Chance. Usually there is someone behind every action that helps facilitate an opportunity. So it was with my first experience in seeing at opera in January 2016. With the generosity of someone who could not make the Season ticket Opera series at the Auditorio in Mexico City, I was offered a place a place to view Turandot from the Metropolitan Theatre in New York.
Here is a simple guide I learned from being a first timer to opera:
- Always spend a day ahead finding out about the producer, the director, the creator of the opera you are seeing. This background information can make a huge difference, it is everything.
- Know that there are intermissions between Acts – this varies depending on the production.
- Do realize that you need to leave your preconceptions of the visual behind, this has no impact on the meaning of the opera. We are a visual culture, but train yourself to be completely bias about the visual aspects of how a character is made up, and let the sound carry the majority of the meaning for you.
When you find out the similarity of Puccini’s life and the resemblance to events in this opera – that is a story in itself. This being his last opera, I found myself interested in what and who was Giacomo Puccini.
I love the three riddles that the prince has to solve to advance and change history:
Riddle No. 1: What is born each night and dies each dawn?
Riddle No. 2: What flickers red and warm but is not fire?
Riddle No. 3: What is like ice, yet sets you on fire?
The set is probably the most elaborate and amazing thing I have seen, and I mean in Turandot as well as in a production that is not theatre.
In seeing Anita Hartig, not really the lead role yet, I found her to be my all time favorite in this production, for me she made the opera – 100%. Her emotions, her ability, she was IT. Paolo Carignani as the conductor was amazingly capable of delivering a sound you just took for granted as a soundtrack and found difficult to realize how “real” it was.
Of course the classic talents of Franco Zeffirelli showed through with the attention to details. Marco Berti was very stoic and capable of winning Turandot, (Nia Stemme) an icy and frosty princess with a heart of stone until the very end. Marco Berti does NOT interview well (just FYI). Alexander Tsymbalyuk? You would never, ever, know he is young in real life, but is Timur – it is shocking.
No need for English to be influenced by opera, none. The background information you can discover, and the reactions to such emotions that feed out from an opera – this tells a story individual to every viewer. As a result, you walk away in this case, understanding the themes of perseverance, faith, loyalty, and a belief in your own inner strength, all virtues that are quite universal and cross the language barrier.
Sidenote – Ping, Pang, Pong? You have to see to believe but AMAZING.