Last night I ventured out to Central Park to join the crowd of thousands enjoying the Metropolitan Opera’s free performance of Tosca. It was my first opera encounter, and I know that one person at least (Ben), will be interested to know what I thought of it.
Let’s start with the basics: I didn’t understand a word. I occasionally heard the word ‘Tosca’ thrown in there, so that was probably significant but that’s about it. Apparently, at a normal indoor performance there are subtitles. I had expected acting, props, costumes and sets to give me some clues but there weren’t any. Just singers in suits standing before an awesome orchestra. And this is no simple ‘boy meets girl’ storyline. Tosca is full of twists and turns, double-crossing, deception, tragedy, and humour (or so they tell me). While there was daylight, I could refer to the program, but when darkness fell I resigned myself to lie back and let the music wash over me.
The setting: Not much could top lying back on a blanket after a big dinner of cold cuts, fresh bread, hummus, cheese, crackers, and chocolate dipped strawberries, sinking your toes into the grass and remembering what a privilege it is to be here. The Great Lawn is a 55-acre area in the middle of Central Park, surrounded by massive trees that are still dwarfed by the city skyline. It really is an amazing spectacle!
The quality: Well the value for money was fantastic! But I suppose that’s true of most free events. My untrained ear, and the pros I was sitting with, tell me that the singing was fantastic and I couldn’t speak highly enough of the orchestra.
I still don’t think opera is my fave style of music, but I’d like to go to a regular indoor performance to make a comparison. It was certainly a great night out and one of those ‘where-else in the world’ type experiences I just had to have.
Oh, and the best bit… No ants or mozzies.