This is long, and written over several days, and it’s only Part 1. Enjoy!
I don’t really even know where to begin.
Oh goodness. As I said in my previous post, we were smart to do the front-of-the-house tour in the morning, because I was still so very beside myself when we came back for Rosenkavalier in the evening. We took many photos out front in our fine duds – my red shirt matches both my cielo’s heels *and* the Rosenkavalier red, ahem. Of course I had to take the photo above too! Then we went inside and waited for the ticket line to open.
My heart was pounding, waiting. We sat next to two nice women who chat
ted with us. On our left was a former opera singer (“now I play the ukele”) who was also at the Met for the first time. On my right was an elder who has been coming forever. We talked about our excitement and I kept checking the tickets in my hand – yes, yes, we’re really here, I have the tickets, it is today – and the clock on the wall (nobody stop the clock, not today!). Finally it was time, and we got in line and moved through quickly.
Even being in line was exciting because sitting on the stand next to our ticket scanner was the little chime they play to let you know intermission is over – which I’ve heard so many times at the end of the Opera Quiz on radio broadcasts. That made me smile.
Finally we were in, and (with more photos of course) made our way up to the Family Circle. Coming into the house, we could hear the orchestra warming up, and looking up into the gold glowing ceiling my heart warmed. Seeing the ceiling, the iconic sputnik chandeliers, the curtained stage, and hearing the orchestra made it clear: We are really here, in this space, with this music, about to experience something I trusted would be extraordinary, because it already was.
We found our seats, my legs bouncing with anticipation. I loved hearing the orchestra warm up, especially the horns practicing their runs and leaps. (Being a former horn player myself, I’m partial.) They sounded glorious. We were waaaay up, and I was pleased how clearly we could hear the music from there.
I must have posted about the warm up then, and then put my phone away (charging on a extra battery to be sure I could update y’all at intermission. 🙂 ) so I could just be present. Again, more smelling salts to help, and some rose tincture to open my heart up for the whole experience. I tapped my cielo’s knee. “So when those chandeliers start to go up” —
And then the chandeliers started to go up! And the lights started to dim! And I started to cry again! I tapped her knee more. “It’s starting, It’s starting!” And I took her hand and the orchestra tuned, and the conductor came in, and we all clapped, and away we went!
I mean, what can I even say? I loved it. I loved every minute of it.
I’m sitting here remembering, and sighing to myself. You don’t expect me to be objective, do you?
The orchestra sounded amazing up there, so clear, I heard layers of sound and detail I never had before. There was a crispness and shimmer to the lushness of sound, a clarity. And they were definitely on fire, horns (of course) ringing, strings rich. Winds well defined (at one point I took the binoculars to watch the bassoonist, so there you go). In the opening chords of the Trio the strings sounded so full of gorgeous depth, like a choir, like an organ, underneath Renee’s voice, I had never heard that before, as many times as I’ve listened to the Trio (which is…a lot). Blog friend Stray commented on the solo violin at the end of Act 1, and yes, it was so gorgeous and longing.
There were times when the voices didn’t *quite* reach us. That was across the board so I think was a matter of our seats, and not the singers. But then, there were also moments when the voices carried like waves – Renee’s “Du bist mein Bub, du bist mein Schatz” in the opening scene, Erin Morley’s exquisite floating high notes when presented with the Rose, she and Elina’s duet later in that act, and the Trio, which just washed over me – those moments in particular stay in my mind (and heart).
What can I say? I keep trying to figure out how to organize my thoughts, but they won’t, so just…well, from here on out this will get much less linear, haha.
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Erin Morley: A discovery for me, for sure. I’d not heard/seen her that I’m aware of, but she impressed me. Great stage presence, and there was a dignity to her Sophie, especially as the opera progressed. Loved her voice, and as I wrote at the 2nd intermission (and above), those high notes in the Presentation of the Rose that are supposed to stun you? They did! I whispered “oh my God” when she effortlessly flung the first one up to us, and again with the second. Even flung doesn’t seem like the right word, but how many times can I say float? Maybe spun – like silk she spun those notes up to us. I’m a fan now.
Elina Garanca: There were questions in some quarters whether Elina would be into this role or not. I felt she definitely was. She was fascinating to watch, how she shifted (as a 17 year old boy/young man) from ardent in the opening of Act 1 to confused, somewhat petulant by the end of that act. Act 2 full of dignity. Act 3 – well! Playing her role as Mariandel well, then that confusion when the Marschallin shows up, and back to ardent again by the end. My cielo kept commenting how very much like a young man she was in how she embodied the role. She was impressed. Her voice was lush, I thought. And so handsome.
Günther Groissböck: It won’t surprise anyone that my primary reaction to Ochs is, “when are you leaving?” Even though his character is a catalyst for immense anguished beauty (of which he is not a part), he refuses to get out of the way (until the end). Especially when the character is played as a buffoon, I am just waiting – get out already! (Which, I think, is part of the point of his character). However, in this production, he feels much more violent than in others I’ve seen. Part of it is production choices but I think also how Groissböck portrayed him, something about his physical embodiment of the role and also how he almost spit the consonants. He and his minions are dressed as military which adds a layer of commentary about the violence of patriarchy (and how the military enforces patriarchy). I still wanted him to leave, but this time more because he was scary, conniving, threatening. The “humor” after he’s stabbed (“it’s just a flesh wound”) in Act 2 I thought was a little over the top considering how up to this point his character was more threatening than clownish, but still. When he has his minions carrying on with guns (for example, defending his “right” to Sophie), and in Act 1, leering as they also pursue Mariandel – well I thought it was an effective move and gave me a lot to think about.
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Sigh. I know I haven’t said much about her yet. I feel like I’m holding her close, if I put words to it all then somehow how she is filling me up right now will evaporate. It’s over a week now and as I think about the experience, hearing her, witnessing her — yes, I get tears. Still.
So I am going to give her a post all of her own, with more thoughts about the production itself because for me they are related.
But what you should know is: I cried when the chandeliers rose before the overture. I cried again at the end of Act 1, that longing solo violin as the Marschallin sends the silver Rose to Octavian and walks across the vast room and out the door. I cried during the Trio all the way to end and into the curtain call. All of it, more beautiful than I ever even imagined.
I hollered for the trio of women, Renée in particular of course, during the curtain call – not quite the Xena cry certain quarters had recommended so I’d be heard on the internet broadcast, but again, it was hard enough to stay in my body anyway.
And when it was all done, our hands aching from applause, eyes still rimmed with tears, we made our way, slowly, dazedly, down the elevators, out the front doors, and turned to look back at the lit-up building. It was nearly midnight. We took more pictures, and I held my cielo and cried again, in sheer joy for the whole glorious day.
We did not want to leave.
Alleinig, wer’s erlebt,
der glaubt daran und weiss nicht wie…
(only those who experience it believe it,
and do not know how…)
Stay tuned for Part 2.
Production photos by Ken Howard, via Facebook.