I have to admit something…I have never been to the Met Opera. OK so that may not seem like the “craziest” thing to admit, but as having been surrounded by opera for nearly two years now from my job and being a music/theater lover, I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I have never stepped foot inside of this great house of music to hear some of the best singers in the world perform.
Monday night that all changed when I finally attended my first Met Opera performance of Puccini’s La bohème. If you’re an opera newbie like me and aren’t too familiar, knowing that the hit-musical Rent by Jonathan Larson is loosely based on La bohème might ring a bell. Remember in Rent Roger’s struggle to write “one great song” and Mark saying “that doesn’t sound like ‘Musetta’s Waltz?'”. You have Puccini to thank for that recurring melody in Rent!
Stepping into Lincoln Center, I was in absolute awe of the grandeur and splendor of it all. Between the red velvet floors, the Swarovski crystal chandeliers, and grand staircases, the building is a beauty to behold.
Fashion is a fun aspect of attending an opera, and I was looking forward to seeing everyone’s style choices. Who doesn’t love to get a little dressed-up? I love checking out The Met’s fashion blog, Last Night at The Met, to see what everyone wears for a night out, as there is no dress code at the Met (unless you are a member). I found it to be a mix of classic and contemporary styles, from tweed suits, to silk gowns, and even jeans. My black dress, black tights and black leather jacket (I’m sensing a theme here?) seemed to be the appropriate attire.
When the curtain opened with a grand sweep, my breath was taken away. Zeffirelli’s iconic La bohème set was beyond beautiful. I won’t spoil too much of the set if you ever have the chance to see this production, but what I can say is that it appeared as if a painting came to life on stage. The stage was filled with performers during Act II. It was grand and impressive, to say the least.
And where to begin with the singing? Met Opera singers do not use microphones, and their ability to fill an entire theatre with their voice is just amazing. Two Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA) alumni starred in the production, and it was an honor to hear them both sing. Bryan Hymel sang the role of Rodolfo (The Roger character for you Rent fans), and left us all speechless with his performance; his high notes were sung with such ease! Ailyn Pérez starred as Musetta (Rent‘s Maureen) and was fabulous. From the second she stepped on stage, you knew you were going to be in for something captivating. The orchestra, conducted by Dan Ettinger, was spectacular and brilliant. I can’t speak highly enough about the incredible amount of intricate artistic and musical detail poured into every scene.
The AVA group had the opportunity to meet both singers backstage after the show. I must say it was very exciting being so close to the Met’s stage and chatting with these two stars, who could not have been more welcoming after having just given a stunning performance moments ago!
So if you’re curious about going to an opera I would a.) recommend you see La bohème if there is a production near you and b.) GO TO THE MET! It may seem a bit daunting going to your first opera, but it really isn’t. Tickets can be a bit pricey, but with discounts and rush tickets available, it can be an affordable experience. There are subtitles, as with many opera houses, so you can follow along and not miss a second of the action. Relax and allow the music to take you on a journey. It was an amazing experience, and one I won’t forget!
La vie bohème!