The gifted James Darrah who played the male lead in the PEG O' MY HEART readings with me also stage manages at the Metropolitan Opera and tonight he offered me free tickets (FREE!!) to a performance of CARMEN with a backstage tour thrown in before the show.
Now, I should point out that opera is not one of my interests and I've only ever sat through live performances of "Tosca" and "Otello", both almost thirty years ago, and I truly thought I would suffocate and die in my seat. But I am no fool and I realised the importance of the gift James was offering so I grabbed it with enthusiasm and excitement. I've always enjoyed recordings and film versions of CARMEN. I confess I actually prefer CARMEN JONES but now I was going to fill a gaping hole in my musical education.
I decided to be brave and fly solo. James collected me at the Lincoln Centre an hour before the performance.
Backstage was much like any other theatre in the world except here they do 26 different operas in one season, taking down and putting up sets on almost a nightly basis. So the real jaw dropper is the size of the stage area which is three times the size of the space the audience actually sees. After Act One the entire set trucks off sideways stage right into the enormous wing space and another complete set is waiting to truck forward from behind the stage as well. In the other wing stage left is the set for the next production which is on a full stage-sized lift that comes up from the building workshop below.
The foyer is an event in itself with these gorgeous chandeliers overhead. The same design can be found in the auditorium.
I very much enjoyed Richard Eyre's production which first opened at the Met in 2009. Anita Rachvelishvili from Tbilisi has sung Carmen all over the world so she knew her lines and was
Korean tenor Yonghoon Lee was the crowd fave as Don Jose. Next year Teddy Tahu Rhodes takes over the gig.
Kyle Ketelsen was an immensely virile Escamillo who looked so disturbingly like my friend Alex Lewis (currently studying opera at Juilliard) that I thought perhaps Alex had pulled an Eve Harrington and had taken over the role.
I also really loved the choreography by Christopher Wheeldon. Acts One and Three opened with a pas de deux depicting the tragic lovers and the gypsy chorus numbers were intricate and very exciting.
I only dozed off once for about two minutes, and out of three and a quarter hours I think I did really well. James has suggested that I might enjoy upcoming productions of TURANDOT and AIDA. We'll see. I'd hate to get a reputation as an opera queen.