With MET Operas just around the corner (our first will be October 5!), we asked our student “MET Opera guru,” Alex Leslie to give us some insight into the MET Operas this season. You can certainly tell that he loves MET Opera, and hopefully, you’ll sign up for a MET Opera and fall in love with it, as well.
MET Operas are, of course, long. It’s a difficult performance genre to get into for several reasons: we don’t encounter opera often in our day-to-day lives, the texts are largely non-English, and it seems a bit daunting to get a grasp of the field. I don’t claim to have all that much knowledge of opera, but I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts and what I think will be especially worth seeing this season as a bit of a jumping-off point!
The MET Opera Live in HD season tends to be selected from the works of accepted greats, so it’s a safe bet that whatever they’re performing, they’re doing it for good reason. Puccini is certainly one of said ‘greats.’ Two of his operas will be shown this season, Tosca in the fall and le Boheme in spring. Puccini is an expert at portraying and building emotion, and I find Tosca particularly moving: “Vissi d’arte” towards the end of Act II and “E lucevan le stele” from Act III are especially famous arias.
Falstaff is based on the comic antics of Shakespeare’s fat knight from the Henry IV plays and the Merry Wives of Windsor. Verdi didn’t do much in comedy, but we see both the frill and the pomp of his style here. Longtime and fan-favorite MET conductor James Levine will be back atop the podium for this performance after an extended leave due to health issues, whose skills in themselves make this performance worth attending.
Dvorak’s Rusalka will feature MET regular Renee Fleming as the titular character, considered one of her major roles. Song to the Moon is a particularly well-known piece from this opera, and if you search for it on youtube you’ll find one of the top results is one of Fleming’s concert renditions. Dvorak’s music has a rich complexity that definitely marks his work as distinct.
Werther is considered alongside MET-favorite Manon as Massenet’s best. Massenet is an expert at setting the listener on edge with his composition, paralleling the angst of the plot in its music. In a genre filled with tragic tales, Werther’s is certainly one of the most consistently tragic.
Cosi Fan Tutte is my very favorite comedic opera, so it’s a shame we’ll have to wait until spring to see it. The story is based on a classic switch-plot: in order to test the resolve of their lovers, the friends Ferrando and Guglielmo are persuaded by the cynic Don Alfonso to fake military duty in order to return, disguised as Albanians (what else?), and attempt to seduce the other’s lover. Hilarity and fantastic ensemble pieces ensue – definitely a must-see!
Written by Alex Leslie, Class of 2014
To read more and see what is in store for this season, please visit http://performingarts.nd.edu/methd.aspx#.UkG8fIasim4.