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We are thinking of taking in the opera while visiting NYC. Our dates are limited. Here are the choices for the days we can attend.....


6 - Die Walkure

7 - Cav/Pag

8 - L'Elisir d"Amore

9 - Rigoletto

This is our first time seeing opera at the Met. We have been to many ballet performances at the Met, but never the opera.

What do you think?


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I would select by cast:

Die Walkure: Even though I personally don't like James Morris, almost everyone I know swears by his Wotan and thinks I'm crazy, and I don't know if there are much stronger casts than Christine Brewer, Waltraud Meier, and Johan Botha. It's also the last time to see this venerable production, before it's put out to pasture. Levine is conducting, which will be a treat.

If you like Wagner at all, this would be my recommendation. (And if you go, I'll live vicariously through you :tiphat:) It's a long opera, though and a 6:30pm start.

Cav/Pag: It looks like Waltraud Meier as Santuzza, which I'd be happy to hear if I were in NYC, with Jose Cura singing both tenor roles; the last time I heard him on the radio he was very fine. Nuccia Focile (Nedda) is a great favorite of Seattle Opera General Director Speight Jenkins, and I've heard her in a number of roles in the Italian rep. She has a lovely voice and a warm, Italianate quality, but I tend to prefer more Germanic voices. It looks like Christopher Maltman is singing Silvio, which would be right in character: velvet voice, a terrific actor, and a bit of a hottie.

Anyone know anything about the conductor, Rizzo?

Rigoletto: All performances in April star Diana Damrau (Gilda) and Joseph Calleja (Duke of Mantua), both of whom have gotten raves in a number of roles, and the conductor, Riccardo Frizza is superb. I don't know much about the baritone Roberto Frontali, who has to carry the show. He's gotten some nice mentions for recordings of other roles:

Ford in Falstaff

Marcello in the duet in the last act of La Boheme

Maybe someone else here has heard him?

L'Elisir d'Amore: I've only seen this once, when I was comped, because I'm too much of a grump to see a comedy that's not bittersweet. But it's with Angela Gheorghiu -- people either love her or hate her, it seems -- and Rolando Villazon, who's had his problems recently, but also has given some nice performances. I find myself too nervous listening to him, like Ben Heppner, because I'm never sure if everything is going to go okay. But that's me, and I'm sure he'll be infectiously charming in this role. Vassallo cut a fine figure in the HD broadcast of "I Puritani" -- he was the villain -- but reviews were mixed about his singing.

Hopefully other people will chime in.

You could also "Ask Figaro", who tries to match your personality to the type of opera you should see:


(My matches are "Il Trovatore" -- so right -- and "Adriana Lecouvreur" -- so wrong)

Just a note about the Met: If you are in the Family Circle, the performers may look like ants, but the sound off the ceiling is divine.

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Visuals are avery important to me. Much as I'd love to see the Walkure, I don't think I'd try to fit it into a busy visit to New York. Engjoying Wagner takes time and leisure. An afternoon of meditation in a semi-dark room, for example. And a high-protein, easily digestible meal an hour or two before the curtain.

Elisir I'd prefer to see in a smaller theater. After seeing Rondine a few months ago, I'll take a pass on Gheorghiu. Villazon did not sing his scheduled Edgardo in Met HD/Live's Lucia just a month ago, so who knows ... ?

I've already seen Rigoletto this season, not at the Met, so I think I'd go for Cavelleria/Pagliacci.

I grew up with Caruso records, so the big numbers of Cav/Pag were over-familiar to me. I avoided this opera for years until 2 seasons ago when Palm Beach Opera brought in the Dallas Opera production with an excellent cast. I was surprised how much I ejoyed it.

Visuals and stage direction are very important to me. The photos of the Met production are impressive, as is the cast. Helene asks about the conductor, Pietro Rizzo. His bio shows that this is a BIG step up for him. He's in his mid 30s and has worked mostly in smaller Scandinavian, German, etc., companies. Maybe this will be a break-through production for him, and you would be able to say: "I was there when he made his Met debut." :tiphat:

Taking the "Figaro" quiz on the Met's website was a disconcerting experience. I had never even heard of half the choices on the multiple choice quiz and felt quite out of touch. But I ended up with Queen of Spades (YES!!!) and Lucia (pretty good).

