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02 November 2011 @ 11:45 pm
The Met's Anna Bolena  
Tonight, Daddy took me to see the Met's production of Anna Bolena, an opera by Donizetti. Obviously, I didn't get to go to New York City - but as you may know, The Met's been broadcasting many of their performances in movie theatres for the last year or two. It's pretty awesome, especially when they perform a relatively obscure opera like Anna Bolena.

Side note: One of these days, I really need to take a course on opera history or music history or something. I don't actually know anything about it, save that I enjoy it. For example, this opera was introduced as a 'masterpiece of the bel canto style' and I really have no idea what the 'bel canto' style encapsulates!

Things that I like about watching opera in the movie theatre:
- You can eat while you watch the show. (Interestingly, though, very few people seem to do so. I guess the need to hear the music clearly creates a social pressure to not slurp your soda and crunch your popcorn.)
- Supplementary materials are provided. At Anna Bolena, Renee Fleming played emcee and interviewed Anna Netrebko, the actress playing the title role before the opera began, and then during the intermission (remember, these are broadcast live performancs, although tonight I was watch the encore showing) she interviewed the costume designer, some of the secondary characters, and the conductor. It provided background information that normally I'd never get at an opera.
- The movie camera lets me get a lost closer to the actors that I ever could from the cheap seats, so you can really appreciate that the singers are acting, not just pretty voices.

The opera itself was interesting. It focuses on the final days of Anne Boleyn's reign, as Henry VIII's attentions shift away from her onto future wife #3, Jane Seymour. When a former love Hervey returns to London, Anne is arrested and falsely accused of betraying the king. After languishing in madness in her prison cell, she sings a very very long song and finally, as news of Henry's wedding to Jane Seymour reaches her, heads to the execution block. Obviously, the story plays fast and loose with Tudor history, but then history isn't the point. It's all about drama and style, and the opera delivered on both. But as a member of the impatient generation, it's sometimes a little hard to sit through nearly four hours of singing, singing, singing.

But I love the Tudors, and any opera that has women swishing around in long gowns and French hoods is good entertainment to me!

Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour
Kuruma Chidorichidorichan on November 14th, 2011 04:59 pm (UTC)
This is what my bf's dad saw at the Met last month while we saw Avenue Q! And he said they were broadcasting it at the same time. (I thought the broadcasts were live...? Did you see a repeat? Or do they broadcast more than one? Is there more than one performance...? Surely there is... But it seemed like a weird schedule to me.) He used to be in theatre (behind the scenes and on stage) and he fancies himself an expert and was going on and on about how awful, awful, awful it was. XD They staged it like an elementary schooler would, he said, the star croaked out her songs, and so on. He went on and on for like an hour. XD They see an opera each month there.
Suzik00kaburra on November 14th, 2011 07:48 pm (UTC)
There are usually two broadcasts - the live one and a follow-up 'encore' performance. I saw the second one :)

I can see why he would say it was staged "like an elementary school" - they used rather simple sets and moved the characters about the stage in a very predictable,unimaginative fashion. But when it comes to a historical piece like this, especially in the bel canto style, which places more emphasis on the voice than other opera styles, you don't want your staging to distract from the music, so I think a lot of directors do tend to go with more formalized staging.
As for whether Anna Netrebko "croaked" her songs...well, I thought she sounded fine, but I would concede that this is where better music training would come in handy. My ear probably isn't developed enough to detect the difference between 'pretty good' and 'excellent' - and compared to the regional operas I get to hear on a regular basis, she sounded fantastic.
Kuruma Chidori: hydechidorichan on November 15th, 2011 07:37 pm (UTC)
I really have no idea (and I didn't see it), so don't worry about liking it--my bf's dad is soooooooo negative and grumpy (hmm, wonder where my bf gets it from? XD), I expect him to hate almost everything. I was just amused that i had to listen to him complain in detail about this thing for an hour and I hadn't even seen it myself!