It was a cold night in the ol’ hot town last night when I dragged my uncultured butt to The Metropolitan Opera to see my first opera, Rigoletto. Under the adept baton of Riccardo Frizza, I heard a blisteringly precise orchestra deliver the music of this famous piece, the only song of which “La donna e’ mobile’” I knew. It was an interesting, if somewhat long-winded 3 hours sitting in the plush, sold-out Met orchestra, reading the translation on my personal screen, marveling at the pomp and circumstance that is opera in the 21st century.
I’m not about to recount the story of the show, convoluted and melodramatic as Italian opera sometimes is (what I know of it of course) but Zack Brown’s sets (4 different ones) and costumes were suburb as were the talents of all the folks on stage. In fact, in my unrefined way, I was more impressed with the arched lumbering, silted singing of the chorus of “Rigoletto” than its stars…and its stars were very good indeed. Really, opera is a whole different type of theatrical experience than I (and I dare say most people) are used to. It can be comical at times (as this was) maudlin (yes, it was that too), and at times, I dare say it-while freely admitting I’m an uncultured slob-a bit too long. (Though to be fair, they do give you these nice, ridiculously long intermissions so you stay at the theater longer than usual, in effect tricking you into believing that stupidly high price you paid for the ticket was worth it).
Rigoletto doesn’t have the strongest of plots, but again, the sheer spectacle of an opera overwhelms so much that you tend to let some stuff slide. Hell, it was a night out and it was nice to do something this high-brow. I really did enjoy the arch-ness of it all, the plodding, the formality of the main players taking bows after each act, all that folderol from the gloved ushers to the women in gowns, all of it makes going to ‘The Opera’ at ‘The Met’ a rare treat.