Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The MET Opera Tries To Step Off Its Pedestal

Those who were interested in last Saturday's New York Times page one article, by Daniel Wakin, on plans by new General Director Peter Gelb to reconceive the Metropolitan Opera [the MET Opera; or, perhaps even better, why not the Metropolitan National Opera?] should check out the Metropolitan Opera's new, inviting Web-site to learn more about this art-form which is beginning to attract greater general interest in America. (I find the Metropolitan Opera's Web-site superior to the San Francisco Opera's Web-site.)

I suggest readers begin with the Metropolitan Opera Web-page on Discovering Opera:


From that page, readers new to opera can find quite helpful suggestions for attending an opera performance based upon four different levels of previous exposure to opera; an excellent link to all the dramatic stories of the operas (often referred to as the opera librettos or "little books"); and, hopefully very soon, an on-line, multi-media, virtual backstage tour of the MET Opera House.

Personally, I'm excited by the Metropolitan Opera's plan to host a visiting opera company from Petersburg, Russia, in the summer of 2007, for two full (four evening) showings of the famous Wagner Ring Cycle, in a visually stunning new production by a stage designer who trained as an avant-garde architect in Moscow before moving to New York City (in 1979) when Russia was still part of the old, communist Soviet Union. These two complete showings of the Ring Cycle will take place between July 13 and July 19, 2007. (I've seen this Russian National Opera Company about a dozen times in Petersburg, Russia; New York; and Washington, D.C., and I highly recommend it. The Company is called -- confusingly -- both the Kirov Company and the Mariinsky Company. It should be renamed, in my opinion, "simply" the Russian National Opera Company of Petersburg.)

I'm also excited that, by 2007, Americans will have the opportunity to see new operas by Americans on both the East and the West Coasts in the same year. In 2007, the MET Opera will be staging Tan Dun's new opera "The First Emperor" (based upon episodes from the American composer's native China); while the San Francisco Opera, also under a new, and American, General Director, will be staging Philip Glass's new opera "Appotomax", based upon a central episode in the American Civil War of the 19th century. (Philip Glass's most recently published opera received rave reviews last summer in Germany, and will soon receive its American first showing in San Antonio, Texas.)

The MET Opera plans to lower some of its ticket prices, next fall, from $26 to $15; and I assume that the San Francisco Opera will also choose to lower some of its ticket prices if it too wants to attract new viewers. (Making younger, parenting, and poorer viewers stand when there are almost always extra seats available is pretty stupid, and unfair to taxpayers, in my opinion.)

Here is the link to Daniel Wakin's front page story in Saturday's New York Times, entitled "As Audience Shrinks, the Met Gets Daring":


The Russian National Opera Company of Petersburg's stunning new production of Wagner's mythic Ring Cycle (four evenings), will be shown two times at the Metropolitan National Opera House, in New York City, in July 2007.

Image credit: Metropolitan Opera Web - site. www.metoperafamily.org


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