People who think they hate opera really should give it a try
Editor's Note: West Linn Adult Community Center volunteer Mary Jean Rivera hopes to encourage others to experience an opera performance. The Metropolitan Opera's "Live in HD" series transmissions are seen on more than 2,200 screens in over 70 countries across the globe. Read on for her review of the art form and then visit metopera.org for the complete schedule and to find theaters to view the operas in our area.
I didn't think I would ever like opera. But some of the people I know and like do enjoy it. I thought I should at least try it once before passing judgment so I attended a "Live in HD" transmission from New York's Metropolitan Opera House, "Samson and Delilah," which happened to be shown at OMSI for only $10. That should be as good as it gets. How could I pass that up?
What an eye-opener! First, "Live in HD" is simulcast to 350,000 people in thousands of theaters across the world for a reasonable price (with child, senior and adult tickets available). No need for fancy dresses or expensive before and after events. Another plus: They are broadcast in the daytime, from New York matinees. So they start about 10 a.m. and end by 2 p.m., in our time zone. The OMSI theater was not crowded. But wait — it gets even better.
Attendees are given a program with a synopsis of the story. The trailers shown before are about opera, great shots of the glitzy theaters in New York with gorgeous singers, costumes, and scenery. Beforehand the audience is introduced (really!) to the orchestra conductor and given a view into the orchestra pit. During the intermissions we, the local audience, see interviews with the main characters. Every presentation has easy-to-read subtitles in English.
My favorite part is watching the scenery being moved behind the scenes during the intermissions. Those actually attending don't get those perks.
And during intermission there is still time to visit the restroom or buy treats if you didn't bring them in your pockets.
The 2017-18 season marks the 15th season for "Live in HD." Ten operas were included in the season and fortunately there are four left in the series. See "Semiramide" by Rossini on March 10; "Cosi Fan Tutte" by Mozart on March 31; "Luisa Miller" by Verdi on April 14 and "Cendrillon" by Massenet on April 28. Watching opera on television or even in person is no match for seeing it on the big screen, with the help of a good videographer.
I found friends at the WLACC who have come to like opera as much as I do, maybe even more. Fred O'Leary listens faithfully to the radio programs, and Carolyn Wilson and Christie Lembert join us at the theater to watch, too. It's educational and fun, followed by conversation with your friends over lunch. Join us at Clackamas Town Center theater soon.
You can learn more about the series online at metopera.org. There are links so you can buy tickets for the most convenient theater on the website, too.
Treat yourself to the opera this month.
The lunch menu this week features sausages, baked beans, peas and chocolate cookies on Friday, March 9; chicken parmesan, garlic butter angel hair pasta, green beans and cream puffs on Monday, March 12 and chicken noodle soup, turkey sandwiches and brownies on Wednesday, March 14. Cost is $5 per person.
The WLACC is located at 1180 Rosemont Road. Call 503-557-4704 for more information.
Mary Jean Rivera is a member and volunteer at the West Linn Adult Community Center.