotion. I don’t get emotionally when watching things like television shows or movies, but I did feel something during this performance that made my eyes water up. I think that the music had a lot to do with the pull on my emotions. In the beginning of the piece, Cavaradossi sings softly with a solo clarinet tune accompanying him. The sound of the single clarinet almost emphasizes the aria’s melancholy sound. As it continues, the single clarinet becomes accompanied by strings such as the violin, double bass and the harp. Cavaradossi’s voice also slowly rises to a louder dynamic becoming fuller and denser, matching the melody of the instrumentation. This gradual rise in dynamics almost mimics Cavaradossi’s oncoming wave of despair and his realization that he is about to die. His aria toys with the concept of life and the realization of the things that you took for granted while you were alive. It was very touching.
I hope that I will be awarded the opportunity to see another opera again.

Henry IV vs Tosca

For me, Henry IV was difficult to follow.  I never liked Shakespearean English, or Shakespeare’s plays in general. However, the play at St. Ann’s was more than about the story.  It was about the setting, the choreography, the lighting, the music, the props, and the actors themselves.

Jade Anouka, the actress who played the prisoner who played Hotspur, was phenomenal.  Her seamless blend of physical activity and line delivery was beautiful.  Easily my favorite character, I loved the enthusiasm and energy in every line of her performance.  The fighting-at-a-distance was satisfying to watch, because the movements were really fluid and the sound effects were a nice touch.  The changing of props in front of us was interesting, in contrast to the opera stage which was much bigger and used higher budget property.  This setup change was integrated into the theater experience with music and steel pans (I love percussion instruments).  The jokes were funny (when I understood them), especially the Scottish independence bit.  I don’t know how I feel about the production “breaking down” at the “hotdog down a hallway” joke, I’m not sure I wanted to be reminded that we were still in a prison.

It reminded me that I couldn’t go to the bathroom for another hour until they opened the gates again.

This brings me to my dislikes.  What I didn’t like about the the performance was the lack of intermission.  Sitting through over 2 hours in one go is not fun for me, it’s one reason I don’t really watch movies.  The confusing plot points took away from the performance as well.

I enjoyed the opera a lot more than the performance, because I felt a wider range of emotions.  The beautiful singing and the detailed stage construction made me like it more.  It felt shorter thanks to the intermissions, which were really good for socializing and just catching a break.  The translation was really thoughtful, the play would’ve done well with a modern English translation as well.  The atmosphere just felt richer overall.  I remember at one point the hair on my arms stood up when Tosca sang.  I think the humor on Tosca is more relatable as well.  Everyone seemed to laugh at the “jealous girlfriend” stereotype, but everyone also shared the respect for Tosca when she murdered her assailant.  The story was so rich (sometimes too many details) but all in all it’s something I would watch again.  Tosca gave me a new perspective on opera, and I’m grateful to have had the chance to experience both the opera and the play.

 

But the opera was better (for me).

Tosca!!

Overall, I’m very glad I saw Tosca!  Having read the story beforehand, I was very excited to see it in action. As a theatre fan, I know how hard it is for singers as performers and I was looking forward to seeing the talent, and I was not disappointed. From the first note to the last the vocals were just impeccable and awe-inspiring. The first act was a bit slow for me, and the intermission could not come soon enough. I thought the jealousy tale was dragged out a bit too much considering its insignificance to the overall plot. In the second act, however, things really picked up. I loved all the drama, and the character who played Scarpia was phenomenal. It was particularly interesting how the torture was not shown on stage, something we are so accustomed to seeing in the digital era. The final act was good, but the second was still my favorite. I felt my heart swell with love as Cavaradossi and Tosca sung about how they would be free at last to live and love. I was not as upset when Cavaradossi died as I was when Tosca died. Cavaradossi died in happiness, thinking he would be free with his loved one. Tosca, contrastingly, died in vain. She died with a broken heart and a murderer. After all, it is a drama.

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View from our seats

View from our seats

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Chandelier in the lobby

Chandelier in the lobby

Tosca Opera Reflection

I had a really exciting time at the performance of Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera theatre last Thursday.  This performance appealed to me more than the ballet because of its’ compelling story. As we discussed in class, there are different ways of delivering a story to the audience. I think that the opera’s singing was able to get the message of the story across more effectively than the dancing in the ballet. Actual words, for me, are a key element in conveying the plot. For the most part, I was able to follow and understand what was going on, where as in the ballet I would find myself getting lost at times in the complexity of the dance moves.