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Thank you for your wonderful insights and suggestions. Bart, I am totally on the same page with your regarding Wagner. It's funny as I just needed to hear someone else say what I was thinking.....Honestly, my DD and I are not experienced opera goers and wanting a pleasurable night of lovely music and singing. "Rigoletto" sounds just fine. And yes, SandraO, Verdi agrees with me also. Now, I will take a look at what seats are available. I have sat in various areas of the Met and am somewhat aware of its beauty and its pitfalls! However, I am most appreciative of your suggestions as it applies to opera which is different than seating for the ballet.

I love this board. Your wisdom and experience are the best. Grazie!

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The Met presents different "challenges" for the opera and the ballet. ABT performs on that huge stage and you can get some excellent perspectives from different areas of the house. As I attend opera there I noticed that the sound is not "optimized" unless you get the full effect of it bouncing off the ceiling.

I noticed the sound somewhat attenuated under the balconies even for ballet and I at times wanted to "turn up the volume", but the dance was the main attraction so I let it pass. For the opera it's another story and to my lousy ears I need all the range and volume so I like to sit close (not usually possible) or in the front sections of the upper levels because the sound is really much brighter and louder. It feels as if it's baffled under the balconies. Perhaps I am crazy, but this would be my suggestion for listening at the Met as opposed to just seeing at the Met.

I was fortunate to get some very close orchestra seats for an opera rehearsal and the intimacy of the singing was incredible. It was a bit close to take in the whole thing without turning your head from side to side and might not be good for the grand scenes with the full corps or company but for the arias and solo type work it is a great experience.

But most of the productions DO utilize that massive stage and so to take it all in it's best to sit back a bit, of course that would be in the most expensive seats which mortals can't afford. We can dream can't we?

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I can second SanderO's suggestion. I had a "mini-3" subscription a few years ago, and the seats were different for each performance. I sat in the back of the orchestra, and the difference in sound in the seat that was one row under the Grand Tier overhang was significant from the seat I had just a few rows ahead -- still far back -- without the overhang.

There must be some additional reverb, though, off the side walls in the boxes. I saw a wonderful performance of "Ariadne auf Naxos" from a Grand Tier or Dress Circle box close to the stage, and the sound wasn't as muted as it was in the Dress Circle under the Balcony overhang. (I've never sat in the Grand Tier proper, even when my high school got a piles of tickets to student performances in the 70's.) Maybe it was being so close to the orchestra that countered the overhang from the boxes above, but the sound was very different and much more vivid.

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Somewhat OT but one day I had a meeting in the late morning across from Lincoln Center. When the meeting finished I walked through the plaza which was filled with the audience during the first intermission from Madama Butterfly reheasal (Anthony Menghela production). I decided to see if I might make a beautiful day in catch the last two acts so I approached the ticket fella and asked if I could sit in for the rest of the performance. He reached in his pocket and handed me a ticket!

In I went. The was dead center first row parterre. YIKES. Then followed the most delightful afternoon in the most perfect seat in the house. Stuff happens, I got lucky that morning. It was unforgettable.

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I want thank all of you for all the great responses in helping me select an evening at the opera. DD and I have changed our direction and decided to go to the new "Westside Story" instead. We would have loved to do both, but $ and time did not permit. DD also knows some of the performers in WSS and has never seen a live production of this wonderful show. I hope it is as good as the reports coming in to me......

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socalgal, I see -- based on your post on the West Side Story thread -- that printcess's review had some influence on your decision. :dry: I hope you'll tell us what you thought about the production and performances. This is something that I suspect a LOT of us who visit NYC from time to time are interested in.

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I am planning my 2nd and 3rd trips to see WSS. Going from the East side to the West :sweatingbullets:

Honestly, I have not stopped signing the songs since Friday night. I can't wait to see other reviews. I am sure on the 2nd and 3rd time, I will see a lot that I might have missed through all of those tears.

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If you are in town and want to go the met and the $$ are short, try to come 2hrs early and get rush tix in the orchestra for $20 each. Can't beat that! They'll be on the sides but still you'll love it. I saw/heard I Puritani from rush seats and it was the best $20 I ever spent!

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You could also "Ask Figaro", who tries to match your personality to the type of opera you should see:


(My matches are "Il Trovatore" -- so right -- and "Adriana Lecouvreur" -- so wrong)

:clapping: Last season, out of curiosity, I followed Helene's link and the opera Figaro spit out at me was Madama Butterfly. I practically screamed "no-o-o-o-o-o!!!" at the computer screen; I detest that opera. This year the suggestions were Stiffelio and Simon Boccanegra. Much better.

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