OPERA on the big screen

I went to see Der Rosenkavalier at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre last week.  The Met has been showing Saturday operas in cinemas across the country – and beyond – for several years. Friends have told me about it and I finally made it.  Renee Fleming was retiring her role as Die Marschallin, apparently a signature role, and I figured why not now.

If you like opera, you must go. You are actually watching it live and the view is probably better than any seat at the Met. Much of what you see is the whole stage, but there are often close ups. Opera is not known for acting as it is for singing, but the cast for this show is top notch, as they always are at the Met, and the acting was very good.

In a nutshell, an older woman of status is having an affair with a young man. Her husband is always away, and he never appears on the set. After a night of romping, the Marschallin (Renee’s role, the wife of the Field Marshall), she realizes that this affair can not last, that her young lover will one day  leave her for one his own age. And that sets the rest of the show into action.

The young lover is sung by a mezzo soprano – a female (these are known as ‘trouser’ roles) and as often happens in opera, this character must disguise him(her)self as a female, a maid, in order to seem to have a reason to be in the Marschallin’s bedroom. Considerable comedy in this show.

Anyway, it’s odd watching a live performance on the screen. Even intermissions are live and one can see sets being moved and re-built. For instance, Acts I & III were in rooms with wood floors, but Act II was a palace with “tile” floors, which was set down during the break. You see actors leave the stage and some brief interviews.

Should I clap? Well I did as did many in the audience. Did it bring a tear to my eye? Yes, of course, the singing was so beautiful. Where should you sit? Towards the back and in the middle, not up front like I did, having bought my ticket the day prior. The box office sold wine, coffee, sandwiches and snacks, but I saw several people bring out sack lunch and small bottles of wine.

This may be as close as I get to opera at the Met, so I’ll be back.

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