My favorite part of the opera was during act II, where Scarpia, the chief of secret police, interrogates Cavaradossi, the painter. I was amazed at Cavaradossi’s defiant attitude toward Scarpia. Despite all of the torture and verbal harassment, Cavaradossi refuses to give up the location where his friend, Angelotti, an escaped political prisoner, is hiding. This audacity and bravery proves how reliable and loyal a friend Cavaradossi is.

The only part of the opera that I disliked was the length of the intermissions. The intermissions ranged from 30 to 40 minutes. Small breaks in between acts are important for me so that I do not lose interest in the performance. However, I do not think the intermissions should be as long if not almost as long as the acts themselves. Not only does it make the show unnecessarily long, but it also makes it difficult for people in audience to remember what happened in the previous act when the intermission ends.

All in all, I enjoyed the experience very much.

A Reflection of the Opera

During Thursday’s opera, we went to see Tosca. Although I always believed that watching someone sing for two hours would not be very entertaining, I was proven wrong. Partially because of the added story line which came along with the opera, I can successfully say that I found it enjoyable. The only critiques I have is that the seats were literally almost touching the ceiling. There is a plus to this, in that I was able to clearly see what was going on. If I were sitting at the very bottom, I would not see as much, and the set would seem less elaborate. The other critique I have towards this opera is that it was in Italian. Sure, the screen below provided translations, but I found it hard to choose whether to look at the stage or at that screen. Furthermore, you were not able to adjust the screen angle whatsoever, making it somewhat difficult to read. Ironically, there were also Italian subtitles, because as seen when Amanda Hick sang for the class, it is at times difficult to understand something, even though it is in your language. As for the things I especially liked, the detail was one of them. From the blood on the door, to the water and sink on the set in the very beginning, these seemingly trivial details totaled up to make the play more realistic. A line in particular which I liked in the play was when Tosca killed Scorpio and said, “…you are now choking on the blood of those you have killed…” Because of this line, a greater emotional effect was transferred to the viewer. Finally, although I had a feeling Mario might die in the end, I did not expect Tosca to jump off the cliff. If an additional act was to be added to the opera, I would want it to be her revenge plot against the secret police.

Attached below are pictures of some of the major parts of the play.

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Met Opera Reflection: Tosca

 

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Last Thursday, we went to the Met Opera to watch the opera titled Tosca. I was really excited to see this opera especially after the class on Tuesday when we got a little bit of history of opera as well as a taste of the strength and passion of the opera singers. The opera was located in one of my favorite places in Manhattan: Lincoln Center. Just being in that area and feeling the excitement of the people around me was contagious. The inside of the opera house was honestly so beautiful (the chandeliers were my favorite part), and I didn’t mind the long intermissions at all because I got to look around the MET opera.

The story of Tosca was interesting and even thought I didn’t understand what the actors were saying, the singing and music kept me intrigued the whole time. I was really glad that we got a synopsis of the story on Tuesday because it definitely helped me figure out what was going on. The opera as a whole was a great experience. Here are a few moments that really stood out to me:

  1. The song in Act I where Tosca expresses her jealousy of Marcello’s blonde, blue eyed painting. I really liked this song because it was powerful and introduced the character of Tosca in a strong way. The fact that the writers made Tosca’s character extremely jealous made her more interesting and three dimensional. If she were just some woman who was deeply in love with her husband, her character would be like many others. Tosca’s jealousy also added to her fiery personality and made her a little bit irrational/bold which as a character trait explains her decision to stab Scarpio.
  2. The scene where Tosca stabs Scarpio. I thought the end of that song was extremely powerful and it made me happy to see Scarpio die by the hands of the woman he thought he had full control over.
  3. The bright light that came out of the torture room. Visually, I thought the bright light added an element of surprise to the stage. I also thought it was smart to leave what goes on behind the door to the view’s imagination.
  4. The end. Although I predicted that Tosca would die in the end, I still felt a sense of shock as the curtains closed because the end was so dramatic. I loved how Tosca jumped to her death instead of getting shot. I also really liked how the last few seconds of her jump were cut off and the curtains quickly closed after that.

Overall, I really enjoyed the entire production. I still can’t believe that the singers didn’t use microphones!

Tosca Opera Reflection

I thought I would like the opera a lot more than I actually did, which was disappointing. I really didn’t like it until the end of Act II when Tosca killed Scarpia. Even then, Tosca had an extremely long, dragging scene when she took forever to leave Scarpia’s apartment by contemplating about what to do or something. Although the opera had an interesting storyline, I found it really slow and the intermissions were way too long.

