Watch an opera for a quarter of the price. anywhere in the world
Mar 8, 2009
The world famous Metropolitan Opera House in New York allows anyone in the world to catch a live opera performance in the comfort of their local movie theater, and the experience is well worth it. The "High Definition" screenings run about three and a half hours with two intermissions and feature great camera shots and loud, booming singing and music as though you were sitting in the opera house for a fraction of the price. To see an opear at the Met, tickets range from $70-$400 but for about $22, you can have a fantastic opera experience, like I did this morning, at the 10:00 A.M. screening of America's most popular opera, "Madame Butterfly."
Composed by the great Giacomo Puccini (Tosca, La Boheme), "Madame Butterfly" tells the tragic love story between a young, Japanese geisha and a U.S. Navy officer. Taking place in Nagasaki in the early 20th Century, the officer B. F. Pinkerton engages in a simple marriage agreement with Cio-Cio-San, the Madame Butterfly, after he purchases a house that comes with her as his wife. Pinkerton wooes the 15-year-old Cio-Cio-San, but considers the marriage a fling while to her it is a binding, deep proclamation of love. Pinkerton leaves for 3-years, but she becomes increasingly in love with him as she cares for their son. He returns one day with an American wife, a realization that breaks Cio-Cio-San's heart. She gives her son to be raised by Pinkerton's, and out of shame of being betrayed, she kills herself.
Despite the very melancholic the story, the experience is powerfully moving. By far the best opera experience I've ever seen, the characters are richly developed and the music is absolutely sweeping. Think of "Phantom of the Opera" soaring melodies that raise and lower the dramatic tension. This production had an American, Cristina Gallardo-Domas, as Cio-Cio-San, who was mezmoring both as a singer and an actress. The sets were simple but effective while the costumes were vibrant and complex. The appeal of "Madame Butterfly" is the exoticism of the story, and the production designers did a great job of maximizing the grandness of the Met's stage during sequences, such as when Pinkerton charms Cio-Cio-San at night.
The HD screening seasons shows each opera only one time, and the next two screenings of the seasons are "La Sonnambula" by Bellini on March 21st and "La Cenerentola" (Cinderella) by Rossini on May 9th. These screenings sell out weeks in advance, and my friend and I were very lucky to get standby seats for this morning's performance.
I've seen a few live operas such as "La Traviata" in Venice, Italy and "The Marriage of Figaro" at UCLA, but this performance of "Madame Butterfly" was the most spectacular and moving opera experience I've ever had because the music will blow you away.