Thursday, March 10, 2016

Manon Lescaut - Afterward

Settling into the theatre to watch an opera is a surreal experience for me. The show is early in the day when I am fresh. The ride there only takes 10 minutes. The price of $27 is right. The event could only be better if I had some grandchildren with me, but my choices right now are a 4 year old and a 2 year old – too young yet.

Act III, Manon Lescaut
I have seen Massenet’s Manon, but never Puccini’s opera with the same story: Manon Lescaut. 

Rebecca’s teen-agers are always telling her that they don’t want any spoilers; in fact they don’t want any information – they just like the surprise.

Now that doesn’t stop her from setting the experiences up. Who could have possibly enjoyed As You Like It without knowing something about the tangle of characters and situations about to be seen?

I like that pre-performance set up as well. I carve out time to hear a few melodies and refresh myself with the plot. But I don’t that that is necessary with the opera. Just sitting there with the rich sound and sight would be enough. And we, who are addicted to HD Live, have come to expect live interviews with the performers, a trip to the rehearsal hall or to the place where costumes are created, or to listen to the creative director explaining why he made the choices he did. Peter Gelb, the General Manager of the New York Metropolitan Opera, was also interviewed.

I was idly listening to him and thought I noticed that he had the same frames for his glasses that I had. I took mine off to check. Too dark. But I could feel laughter peeling inside of me. I am wired to check details.

The opera was 213 minutes of sheer pleasure: the costuming, the film noire setting, the perfect acting and singing, the staging of the chorus, and the blocking of the action. There is a reason that I like to go back more than once to the same production. I learned that from a woman many years ago at the Crowfoot Cineplex. She would stay right to the end of the music, long past the credits, for in those days they would play the music of the opera until everyone was out of the theatre. She is the one who told me that it is OK to come back and hear the same production again. I believed her.

Butterfly is coming up soon. There are 3 showings, two days apart here. The last time Butterfly came it was to a sold out crowd. I am going to assure myself of having a ticket before I drive up to find I can’t get in. More Puccini. Yes!


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