I didn’t really like Tosca during Act I because as we discussed in class, the whole jealousy thing over the woman Mario painted was so irrelevant. Tosca was just annoying during the whole first act because of her jealousy, although I did find it a bit funny when she said to Mario to make the woman in the painting’s eyes black. Her jealousy didn’t contribute to the plot at all except when Scarpia came to their house and lied to Tosca saying that Mario was with another woman in the cottage just so the lieutenants could follow Tosca to the cottage. Either way, Tosca ended up finding out what was really going on since Mario told her the truth about him hiding a fugitive (away from the scene), but the jealousy took up so much of Act I and it barely contributed to the plot.

I started to catch the hint that Mario was going to die when Scarpia was telling the lieutenant to do a fake execution just like -insert name here- since that was suspicious. Tosca’s death wasn’t necessarily obvious but I had a feeling she would die as well since there was so much time between when she killed Scarpia and Mario’s “fake” execution. I just thought there was no way she would be able to get away with that; there would be some way the lieutenants would find out about Scarpia’s death.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the whole art being singing either which is ironic since  that is what an opera’s supposed to be. There wasn’t that much going on onstage for me to get lost in the subtitles and miss the action on stage, so that was good. Maybe I would’ve liked it more if the words were simply spoken instead of sung though. I thought the singing made it a little too dramatic at times, which contributed to making the opera a lot slower. Oh well, maybe operas are just not my thing!

Opera Reflections

I never realized how many misconceptions I’ve had about Opera until we actually went to one. I used to think opera was some lady who had powerful vocals singing solo for a long period of time about God knows what.  I don’t remember where I got that impression in my head, but it stuck all the way up to the opera. Maybe a little before considering we were told about the opera by the Opera singer who visited us. I didn’t know that Opera really had much of a story/play aspect to it. I thought it was mainly focused on listening to the vocals and with little to no action other than a person standing and singing. Now I know it’s obviously way more intricate, complex, and developed than that. I know people preferred the ballet and disliked the long intermissions, but I personally didn’t find them that long. That’s because instead of just sitting I went and explored the actual building itself, and that adds the crucial that I believe comes as a package with the experience. You are supposed to take in the high class nature of the event and listen to the sometimes incredibly pretentious conversations because that’s what the opera has always been; a high class social event. It probably takes age and money to really enjoy it, but nonetheless, I did.

Tosca – the Metropolitan Opera

My night at the Opera, after being stuck in the NYC Subway for about an hour and half, was definitely worth the hassle.

After being graced by the beautiful fountain outside the Opera, the inside was no less beautiful. Decorated with crystal chandeliers and beautiful red velvet everywhere, the crowd dressed in their nicest dresses and shoes for a night out, the atmosphere was an accurate preview of what a grand night it would be.

Our seats were high up, where the orchestra looked like little stick figures and it felt as if I could touch the ornate ceiling. But, armed with binoculars and the cute little screens in front of our eyes that translated the words for us, we were ready.

I won’t give details of the summary, plot, or setting, because that is not what made the opera stand out to me. Initially, going into the opera, the image I had in my head was a stereotypical one – a middle-aged European woman standing in one place, belting out notes and lyrics that were beyond anyone’s understanding. However, to my pleasant surprise, to say the least, the stage was decorated as was any other play, and the characters were engaged. They were expressive in their movement, powerful in their singing, and made use of the set, which despite the language barrier, really made it possible for the viewer to understand the storyline.

The combination of the visual and audio elements truly made the opera enjoyable, and redefined what an opera was in my eyes. It was no longer an unengaging, boring event, but instead an event that beautifully combined singing and acting in a way that a play didn’t.

Overall, I am very happy that I had the opportunity to attend the Opera, and perhaps if I didn’t, I would be stuck with the misconception that an Opera would not be worth seeing.

Tosca Reflection – Jack

IMG_4379Last Thursday night, we went to the Lincoln Center and saw “Tosca.” I’ve never seen an opera before, and I have to say, the experience was very enjoyable, perhaps even more than the ballet. I’ve seen a few Broadway shows in my life, including “Phantom of the Opera” and “Wicked”, but seeing an opera is a totally different experience. Broadway shows and plays tell a story through words and actions, while operas add the element of music. The music is able to convey emotions that simply cannot be portrayed through words. In other words, operas are able to “make you feel something” that plays cannot. I definitely felt it at the opera, especially when Tosca reached her highest notes.

 

One thing that I didn’t like was the length of the intermissions. Throughout the play, I found myself immersed in the story, worrying about the fates of Tosca and Cavaradossi (even though I knew full well that it would be tragic). The intermissions disrupted this immersion, and following each intermission, I found it difficult to “re-immerse” myself in the plot. Just imagine taking a 30-minute break in the middle of watching an action-packed movie – it’s just not the same!

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