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Contact: irina.stanescu@ymail.com
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Metropolitan Opera New York - some impressions

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The Met is impressive. Both on inside and outside. It’s not that easy to get there especially if you live in Europe or in any other part of the world that involves a long flight. But if the trip is planned in advance, it might not get so expensive. Regarding the tickets for the opera, the prices range from about 40 dollars to more than 300 dollars. If it’s your first time at the Met, try something at 80-100 dollars. The visibility will be definitely better. The seats at the balcony are good but too far away from the stage as the venue is huge. I would recommend the seats at the dress circle, left or right. They have good visibility even if they involve some leaning. This depends on the production.
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Right before the opera starts the small chandeliers the lit up the parterre go up to join the big one in the ceiling. As they go up, the light goes dimmer and dimmer. When they reach the top it’s already dark. I haven’t seen that anywhere else.
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Most of the people come to the Met smartly dressed. I saw some limos too. And some tuxedos and evening dresses at the grand tier. This is what makes these people feel good. What makes me feel that it’s not an ordinary evening but an evening at the opera. But I’ve also seen jeans and T-shorts (inappropriate if you ask me) but as it’s not a dressing code, nobody says anything.
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During the intervals people eat and drink, just as it happens in other opera houses. The reservations are made in advance and the order is already on the table when the interval starts. Sometimes I think that the interval is 30 minute long also for them to finish eating/drinking not just for the musicians to rest.
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I’ve talked so far about pros at the Met. There are also some cons.
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First of all there’s too much noise in the hall. When you listen to the broadcast, the microphones are on the stage and it’s voices that can be heard most and not what happens in the venue. I heard 3 types of noises. The most annoying is the coughing. Every 10 seconds somebody is coughing. There are almost 4000 people in the hall. On the evening I attended the performance I think almost half of them coughed or sneezed even during important arias. It was as if Violetta’s sickness spread among us. There should be a huge sign saying “try not to cough. Get a mint”. I wonder if people on stage hear everything. I feel sorry for them.
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The second noise is the one made by the chairs when people try to change position. The boxes have movable chairs and there’s not too much room for legs. And too many people move without paying attention to what happens with the chair. I heard a lot of “hrshhh”s. Bad, very bad.
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The third noise came from my neighbors that felt the need of holding the program in their hands and play with it all the time. And the Playbill makes some very disturbing sounds.
Thank God, no cell phones this time. During the broadcast 3 days before a cell phone accompanied Valenti’s voice towards the end of the first act.
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The second con is the program. It was the April issue of Playbill with Renee Fleming’s face on the cover. There are only a few pages dedicated to Traviata and only one black and white photo of Angela. I guess it’s a matter of funds or this is the custon here in US. But I would have gladly paid for a nicer program. The Playbill is for free and people don’t even bother to take it at home. They just leave it under the chair or on steps (which is another con).
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With its pros and cons, the Met is a place that made me feel special. From the moment I steppd in to the end of the evening. And I’ll go back soon. For Carmen and Armida.
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9 comments:

  1. I agree about all the coughing; it's hard to believe that all those people have colds:)! One thing I noticed during the second act of the April 17th Traviata was that everyone was quiet! People were really caught up in the drama; you could hear a pin drop, as they say. I would have liked a program which featured Angela on the cover, too. Both times I went I got one with The Nose and one with Armida.

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  2. fantastique reportage-photos ! un régal cette immersion au met !
    merci irina
    mireille

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  3. I've never liked the architecture of the Met. The building inside and out isn't welcoming and is too big. People complain that microphones are used there; no wonder! European and other US houses are not that big and are more accepting of real human voices.

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  4. Well, I liked it. There are a lot of European operas that don't look not even half as nice as this one. yes, it's big. But I had no problem hearing the voices, both from dress circle and the balcony.

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  5. Fellow Romanian30/4/10 10:52 AM

    Hey, Irina, I like your blog. You are right, the Met is an unfriendly canyon. Mostly unsuitable, for example for Haendel operas (and they got staged there!). I had Orchestra seats most of the time and the noise you talked about was comming from the Family Circle and above - there are also a lot of tourists buying last minute tickets from booths, and then Americans are not always buttoned up :) as we are in Europe when going in for a performance. I don't remember paying for a programme/leaflet anywhere in the US, and was surprised that the ROH bills costly for them. Good luck with your travels to the Met. On a Busines visa, I imagine.

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  6. Yes, 7 pounds can be considered expensive. But the programs look really good and they're perfect for autographs if you're into this. From time to time it's worth paying. For those not willing to pay ROH has an alternative.
    And no, it's not a business visa.

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  7. Buying a programme is not a matter of costs, at least for British audiences. It's part of the going at the opera/concert experience and, for what i've seen, people actually read it before the performance. Getting something to drink from the bar and lecture...

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  8. For those in the upper reaches of the balcony, there are speakers at the very top of the stage area. This helps to project some of the sound which might be lost for those sitting way up high:). I sat in the dress circle area once and liked that seat better than the orchestra seats. The far right and left balcony seats are good for listening but not so good for seeing. They are cheap, though, ($22.00 for a weeknight performance).

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